Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends - We Are The Mighty
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Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends

On June 2, 1865, the final Confederate armies officially surrendered, effectively ending the Civil War, which had begun four years earlier on April 12, 1861, when Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln quickly called upon loyal forces to quell the Southern insurrection, which would become the bloodiest war in American history.

While General Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, in Appomattox, Virginia, other Confederate forces remained in the field. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston followed suit and surrendered on April 26, 1865, near Durham Station, North Carolina. 

Finally, recognizing the cause as being lost, General Edmund Kirby Smith negotiated the surrender of his forces as well. On June 2, in Galveston, Texas, he signed the surrender before fleeing to Cuba by way of Mexico. 

Although a force of Native Americans under Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie, a Cherokee chief, didn’t formally surrender until June 23, General Smith’s surrender is considered the official end of the Civil War.

Featured Image: Julian Scott, 1873, Surrender of a Confederate Soldier. (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.)

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This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Capt. Edward Rickenbacker Photo: US Army Air Force


Capt. Edward Rickenbacker was one of the few American fighter pilots to earn the title “Ace of Aces,” given by the press for his 26 kills in World War I. He is arguably one of the most decorated service members to ever live.

But before he was a decorated hero, Rickenbacker was a professional race car driver who almost wasn’t allowed to fly.

Rickenbacker raced cars from 1912-1917, racing in a number of events including the first Indianapolis 500. He even broke the land speed record, reaching a blistering 134 mph.

When America entered World War I, he volunteered to organize a very unique unit: a fighter squadron filled entirely with race car drivers.

The guts, reflexes, and situational awareness needed to succeed racing early automobiles 100 mph or faster would have served flying squadrons well, but the U.S. Army wasn’t interested. Worse, Rickenbacker was considered too old to become a pilot himself.

Rickenbacker enlisted anyway and was assigned as a chauffeur. While driving for senior officers he met Col. William Mitchell, the chief of the Army Air Service. Rickenbacker, then 27-years-old and two years over the Army’s standard age cap, spoke to Mitchell about becoming a pilot.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Eddie Rickenbacker in San Francisco for a race before World War I. Photo: Wikipedia/San Francisco Public Library

Mitchell encouraged him to do so and just had Rickenbacker lie about his age, claiming he was 25 in order to start training.

The young aviator graduated the pilot’s course 17 days after starting it and began the career that would make him famous.

In his first few months as a pilot, he scored 7 victories, becoming an ace pilot. He took command of his unit, the 94th Pursuit Squadron, and scored two more kills in a daring attack on Sep. 25, 1918, his first day as the commander.

While conducting a solo patrol, he spotted five aircraft. He maneuvered above them unseen and then dove through the formation, downing two and scattering the rest. He received both the French Croix de Guerre and the Medal of Honor for his valor.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

It was when he reached 12 kills that the press began calling him the “Ace of Aces,” a title he didn’t like, according to History Net. The three aviators who had been adorned with the title before Rickenbacker were all killed in combat.

The nickname served Rickenbacker better than it did his predecessors. He didn’t just survive the next month, he scored 14 new victories and ended the war with 26.

After the war, Rickenbacker became a businessman who made a number of breakthroughs in the aviation and automobile industries.

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These photos show the amazing views of Air Force cockpits

Few people get to experience the amazing rush, and have the incredible view, that pilots with the US Air Force are able to experience.


The following pictures take us inside the cockpits of the US Air Force.

