These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world - We Are The Mighty
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These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

An all-out fight may be the only real way to compare military strength, but fortunately, the world hasn’t had many opportunities lately.


Despite an increasingly tense situation in the South China Sea, continued fighting in Ukraine, and proxy wars throughout the Middle East, warfare between nation-states has mostly taken a backseat to peacekeeping missions and fights against terror groups.

Still, a simple evaluation of pure military power can be interesting, so we turned to the Global Firepower Index, a ranking of 106 nations based on more than 50 factors — including each country’s military budget, manpower, and the amount of equipment each country has in its respective arsenal, and its natural resources.

Related: How long the US military would last in a war against the rest of the world

It’s important to note the index focuses on quantity while ignoring significant qualitative differences. For example, North Korea’s 70 submarines are old and decidedly low-tech compared to what the US and others have. The index doesn’t take into account nuclear stockpiles, which are still the ultimate trump card in geopolitics. And it doesn’t penalize landlocked nations for lack of a standing navy.

We’ve created a chart to compare the top 25 militaries according to the Global Firepower Index. The ranking was released in April (before events like the Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine in August, ISIS’s blitz through Iraq, and the flare-up between Israel and Hamas) and involves a complex set of data that is subject to ongoing adjustments and corrections.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Skye Gould/Business Insider

Here Are The Key Findings From The Index:

America’s investment in being the world’s leading military force.

The US leads the world in military spending at nearly $600 billion a year. China is in a distant second, at nearly $160 billion — less than one-third of America’s overall spending.

Also read: Here’s who would win if Russia, China, and America went to war right now 

According to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US has reduced its defense budget by 7.8% chiefly because of America’s gradual withdrawal in overseas military operations, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would effectively reverse that downward trend.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Russia, meanwhile, has increased its arms spending and continues to modernize its military equipment and implement higher quality training for its personnel.

Aircraft carriers are key, but few countries have even one.

Aircraft carriers contribute greatly to a country’s overall military strength. These massive vessels allow nations to project force far beyond their borders and across the entire face of the globe. They’re essentially mobile naval and air force bases.

Aircraft carriers can also carry unmanned aerial systems — drones — which significantly change the global surveillance game.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
US Navy photo

The US’s absolute monopoly on super-carriers significantly boosts its forward operating power. The US has deployed an aircraft carrier toward the Persian Gulf to bolster its sea and air power before possible strikes against ISIS in Iraq. It also has others keeping a close on the Korean peninsula.

Russia has previously deployed an aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean to support the Assad government in Syria.

North Korea’s submarines are pretty much useless.

At first look, it seems North Korea is amazing when it comes to submarine warfare, but there’s a little more to the story.

Pyongyang does command one of the largest submarine fleets on earth, but most of its vessels are unusable.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
The North Korean Sang-O submarine ran aground in South Korean waters near Gangneung, in 1996. | Public Domain photo

A third of North Korea’s subs are noisy diesel-powered Romeos, which have been obsolete since 1961. These submarines have a weapons range of only four miles, whereas a modern US submarine has a range of 150 miles. The Hermit Kingdom’s fleet is unsophisticated but still durable, according to the Pentagon.

In a fight with a more sophisticated adversary, North Korean subs would be toast.

A previous version of this article was written by Amanda Macias.

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The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Jun. 17

We know that most of you are just here to steal memes for your arsenal. That’s fine. We’re doing the same thing when we go to the pages linked in blue above each meme.


If you don’t already, though, click on the links and show those page admins some love. They and their audiences are the hard workers who keep the meme currency flowing.

1. You could just get a job backpacking (via Pop Smoke).

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
You’ll get to travel in all sorts of exotic locales and meet lots of interesting people.

2. Energy drinks win wars. That’s a fact (via Air Force Nation).

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
DFAC: Get on this. The caffeine situation is unacceptable.

SEE ALSO: This Coastie crossed the English Channel 10 times on D-Day

3. “But, first sergeant said we should personalize our desks.”

