These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son - We Are The Mighty
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These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

When Elinor and Arty Nakis brought home the body of their 19-year-old son who had died during a transport mission while deployed with the Army National Guard in Mosul, Iraq, in 2003, an eagle soared over their Sedro-Woolley home.


Another eagle flew overhead on the way to Nathan Nakis’ memorial service, Elinor Nakis recalled.

And in 2008, when the Nakis family helped install indoor climbing and bouldering walls in honor of their son at the Camp Black Mountain Boy Scout camp in Whatcom County, an eagle was there, too.

That’s why Elinor wasn’t surprised to see a young eagle soar overhead Saturday morning during the dedication of the bouldering wall at its new home near Cascade Middle and Evergreen Elementary schools in Sedro-Woolley.

“(Nathan) would be so proud,” she said.

After spending years in storage at a Janicki Industries facility in Hamilton, the bouldering wall formerly housed in Whatcom County is ready to carry on Nathan Nakis’ memory in the community he grew up in.

“We expect this thing to get a lot of use,” Arty Nakis said. “We took the protective covering off last night and it’s already getting used.”

Nathan, a 2002 Sedro-Woolley High School graduate who started in school at Evergreen, was heavily involved with the Boy Scouts, his mother said.

As an adult, the Eagle Scout volunteered and worked at Camp Black Mountain and helped build the camp’s first rope climbing course, Elinor Nakis said.

When the course would close for days at a time due to inclement weather, Nathan would tell his mother how much he hoped to see a covered climbing facility for the Scouts to use. The wall located between the Evergreen and Cascade campuses is covered by a roof.

After his death, the Nakis’ could think of no better way to honor their son.

“Elinor and I have always felt that it took the help of our community to raise our sons,” Arty Nakis said at the dedication. “When we lost Nathan, we felt the support and love of this community stronger than ever.”

When the Boy Scout camp closed in 2012, the climbing wall built in Nathan’s honor couldn’t be salvaged, Arty Nakis said, but the bouldering wall was removed so it could one day find a new home for more to enjoy.

“It’s an honor and a privilege,” Sedro-Woolley School District Superintendent Phil Brockman said. “It’s an honor to have ‘Nathan’s Boulder’ on our campus. Our kids look forward to playing on this.”

The wall is set to be used not only by students attending the schools, but also by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Skagit County’sSedro-Woolley club that shares the same property.

“This is perfect,” Arty Nakis said. “I couldn’t imagine a more perfect spot.”

The district’s special needs students will also utilize the wall for hands-on learning experiences, something that Elinor, a 21-year employee of the Sedro-Woolley School District, is glad to see happen.

“(Whether) it’s Scouting or through the schools, you’ve got to get (kids) out of their comfort zone,” Arty Nakis said. “It builds confidence and trust in each other.”

For Rotary International of Sedro-Woolley President David Bricka, the project took on a special meaning as he remembered his nephew Brian Gurney, who died in December as a result of injuries sustained during a 2014 hiking accident at Pilchuck Falls. Gurney was 19 at the time of the accident.

“(Brian and Nathan) were two great young men that had such an impact,” Bricka said. “They both had 19 years of actively living.”

Sedro-Woolley Mayor Keith Wagoner, a veteran himself with a son currently enlisted, thought the bouldering wall was a perfect fit for the community.

“I have so many friends that went and didn’t come back,” Wagoner said. “Literally thousands of hands have touched this thing. It’s not a monument you stand back and look at.”

Alec Giess, who served with Nathan Nakis and was in the vehicle with him the day Nakis died, drove up for the dedication from Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Giess has become part of the family, Arty Nakis said.

“It was a combat mission on a crummy day,” Giess said. “Everybody liked (Nathan). (Nathan’s story) won’t end now. It’ll keep going.”

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This is why the Russian Navy is such a basket case

You’ve probably suspected it from WATM’s coverage of the “Kuznetsov Follies,” but let’s just go out and say it: Russia’s navy is a basket case. A floating disaster of aging, decrepit ships and not that many of them – which is a far cry from what the Soviet Navy was in the Cold War.


To get a sense of how far the Russian Navy has fallen, in 1991, the Soviet Union had seven carriers — two Moskva-class helicopter carriers, four Kiev-class vessels, and one Kuznetsov-class ship, with two more (another Kuznetsov and a nuclear-powered design) under construction.