US Air Force Maj. James Silva, left, and Lt. Col. Steven Myers, both B-1B Lancer pilots, complete a flight in the first newly upgraded operational B1-B Lancer, January 21, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Ebensberger

First Lt. Greg Johnston and Capt. RJ Bergman fly their UH-1N Iroquois over a mountain range, January 27, 2015, near Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillon Johnston

Capt. Jonathan Bonilla and 1st Lt. Vicente Vasquez, 459th Airlift Squadron UH-1N Huey pilots, fly over Tokyo after completing night training, April 25, 2016.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Yasuo Osakabe

A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the 77th Fighter Squadron (FS) settles into his cockpit before takeoff, October 5, 2011, from Shaw Air Force Base.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Senior Airman Kenny Holston

A US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aerial-refueling aircraft connects with a Belgian F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, August 18, 2011, during aerial refueling over Afghanistan.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen

Staff Sgt. Michael Keller takes a self-portrait in an F-15E Strike Eagle during a local training mission over North Carolina, December 17, 2010.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller

Vlado Lenoch, a pilot with Air Combat Command’s Heritage Flight program, taxis the runway at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 5, 2016. Lenoch and his P-51 Mustang participated in Air Combat Command’s Heritage Flight Training Course, a program that features modern fighter/attack aircraft flying alongside Word War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War-ear aircraft.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing fly an air-to-air training mission against student pilots, April 8, 2015.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen

A US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 335th Fighter Squadron approaches a 911th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker over North Carolina during a local training mission, December 17, 2010.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller

US Air Force Technical Sgt. James L. Harper Jr., aerial-combat photographer, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, takes a self-portrait during a training mission with the 119th Fighter Squadron, New Jersey Air National Guard on August 19, 2009, over the Atlantic Ocean.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force by Technical Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.

A US Air Force F-16 aerially refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Air Force

Not a bad office view.

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A US soldier was killed in Helmand Afghanistan as more troops deploy to Taliban hotbed

U.S. Army Private first class Hansen Kirkpatrick was killed during an indirect fire attack in Helmand province, Afghanistan July 3, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.


The Pentagon announcement was devoid of details on the circumstances of the 19-year-old’s death, and the incident remains under investigation. Two other U.S. soldiers were reportedly wounded in the attack but their wounds are not considered life threatening.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
A U.S. Army adviser from Task Force Forge conducts a room clearing drill with an Afghan trainee to demonstrate proper tactical procedures at the Regional Military Training Center in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, March 8, 2017. Task Force Forge advisers fill a critical role executing the train, advise and assist mission to the ANA 215th Corps as part of the NATO Resolute Support. (NATO photo by Kay M. Nissen)

Helmand province is an active site of U.S. operations supporting the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban. The Taliban has turned the province into the frontline of its campaign against the U.S. and Afghan government, controlling vast swaths of its territory.

Kirkpatrick’s death comes amid serious discussions by U.S. officials to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. President Donald Trump granted Secretary of Defense James Mattis authority to set Afghan troop levels in mid June.

Mattis recently secured NATO backing to increase the number of overall troops in Afghanistan by at least a few thousand, in a recent visit to Europe.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Islamic State terrorists launched a chemical attack in Mosul

U.S. Army Major General Joseph Martin spoke via video conference from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on April 19, 2017, confirming that Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists launched a chemical attack against Iraqi forces in Mosul four days earlier.


The U.S. military has confirmed that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group launched a chemical offensive against advancing Iraqi forces in the flashpoint city of Mosul over the weekend.

Iraqi security sources reported on April 15 that Daesh terrorists had fired missiles loaded with chlorine at the then-freshly-liberated neighborhood of al-Abar in west Mosul, causing respiratory problems for at least seven troops.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Soldiers conduct detailed aircraft decontamination training. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Josephine Carlson)

Major General Martin, the commanding general of the so-called Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command–Operation Inherent Resolve, said via videoconference from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad that the chemical attack had been launched but had caused no fatalities.

“The Iraqi security forces…were in vicinity of one of the strikes,” Martin told reporters, adding, “They were taken back for the appropriate level of medical care… Nobody’s been [fatally] impacted. Nobody’s died.”

Martin, however, said that the agent used in the attack had not been identified “at this time.”

“We have sent it back for testing but we’re still waiting for the outcomes,” he said.

According to Iraq’s Federal Police, Daesh also hit two other districts of western Mosul, namely Urouba and Bab al-Jadid, with chemical attacks on April 15.

The foreign-backed terrorist group, which seized Mosul in June 2014, has so far carried out numerous chemical attacks against both Iraqi forces and civilians.

