The US military took these incredible photos this week - We Are The Mighty
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The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

An F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 18th Aggressor Squadron prepares to take off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, shortly after sunrise Jan. 24, 2016, in transit to Kadena Air Base, Japan, to participate in training exercises. More than 150 maintainers from the 354th Fighter Wing will keep the Aggressors in the air and prepare U.S. Airmen, Sailors and Marines for contingency operations along with coalition partners in the Pacific theater.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel

A mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, driven by a member of the 451st Expeditionary Support Squadron Security Forces Flight, patrols the flightline as the sun sets on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 20, 2016. Security forces members at the airfield are responsible for the security of more than 150 aircraft and $2.2 billion in resources.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys

Senior Airman Ian Kuhn, a survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) instructor with the 103rd Rescue Squadron, demonstrates how to build a concealed shelter during a combat and water survival training course at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Jan. 20, 2016. During this training, aircrew members gained refresher training on using their emergency radios, tactical movements through difficult terrain, how to build shelters, ways to build fires and methods for evading the enemy.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

Senior Airman Christopher Gonzales, of the 144th Security Forces Squadron, is welcomed home by Megan Woodby at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Calif., Jan. 21, 2016. Gonzales was deployed for more than seven months in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Chris Drudge

ARMY:

Green Berets, assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group-Airborne, exit the water during a beach infiltration training exercise, part of Combat Diver Requalification, in Key West, Fla., Jan. 20, 2016.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Army Photo

Snipers, assigned to 2d Cavalry Regiment, make adjustments on the scope of an M110 semi-automatic sniper system during a field training exercise at Adazi Training Center in Latvia, Jan. 27, 2016.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin

Soldiers, attached to SOCEUR, U.S. European Command (EUCOM), participate in a night airborne operation near Malmsheim, Germany, Jan. 21, 2016.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Army Photo by Visual Information Specialist Martin Greeson

NAVY:

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Valentin Sanchez, from Brownsville, Texas, and Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Zack Smith, from New Caney, Texas, prepare launchers for F/A-18E Super Hornets on USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) flight deck. Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andre T. Richard

Personnel Specialist Seaman Dennis Tran, from Riverside, Calif., and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Darryl Roberson, from Joliet, Ill., fish off the stern of the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) during a fish call. Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Stockdale, assigned to the Stennis strike group, is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox

MARINE CORPS:

A Marine undergoing the 2nd Marine Division Combat Skills Center’s Pre-Scout Sniper Course prepares to move during a stalking exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 22, 2016. The exercise required students to traverse approximately 1,000 meters of high grass and fire on a target, all without being detected.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

Marines with the Combined Arms Company, Black Sea Rotational Force Bulgarian and Romanian Forces conduct a joint exercise utilizing Bulgarian and U.S. main battle tanks, indirect fire, mechanized infantry, and close air support from U.S. Air Force assets during Platinum Lion 16-2 at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, Jan. 15, 2016. Exercise Platinum Lion increases readiness and demonstrates our collective ability to operate as a single force committed to protecting the sovereignty of NATO allies and other European partners.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff

COAST GUARD:

At Air Station New Orleans, we are one of the few units who train for and help support the Rotary Wing Air Intercept (RWAI) mission primarily carried out by Air Station Atlantic City. This National Capital Region air defense mission provides safety and security to not only the federal government and entities within Washington DC but its citizens as well.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
USCG photo

Take a ride with U.S. Coast Guard Hawaii Pacific Air Station Barbers Point and Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu crews as they train doing hoists.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
USCG photo by Errik Gordon

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7 reasons the ‘Carl Gustav’ is an infantryman’s best friend

The infantry is loaded down with all sorts of weapons and gear, some of it loved and some of it absolutely hated for being unnecessary weight. But while the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle weighs nearly 20 pounds and each round is almost 10 more, the infantry still loves the darned thing.