Today, there’s just the Kuznetsov, with her then-under-construction sister now serving with China, and a highly-remodeled Kiev serving with India.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. (Department of Defense)

How did this happen? A big part was the fact that after the fall of the Soviet Union, the ship-building industry collapsed, and the projects that fueled it. Not only that, many of the Soviet Navy’s naval engines were built in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Now, the Ukraine is an independent country, and the two countries aren’t exactly on friendly terms. Russia is reportedly looking to import naval engines from China. Even if that happens, new ships are a long way off.

The other issue is maintenance. It is very telling that ocean-going tugs are a part of every deployment for the Admiral Kuznetsov. Accidents, like the fire that rendered the Kara-class cruiser Kerch useless, are common. Fires have been a particular concern, including one that reportedly damaged a new minesweeper under construction.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Russia is in the middle of a massive overhaul of it’s aged, but still dangerous navy. | Photo by Mitsuo Shibata via Wikimedia Commons

Rumors persist that plans to modernize two of the four Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers were scrapped, and the Admiral Ushakov, formerly the Kirov, has been idle for nearly two decades after an accident. Russia has been developing and building smaller vessels, including the Gorshkov and Grigorovoch classes of frigate and the Karakurt and Derzky classes of corvette. These ships are heavily armed and superior to the American littoral combat ships.

You can see a video below, further explaining how the Russian Navy sank so far from its status as a blue-water threat in the Cold War.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Md5dGt0Nsc
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Here’s the technique Navy SEALs use to swim for miles without getting tired

With the beginning of summer, pools all over the US are opening for recreational swimming — but in the Navy, recruits are getting ready for the brutal Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S, that will turn some of them into Navy SEALs.


In the SEALs, where recruits of the elite special operations unit are pushed to their limits, there is no room for inefficiency. So it developed a more efficient swimming stroke: the combat swimmer stroke.

The stroke combines the best elements of breaststroke and freestyle to streamline a motion that not only reduces resistance on a swimmer’s body, but makes the swimmer harder to spot underwater.

Here’s a sample of the stroke:

Unlike freestyle, the combat sidestroke calls for the swimmer to stay submerged for most of it.

To do the combat swimmer stroke, dive in or kick off as you would in freestyle, but at the end of your glide, do a large, horizontal scissor kick instead.

Now comes the unique part — as the horizontal scissor kick tilts your body so that one arm is slightly higher than the other, pull that arm back while leaving the other outstretched.

Turn your face up toward the surface as you pull that arm down, take a breath, and begin to pull down your other arm. Another scissor kick, then reset your arms. You should not switch your orientation or the order in which you pull back your arms.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

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This is the good news and bad news about terrorism

Iran continues to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, the Trump administration said July 19 in a new report that also noted a decline in the number of terrorist attacks globally between 2015 and 2016.


In its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism,” released July 19, the State Department said Iran was the planet’s “foremost” state sponsor of terrorism in 2016, a dubious distinction the country has held for many years.

It said Iran was firm in its backing of anti-Israel groups as well as proxies that have destabilized already devastating conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. It also said Iran continued to recruit in Afghanistan and Pakistan for Shiite militia members to fight in Syria and Iraq. And, it said Iranian support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement was unchanged.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
The Hezbollah flag. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

In terms of non-state actors, the report said the Islamic State group was responsible for more attacks and deaths than any other group in 2016, and was seeking to widen its operations particularly as it lost territory in Iraq and Syria. It carried out 20 percent more attacks in Iraq in 2016 compared with 2015, and its affiliates struck in more than 20 countries, according to the report.

Iran has been designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the State Department and is subjected to a variety of US sanctions since 1984, and many of the activities outlined in the report are identical to those detailed in previous reports. But, this year’s finding comes as the Trump administration moves to toughen its stance against Iran. The administration is expected to complete a full review of its policy on Iran next month.

President Donald Trump has been particularly critical of the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and only reluctantly certified early this week that Iran remained entitled to some sanctions relief under its provisions.

Related: Iran commands a secret 25,000-man ‘foreign legion’ in Syria

“Iran remained the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2016 as groups supported by Iran maintained their capability to threaten US interests and allies,” said the report, the Trump administration’s first, which was released just a day after the administration slapped new sanctions on Iran for ballistic missile activity.

Some of those sanctions were imposed on people and companies affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the report said continues to play “a destabilizing role in military conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.”

Iran used a unit of the IRGC, the Qods Force, “to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East,” the report said. It added that Iran has publicly acknowledged its involvement in Syria and Iraq.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani. (Photo from Moscow Kremlin.)