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There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

Story Musgrave has more than 18,000 hours in over 160 aircraft. He is a parachutist with over 800 freefalls. He has graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and psychology. He has been awarded 20 honorary doctorates. Oh, and he was a part-time trauma surgeon during his 30-year astronaut career.


It all started with his decision to become a United States Marine.

“My horizons started to expand when I went off to Korea in the Marine Corps. As the saying goes, you join the service to see the world. That’s when my horizons began to expand.” – Story Musgrave

Franklin Story Musgrave grew up on a dairy farm in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. From an early age, he showed a remarkable intelligence and physical ability. At age 5, he was building homemade rafts and by age 10, he was driving trucks. By 13, he was fixing trucks. He attended a co-ed prep school which would have prepared him for a comfortable life in the post-World War II era, but instead of finishing high school, he decided to run off and enlist in the Marine Corps.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends

“I was an airplane mechanic for the Marines in Korea at the age of 18, and that’s when I got introduced to things that don’t come home. Challenger was not an engineering accident. NASA was told about the problem [of the O-rings in low temperature]. So then the memory turns to solid anger.”Story Musgrave

He eventually did get a GED while serving. Musgrave spent his time in the Corps in Korea as an aviation electrician and instrument technician and later as an aircraft crew chief aboard the USS Wasp. After leaving the Marines, he almost averaged a new degree every year from 1958 until 1964, including his medical doctorate from Columbia University. He would earn another Master’s degree in Chemistry in 1966 and a degree in Literature in 1987 at age 52.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends

Any hand I’m dealt, I will play to the best of my ability.” – Story Musgrave

Musgrave is also an accomplished pilot, earning FAA ratings for instructor, instrument instructor, glider instructor, and airline transport pilot. He also earned his astronaut wings in 1967.

“Space is a calling of mine, it struck like an epiphany. That occurred when NASA expressed an interest in flying people who were other than military test pilots. And when I was off in the Marine Corps in Korea, I had not graduated from high school, yet and so I could not fly. And so, I was not a military test pilot, but as soon as NASA expressed an interest in flying scientists and people who were not military test pilots, that was an epiphany that just came like a stroke of lightning.” – Story Musgrave

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends

Musgrave was selected as a scientist-astronaut and then worked on the design and development of the Skylab Program. He was also the backup science-pilot for the first Skylab mission.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends

What’s really unique about Musgrave’s astronaut experience is that he flew on all five space shuttles, the dates below are for his first flight in these ships. He flew aboard Challenger twice:

  • Challenger, April 1983
  • Discovery, November 1989
  • Atlantis, November 1991
  • Endeavour, December 1993
  • Columbia, December 1996

Musgrave described the Space Shuttle as “very fragile” in an interview with Time Magazine, calling a “butterfly bolted on a bullet.”

His shuttle missions are extraordinary (among shuttle missions) as well. On board the Challenger‘s maiden voyage, he and Don Peterson conducted the first Space Shuttle Extra-Vehicular Activity (or EVA, a spacewalk, a mission outside the spacecraft) to test new space suits. On his Endeavour flight, he helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Still, despite all his accomplishments (this doesn’t even cover most of them), Musgrave’s ribbon rack is one of a true Marine.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends

“I’m massively privileged to be part of the space program, and I never forget to say that,” he told Huffington Post in a 2011 interview. He plans to return to space as a tourist.

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The Pentagon wants armed citizens to stop standing outside of recruiting centers

The Department of Defense is asking armed citizens to stop standing outside of military recruiting centers, USA Today reported Friday.


“We take the safety of our service members, our DoD civilians, and the families who support them very seriously, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is currently reviewing recommendations from the services for making our installations and facilities safer — including our recruiting stations,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

Some citizens have armed themselves and have stood outside recruiting centers in the wake of the July 16 shooting rampage by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez in Chattanooga, Tennessee that resulted in the deaths of four U.S. Marines and one sailor.