(via Air Force Memes Humor)

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

4. When you get the counseling statement that you’re falling a little short in some areas:

(via Air Force Memes Humor)

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

5. 10 bucks says people were finding excuses to go into the room (via Pop Smoke).

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

6. “And now we’re headed to berthing where we’ll be conducting nap time.”

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

7. Actual image shared on an Air Force Facebook page (via We Are The Mighty).

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Maybe the F-35 is so expensive because it’s secretly an X-wing.

8. Remember to paint your face, Homer. Your jaundice makes you easy to pick out (via The Salty Soldier).

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Homer Simpson really is the shammer/skater spirit animal.

9. Combat outposts don’t have regs or Charms candies (via Military Memes).

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
You will need helmets, though.

10. “Don’t know why we need some fancy, new-fangled CD players in the Navy.”

(via Military Memes)

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

11. George Washinton was so cool, he wore aviators before aviation was a thing (via Grunt Style)

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Pretty sure he was rocking a 50-star flag before there were even thirteen states, too.

12. “Sry, chief. Still waiting. The dentists are moving super slow.”

(via Coast Guard Memes)

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

13. Of course, if it has no ammo, it’s probably not the last one you’ll ever see (via Military Nations)

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Maybe there are a few rounds left in the gun.

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

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


AIR FORCE

The Air Force and its mission partners successfully launched the AFSPC-5 mission aboard the Space and Missile Systems Center procured United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, May 20, 2015.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: United Launch Alliance

Tech. Sgt. Bruce Ramos, a 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 1 radio operator, raises an American flag from an MC-130P Combat Shadow while it taxis at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 15, 2015.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson/USAF

NAVY

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, perform a flyover during a graduation and commissioning ceremony for the Naval Academy Class of 2015.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Koch/USN

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for an independent deployment.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/USN

ARMY

BIG STEP – On Tuesday, May 19, students at the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School conducted helocast drills. Helocasting is an airborne insertion technique used by small special operations forces to enter denied areas of operations.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Janice Burton/US Army

An Army AH-64 Apache air crew, assigned to 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division conducts pre-flight checks prior to an air-assault operation, part of the Network Integration Evaluation 15.2 exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Sgt. Jose D. Ramirez/US Army

MARINE CORPS

Landing craft air cushion conduct an amphibious assault during the MARFORPAC-hosted U.S. Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Staff Sgt. Jason W. Fudge/USMC

An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires its 120 mm smoothbore cannon during a live-fire event as part of Exercise Eager Lion 2015 in Jordan.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Sgt. Devin Nichols

COAST GUARD

Rescue crews from the Coast Guard 1st District don immersion suits to practice cold water survival in Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USN

A Coast Guard crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USCG

NOW: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

AND: 19 of the coolest military mottos

OR: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

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This is how a decorated PJ found ‘love at first sight’ after he retired

“Just be quiet for a second. You hear that?” retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Rob Disney asks a visitor. When she nods, he says, “Absolutely nothing. That’s what I love the most about this place.”


Disney’s life wasn’t always so tranquil. A 21-year pararescueman in the Air Force, Disney was often being sent in when Army Green Berets, Marine Force Recon, or Navy SEALs had gotten into a situation where they couldn’t get out without help.

During one of his deployments Disney was shot in the face with an AK-47 and lost all feeling in his face for several months. Disney received the Purple Heart for his injury and has a host of awards to show for his bravery.

But to help those combat memories fade, Disney bought an amazing mountain retreat after retirement, saying it was “love at first sight,” with the deal being sealed when he went out on the porch with a cup of coffee.

“It definitely was my destiny,” Disney told the host of the video. The house, built with both log and drywall, has three bedrooms and a finished basement. While the house in the mountains may have been Disney’s destiny, it’s not the first house Disney has owned. The experience of buying homes and closing “quite a few mortgages” during his 21 years of service has given him some valuable insights.

“Something that is very very important in anybody who is going to buy a home is that they need to find a mortgage company that they can absolutely trust and have a rock-solid foundation with,” Disney said, adding that Veterans First was the one he trusted most.