Why? Because it’s lethal, accurate, has long-range, and is reliable. Check it out:

1. The Carl Gustav has a longer range than many American rifles and gives infantrymen the capability of killing enemies at up to 3,000 feet.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Australian soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment fire an 84 mm M3 Carl Gustave rocket launcher at Range 10, Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2014, during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan/Released)

2. The accuracy of the weapon comes from its rifled barrel, but Gustav rounds fly relatively slowly. Hitting anything mobile at over 1,500 feet requires skilled firing.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Photo: Defense Imagery Management Operations Center

3. Interchangeable weapon sights allow shooters to choose between iron sights, magnified optics, or low-light aiming devices.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Paratroopers assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade fires the M3 Carl Gustav rocket launcher at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Aug. 18, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Gerhard Seuffert)

4. Despite the heft of the nearly 10-pound Gustav rounds, the shooters feel little recoil thanks to a large blast that balances the forces (and creates an awesome fireball).

The US military took these incredible photos this week
A Marine Special Operations Command member fires a Carl Gustav Recoilless rifle system on a range during training in Washer district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 16, 2013. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Benjamin Tuck/Released)

5. Saab-Bofors produces 10 types of ammunition for the weapon — everything from airburst high-explosive rounds to anti-structure munitions that bring down buildings.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
(Photo: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Gerhard Seuffert)

6. The Gustav has been manufactured in four major variants, each lighter than the previous. America mainly fields the M3 which weighs 19 pounds.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
United States Army Spc. Craig Loughry, a 24-year-old native of Kent, Ohio, assigned to Dog Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, has the unenviable task of carrying his squad’s Carl Gustav M2CG recoilless rifle. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. James Avery)

7. The Carl Gustav is relatively simple and easy to use. It’s basically a barrel with grips, weapon sights, and a hinge for loading ammunition. This allows new shooters to quickly train on its use.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Coalition Forces fire a Gustav during a range day at FOB Shank, Afghanistan, on July 26, 2013. The purpose of the range was for the soldiers to practice using their heavy weapons. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Liam Mulrooney)

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The first black fighter pilot was also an infantry hero and a spy

Eugene Bullard was born in Georgia in 1895. He emigrated to France, became both an infantry hero and the first black fighter pilot in World War I, and a spy in World War II.


Growing up in Georgia, Bullard saw his father nearly killed by a lynch mob and decided at the age of 8 to move to France. It took him nearly ten years of working through Georgia, England, and Western Europe as a horse jockey, prize fighter, and criminal before he finally moved to Paris.

Less than a year later, Germany declared war on France, dragging it into what would quickly become World War I. At the time only men over the age of 19 could enlist in France, so Bullard waited until his birthday on Oct. 9, 1914 to join the French Foreign Legion.

As a soldier, Bullard was exposed to some of the fiercest fighting the war had to offer from Nov. 1914 to Feb. 1916. He was twice part of units that had taken so many casualties that they had to be reorganized and combined with others.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Cpl. Eugene Bollard in the French 170th Infantry. Photo: Wikipedia

In Feb. 1916, Bullard was with France’s 170th Infantry at the Battle of Verdun where over 300,000 men were killed with another 400,000 missing, captured, or wounded in 10 months of fighting. Bullard would see only the beginning of the battle. From Feb. 21 to Mar. 5, 1916, he fought on the front where he later said, “the whole front seemed to be moving like a saw backwards and forwards,” and “men and beasts hung from the branches of trees where they had been blown to pieces.”

On Mar. 2, an artillery shell killed four of Bullard’s comrades and knocked out all but four of his teeth. Bullard remained in the fight, but was wounded again on Mar. 5 while acting as a volunteer courier between French officers. Another shell caught him, cutting open his thigh and throwing him across the ground. The next day, he was carried off the battlefield by an ambulance.

For his heroism at Verdun, Bullard was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and Médaille Militaire. Because of his wounds, he was declared unfit for service in the infantry.