But armed non-military personnel — some affiliated with militia groups — has gotten some military leaders worried, according to Stars Stripes.

“I’m sure the citizens mean well, but we cannot assume this in every case and we do not want to advocate this behavior,” reads a letter from Army Recruiting Command, which urges recruiters to report the vigilantes to local law enforcement.

The Pentagon issued the statement after a man accidentally fired his AR-15 outside of a recruiting center in Lancaster, Ohio, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

“We felt it was prudent to issue this statement in order to help potentially prevent other incidents like this from occurring,” a defense official told The New York Times. “The absolute last thing we want is to see any other loss of life.”

NOW: Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

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Here are the US troops that are fighting on the ground (and in the air) for Mosul

Iraqi security forces began the effort to liberate the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Oct. 17, with a combined force of Kurdish Peshmerga to the east aided by coalition troops from Germany, Canada and the U.S.


Obama Administration officials have admitted that American troops are “in harm’s way” despite being in “support” roles. So, which units are actually there?

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
A Marine assigned to Task Force Taqaddum (TF TQ) escorts Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, Command Sgt. Maj. of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, during his visit to Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, September 2016. The mission of Operation Inherent Resolve is to defeat Da’esh in Iraq and Syria by supporting the Government of Iraq with trainers, advisors and fire support, to include aerial strikes and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ethan Hutchinson/Released)

Perhaps the most obvious are the Air Force, Navy, and Marine aviation units flying missions against ISIS. One notable unit taking part is the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group. The carrier’s air wing includes two squadrons of F/A-18E Super Hornets (VFA-86 “Sidewinders” and VFA-105 “Gunslingers”), one of F/A-18C Hornets (VFA-131 “Wildcats”), and one of F/A-18F Super Hornets (VFA-32 “Swordsmen”).

Other aircraft have taken part, including the A-10 Thunderbolt (courtesy of the 190th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing), the B-52H Stratofortress (From the 96th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron), and the F-15E Strike Eagle (from the 4th Fighter Wing).

On the ground, the major United States forces have been the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, usually consisting of a medium tilt-rotor squadron with MV-22 Ospreys and a company of Marines. These units also can have attached air assets, including the V-22 Osprey, the AV-8B+ Harrier, and the AH-1Z Viper.

A battalion from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the Screaming Eagles, is also on the ground, slated to be replaced by troops from the 1st Infantry Division. The United States Army has also sent AH-64 Apache gunships to the theater.

Naturally, there are also special operations forces, including the Green Berets, SEALs and British SAS. It can also be safely assumed that Air Force Combat Controllers are also on the scene.

The Green Berets will likely be helping Iraqi security forces, advising Peshmerga troops and helping direct coalition air support. These units have in the past also carried out direct action missions. In 2015, one such mission, a prison break, lead to one of three American KIAs — a member of the United States Army’s Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, better known as Delta Force, Master Sergeant Joseph Wheeler.

The other two American KIAs are Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV, who was killed in a firefight with ISIS thugs, and Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, who was killed in a rocket attack on a base used by coalition forces.

The fight for Mosul is continuing, with the word at this writing indicating that the Iraqi advance has slowed.

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The Navy made these incredible photos to show present day Pearl Harbor compared to the day of the attack

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
The Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes in the background after the attack on Pearl Harbor. U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan


On Dec. 7, 1941, the US Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii suffered a devastating attack from the air and sea.

The Japanese assault began at 7:48 a.m., resulting in the death of 2,402 Americans, numerous injuries, the sinking of four battleships and damage to many more. Surprised US service members who normally may have slept in on that Sunday morning, or enjoyed some recreation, instead found themselves fighting for their lives.

Now, 74 years later, the US Navy is remembering the “day of infamy” with a series of photographs that compare scenes from that horrifying day to the present.

Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

The battleship USS California burns in the foreground as the battleship USS Arizona burns in the background after the initial attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

Sailors on Ford Island look on as the Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes in the background.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

A view of the historic Ford Island control tower from 1941. The tower was once used to guide airplanes at the airfield on the island and is now used as an aviation library.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

The Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes in the background after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

The battleship USS Arizona burns in the background during the attack on Pearl Harbor as viewed from Ford Island.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

Hangar 6 on Ford Island stands badly damaged after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

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Photos from the US military’s major training exercise with Australia and New Zealand

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
An Australian Army soldier from 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, moves across the ‘battlefield’ in the early hours of the morning during Exercise Hamel 2016, in Cultana training area, South Australia, on 6 July 2016. | Commonwealth of Australia


It’s summer and it seems like the perfect season for nations to begin training their troops with major operations. Australia is no exception as it launches its annual Army training, Exercise Hamel.

Named after The Battle of Hamel at France in 1918, the exercise takes its roots from its successful attack on German positions by Australian forces in conjunction with American units — paving the way for an allied victory of World War I.

Keeping up with this spirit, the Australians will host over 8,000 troops during its trilateral exercise in South Australia — including US Marines and soldiers, and the New Zealand Army.

Check out the photos of what went down down-under.

US Marines move to their first objective point during Exercise Hamel at Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
US Marines move to their first objective point during Exercise Hamel at Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia. Cpl. Mandaline Hatch/US Marine Corps

An Australian Army soldier moves across the mock battlefield in the early hours of the morning.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

A platoon sergeant looks at a map of Cultana Training Area in order to complete his objective.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Cpl. Mandaline Hatch/US Marine Corps

US Marine officers pass information by radio.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III/US Marine Corps

Marines press forward for patrol.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

Troops found themselves moving in and out of rocky trenches.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III/US Marine Corps

A rifleman scans the area outside of the objective.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III/US Marine Corps

A US anti-tank missileman looks for activity from the trenches.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III/US Marine Corps

An infantry unit leader sights in to look for enemy forces across the cliff.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
An infantry unit leader sights in to look for enemy forces across the cliff.Cpl. Mandaline Hatch/US Marine Corps

US Marines clear trenches in the harsh terrain of South Australia.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III/US Marine Corps

A New Zealand Army soldier drags a “wounded” enemy soldier to safety during the clearance of the township of Iron Knob, South Australia, as part of Exercise Hamel.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

A New Zealand Army infantry soldier patrols the perimeter of an internally displaced persons camp.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

A Combined Anti-Armor Team HMMWV moves into a screening position in the foliage.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Cpl. Carlos Cruz Jr./US Marine Corps

Australian Army soldiers identify mock enemy positions during the clearance of the township of Iron Knob, South Australia.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

Australian Army soldiers push forward through the town using cover.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

A United States Army soldier engages the enemy forces scattered throughout the town.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

An Australian Army Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter takes off from the Battlegroup Griffin position at Port Pirie, South Australia.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Commonwealth of Australia

US Marines set a 360 degree security for a simulated aircraft wreck site.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Cpl. Carlos Cruz Jr./US Marine Corps

US Marines prepare for a possible attack in the cover of darkness.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III/US Marine Corps

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Army voting assistance officers stand by to help Soldiers register

This election season, many Soldiers will face the same crucial question, and it’s not necessarily the one you think. It’s not, “Who do I vote for?” It’s “Can I vote?”


For the many Soldiers stationed overseas or facing deployments, the answer isn’t always clear.

In 2014, 69 percent of the active-duty Army was registered to vote, compared to 65 percent of the civilian population, according to a 2014 Federal Voting Assistance Program report to Congress. But when it actually came to voting in the 2014 election, only about 20 percent of active-duty Soldiers did, compared to 42 percent of the general population.

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
U.S. Army Maj. Ashantas Cornelius, from Macon, Ga., fills out her absentee ballot form while Pfc. Crystal Miller, from Auburn, N.Y., looks for her city’s mailing address during a voting assistance drive at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar. | US Army photo by Dustin Senger

This election season, the Army is making sure that, for Soldiers who do choose to take advantage of the freedom they signed up to defend, the answer is always, “yes.” They can cast a vote from wherever they are.