Hezbollah worked closely with Iran to support the attempt by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to maintain and control territory, according to the report. And with Iranian support, Hezbollah continued to develop “long-term attack capabilities and infrastructure around the world,” it said.

The report also accused Iran of supplying weapons, money, and training to militant Shia groups in Bahrain, maintaining a “robust” cyber-terrorism program, and refusing to identify or prosecute senior members of the al-Qaeda network that it has detained.

As in previous reports, Sudan and Syria were also identified as “state sponsors of terrorism.”

In its final days, the Obama administration suspended some sanctions against Sudan in recognition of that country’s improved counter-terrorism record. In early July, the Trump administration extended those suspensions by three months. Countries can be removed from the list at any time following a formal review process, but the report offered no explanation for why Sudan remains on it.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
President Barack Obama shakes hands at a Ministerial meeting on Sudan. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton.)

In fact, it said counter-terrorism is now a national priority for the Khartoum government and that Sudan “is a cooperative partner of the United States on counter-terrorism, despite its continued presence on the state sponsors of terrorism list.”

Despite the activities of Iran and groups like the Islamic State in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria, and Boko Haram and al-Shabab in Africa, the total number of terrorist attacks in 2016 decreased by 9 percent from 11,774 in 2015 to 11,072, according to statistics compiled for the report by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

That reduction was accompanied by a 13 percent decrease in deaths — from 28,328 to 25,621 — from such attacks over the same period. Of those killed in 2016, 16 were American citizens, including seven in high-profile attacks in Brussels in March and Nice, France, in July. Seventeen Americans were injured in the Brussels attack and three in Nice, the report said.

The report attributed the drops to fewer terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen. At the same time, the report said attacks in the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Turkey increased between 2015 and 2016.

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This is what the pilots from ‘Top Gun’ are doing today

The 1980s brought us some fantastic action movies like “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard,” which made movie-goers consider joining the police force.


When Tony Scott’s “Top Gun” landed in cinemas across the nation, it was an instant blockbuster, earning over $350 million worldwide according to box office mojo.

With all the adrenaline-packed scenes the film offers, “Top Gun” audience members of all ages wanted to be the next Maverick.

While it made a massive impact at the time, did you ever wonder what happened to the cool pilots from “Top Gun?”

Well, we looked into it, and here’s what we found.

FYI. This is strictly fan fiction.

Iceman

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
(Source: Paramount)

Soon after Iceman made amends with Maverick, his naval career took a downward turn, and he ended up leaving the military. Like most veterans, he didn’t have a plan about what he wanted to do post service — so he dyed his hair brown and became a Jim Morrison impersonator.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

He played a few music gigs and smoked a lot of drugs. But after the market for music impersonators dried up, Iceman reset his hair blonde and turned to a life of crime.

You may have even seen him on the news after being involved in a major shootout with police in downtown Los Angeles back the mid-90s.

The “Heat” was totally on.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

Since then, Iceman has gone off the grid, but he resurfaces every once in a while.

Jester

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
(Source: Paramount)

Jester loved being a Top Gun instructor, but because he lost a dogfight to a student — his peers started to look down at his piloting skills. Jester put in for retirement and left the Navy. After months of being a civilian, Jester missed the action so much, he moved to Mars becoming a bounty hunter.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

While on assignment, Jester lost his arms during a fight on an elevator. The Mars government patched him up and gave him a bionic arm.

Then wouldn’t you know it, a war broke out against some big ass bugs, and he joined the mobile infantry. He flew to a planet named “Klendathu” to eliminate the threat. Unfortunately, Jester met his doom there, and his body was ripped apart.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

Jester could have just walked this off.

Slider

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
(Source: Paramount)

After being Iceman’s sidekick for so many years, Slider’s BUD/s package was approved, and he went on to become a Navy SEAL. He didn’t talk too much, but he learned to play a mean round of go-kart golf.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

Life after the teams, Slider finished getting his medical degree and went to work for a ghetto hospital in Chicago. He began dating a hot nurse until an upcoming pediatrician stole her away.

Then, he kind of just vanished. Oh, wait! We just received reports that he spotted as a bicycle officer patrolling the Santa Monica Pier.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

No one saw that career change coming.

Maverick

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
(Source: Paramount)

As much crap as he raised as a fighter pilot, Maverick ended up getting recruited by a spy agency named “Mission Impossible Force.” The organization made him change his name from Pete Mitchell to Ethan Hunt — which is far better.

He went on several successful missions and took down some of the world’s most dangerous and well-connected terrorists.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

In recent news, the all-star pilot will be returning for round 2, “Maverick” set to debut this fall.