While most men would have stopped there to accept the adulation of France, Bullard volunteered for the French Air Force and began training Oct. 5, 1916 as an aerial gunner. After he learned about the Lafayette Escadrille, a French Air Force unit mostly filled with American pilots, he switched to pilot training.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Eugene Jacques Bullard poses with his monkey who sometimes accompanied him on missions. Photo: US Air Force historical photo

As the first black fighter pilot, Bullard served in the Lafayette Escadrille Sep. to Nov. 1917 where he had one confirmed kill and another suspected. When America entered the war, Lafayette attempted to switch to the American forces. American policy at the time forbid black pilots and the U.S. went so far as to lobby for him to be removed from flight status in France. Bullard finished the war with the 170th, this time in a noncombat status.

Between World War I and II, Bullard married and divorced a French woman and started both a successful night club and a successful athletic club.

In the late 1930s, the French government asked Bullard to assist in counterintelligence work to catch German spies in Paris. Using his social position, his clubs and his language skills, Bullard was able to collect information to resist German efforts. When the city fell in 1940, he initially fell back to Orleans but was badly wounded there while resisting the German advance.

He was smuggled to Spain and then medically evacuated to New York where he lived out his life. In 1954, he briefly returned to Paris as one of three French heroes asked to relight the Eternal Flame of the Tomb of the Unknown French Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.

Now: How a modern battalion of Army Rangers would perform in Civil War combat

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ISIS is throwing reinforcements into Mosul battle as coalition tightens the noose

The Islamic State is throwing as many fighters as it can into the Iraqi city of Mosul in a desperate attempt to push back against coalition forces, according to the Pentagon.


The US military took these incredible photos this week
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Paladin teams denies the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant safe havens while providing the ISF with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

ISIS reinforcements from Syria and Iraq are entering Mosul from areas west of the city, which are still under the terrorist group’s control. ISIS leaders inside the city have been forced to conscript administration officials and other non-traditional fighters in order to counter the coalition’s offensive.

“ISIL continues to augment its manpower from the outside,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday. “We see them taking administrative and support personnel, people who are not normally involved in arms, and they are arming them.”

Davis noted that despite the reinforcements, ISIS is having difficulty with its command and control capabilities thanks in part to coalition air strikes.

ISIS’s decision to arm every potential fighter it can is not surprising. The terrorist group is woefully outnumbered, with less than 5,000 fighters in the city. In turn, the Iraqi Security Forces have deployed 18,000 men, while the Kurdish Peshmerga have fielded around 10,000. Approximately 2,000 Iraqi federal police are also supplementing the coalition force.

While coalition forces clearly have the upper hand, Davis noted they are experiencing “heavy resistance” from ISIS as they move closer to the Mosul city limits. ISIS has engaged in increasingly desperate tactics as they lose control of the city, including waves of suicide bombers, car bombs and burning oil fields. In some cases, they have resorted to using suicide bombers to cover the retreat of their personnel.

The Pentagon expects foreign fighters to be particularly dangerous targets, as many of them burned their passports upon entering the so-called caliphate.

“Those are the people we expect to stay in Mosul and fight to the death, they don’t have a lot of other good options,” said Davis.

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The 13 funniest military memes this week — MRE edition

This week’s meme roundup is dedicated to fine military cuisine. You know, the nutrient rich, cardboard textured, grownup Lunchables the military feeds you out in the field. Yes, that’s right, MREs.


Some troops like MREs, but most will probably identify with this meme:

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Recruiters are known for leaving out a thing or two.

MREs look so innocent, but there’s a world of hurt waiting for you.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
This little box packs a punch.

Getting the goodies always begins with a struggle.

The US military took these incredible photos this week

When you finally open the box, you realize that the goodies aren’t always so yummy, so you enhance them with flavor.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Tapatio and Texas Pete are also good choices.

Some MREs could serve as a weapon in the field.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
The military got rid of flamethrowers because they were considered too cruel.