Rachel Gilman, who manages the Army Voting Assistance Program, oversees the more than 3,000 voting assistance officers Army-wide who are dedicated to ensuring Soldiers everywhere have the tools and information they need.

“Our program really focuses on awareness, assistance, providing education, and really training voters about where to go and what information they need,” Gilman said.

“Voting is a very personal choice. If they decide to vote, we are there to help them. If somebody wants to make changes on issues that are important in their hometowns and communities, that’s what we are there to provide.”

Soldiers who want to vote in November should act now, Gilman said. Whether the Soldier is stateside, forward-stationed overseas, or deployed, the way to do that is by seeking out a unit voting assistance officer and then filling out a Federal Post Card Application.

“The (Federal Post Card Application) … that’s your form, your go-to form,” Gilman said.

Also known as GSA Standard Form 76, the Federal Post Card Application will begin the process of registering a Soldier to vote in his or her correct voting district. It will also inform election officials as to which voting district to send the ballot to. The form is not just for Solders, but for any voter who wants to cast a ballot outside of his or her home district.

To obtain the form, Soldiers can download it from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at the FVAP.Gov, or visit a voting assistance officer wherever they are stationed.

The voting assistance officer can also help Soldiers determine the state and location of their voting district, information that is required on the Federal Post Card Application. Soldiers can also use the FVAP website to make that determination.

The FVAP.Gov website provides deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot, and mailing a ballot. Each state has different requirements, Gilman said, but kicking off the process now is better than waiting.

“It’s really important, especially for overseas voters and those Soldiers who are deployed,” she said. “Once they receive their ballot, it’s important that they immediately fill it out and send it back due to the mailing time.”

The Army doesn’t require Soldiers to vote or even register to vote, Gilman said. But she thinks it’s important that they do. Preserving the right to vote, she said, is one of the reasons that Soldiers serve in the first place.

“I think it’s really important for Soldiers to vote, because it’s a freedom they defend,” Gilman said. “I think it’s an opportunity to have their voices heard. It’s important for them if they want to change issues in their communities, their home towns, for their families. I think it’s very important that they have their voices heard.”

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Navy ship defense weapon upgraded to destroy small boats

Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends
YouTube


The U.S. Navy is pursuing a massive, fleet-wide upgrade of a shipboard defensive weapon designed to intercept and destroy approaching or nearby threats such as enemy small boats, cruise missiles and even low-flying drones and aircraft, service officials said.

The Phalanx Close in Weapons System, or CIWS, is an area weapon engineered to use a high rate of fire and ammunition to blanket a given area, destroying or knocking enemy fire out of the sky before it can reach a ship. The Phalanx CIWS, which can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute, has been protecting ship platforms for decades.

The weapon is designed to counter incoming enemy attacks from missiles, small arms fire, drones, enemy aircraft and small boats, among other things. It functions as part of an integrated, layered defense system in order to intercept closest-in threats, service officials explained.

“Phalanx provides a ‘last ditch’ gun-based, close-in defense to the Navy’s concept of layered defense,” Navy spokesman Dale Eng told Scout Warrior.

The weapon is currently on Navy cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, among other vessels. The upgrades are designed to substantially increase capability and ensure that the system remains viable in the face of a fast-changing and increasingly complex threat environment, Navy officials said.

The overhaul in recent years has consisted of numerous upgrades to the weapon itself, converting the existing systems into what’s called the Phalanx 1B configuration. At the same time, the CIWS overhaul also includes the development and ongoing integration of a new, next-generation radar for the system called the CIWS Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2, Navy officials explained.

The Block 1B configuration provides defense against asymmetric threats such as small, fast surface craft, slow-flying fixed and rotary-winged aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles through the addition of an integrated Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) sensor.

The Navy is now upgrading all fleet Phalanx Block 1B Baseline 0 and 1 Close-In Weapon Systems to the latest Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2 configuration, Eng said. The plan is to have an all CIWS Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2 fleet by fiscal year 2019, he added.