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Green Beret who beat up accused child rapist will be allowed to stay in uniform

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland will be allowed to stay in the Army after the service reversed its decision to kick him out. Martland was being forcibly discharged over a 2011 incident in which he confronted an Afghan police commander who had brutally raped a local boy.


These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland (Photo: Duncan Hunter)

Late Thursday night, Martland won the fight against the Army’s Qualitative Management Program, which gives the boot to soldiers with black marks on their records. The Army Board for Correction of Military Records reviewed the Green Beret’s performance history and pulled his name from the QMP list.

Martland admitted that Capt. Dan Quinn and he assaulted the Afghan official during his 2011 deployment to Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province. The commander was engaging in “bacha bazi,” or “boy play” — an Afghan practice where young boys in sexual slavery are often dressed up as women and forced to dance and serve tea. The practice was forbidden under the Taliban, but experienced a rebirth after the Taliban’s ouster by NATO forces and U.S. troops were ordered by their commanders not to intervene. When the Afghan confessed to raping the boy and beating the child’s mother for telling local authorities, Quinn “picked him up and threw him,” Martland said in his official statement. “I [proceeded to] body slam him multiple times.”

The line removed from his Army record read: “Demonstrated poor judgment, resulting in a physical altercation with a corrupt ALP member. Judgment and situational awareness was lacking during an isolated instance.”

Hundreds of veterans and other concerned citizens wrote letters and started petition drives in Martland’s defense. Even actor and Marine veteran Harvey Keitel got involved and urged California Congressman Duncan Hunter to intervene.

Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran and San Diego-area congressman, immediately came to Martland’s defense, calling the Army’s actions “totally insane and wrong,” and adding that Martland’s case “exemplifies the problems with the Army.”

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Martland (second from left) during a visit with General David Petraeus

An Army spokesman confirmed to Fox News that Martland will no longer be forced out.

“In SFC Martland’s case, the Army Board for Correction of Military Records determination modified a portion of one of SFC Martland’s evaluation reports and removed him from the QMP list, which will allow him to remain in the Army,” Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk said.

Quinn, now a civilian, said, “Charles makes every soldier he comes in contact with better and the Army is undoubtedly a better organization with SFC Martland still in its ranks.”

“I am real thankful for being able to continue to serve,” Martland told Fox News.  “I appreciate everything Congressman Duncan Hunter and his Chief of Staff, Joe Kasper, did for me.”

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These are America’s most intense electronic weapons

Control of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is a major asset in military operations.


The Marines have demonstrated their painful “heat ray,” a weapon that blasts intruders with a wave beam that targets the skin and makes victims feel like they’ve stepped in front of a blazing oven — all without killing them.

It doesn’t cause irreversible damage, but will make someone instinctively back off.

Modern weapons systems employ radio, radar, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, electro-optical, and laser technologies.

“The Russians and the Chinese have designed specific electronic warfare platforms to go after all our high-value assets,” said Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle, the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, as reported by Aviation Week.

The US military is developing cyber-capabilities to gain a tactical edge.

Electronic warfare consists of three subdivisions: electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support.

According to US military doctrine for electronic warfare planning, electronic attack (EA) involves “the use of electromagnetic energy, directed energy or anti-radiation weapons to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying enemy combat capability.”

Basically, the aim is to wipe out the enemy without getting too dirty.

The Marine Corps “Heat Ray” raises the temperature on the target’s skin by 130 degrees

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Sgt. Maj. of the USMC Michael P. Barrett ran for it after feeling the ADS. (Photo: Daniel Wetzel/USMC)

But it won’t kill you.

The Active Denial System (ADS) creates an intense heated sensation lasting 1-2 seconds. It’s caused by a radio frequency wave, not radiation or microwave.

“You’re not going to see it, you’re not going to hear it, you’re not going to smell it. You’re going to feel it,” said director of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, Marine Col. Tracy Tafolla, according to Stars and Stripes.

The 95 GHz millimeter wave has a range of up to 1000 meters. The directed-energy beam only penetrates 1/64th of an inch into the skin.

As a nonlethal weapon, it can be used for crowd control or determining hostile intent before engaging with lethal weapons. That way, ADS can buy life-saving time without inflicting lethal injury on its targets.

This hand-held laser system can temporary blind you

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Photo: Wikimedia

The Phasr was introduced in 2005 by the Air Force.

