WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill - We Are The Mighty
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WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill


This article is presented in partnership with Grantham University.

In the wake of WWII, the Greatest Generation returned to American soil eager to build families, careers, and businesses worthy of the values they so valiantly defended. To aid their efforts, President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act in 1944 — commonly known as the GI bill — to give newly transitioned vets the educational standing they needed to productively contribute to society. And the program worked in a big way. Vets who paid for college using the GI Bill went on to high-impact and rewarding careers as politicians, business leaders, actors, writers, and sports stars.

Among the newly minted heroes returning from the war was Donald Grantham, an engineer and radio operator who sought to help his fellow servicemen transition to rewarding civilian careers. He began offering Federal Communications Commission (FCC) License certification courses to other World War II veterans, helping them secure employment in the emergent film, television, and radio industries. He eventually founded the Grantham Radio License School in Los Angeles, California and opened additional campuses in Seattle, Washington; Washington D.C.; and Kansas City, Missouri through the 1950’s and 60’s. Grantham School of Electronics — as it came to be called — was officially accredited by the U.S. Department of Education in 1961, and has continued to grow ever since. Helping veterans take full advantage of education benefits remained a central focus through Grantham’s evolution.

Today, the GI Bill is stronger than it’s ever been. The post-9/11 GI Bill was introduced to great fanfare in 2009, providing the most comprehensive military benefit since the original GI Bill. Similar to its predecessor, Americans of the Next Greatest Generation are reaping the benefits of advanced education as they transition from active duty to civilian life. Meanwhile, other programs like tuition assistance (more commonly called “TA” in military circles) make pursuing the next level of education while on active duty a great idea.

As the GI Bill evolved, so did the schools serving the military. Brick-and-mortar schools don’t work for everyone, especially adults with jobs and families. Online education is a great option for busy active duty service members, veterans, and military families because students can matriculate anywhere and the hours are flexible. But not all online institutions are created equal, especially when it comes to providing value to the military community. Finding one that truly understands the military way of life is essential . . . and rare.

In the years since its founding, Grantham University has adapted to the changing needs of the military, and has become one of the strongest online colleges for military service members. That spirit of adaptability, combined with the latest online technologies, including effective use of social media, allows Grantham to offer military students targeted online degree programs in the most affordable manner possible.

Grantham walks the walk for military students in a number of ways:  The university offers reduced tuition for the military.  A convenient weekly enrollment cycle ensures students don’t get stuck with undoable semester start dates and schedules. Plus, terms last only eight weeks (56 days) each. A flexible, self-paced curriculum allows military students to work at their own speed when they have the time. And Grantham also assists in creating military-only study groups so classmates can relate to each other in all the ways that matter and make the educational experience more enjoyable and effective. And Grantham helps students choose a targeted degree that complements military experience

They’ve even designed course-loads with deployment in mind. Their 100 percent online courses are flexible enough to work around deployment schedules, or students may take advantage of the University’s Military Deployment Policy and put programs on hold until they return.

“If I can finish my degree with a hectic travel schedule, family responsibilities, hurricane seasons, and while preparing for retirement, anyone can do it,” says John M. Harris, who retired as a chief master sergeant after serving in the Air Force and Air National Guard for 26 years. “When I tell airmen and soldiers to take full advantage of their educational benefits, now I can lead by example and show them that it can be done.” Chief Harris completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Grantham and is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration in Project Management.

During his 19 years of performing his duties as a submariner, Lieutenant (junior grade) Christopher A. Martin has managed to earn four degrees from Grantham: an Associate degree in Electronic Engineering Technology, an Associate Degree in Business Administration, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, and most recently, his Master of Science degree in Information Management – Project Management.

“I enrolled at Grantham University with career advancement in mind,” Martin says. “During my walk with Grantham, I’ve advanced six pay grades, four of which have occurred in the last five years. But, career advancement is not all that I’ve gained from Grantham. I found myself applying the fundamentals learned in my courses to my everyday work environment. This is solely because the courses at Grantham are challenging and relevant.”

Grantham University has been recognized as a “Top Military-Friendly University” for the past six years (Military Advanced Education, 2008-2013; GI Jobs, 2010-2013); and a “Top University for Veterans” (Military Times EDGE, 2011-2013). Grantham is also a member of the National Association of Institutes for Military Education Services (NAIMES) and affiliated with the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).

Learn more today about why Grantham University is the university of choice for military members across the globe. Contact an admissions representative today at 1-888-Y-GRANTHAM or by email at admissions@grantham.edu to explore how Grantham can help make education more affordable for you.

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9 Times Countries Forgot to Un-Declare War

Throughout history, a number of conflicts, due to the quirky nature of international diplomacy, never officially ended.