Disney closed on his house of destiny 13 years to the day after he was shot, and moved there exactly a year later.

“I took one of the worst experiences of my life and turned it into one of my best memories,” he said.

Disney also demonstrated some guitar skills. He started playing at age 15, shifting from the banjo, which didn’t attract the attention he sought from girls.

“Still play all the time, every day,” he said, describing it as an emotional release.

The full video from Veterans First mortgage is embedded above.

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How Russia plans to imitate US naval power with its aircraft carrier deployment to Syria

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the US should be flattered that Russia plans to deploy their only aircraft carrier, the 26 year-old Admiral Kuznetsov, off Syria’s coast for its first combat deployment.


A successful deployment of a full-blown aircraft carrier represents the kind of sophisticated military task only a first-rate world power can pull off, and that seems to be exactly what Russia hopes for.

Also read: Russia’s only aircraft carrier is a floating hell for the crew

Much like their 2015 salvo of cruise missiles fired from the Caspian sea into Syria, the event will likely serve as a commercial for Russian military exports — one of the few bright spots in Russia’s ailing economy.

The deployment will seek to present the best and brightest of Russia’s resurgent military. The Kuznetsov, which has suffered from a litany of mechanical failures and often requires tow boats, will stay tight to Syria’s shores due to the limited range of the carrier’s air wing.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in dry dock | Public Domain photo by Christopher Michel

The air wing, comprised of only 15 or so Su-33s and MiG-29s and a handful of helicopters, does not even have half of the US Nimitz class carrier’s 60 plus planes.

Furthermore, the carrier lacks plane launching catapults. Instead, the carrier relies on a ski-jump platform that limits how much fuel and ordnance the Russian jets can carry.

Even so, the Russian jets aboard will be some of the latest models in Russia’s entire inventory, according to Russian state-run media. The bombs they carry will be guided, a sharp departure from Russia’s usual indiscriminate use of “dumb” or unguided munitions which can drift unpredictably when dropped from altitude.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
An Su-33 on the deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov. | Public Domain photo by Todd Summerlin

Russian media quotes a military source as saying that with the new X-38 guided bombs, “we reinforce our aviation group and bring in completely new means of destruction to the region.”  The same report states the bombs are accurate to within a few meters, which isn’t ideal, but an improvement.

Indeed, the Kuznetsov’s entire flight deck will function as somewhat of a showroom for Russian military goods. China operates a Soviet-designed carrier, as does India. Both of those nations have purchased Russian planes in the past. A solid performance from the jets in Syria would bode well for their prospects as exports, even as India struggles to get its current crop of Russian-made jets up to grade.

“Despite its resemblance to the land-based version of the MiG-29, this is a completely different aircraft,” Russian media quotes a defense official as saying of the MiG-29K carrier-based variant.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
MiG-29K of INAS 303 prepares to catch the wire aboard the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya in 2014 | Indian Navy

“This applies to its stealth technologies, a new system of in-flight refueling, folding wings and mechanisms by which the aircraft has the ability to perform short take-offs and land at low speeds.”

But the Russian jets practice on land bases that simulate the Kuznetsov, and any US Navy pilot will tell you that landing on a bobbing airstrip sailing along at sea is an entirely different beast.

One thing Russia’s upcoming carrier deployment does have going for it will be having the world’s premier naval and carrier power, the US, at least nominally aligned with them in a recently brokered cease-fire.

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (Aug. 12 edition)

Here’s your Hump Day news lineup:


Now: 5 general officers who were almost certainly crazy 

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The second invasion of Nazi-occupied France that you’ve never heard of

On Aug. 15, 1944, a massive flotilla carrying approximately 200,000 heavily armed invaders surged from the Atlantic Ocean into Southern France. The men of the 6th Army Group were there to kill Nazis and chew bubblegum, and they were all out of bubblegum. It’s the invasion you’ve never heard of but should have.