As another directed-energy weapon, the Phasr employs a two-wavelength laser system that temporarily blocks an aggressor’s ability to see.

It’s like opening your eyes in the middle of the night to someone shoving a blinding flashlight in your face. The Air Force casually calls this effect “dazzling” or “illuminating.” Whatever you call it, this hand-held device effectively impairs anyone targeted.

The “Death Ray” can detect and destroy missiles with a deadly laser beam

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
The military’s lethal answer to Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. (Photo: Northrop Grummann)

The US has run several test flight experiments on the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB). So far, they’ve worked out this killer firing sequence:

1. The ALTB uses one of its six infrared sensors to detect the exhaust plume of a boosting missile.

2. A kilowatt-class solid state laser, the Track Illuminator, tracks the missile and determines a precise aim point.

3. The Beacon Illuminator, a second laser, then measures disturbances in the atmosphere, which are corrected by the adaptive optics system to accurately point and focus the High Energy Laser (HEL) at its target.

4. Using a large telescope located in the nose turret, the beam control/fire control system focuses the HEL beam onto a pressurized area of the missile, holding it there until laser energy compromises the missile’s structural integrity causing it to fail.

Radar jamming takes out the enemy’s ability to communicate

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
ITT Exelis is one of the teams working on a Next Generation Jammer.

You may have heard of the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer program (NGJ).

Radar jamming can disable the enemy’s command and control system ahead of an offensive attack. NGJ will be used on the Boeing EA-18G, the aircraft for airborne electronic attack operations.

Another example of electromagnetic jamming is Counter-RCIEDs (Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device). You can see the Marine Corps’ Chameleon system here.

Military Deception manipulates the enemy’s combat decisions and generally messes with their heads

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
SLQ 32 electronic warfare system aboard the USS George Washington.

Troops can mislead enemy decision-makers about their intentions, prompting the enemy to take specific actions or inactions and making it difficult for the enemy to establish an accurate perception of reality.

Using the EM spectrum, they can disrupt communication and intelligence systems to insert deceptive information.

Military Deception (MILDEC) operations apply four basic deception techniques: feints, demonstrations, ruses, and display.

The anti-radiation missile is a smokeless, rocket-propelled missile that destroys radar-equipped defense systems

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Photo: Raytheon

The AGM-88 HARM (High-speed anti-radiation missile) is used throughout the Air Force for suppressing surface-to-air radar warning systems.

Anti-radiation missiles help neutralize hostile airspace and take out the enemy’s ability to defend itself.

As Air Force officials have noted, “Coalition forces in Operation Desert Storm operated ‘at will’ over Iraq and Kuwait after gaining control of the EM spectrum early in the war.”

Boeing has test-flown a nonlethal missile that fries electronics while minimizing collateral damage (like civilian deaths). You can read about CHAMP here.

Expendables are active decoys that throw enemy missiles off target or seductively lure them away

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
The fire-optic towed decoy can lure missiles away by becoming the target. (photo: BAE brochure)

The AN/ALE-55 fibre-optic decoy is towed behind to protect fighters, bombers, and transport aircraft from radio frequency-related threats, such as an incoming missile’s tracking on the aircraft.

There are three layers of protection though, so the idea is that a target track is eliminated from the start.

If all else fails, the intelligent decoy will lure the missile away to become the target and deny the enemy a hit.

More from Business Insider:

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

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 8 edition)

Reveille! Reveille! Here’s the news you need to know about to start your day fully mission-ready:


Now check this out: 13 professional baseball players who became war heroes 

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Feb. 25

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


AIR FORCE:

An A-10C Thunderbolt II taxies down the flightline during the 2017 Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 12, 2017. During the course, aircrews practiced ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and Air Force pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

An F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief assigned to Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing squeezes into the intake of on an F-16 during a preflight inspection at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 2, 2017. The 180th FW brought their F-16s and about 150 maintainers, pilots, and operations specialists to MacDill AFB for a two-week training exercise.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Nic Kuetemeyer

ARMY:

Ukrainian combat training center engineers detonate an explosive charge to breach a door before entering a mock building as part of training with Canadian and U.S. engineers to build the Ukrainian’s breaching skills, at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, enabling them to teach those skills to Ukrainian army units who will rotate through the IPSC.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

A Royal Thai Army Soldier from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry demonstrates how to quickly dress a chicken for cooking in Korat, Thailand, Feb. 20. Exercise Cobra Gold is the largest Theater Security Cooperation exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and is an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement in the region.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Army photo by Major Kelly S Haux

NAVY:

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (Feb. 13, 2017) Steelworker 1st Class William Peacey, left, and Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Steven Fenske, both assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1, conduct pre-dive checks during diver qualification training at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. UCT-1 provides a capability for construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of ocean facilities in support of Naval operations.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Simmons

RAMSUND, Norway (Feb. 14, 2017) Sailors assigned to Platoon 802, the mine countermeasure platoon of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, conduct dismounted counter-improvised explosive device operations. EODMU-8 is participating in Exercise Arctic Specialist 2017, a multinational explosive ordnance disposal exercise conducted in the austere environments of northern Norway.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Seth Wartak

MARINE CORPS:

Recruits with 2nd Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, spar during Marine Corps Martial Arts training at Leatherneck Square at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program helps to create the warrior ethos by utilizing armed and unarmed techniques from various styles of martial arts.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Richard Currier

A Marine with the Maritime Raid Force climbs a caving ladder attached to an MH-60 Seahawk during a helocast training evolution near the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) afloat in the Indian Ocean, Nov. 28, 2016. The training consisted of Marines jumping out of CH-53 Super Stallions with a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, which simulated the MRF team traveling a long distance before being dropped in the ocean to continue their mission using a CRRC.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado

COAST GUARD:

Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Richey, a crewmember at Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor, mans an M240B machine gun on the bow of a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat during a security escort into Portsmouth Harbor the morning of, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. The Motor Lifeboat crew escorted the Gibraltar-flagged LNG tanker Polar into a terminal in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Richey, a crewmember at Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor, mans an M240B machine gun on the bow of a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat during a security escort into Portsmouth Harbor the morning of, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. The Motor Lifeboat crew escorted the Gibraltar-flagged LNG tanker Polar into a terminal in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

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Here are 8 of the American-est things you can do to celebrate the 4th of July

Every July 4th, we celebrate our independence by displaying our patriotic spirit and pride in all things American. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate America and all its glory the right way!


1. Recite the Pledge of Allegiance

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

Find an American flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. (And listen to the words as you say them.)

2. Attend a Naturalization ceremony

One of the most patriotic things you can do is support our nation’s newest citizens by attending a naturalization ceremony. Each year, cities and some overseas military installations host these ceremonies on the 4th of July. Many of these individuals have been waiting years to become citizens and some have even served in the military. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, more than 7,000 new citizens will be welcomed this year. To see if there is a ceremony in your town, please check out this link: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/celebrating-independence-day-naturalization-ceremonies-0

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Spc. Samuel Diaz and 155 other service memembers take the Oath of Citizenship during a naturalization ceremony July 4 2010 in the Al Faw Palace rotunda at Camp Victory, Iraq U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, administered the Oath of Citizenship. (DoD Photo by Lee Craker)

3. Head to the ballpark

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

They don’t call it America’s pastime for nothing. Baseball was born right here in the good ole USA. Have some peanuts and cracker jacks and enjoy the ball game. And don’t forget to stick around for the seventh inning stretch.

4. Watch Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog eating contest

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contest is an American staple held each year on America’s birthday. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of Nathan’s Famous. There is something very American about watching men and women chow down processed meat to earn the title of hot dog eating champion and a shiny championship belt.

5. Grill out and have a cold one

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

Watching grown men and women scarf down as many hot dogs as possible in 10 minutes can make you hungry. So do what Americans do best and fire up the grill. Cook yourself a massive steak, have a mountain of potato salad, and enjoy a nice cold beverage in the company of friends and family.

6. Eat a slice of Apple pie

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

After stuffing your face with BBQ food, grab yourself a slice of apple pie. Adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream will only make it taste better.

7. Watch the Fireworks

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

Fireworks have been a part of Fourth of July festivities since the first anniversary of the nation’s independence. Thousands of public firework displays will be held from coast-to-coast for the public to check out. If you chose to do your own fireworks, please be careful. Safety first!

8. Thank a veteran or current service member

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son

This one is pretty easy and will make our forefathers proud!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Let us know what other great American things to do on the 4th of July in the comments.

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter at @alexlicea82

Articles

These special Army cyber teams are hacking ISIS comms

Soldiers in new cyber teams are now bringing offensive and defensive virtual effects against Islamic militants in northern Iraq and Syria, according to senior leaders.