Just add “chemical X” to upgrade to the next level.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
The upgrade is similar to a grenade launcher.

Ejecting an MRE from the body could feel like an impossible task.

The US military took these incredible photos this week

Some people describe it as giving birth to a knotted rope.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
And you thought the knotted rope was only a boot camp thing.

Nope, MRE’s aren’t innocent.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Yup, looks can be deceiving.

On the bright side, you could use MREs for other things, like getting yourself squared away.

The US military took these incredible photos this week

Or, getting the comforts of home out in the field.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Grunts can sleep anywhere.

You’ll grow to love them, at least until your next hot meal.

The US military took these incredible photos this week

They make a great gift.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Soon, she’ll be as deadly as you.

NOW: The Best Military Meals Ready -To-Eat, Ranked

OR: 9 Military Movie Scenes Where Hollywood Got It Totally Wrong

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This is what the North Korean military looks like

North Korea’s military escapades were back in the headlines in December, after state media in the secretive country reported news of two large-scale military drills involving rocket launchers and fighter jets.


Also read: North Korea actually fired a missile that worked

Some analysts believe that Kim Jong Un, the country’s despotic leader, is gearing up for war against South Korea — pictures accompanying one report even showed a mock-up of the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential residence, being used as a target by artillery. Others, however, say the drills are the latest in a long line of “sabre-rattling” manoeuvres designed to intimidate neighbours.

In either case, the country’s missile development and huge artillery stocks pose a significant danger to South Korea and the rest of the world.

It is one of the world’s most secretive countries, so the information largely comes from other sources, but the state’s propaganda efforts mean there are plenty of pictures of the country’s colossal military capacity. Take a look.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
The largest part of the military is the Korean People’s Army Ground Force, which includes about 1.2 million active personnel and millions more civilians who are effectively reservists. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

The US military took these incredible photos this week

The US military took these incredible photos this week
North Korea’s elderly air force would be easily outmatched by South Korea’s, and the most threatening equipment belongs to other parts of the military. (Reuters/KCNA)

The US military took these incredible photos this week
One of the most threatening things in the North’s arsenal is its powerful conventional artillery, with hundreds of these 170mm Koksan guns threatening South Korea. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

The US military took these incredible photos this week
And those are actually small in comparison with some of the massive fixed guns in place to fire on South Korean islands if a conflict breaks out. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

The US military took these incredible photos this week

The US military took these incredible photos this week

The US military took these incredible photos this week
The launch of satellite-carrying Unha rockets is watched closely, since it’s the same delivery system as North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, which was tested successfully in December 2012 and January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/KNCA)

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Though the equipment is outdated, North Korea does possess some armoured vehicles, which are largely copies of Soviet or Chinese-made models. (Photo: Reuters/KNCA)

The US military took these incredible photos this week
In addition to its long-range missiles and nuclear programme, North Korea has a line of shorter-range Hwasong missiles capable of hitting Japan. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Despite being developed more than 20 years ago, Pokpung-ho battle tanks pictured on the left here are some of the most advanced equipment operated by the ground forces. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

*Mike Bird contributed reporting to an earlier version of this article.

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Army Captain saves 3 lives while wearing ‘Captain America’ t-shirt

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Photo: ABC News/screenshot


A real-life Captain America saved the day after a car crash in North Carolina on Tuesday.

Capt. Steve Voglezon was driving down the road when he noticed a car on fire, so he did like any soldier/superhero would do: He sprang into action, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and helped rescue three people from the wreck.

KPLC-TV has more:

The catastrophic scene unfolded on a rural road. Heavy smoke and flames filled the air when three people were trapped inside two vehicles. John Spurrell lives nearby, and helped rescue one driver before shooting video on his smartphone.

“That’s the Army guy, Steve. He’s quite a hero,” Spurrell said as he points at his phone.