Of course, these “extended wars” have never actually had any bearing on international relations.

Instead, the ongoing de facto peace overrode any technicalities on the world stage. However, the patching up of these diplomatic irregularities has been used by countries still technically at war to boost their current ties and gain media attention.

We have listed nine such examples of extended wars below.

Greece and Persia

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Wikipedia

Declaration of war: Greco-Persian Wars, 499 B.C.

De facto peace: 449 B.C.

De jure peace: 1902

In 499 B.C., the Persian Empire attempted to conquer the various city-states of Ancient Greece. Ultimately, the Persian efforts were unsuccessful, and the two civilizations remained at war with some intensity until the Persians called off their invasion attempts in 449 B.C.

However, despite the war having ended centuries ago, Greece and Persia never officially mended their relationship until 1902. At that point, after 2,393 years of conflict, Persia (having not yet renamed itself Iran), appointed its first Greek diplomat.

Rome and Carthage

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Wikipedia

Declaration of war: Punic Wars, 264 B.C.

De facto peace: 146 B.C.

De jure peace: 1985

The conflict between Rome and Carthage was one of the defining moments of the creation of the Roman Empire. Between 264 B.C. and 146 B.C., the two empires fought a series of three wars known as the Punic Wars, which culminated in the Roman conquest of Carthage.

As Rome seized and destroyed Carthage, there was no need for the two countries to formally sign a peace treaty. However, that did not stop the mayors of Rome and Carthage from signing a treaty of symbolic friendship and collaboration in 1985. The sign of goodwill had been consistently floated until that point by both Tunisian and Italian governments.

Isles of Scilly and the Dutch Republic

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Wikipedia

Declaration of war: First Anglo-Dutch War, 1651

De facto peace: 1654

De jure peace: 1986

In 1651, the Dutch Republic declared war on the Council of the Isles of Scilly, a small island archipelago under the British crown. The islands were harboring pirates who interfered with Dutch shipping. However, the conflict between the Isles of Scilly and the Dutch Republic quickly was subsumed into the wider First Anglo-Dutch war.

Although the Dutch and British concluded their conflict in 1654, the Council of the Isles of Scilly were technically not included in the peace process. As such, the small islands and the Dutch remained at war until a Dutch ambassador visited the islands and formally concluded a peace settlement in 1986.

Huéscar and Denmark

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Wikipedia

Declaration of war: Peninsular War, 1809

De facto peace: 1814

De jure peace: 1981

In 1809, as the Napoleonic Wars were raging throughout Europe, the tiny Spanish hamlet of Huéscar declared war on Denmark. Denmark at the time was a staunch ally of the French Empire, and the town was eager to wage war against Napoleon and his allies.

However, the town’s declaration of war was quickly forgotten — even by the town itself. The actual declaration was only rediscovered by chance in in 1981. Following the discovery, the Danish ambassador to Spain formally concluded peace with the town.

Lijar and France

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Wikipedia

Declaration of war: 1883

De jure peace: 1983

Like Huéscar, Lijar was another Spanish village that took it upon itself to unilaterally declare war. In 1883, Lijar’s town council declared war on France following ill treatment of the Spanish King Alfonso XII by a French crowd.

Despite the declaration of war, Lijar and France never exchanged blows. And, in 1983, France sent its consul general from the Spanish city of Malaga to Lijar for a formal peace celebration between the would-be combatants.

Andorra and the German Empire

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Wikipedia

Declaration of war: World War I, 1914

De facto peace: 1918

De jure peace: 1958

Following the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the tiny European nation of Andorra was one of the first states to declare war on the German Empire in 1914. This was despite the fact that the nation had no standing army, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Amazingly, despite Andorra’s early declaration of war, it was one of the last states to declare peace. Sidelined at the Treaty of Versailles, which formally concluded World War I, the country did not sign a peace agreement with Germany until 1939, right before the outbreak of World War II.

Costa Rica and the German Empire

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Google

Declaration of war: World War I, 1918

De facto peace: 1918

De jure peace: 1945

Much like Andorra, Costa Rica was also not included in the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.

As such, the small nation remained technically at war with Germany throughout both World Wars, with peace only being achieved after Costa Rica was included on the Potsdam Agreement that ended World War II.

Allies of World War II and Germany

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
National Archives

Declaration of war: World War II1939

De facto peace: 1945

De jure peace: 1991

In an ultimate display of the difficulties of ending a war, a final peace agreement between Germany and the Allied Powers was not reached until nearly 50 years after the war ended. Following the Nazi surrender and the end of the war in Europe, a formal peace treaty between Germany and the Allies was stalled by the Soviets.