 

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
The invasion fleet off the coast of Southern France. Photo: US Navy

The invasion of Southern France was originally planned as part of D-Day, but was pushed back due to a shortage of landing craft and slow progress of forces moving up Italy. By the time the allied armies were ready to make their landings, some leaders were pushing to change the plan.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wanted to use the resources and manpower dedicated to Operation Dragoon, as the invasion was called, to instead push harder through Italy or to land in the Balkans.

An Italian operation could have knocked the country out of the war faster. The Balkan operation would have robbed Germany of needed oil while also limiting the amount of territory that was gained by the Red Army, putting the other Allied powers in a better position against the Soviets after the war.

But Allied commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was adamant that Operation Dragoon should be launched to draw away German forces battling the Allied troops marching east from Normandy. Operation Dragoon would also deliver Marseille and Toulon, large port cities that could facilitate reinforcements and supplies for the push to Berlin, to the allies.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Photo: Wikipedia

So the men of 6th Army Group made their landings on a 35-mile beachhead Aug. 15 and immediately began moving north. German supply and communications lines had been attacked by French partisans and the allied forces capitalized on the confusion, attacking German units as they found them.

British and American paratroopers jumped into Le Muy to the north of the beaches. 1,300 Allied bombers from four aircraft carriers and a number of land bases began striking railroads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Naval ships positioned off the French Riviera began firing on targets fed to them by spotting aircraft.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Paratroopers ride in C-47 Skytrains en route to Le Muy for Operation Dragoon on Aug. 15, 1944. Photo: US Air Force

German troops conscripted from occupied territories quickly surrendered to the Allies. Germany’s Army Group G attempted to delay the Allied forces but was hampered by a lack of equipment and manpower. Also, many of their troops were sent there to recover from wounds received in other theaters, limiting their effectiveness.

Army Group G began preparations to retreat in the first day of fighting.

By Aug. 17, Hitler had authorized the retreat and the U.S. 6th Army Group and the German Army Group G engaged in a chase across miles of southern France. As most of the American and British soldiers in the invasion pushed north to chase the Germans, a number of French troops swung west to liberate the ports at Marseilles and Toulon.

The Allied push north stayed on the offensive, liberating town after town. The American forces eventually met up with Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army in early Sep. 1944. The German Army Group G did escape with many of their men.

Allied casualties in the fighting approached 20,000 but the Allied forces captured 100,000 German troops while killing and wounding a number of others.

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8 life lessons from ‘Forrest Gump’ legend Lt. Dan

Gary Sinise has had a very successful film and television career spanning over four decades.


Sinise starred on the long-running TV series “CSI: NY” and worked on major motion pictures such as “Apollo 13” and “Ransom.” Sinise is a big supporter of the men and women who serve our nation in uniform. He frequently tours across military bases all around the world entertaining troops with his cover band “The Lt. Dan Band.”

Of course, the actor is most remembered for his portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 Academy Award winning film “Forrest Gump.”

In the movie, Lt. Dan is a straight-forward Army officer who comes from a long line of military tradition. In the film, it was said that every one of his relatives had served and died in every American war.

Throughout the picture, we see the character evolve into various stages showing anger, depression, acceptance and redemption.

The character is an important part of Forrest Gump’s life and his own development throughout the film. The role earned Sinise his only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Here are eight valuable life lessons from our favorite Lieutenant:

1. Take care of your feet

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
(YouTube Screen Grab)

The first time we see Lt. Dan is in Vietnam when Gump, played by the legendary Tom Hanks, and his best friend Bubba report to their new unit.

Lieutenant Dan comes out of his quarters and introduces himself to the duo. After some small talk, the officer tells them that there is one item of GI gear that can be the “difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt.” He then say “socks” and he stresses the importance of keeping their feet dry when out on patrol.

Clearly Lt. Dan was a student of history. In World War I, many Soldiers suffered from trench foot, a serious problem when feet are damp and unsanitary. If left untreated trench foot can lead to gangrene and amputation.

Our feet are so vital in our everyday life. Listen to Lt. Dan! Change your socks and keep your feet dry.