Quite fittingly, Voglezon can be seen in the video wearing a Captain America t-shirt. Because, of course he would.

The US military took these incredible photos this week

“I grabbed one of the fire extinguishers and we smashed out on the back window and the driver’s side window. …. there wasn’t a real plan, I just had tunnel vision,” Voglezon told ABC News. “If I had not been a soldier, I would not have known what to do. The Army has helped a lot. I was just at the right place at the right time. People do this every day at the fire department. I wasn’t alone out there, there were at least 10 of us in the community working together.”

The three people who escaped the accident suffered only minor injuries.

Now watch the video:

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94 unknown US WWII vets are being exhumed and possibly identified

Military and Veterans Affairs officials are digging up the remains of 94 unidentified Marines and sailors killed on a remote atoll in the Pacific during one of World War II’s bloodiest battles.


The servicemen were killed in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943 and buried as unknowns at a national cemetery in Honolulu after the war.

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency spokeswoman Maj. Natasha Waggoner said March 28 advances in DNA technology have increased the probability of identifying the unknowns.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
U.S. Marines storm the beach at Tarawa Atoll, November 1943. (U.S. Archives)

More than 990 U.S. Marines and 30 U.S. sailors were killed in the three-day battle. About 550 are still unidentified, including some still in Tarawa, Waggoner said.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific spokesman Gene Maestas said the disinterments began in October. The cemetery, which is also known as Punchbowl, expects to transfer the last eight servicemen to the military next Monday.

The exhumations come two years after the Pentagon announced new criteria for exhuming remains from military cemeteries for identification.

Shortly after, it dug up from Punchbowl cemetery the remains of nearly 400 unknowns from the USS Oklahoma who were killed in the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The work to identify them is expected to take about five years.

Waggoner said her agency doesn’t have an estimate for how long it will take to identify the Tarawa remains. That’s because some of the skeletons from Punchbowl are incomplete and parts of some bodies are still in Tarawa.

The agency recently received Pentagon approval to exhume some 35 Punchbowl graves believed to hold the unidentified remains of servicemen from the USS West Virginia, which was also hit in the Pearl Harbor attack.

The agency will schedule these disinterments after it gets a permit from the state of Hawaii, she said.

Tarawa, which is some 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) southwest of Honolulu, is today part of the Republic of Kiribati.

During the U.S. amphibious assault on Tarawa 74 years ago, Japanese machine gun fire killed scores of Marines when their boats got stuck on the reef at low tide. Americans who made it to the beach faced brutal hand-to-hand combat.

Only 17 of the 3,500 Japanese troops survived. Of 1,200 Korean slave laborers on the island, just 129 lived.

The U.S. quickly buried the thousands of dead. But these graves were soon disturbed as the Navy had to quickly build an airstrip to continue their push west toward Japan.

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Why we’re excited about the upcoming Battlefield V

The Battlefield series has always been known for its breathtaking graphics and in-depth storytelling about real-life conflicts involving troops. These popular features seem to be continuing with their latest installment, Battlefield V, coming Oct. 19.


The new game will be set in World War 2 and have several modes. The single-player “War Stories” will be brought back from Battlefield 1, which gave each chapter of the story to a different soldier fighting in the war. This opened up many storytelling possibilities that could give each region and troop the respect they deserve.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
No matter how many times we play it in every WW2 game or movie, the Battle of Normandy is always one of the most hardcore scenes in every medium.
(EA Dice)

The multiplayer is also looking just as in-depth. The series is known for its massive 64 versus 64 player matches and it’s being teased that those matches may be even bigger. This even branches off into the “Last Stand” mode where a player is given only one life and that’s it.