The Navy has also embarked on a series of planned reliability improvements (known as Reliability-Maintainability-Availability Kits) in order to keep the CIWS fleet population viable and affordable for the next several decades, Eng said.

An upgrade and conversion of an older CIWS Phalanx configuration to Phalanx Block IB averages around $4.5 million per unit and a Block IB Baseline 2 radar upgrade kit averages $931,000 per unit, Navy officials said.

The Phalanx Block IB configuration incorporates a stabilized Forward-Looking Infra-Red sensor, an automatic acquisition video tracker, optimized gun barrels (OBG) and the Enhanced Lethality Cartridges (ELC), service officials added.

Navy officials said Block IB provides ships the additional capability for defense against asymmetric threats such as small, high speed, maneuvering surface craft, slow-flying fixed and rotary-winged aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The FLIR also improves performance against anti-ship cruise missiles by providing more accurate angle tracking information to the fire control computer, officials added.

Articles

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Before the advent of maneuver warfare, nations defended their territory with massive fortifications. This was particularly true of coasts and harbors, especially if a nation owned the finest harbor in the Orient. This was the case for the American port at Manila Bay.


After the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain during the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Board of Fortifications recommended that important harbors be fortified. This led to the development of defenses on several islands at the mouth of Manila and Subic Bays. One of these was El Fraile Island which would later become Fort Drum, America’s concrete battleship.

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While other islands were fortified by more conventional means, the plans for El Fraile were much more extensive. Construction began in 1909 and completed by 1916. What was originally a rocky outcropping of an island was excavated down to the waterline. From there, the concrete battleship began to take shape.

The new structure was 350 feet long and 144 feet at the widest point. The exterior walls of the fortification were constructed of reinforced concrete 25 to 36 feet thick and rising 40 feet above the water. The top deck of the structure was reinforced concrete 20 feet thick that mounted two turrets containing twin fourteen inch guns and a 60 foot fire control tower to complete the battleship look.

The fort’s armament was rounded out by dual six-inch guns in armored casemates on each side as well as three-inch anti-aircraft guns mounted on the top deck. The fort’s 240 officers and enlisted lived deep inside the impregnable walls of the concrete ship along with all the stores they would need to hold out against a siege.

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That siege came after the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941. In January 1942, the Japanese began to target Fort Drum and the rest of the harbor defenses from the air and by February the concrete battleship was in range of Japanese artillery on shore. The fort endured bombing and shelling, destroying the anti-aircraft batteries, temporarily disabling a six-inch gun, damaging its casemate and searchlight, chipping away large chunks of concrete.

The whole time Fort Drum was under attack, it returned fire against the Japanese. The fort’s resistance continued even after the fall of Bataan on April 10, 1942 left Fort Drum and the other islands of the harbor defense as the last American forces in the Philippines. The guns of the concrete battleship dealt serious blows to Japanese forces assaulting the island of Corregidor, inflicting heavy casualties.

Unfortunately for the men of E battery, 59th Coastal Artillery, their efforts were not enough to halt the Japanese onslaught as General Wainwright made the decision to surrender the remaining U.S. forces in the Philippines. However, the fort was never taken and its main guns were still firing five minutes before the surrender was announced.

After capturing the Philippines, the Japanese manned all former American positions, including the concrete battleship. Eventually, American forces recaptured Manila and a daring assault by the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment U.S. forces recaptured Corregidor as well. That left Fort Drum once again as the last bastion of resistance. However, unlike the Americans some three years earlier, the Japanese had no intention of surrendering. This combined with the fact that the Americans had designed the fort to resist all manner of bombings and gunfire meant they would have to find another way to remove the defenders.

Unfortunately for the Japanese manning the concrete battleship, the idea the Americans came up with was rather grisly. The troops poured a mixture of two parts diesel oil and one part gasoline into the fort, lit it, and burned the defenders alive. The fire burned for several days afterwards but all the defenses of the harbor had been cleared of Japanese. The fort has never been reoccupied and still stands like a ghost ship in Manila Bay to this day.

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