2. Knowing your destiny

Lt. Dan knew he wanted to be a Soldier.

It was Lt. Dan’s destiny to die in combat for his country. As morbid as it may sound, this is what the character envisioned as his life’s purpose.

Many people do not know what they were put on this earth to do. Many people give up on their dreams never achieving them. Say what you want about Lt. Dan’s destiny, but it was clear what he wanted to achieve in his life.

3. Overcoming self-doubt

After Forrest Gump saved Lt. Dan’s life, Sinise’s character felt cheated out of his purpose. Laying in a hospital bed after his legs were amputated, Lt. Dan holds a lot of self-doubt asking Gump “what am I going to do now?”

His feeling of hopelessness is something many of us experience in life for various circumstances and situations. His doubts remain throughout the movie as the character goes through changes in his life and gathers new perspectives along the way.

Eventually Lt. Dan recognizes that he cannot let his insecurities hinder him. As you will see later on, Lt. Dan sets out new goals to accomplish and eventually stops his self-loathing.

4. Sticking up for your friends

While it seemed Lt. Dan always gave Gump a hard time, deep down he valued the friendship of his former Soldier.

This is clear in a scene where Lt. Dan sticks up for Gump during a New Year’s Eve after party in a New York hotel room. The character backs up his friend after two women start to mock Gump by calling him “stupid.”

Lieutenant Dan kicks them out of the room and tells them to never call him stupid. That is a true friend!

5. Keeping your word

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Just remember to pull into the dock before you jump off the boat.

During their time in New York, Gump told Lt. Dan he was going to become a shrimp boat captain in order to keep a promise to his friend and fallen comrade Bubba.

Lieutenant Dan vowed if Gump became a shrimp boat captain the wounded warrior would become his first mate. As the movie progress, we find Gump on board his very own shrimp boat.

The new captain sees his longtime friend on the pier one day while on his boat. In one of the most iconic and hilarious scenes in the Academy Award winning picture, Gump jumps from his boat while it’s still steaming forward to greet Lt. Dan.

When Hanks’ character asked Lt. Dan what he was doing there, he said he wanted to try out his “sea legs” and would keep his word to become Gump’s first mate. It is important to keep your promises!

6. Making peace with himself

The Lt. Dan character lived in a world of bitterness and hatred for so many years. But serving as Gump’s first mate made him appreciate his life. Although the Lt. Dan character always seemed to be a bit rough around the edges, he showed his heartfelt side when he finally thanked Gump for saving his life during the war.

After thanking him, Sinise’s character jumps into the water and begins to swim while looking up to the sky. The symbolism in the scene is clear here as he washing away all of those years of hate and accepted a new path.

7. Invest your money

Lieutenant Dan invested the money from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Corporation in a “fruit” company. That company of course was Apple. This life lesson is pretty simple. If you can invest some money wisely go for it! You just might become a “gazillionaire.”

8. The joys of life

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
And that’s all we got to say about that!

At the end of the film, we see a clean shaven Lt. Dan walking with his prosthetic legs, which Gump referred to as “magic legs.” With his fiancé by his side, Lt. Dan has a new lease on life.

Much like Lt. Dan, we all encounter ups and downs throughout our lives in one form or another. However, all of those experiences are part of the journey that can make life joyful in the end.

This is clear when Sinise’s character looks at Gump and gives him a big smile.

And that’s all we got to say about that!

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82

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ISIS militants are now using civilians as bait

The Pentagon says Islamic State militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul are holding civilians in buildings by force and then deliberately attracting coalition strikes.


A Pentagon spokesman on March 30 said the U.S. military will soon release a video showing IS fighters herding people into a building, then firing from the structure to bait coalition forces.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
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 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)

The comments come as the U.S. military responds to criticism from within Iraq and internationally over a separate incident in which as many as 240 civilians are believed to have been killed.

“What you see now is not the use of civilians as human shields,” said Colonel Joe Scrocca, a spokesman for the coalition. “Now it’s something much more sinister.”