Another much welcomed return to video gaming is an extremely interesting co-op mode called “Combined Arms.” In it, a squad of four players will be paratroopers given a mission to sneak behind enemy lines to complete their objective. The squad-based multiplayer is the game’s focus, just as it was in the phenomenal Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

Everything in the game is destructible and players can interact with everything and even build their own fortifications. Not only is being able to clear out buildings standing between you and your opponent coming back, but there’s a return of minor details that make the game feel more realistic. A key example is grabbing a health pack; players have to actually apply it to heal (instead of the gaming norm of just walking over it and magically healing.)

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Even tiny things like each weapon having a certain unpredictability makes things so much more realistic.
(EA Dice)

This offers a much more difficult level of game play that is unparalleled — and very welcomed from gamers.

Another popular perk of the game is their discontinuation of a premium or season pass. Every bit of post-launch content will be free to all players. In similar fashion, EA Dice has filled previous content with enough things to do that nearly doubles the game-play content in a matter of months.

Check out the video below to watch the official trailer.

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The Navy converted side-wheel paddle steamers into WWII aircraft carriers

Paddle steamers are usually associated with 19th century cruises on the Mississippi river. Modern representatives like the Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland preserve this quaint and picturesque scene in American culture. However, during WWII, two side-wheel paddle steamers found themselves in a very different type of scene. Desperate for more ships, the Navy converted these two-paddle steamers into aircraft carriers.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Luxury cruise ship Seeandbee in 1919 (Public Domain)

To be fair, these makeshift flattops were not truly weapons of war. Unlike purpose-built aircraft carriers like USS Hornet (CV-12) and USS Lexington (CV-16), the steam-powered carriers lacked armor, a hangar deck, elevators and weapons of any sort. Additionally, the flight decks built on top of the steamers were shorter and lower than regular carriers. However, the converted carriers weren’t built for combat; they were built to train aviators.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Greater Buffalo on its way to be refit in 1942 (U.S. Navy)

In 1942, the Navy purchased the side-paddle steam cruise ships Seeandbee and Greater Buffalo. The Great Lakes passenger ships were acquired as a cost-saving measure to build trainer aircraft carriers for flight students at the Naval Air Technical Training Center.

Both ships were stripped of their superstructures and luxury cabins during the Navy refit. To become aircraft carriers, the steamers were fitted with a bridge island, arresting cables, and of course, a flight deck. Seeandbee’s flight deck was made of wood while Greater Buffalo’s was made of steel. Following their refit, Seeandbee and Greater Buffalo were renamed USS Wolverine (IX-64) and USS Sable (IX-81), respectively.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
USS Wolverine and USS Sable docked at Navy Pier in 1945 (U.S. Navy)

Supporting NATTC training, Wolverine and Sable moored at and operated from Chicago at what today is known as Navy Pier. Wolverine began her training duty first in January 1943. Sable followed in May that same year. Together, the Great Lakes carriers were nicknamed the “Corn Belt Fleet.”

The US military took these incredible photos this week
An FM-2 Wildcat takes off from USS Sable on Lake Michigan (U.S. Navy)

Pilot training on the carriers took place seven days a week. They provided critical training to thousands of naval aviators and a smaller number of Landing Signal Officers. One of these naval aviators was future president George H. W. Bush, who trained on Sable.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
An FM-2 Wildcat barrier crash aboard USS Sable (U.S. Navy)

After WWII ended, the need for the Corn Belt Fleet had run its course. In November 1945, Wolverine and Sable were decommissioned, struck from the Navy register, and sold for scrap.

Together, the two ships trained 17,280 naval aviators in 116,000 carrier landings. They remain the only freshwater, coal-driven, side-wheel paddle steam aircraft carriers used by the Navy.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
USS Wolverine takes on coal at anchor on Lake Michigan (U.S. Navy)

Feature Image: U.S. Navy photo

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Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

The Trump administration is still sorting out “the big ideas” for a new Afghanistan strategy, beyond troop levels and other military details, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said July 21.


“We’re close,” he said in an impromptu exchange with reporters at the Pentagon one day after President Donald Trump met with him and his military chiefs for a broad discussion that aides said touched on Afghanistan and other issues.