These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
An embedded expeditionary cyber team performs surveillance and reconnaissance of various local networks during the Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities support to Corps and Below pilot at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 10, 2016. Cyber senior leaders recently announced that cyber Soldiers are now employing offensive and defensive cyber effects against Islamic militants in northern Iraq and Syria. (Photo Credit: David Vergun)

“We have Army Soldiers who are in the fight and they are engaged (with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant),” said Brig. Gen. J.P. McGee, the Army Cyber Command’s deputy commander for operations.

Once the cyber mission force teams stand up, McGee said they’re going straight into operational use.

“As we build these teams, we are … putting them right into the fight in contact in cyberspace,” he said at a media roundtable last week.

The general declined to discuss specific details, but said the majority of the effort is offensive cyberspace effects that are being delivered from locations in the United States and downrange.

The Army is responsible for creating 41 of the 133 teams in the Defense Department’s cyber mission force. Of the Army’s teams, 11 are currently at initial operating capability with the rest at full operational capability, according to Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, director of cyber for the Army’s G-3/5/7.

She expects all of the Army teams to be ready to go before the October 2018 deadline, she said.

The teams have three main missions: protect networks, particularly the DOD Information Network; defend the U.S. and its national interests against cyberattacks; and give cyber support to military operations and contingency plans.

This spring, Army cyber also plans to continue the Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities support to Corps and Below pilot, which is testing the concept of expeditionary CEMA cells within training brigades.

The 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team is slated to take part in the pilot’s sixth iteration, being held at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

In the training, Soldiers discover how to map out cyber and EM terrain in a simulated battlefield in order to defeat the enemy.

“Where are the wireless points, cell phone towers? What does that look like? How do you figure out how to gain access to them to be able to deliver effects?” McGee asked.

In one example, McGee said that a CEMA cell could be used to shut down an enemy’s internet access for a period of time to help a patrol safely pass through a contested area. The internet access could then be turned back on to collect information on enemy activities.

“We’re innovating and trying to figure this out,” he said.

McGee also envisions cyber Soldiers working alongside a battlefield commander inside a tactical operations center, similar to how field artillery or aviation planners give input.

“A maneuver commander can look at a team on his staff that can advise him on how to deliver cyber and electromagnetic effects and activities in support of his maneuver plan,” he said.

Until then, the Army has created a cyber first line of defense program, which trains two-person teams to actively defend the tactical networks of brigades, Frost said. Each team consists of a warrant officer and NCO who are not specifically in the cyber career field, but who can still help brigades operate semi-autonomously in combat.

“[We] look at putting two individuals that will come with cyber education and tools to be that first line of defense,” Frost said. “It allows a brigade commander to be able to execute mission command.”

Articles

Germany just threw a UXO party for 50,000 people

Unexploded ordnance, often called “UXO,” has long been a problem after wars. In World War II, the Allies dropped almost 1.6 million tons of bombs on Germany – the equivalent of 6.4 million 500-pound bombs. Every major city was hit.


The problem is that not all the bombs exploded — not surprising when so many were dropped. These have been hanging around – and even now, 72 years after V-E Day, some of them still turn up.

And in Hanover, Germany, on May 7, 2017, three of those UXOs were found by construction crews, according to the BBC.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
A 2,500 pound German bomb, buried opposite University College Hospital, London, was removed by Army sappers. Before the bomb, which fell in 1941, was de-fused, people in the area were evacuated to a safe distance. (National Archives)

According to a report by FoxNews.com, the city government evacuated 50,000 people, the largest since an unexploded bomb was found in Augsberg, Germany, last Christmas. In February, a German bomb that failed to detonate was discovered in the United Kingdom while construction work was underway to improve the intended home port for the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

With so many people affected, the city decided to throw a big UXO party. Numerous events were set up, including screenings of films for kids, sporting events, and museum tours. There were also efforts made to provide food and other essential supplies to the evacuees while the Allied bombs were secured.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sean Carnes)

There’s no doubt about it, UXO can still kill, even after decades under ground. The BBC reported that in 2010, three German EOD techs were killed while trying to defuse a World War II leftover. In 2012, a construction worker was killed when his equipment hit an old bomb. Old World War II ordnance has sometimes been discovered during training exercises, notably in the Baltic Sea.

In the United States, most of the UXO is from the Civil War. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a number of cannonball left over from that conflict were unearthed.

Articles

Air Force begins massive high-tech F-15 upgrade

The US Air Force is vigorously upgrading the 1980s-era F-15 fighter by giving new weapons and sensors in the hope of maintaining air-to-air superiority over the Chinese J-10 equivalent.


The multi-pronged effort includes the current addition of electronic warfare technology, super-fast high-speed computers, infrared search and track enemy targeting systems, increased networking ability and upgraded weapons-firing capability, Air Force and Boeing officials said.