He said militants are “smuggling civilians so we won’t see them” into buildings and then attempting to draw an attack.

He said he was working on declassifying a video showing militants conducting such an operation.

Human rights group Amnesty International, Pope Francis, and others have urged for better protection for civilians caught in the war, with calls intensifying after a separate March 17 explosion in the Mosul al-Jadida district, killing scores of people.

The U.S. military previously acknowledged that coalition planes probably had a role in the explosion and subsequent building collapse, but it said the ammunition used was insufficient to explain the amount of destruction observed.

Officials said they suspect the building may have been booby-trapped or that the damage may have been caused by the detonation of a truck bomb.

U.S.-backed forces are attempting to push IS fighters out of west Mosul after having liberated the less-populated eastern part of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Scrocca estimated that some 1,000 militants remain in west Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, down from 2,000 when the assault was launched on February 19.

They are facing about 100,000 Iraqi government forces, he added.

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There’s now a criminal review into the Afghan army’s combat uniform program

The head of US oversight for Afghanistan told lawmakers July 25 that the Pentagon’s wasteful purchase of untested camouflage uniforms for Afghan forces is under criminal investigation.


Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said the Defense Department spent $94 million on a proprietary camouflage pattern — known as HyperStealth Spec4ce Forest — for Afghan army forces “without determining the pattern’s effectiveness in Afghanistan compared to other available patterns.”

The effort resulted in $28 million in excess costs to the US taxpayer and, if unmodified, Sopko said, this procurement “will needlessly cost the taxpayer an additional $72 million over the next 10 years.”

Sopko’s investigation also found that the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, or CSTC-A, could not identify the total amount of direct assistance spent on Afghan uniforms — nor could it account for the total amount of uniforms actually purchased due to poor oversight and poor recordkeeping.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
John Sopko. Photo from Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction via Flickr

“These problems, Madam Chairwoman, are serious. They are so serious that we started a criminal investigation related to the procurement of the [Afghan National Army] uniforms,” Sopko told the committee.

As a result of the investigation, he added, “I am going to announce today that we believe it is prudent to review all of CSTC-A’s contracts related to the procurement of organizational clothing and individual equipment in Afghanistan.”

The investigation’s embarrassing findings recently prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to scold the Pentagon bureaucracy, describing the episode as emblematic of an attitude in the Pentagon that allows poor spending decisions to be excused, overlooked, or minimized.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, the Missouri Republican chairwoman for the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, asked how the forest camouflage pattern was selected over other more economical patterns that are owned by the Defense Department.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Afghan National Army soldiers standing out against their environment. Army photo by Pfc. David Devich.

Sopko said Afghanistan’s minister of defense was never shown any Defense Department-owned camouflage patterns.

“He was basically shown only the patterns owned by one company,” Sopko said. “The only options we gave the minister of defense were the proprietary patterns. The bigger problem is no one ever did an assessment as to what type of camouflage is best in Afghanistan.

“Basically, what we were told by CSTC-A, and we are researching this right now, is the minister of defense liked this color, so he picked it,” he said.

Peter Velz, director for Afghanistan Resources and Transition for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, agreed with Sopko’s report, saying that a “DoD organization with expertise in military uniforms should conduct an analysis of whether there might be a more cost-effective uniform design and camouflage pattern that meets operational requirements.”

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Roger S. Duncan

“We believe this is the best way to determine the merits of the report’s claim that DoD may have spent as much as $28 million over 10 years on uniforms that may be inappropriate for Afghanistan’s operational environment,” Velz said.

The appropriate Pentagon experts have begun developing a plan for the study, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks, he added.

It’s unclear if Velz’ office is aware that the US Army conducted an exhaustive camouflage study, which featured an operational evaluation of multiple camouflage patterns — including HyperStealth, in Afghanistan. The effort resulted in the Army selecting Crye Precision’s MultiCam pattern in 2010 as the service’s official pattern for Afghanistan.