The US has been fighting in Afghanistan for nearly 16 years, and as recently as June, Mattis said, “we are not winning.”

Mattis told Sen. John McCain at a hearing last month that he would have the Afghanistan strategy ready by mid-July. On July 21 he was asked what is holding it up.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Photo courtesy of the DoD

“It just takes time,” he said. “It wasn’t that past presidents were dumb or anything else. This is hard work, so you’ve got to get it right. That’s all there is to it.”

He also said it is vitally important to “get the big ideas right,” meaning to establish a consensus within the government on what problem Afghanistan poses and what policy goal is being pursued by committing US troops there. He called this “orders of magnitude” more difficult than deciding military tactics.

“It’s easy only for the people who criticize it from the outside and who don’t carry the responsibility for integrating it altogether,” he said, referring to making diplomatic and economic elements a part of the overall strategy.

Although Mattis did not mention him July 21, McCain is among the more vocal critics of the administration’s lack of an Afghan strategy.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
DoD photo by Chief Petty Officer James Foehl

On July 20, McCain mentioned his frustration on Afghanistan in a statement on the separate matter of the administration reportedly deciding to end a program to assist the Syrian opposition to President Bashar Assad.

“Six months into this administration, there is still no new strategy for victory in Afghanistan, either,” McCain said. “It is now mid-July, when the administration promised to deliver that strategy to Congress, and we are still waiting.”

In his remarks at the Pentagon, Mattis revealed no details of the ongoing administration debate.

He cast the Afghanistan problem in the context of past American wars, including those that did not end well — such as Vietnam — and those that still have not ended, such as Iraq. He said he wants to be sure there is administration agreement on the political goals as well as the military means.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

“I realize this probably looks easy, but it is not easy,” he said.

Mattis said a decision disclosed by the Pentagon on July 21 to withhold $50 million in “coalition support funds” for Pakistan — money it receives each year as reimbursement for logistical support for US combat operations — was separate from deliberations over a new Afghanistan strategy. Officials have said the US approach to Pakistan is an important part of the Afghan strategy debate, in part because a Taliban faction known as the Haqqani network enjoys sanctuary in Pakistan. US officials called the Haqqani network the most lethal element of the Taliban opposition in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said in a statement July 21 that Mattis has informed congressional committees that he could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network to deserve full reimbursement this year. Of $900 million in proposed reimbursement, Pakistan earlier received $550 million and Congress a few months ago withheld $300 million.

Mattis’ certification decision means the remaining $50 million also will be withheld.

The Pentagon chief said this was not a reflection of a new, tougher US policy toward Pakistan.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
A U.S. Army adviser from Task Force Forge conducts a room clearing drill with an Afghan trainee. (NATO photo by Kay M. Nissen)

“This is simply an assessment of the current state of play” with regard to suppressing the Haqqani threat. “It’s not a policy. It is the reality.”

Pakistan is authorized to receive up to another $900 million in support funds this coming year, of which $400 million is subject to Pentagon certification of sufficient Pakistani effort against the Haqqani network.

“In our discussions with Pakistani officials, we continue to stress that it is in the interest of Pakistan to eliminate all safe havens and reduce the operational capacity of all militant organizations that pose a threat to US and Pakistani interests as well as regional stability,” a Pentagon spokesman, Adam Stump, said.

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter determined the Pakistani effort against the Haqqani network was insufficient, and as a result, $300 million in support funds was withheld.

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The Army just picked this new semi-auto sniper rifle

The Army has chosen a new semi-automatic sniper rifle, replacing the M110 which entered service in 2008.


According to reports by the Army Times, the winning rifle was the Heckler  Koch G28. According to the the company’s website, the G28 is a version of the HK 417 battle rifle — itself a variation of the AR-10 rifle.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Soldiers of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment with a M110 (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin)

This came after a 2014 request for proposals for a more compact version of the M110. The M110 is being replaced despite the fact that it was named one of the Army’s “Best 10 Inventions” in 2007, according to M110 manufacturer Knight’s Armament website.