“The Air Force plans to keep the F-15 fleet in service until the mid-2040’s.  Many of the F-15 systems date back to the 1970’s and must be upgraded if the aircraft is to remain operationally effective. Various upgrades will be complete as early as 2021 for the F-15C AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar and as late as 2032 for the various EW (electronic warfare) upgrades,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Rob Leese told Scout Warrior.

The Air Force currently operates roughly 400 F-15C, D and E variantsA key impetus for the upgrade was well articulate in a Congressional report on the US and China in 2014. (US-China Economic and Security Review Commission —www.uscc.gov). Among other things, the report cited rapid Chinese technological progress and explained that the US margin of superiority has massively decreased since the 1980s.

As an example, the report said that in the 1980s, the US F-15 was vastly superior to the Chinese equivalent – the J-10. However, Chinese technical advances in recent years have considerably narrowed that gap to the point where the Chinese J-10 is now roughly comparable to the US F-15, the report explained.

Air Force and Boeing developers maintain that ongoing upgrades to the F-15 will ensure that this equivalence is not the case and that, instead, they will ensure the superiority of the F-15.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Advanced F-15 Eagle on St. Louis Flight Line | Boeing photo

Among the upgrades is an ongoing effort to equip the F-15 with the fastest jet-computer processer in the world, called the Advanced Display Core Processor, or ADCPII.

“It is capable of processing 87 billion instructions per second of computing throughput, translating into faster and more reliable mission processing capability for an aircrew,” Boeing spokesman Randy Jackson told Scout Warrior.

The F-15 is also receiving protective technology against enemy fire with a system called the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System.

“This allows the aircraft to identify a threat and actively prosecute that threat through avoidance, deception or jamming techniques,” Mike Gibbons, Vice President of the Boeing F-15 program, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

High tech targeting and tracking technology is also being integrated onto the F-15, Gibbons added. This includes the addition of a passive long-range sensor called Infrared Search and Track, or IRST.

The technology is also being engineered into the Navy F-18 Super Hornet. The technology can detect the heat signature, often called infrared emissions, of enemy aircraft.

“The system can simultaneously track multiple targets and provide a highly effective air-to-air targeting capability, even when encountering advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology,” Navy officials said.

IRST also provides an alternate air-to-air targeting system in a high threat electronic attack environment, Navy, Air Force and industry developers said.

The F-15 is also being engineered for additional speed and range, along with weapons-firing ability. The weapons-carrying ability is being increased from 8 up to 16 weapons; this includes an ability to fire an AIM-9x or AIM-120 missile. In addition, upgrades to the aircraft include adding an increased ability to integrate or accommodate new emerging weapons systems as they become available. This is being done through both hardware and software-oriented “open standards” IP protocol and architecture.

The aircraft is also getting a “fly-by-wire” automated flight control system.

“Fly by wire means when the pilot provides the input – straight to a computer than then determines how to have the aircraft perform the way it wants – provides electrical signals for the more quickly and more safely move from point to point as opposed to using a mechanical controls stick,” Gibbons explained.

These Gold Star parents donated a climbing wall to honor their fallen son
Single-engine Chengdu J-10 | Wikimedia Commons

Along with these weapons upgrades and other modifications, the F-15 is also getting upgrades to the pilot’s digital helmet and some radar signature reducing, or stealthy characteristics.

However, at the same time, the F-15 is not a stealthy aircraft and is expected to be used in combat environments in what is called “less contested” environments where the Air Force already has a margin of air superiority over advanced enemy air defenses.

For this reason, the F-15 will also be increasing networked so as to better support existing 5th-generation platforms such as the F-22 and F-35, Air Force officials said.

The intent of these F-15 upgrades is to effectively perform the missions assigned to the F-15 fleet, which are to support the F-22 in providing air superiority and the F-35 in providing precision attack capabilities, Leese said.

“While these upgrades will not make these aircraft equivalent to 5th generation fighters, they will allow the F-15 to support 5th generation fighters in performing their missions, and will also allow F-15s to assume missions in more permissive environments where capabilities of 5th generation fighters are not required,” Leese added.

Gibbons added that the upgrades to the F-15 will ensure that the fighter aircraft remains superior to its Chinese equivalent.

“The F-15 as a vital platform that still has a capability that cannot be matched in terms of ability to fly high, fly fast, go very far carry a lot. It is an air dominance machine,” Gibbons explained.