Since then, the Army has adopted its new Operational Camouflage Pattern, a government-owned pattern that closely resembles MultiCam.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world
Afghan National Army Sgt. Sarajadin, an instructor at Joint Sustainment Academy Southwest. Photo from Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction via Flickr

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., asked what else the subcommittee can do to help prevent these types of mishandled contracts.

Sopko said that holding these types of hearing is important, but so is making sure “tough, hard questions are asked.”

“One question you could ask, and I think the full committee should ask, is how many people identified by my office, by the DoD office, or by [the Government Accountability Office] have actually lost their jobs because of wasting taxpayers’ dollars,” Sopko said.

“Send that letter to the Department of Defense … I bet you no one. We identify these problems; no one is held accountable,” he said.

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5 unbelievable missions of Canada’s most legendary native soldier

Tommy Prince was a member of the Ojibwa, one of Canada’s First Nations tribes (what the United States calls Native Americans or American Indians), who tried many times to join the Canadian Army during WWII.


Amazingly, he was rejected more than once because of racial discrimination. If they had only known that Tommy Prince was a one-man wrecking crew.

These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

Prince became a sapper first, then a paratrooper, and a member of the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion. Eventually, he was sent to a special forces unit, the 1st Special Service Force — a combined special forces operation with the United States known to the enemy as “the Devil’s Brigade.”

These are the unbelievable missions that helped Tommy Prince become one of Canada’s most celebrated soldiers, the country’s most decorated indigenous veteran, and the most decorated member of the Devil’s Brigade:

5. Attacking an impenetrable mountain fortress.

The Italian Campaign was young in 1943, but the Special Service Force was assigned to go behind the enemy lines at the Battle of Monte La Difensa. It was a steep, mountainous fortress that already repelled three full-scale Allied assaults.

The Devil’s Brigade changed the situation in a hurry.

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Prince walked across the entire front line near the village of Majo, infiltrated every single machine gun bunker, and killed everyone inside. Without making a sound. When the Allies advanced the next morning, the machine guns were silent.

4. Reporting on German movements right in front of them.

In 1944, Prince was in Italy running a communications line. He was reporting enemy movements back to the Allied forces near Littoria. As a Nazi artillery position fired on his allies, Tommy Prince was about 200 meters away, watching every move the Nazis made and reporting it to his command.

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The comms wire was accidentally cut during the battle. Prince disguised himself as a farmer and began to work the land. He shouted curses at both Axis and Allied troops.

When his work took him to the cut in the wire, he bent over to “tie his shoe,” repaired the wire, and pressed on with his 24-hour long watch.

3. Walking three days to fight an entire enemy camp, then capturing everyone.

Just after the start of Operation Dragoon, the Summer 1944 invasion of Southern France, Prince was assigned to locate an enemy camp in the nearby mountains. He walked across the terrain for three days with little food or water to find it. Once he did, he walked back to the Allied lines only to lead the assault force on the camp.

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Amazing how much awesome can be packed into one photo.

The small assault team captured some 1,000 enemy prisoners. He was called to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI presented him with the Military Medal and the American Silver Star.

2. Rescuing the French Resistance along the way.

As Prince hiked around Southern France, he ran into resistance partisans in a firefight with some Germans. To level the playing field, the Canadian started to pick off as many Nazis as he could with just a rifle and his elevated position.

The young Native was an expert marksman from childhood, so the Nazis were easy pickings.

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They quickly broke off the fight and ran. When Prince came down to talk to the Frenchmen, they told him his fire was so intense, thought they were rescued by an Allied infantry company.

1. Using Moccasins to sneak into German barracks…just to show them he could.

His compatriots in the Devil’s Brigade knew Prince carried moccasins in his kit bag. Using these instead of his boots allowed Prince to sneak into anywhere he wanted, including enemy barracks.

At night, he would enter Nazi barracks as they slept, steal their shoes (sometimes off their feet), and slit the throats of every third soldier.

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Even only one-third of the camp is a lot of dead people.