As such, the US passed a resolution in 1951 that acted as a substitute for a peace treaty. This action was emulated by other Allied powers. It was not until German reunification was completed with the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, put into effect on March 15, 1991, that Germany was ultimately able to gain full sovereignty, make alliances without foreign influence, and World War II ended with a formal peace treaty.

Principality of Montenegro and the Empire of Japan

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Google

Declaration of war: Russo-Japanese War, 1904

De facto peace: 1905

De jure peace: 2006

In 1904, the Principality of Montenegro declared war against Japan in support of Russia during the Russo-Japanese War. Due to the extreme distances separating the two countries, neither country saw combat with the other.

As such, when Russia and Japan signed a peace treaty, the Principality of Montenegro was not included. However, following Montenegro’s secession from Serbia in 2006, Japanese officials visited the Balkan country to both recognize the country’s independence and to deliver a letter declaring the official end of the war between the states.

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This female veteran says they’ll have to pry her uniform out of her hands

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of profiles of incredible female veterans that WATM will be presenting in concert with Women’s History Month.


Young Amy Forsythe was champing at the bit to get into the military and continue her family’s tradition of military service. Her grandfather had been a Marine and her grandmother had been an Army nurse, and the two of them met while serving in on the Pacific island of Saipan during World War II.

To please her parents, Forsythe attended junior college for a few years, but she couldn’t suppress her desire to serve. She enlisted in the Marines in 1993 as a combat correspondent and spent her first year as a radio broadcaster stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Amy Forsythe (right) in Iraq in 2006 with her then-boss Megan McClung who was later killed in Ramadi.

 

“I ended up serving about eight years on active duty in the Marine Corps and then I went into the reserves before 9/11,” she explained. “After the attacks, it was inevitable that I would be mobilized.”

She deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan as a public affairs chief with an Army Civil Affairs Task Force in 2002 and 2003, the period when insurgent IED attacks were just starting to heat up. In 2006, she deployed with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to Al Anbar province, Iraq.

During the 2006 deployment in Fallujah, things started to really heat up,” Forsythe remembers. “We had a lot of close calls — rocket attacks, mortars — we were moving this huge satellite dish around Ramadi and Fallujah trying to avoid heavy engagements. My boss was also a female Marine, Major Megan McClung, and she was killed in Ramadi, which gives you the sense of what was happening.”

Forsythe saw a lot of women serving in combat zones and fighting alongside their male counterparts, regardless of billet or MOS.

“Women in combat isn’t anything new,” she says. “In the Marines, every Marine is a rifleman at the basic level. During Desert Storm, people said Americans weren’t ready for women to come home in body bags, but every person in a forward deployed area is susceptible to injury or death. Women serve and take just as much risk as men. If women can meet the standards, then everyone else can adjust.”

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Forsythe in Afghanistan in 2013 with a member of the Afghan National Police.

In 2006, Forsythe and her teammate, then-Cpl. Lynn Murillo took a lot of risks shuttling a satellite dish around Anbar Province, connecting Iraqi military and civic leaders with the pan-Arab media for the first time during the Iraq War. Since much of the success of the American mission in Iraq depended on controlling information, it was a critical mission.

She and Murillo spent most of their time out with Marines on foot patrols covering the Iraqi army training and connecting service members with hometown news stations and national news outlets. After a year in Anbar, she redeployed but was right back there a year later, astonished at the changes in the area.

“I couldn’t believe how things changed in Haditah and Ramadi,” she recalls. “There were still attacks to the base and personnel, but it was amazing to see the improvements to the infrastructure, roads, schools, etc. In 2006, the insurgency was at its worst and out of control. By 2008, Anbar Province was seeing security improvements and new construction underway.”

Her 22-year career spans changes for the U.S. military and for the women who serve. “I’ve seen so many changes through the years, but the wars helped prove women are willing to shoulder the burden of serving in combat zones. After her two tours in Iraq, she returned to Afghanistan in 2012 and also served with U.S. Africa Command based in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2014.

Of all her assignments and risks, one the most harrowing events of her career occurred when she was on temporary duty assigned to the public affairs office at the Washington Navy Yard in September 2013.

“It started like any other ordinary day, until the Navy Yard Shooter put us in lockdown mode,” Forsythe remembers. Our office was next to Building 174, the scene of a mass-shooting incident. “It was surreal, tragic and beyond belief. After surviving four combat tours, there we were in Washington, D.C., losing all those people.”

After her first three combat tours, Forsythe accomplished what she set out to do in the military. Serving about 18 years in the Marines on both active duty and in the reserves, Forsythe was looking forward to retiring from the reserves until the Marine colonel for whom she worked encouraged her to apply for the Navy’s Direct Commission Officer program.