So, what is behind the replacement of a rifle that was widely loved by soldiers after it replaced the M24 bolt-action system? According to Military.com, it was to get something less conspicuous as a sniper rifle. The M110 is 13 inches longer than a typical M4 carbine, something an enemy sniper would be able to notice.

Being conspicuous is a good way to attract enemy fire.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
Lance Cpl. Thomas Hunt, a designated marksman with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, looks through the scope of his M110 sniper rifle while concealed in the tree line during the II Marine Expeditionary Force Command Post Exercise 3 at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 20, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michelle Reif/Released)

The new M110A1 does provide some relief in that department, being about 2.5 inches shorter than the M110. More importantly for the grunt carrying it, it is about three pounds lighter than the M110.

Both the M110 and the M110A1 fire the NATO standard 7.62x51mm cartridge, and both feature 20-shot magazines. The Army plans to spend just under $45 million to get 3,643 M110A1s. That comes out to $12,000 a rifle, plus all the logistical and support needs for the Army, including the provision of spare parts.

The US military took these incredible photos this week
A German soldier fires a Heckler Koch G28 during a NATO exercise. (NATO photo by Alessio Ventura)

The Army has long made use of semi-automatic sniper rifles. During the Vietnam War, a modified version of the M14 known as the M21 was used by the service’s snipers. One of those snipers, Adelbert Waldron, was America’s top sniper in that conflict, scoring 109 confirmed kills.

By comparison, the legendary Carlos Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills.

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The Air Force just bolted on a bunch of boneyard parts to get its Galaxies up in the air

On July 17, Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Carlton Everhart ordered all 18 of the Air Force’s C-5 cargo planes at Dover Air Force Base to halt operations and undergo inspections after two of the aircraft had landing-gear malfunctions in less than a 60 day period.


Two days later, Everhart extended the stand-down to all 56 of the Air Force’s C-5s, ordering them all to undergo maintenance assessments.

The ball-screw assembly on the C-5 Galaxy, the largest plane in the Air Force, was causing problems with the landing gear’s extension and retraction, according to Air Force Times.

The C-5’s nose landing gear uses two ball-screw drive assemblies working together to extend and retract, according to the Air Force. If one of the assemblies doesn’t work, the gear can’t operate. (The Dover stand-down came a little over a year after the C-5M Super Galaxies stationed there achieved the highest departure-reliability rate in their history.)

The US military took these incredible photos this week
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker

Inspections revealed that the parts needed to fix the malfunctions are no longer made. But, Everhart told Air Force Times, maintenance personnel were able to get the needed parts from the aircraft “boneyard” belonging to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona.

As of September 1, 38 of the Air Force’s 56 C-5s were back in service. By Sept. 4, three of them had been sent to support hurricane relief efforts in Houston.

“Returning the C-5 to service so quickly is a maintainer success story. I can’t say enough about our maintainers’ ingenuity, hard work, and pride,” Everhart told Air Force Times, adding that his command was looking at adaptive techniques, like 3D-printing, to supply parts and predictive maintenance to catch malfunctions before they happen.

The US military took these incredible photos this week

The Air Force’s “boneyard” in Arizona (there is more than one “boneyard“) provides long-term storage for a wide array of mothballed or unused aircraft — more than 3,800 as of mid-2016. Though they languish under the desert sun, low humidity in the air and low acid levels in the soil make it a good place to keep aircraft.

It’s not unusual for the Air Force to pull parts, or even entire planes, from the sprawling facility.

In summer 2016, the Marine Corps announced that it planned to refurbish 23 F/A-18C Hornets stored at the base in response to a shortage of usable aircraft. In October 2016, after a 19-month restoration process, the Air Force returned to service a B-52H Stratofortress bomber that had been mothballed at Davis-Monthan.

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