When they awoke in the morning, the Nazis found their shoes missing and their friends dead. That’s how the enemy knew the Devil’s Brigade was operating in the area.

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This is what happens if you try to illegally enter Area 51

In 2013, the United States government finally admitted the famed Area 51 of conspiracy theory lore was not only real, but also there are a lot of tests that go on there. And that was about it. Even though the area’s existence was confirmed, nothing else about it was revealed. 

All we really know is that the area is located north of Las Vegas, at Groom Lake, a dry lake bed in the desert and there are two other facilities at Groom Lake, the Nevada Test Site and the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The truth is that even though a lot of secret research, testing, and training happens at Area 51, for the most part, it’s just like any other military installation (except there’s no flying over Area 51). You still need access to go on the base and if you go on the base without access, a number of things could happen.

“Sir, this ID is cardboard and your name is clearly written in crayon…”(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Zachiah Roberson)

Just like any other military base, how you illegally enter the base will determine how Air Force security forces (or whoever is guarding Area 51) responds to you. So, in short, swarming Area 51 like the internet planned to do a few years back would go terribly, terribly wrong for everyone involved.

If you were to somehow find yourself on the base without being authorized to be there, there’s no roving execution squad driving around to find infiltrators. I mean, they are looking for infiltrators, but security forces isn’t going to summarily execute one. 

It would be a lot of ground to cover for said roving execution squads (Wikimedia Commons)

Air Force security forces are authorized to use deadly force on an intruder, as every sign outside of a base installation says. They don’t, however, have to use deadly force. In fact, before they start shooting at you, you have to demonstrate three things: intent, opportunity, and capability of either using deadly force yourself, causing bodily harm, or damaging or destroying resources. 

So tiptoeing onto a base might get you captured and questioned, but it won’t get you executed unless you start going all “True Lies” on anyone who happens to accidentally cross your path. Again, this is true of any base. At Area 51, the entrances to the Groom Lake area are really far from any actual buildings, so there’s no opportunity there. 

Driving like a bat out of hell through a gate, however, might demonstrate all three conditions at the same time, so there are good odds that the shooting will start immediately, maybe even before you make it to the gate. This actually happened at a regular base in 2010, when the driver of a stolen car refused to slow down or stop at the entrance of Luke Air Force Base.

Area 51
“Target is wearing an ‘X-Files’ t-shirt, staggering and complaining that they’re thirsty…” (U.S. Air Force photo/Rob Bussard)

The driver got lit up by Air Force security forces and though he made it onto the base, he didn’t make it far. He crashed the vehicle almost immediately and was arrested by local authorities. 

At Area 51, the third criteria for the use of deadly force might be interpreted a little more loosely, considering the installation’s national security mission. If the Air Force is okay with assuming that anyone not authorized to be in the area has the intent and capability of causing harm to national security and is capable of doing whatever it takes to do so, then they might just assume that the only good intruder is a dead one. 


Feature image: Wikimedia Commons

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Here’s what you didn’t know about the Queen’s Guards

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  If you’ve ever been to Buckingham Palace, you’ve probably noticed the armed guards wearing the bearskin caps standing sentry. These aren’t your average security guards roaming through shopping malls. They are Queen’s Guards and are fully-trained operational soldiers — and most have been deployed to combat zones.

The guards are hand picked from five different infantry regiments and identified by the various details of their uniform such as button spacing, color badges, and the plumes in the bearskin caps.

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Since 1660, the guards have been responsible for protecting the British royal residents of St. James and Buckingham Palace.

Every morning at 11:30 during the summer and every other day during the winter, the changing of the guard commences in the forecourt of Buckingham.

During an hour long ceremony, the detachments slowly pass over the guard responsibilities to the incoming troops marching in from their barracks. While on duty, the guards may not eat, sleep, smoke, stand easy, sit or lay down during their shift.

Today, most sentry posts have been moved away from the public to avoid confrontation with curious tourists — the guards carry rifles with live ammunition.

Watch more Elite Forces:

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This is how Rome’s Praetorian Guard held so much power

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This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

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