“I didn’t know this program existed,” Forsythe says. “But accepting a commission with the Navy is a continuation of my desire to serve. When you go from enlisted to officer, you can look forward to a 35 or 40-year career and retire at age 60.”

Her education and experience as a military journalist allowed her land a job as a reporter and occasional anchor for a local television station. And these days, when not activated, she runs a media company in the San Diego area.

“I love seeing veterans transition out of the military and end up owning their own businesses,” says Forsythe. “It’s so encouraging to see vetreprenuers who have certain skill sets and want to own their own business. Putting a dollar price on your services isn’t easy. It’s hard to determine your own value because you don’t want to under-sell yourself.”

She doesn’t consider herself special, but makes it a point to inform anyone, especially female service members, that anything is possible if you are aware of your own potential.

“I would tell other female service members and veterans to be curious. Be creative. Be confident. In other words, keep learning and seeking knowledge, use creative problem-solving techniques and believe in yourself.”

Serving as enlisted and as an officer, on active duty and in the reserves, in both the Marines and the Navy, Forsythe encourages others to seek opportunities in the reserves.

“It’s been a struggle to balance a civilian career,” she says. “But it’s like having the best of both worlds. Cutting ties with the military too abruptly can cause regret for some service members. Plus, the extra monthly pay and camaraderie with other ‘weekend warriors’ is a great way to stay connected with others who have similar experiences.”

“I’m sure they’ll have to pry the uniform out of my hands when that retirement day comes,” says Forsythe. “But I will always advocate for veterans. The service has been such a part of my life, I will continue to serve in uniform for as long as I can.”

Now: This Female Vet Is One Of History’s Most Decorated Combat Photographers

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Watch the Coast Guard rescue this downed Navy pilot

This is when inter-service rivalry goes right out the window. A downed naval aviator who had to eject from a F-5N Tiger II tactical fighter aircraft during a training exercise is rescued by the puddle pirates off the coast of Key West. The cause of the crash is still unknown.


WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
An F-5N Tiger II assigned to the Sun Downers of Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111 launches from Boca Chica Field. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Morales)

“The watchstanders diverted a Coast Guard Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew to conduct a search,” read a statement from the Coast Guard. “The helicopter crew arrived on scene at 1:15 p.m. The rescue crew hoisted the pilot from the water and brought him back to Lower Keys Medical Center in good condition.”

An MH-65 Dolphin based at Coast Guard Air Station Miami was diverted from a patrol on Aug. 9 after the Coast Guard picked up the pilot’s emergency smoke signal.

The pilot is attached to Fighter Squadron Composite 111 (VFC-111) Sundowners based at Naval Air Station Key West. The unit is a reserve squadron that simulates the enemy in combat training exercises.

When naval aviators eject over water, a few things happen. First, the parachute is separated from the pilot, because the sea currents can grab the chute and pull the pilot under. Then, there is an automatic flotation device that inflates to keep the aviator above water. Then the mask on the ejection seat, which provides oxygen and protects the pilot’s face during ejection, is separated. The pilot then deploys either signal mirrors, smoke, flares, or all three.

One more Squid safely pulled from the deep by our amazing Puddle Pirates.

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

Airman Natalie Gaston, a 374th Medical Support Squadron bioenvironmental technician, simulates using an ADM 300, an instrument that measures radiation in the air, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 1, 2016. Bioenvironmental engineering first responders use an ADM 300 to protect them from possible contamination while taking samples.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Delano Scott

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off from the flightline at Souda Bay, Greece, Feb. 1, 2016, during a flying training deployment. The training included more than 15 aircraft launches a day as part of the training between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano

ARMY:

U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade, conduct sling load operations with UH-60 helicopters from 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry division, part of an artillery raid during Exercise Allied Spirit IV at 7th Army JMTC’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Jan. 26, 2016.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn

A U.S. Army Soldier, assigned to 2d Cavalry Regiment, provides security using his M240B machine gun during a unit reconnaissance patrol, part of Allied Spirit IV, at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Jan. 20, 2016.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William A. Tanner

U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to 82nd Airborne Division Artillery, 82nd Airborne Division, attach a M119A3 howitzer to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade during sling load operations, part of a division artillery readiness test at Fort Bragg, N.C., Jan. 20, 2016.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman

NAVY:

TOKYO BAY, Japan (Feb. 05, 2015) Sailors, aboard the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Texas (SSN 775), moor the boat to the pier. Texas is visiting Yokosuka for a port visit. U.S. Navy port visits represent an important opportunity to promote stability and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, demonstrate commitment to regional partners and foster growing relationships.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds

NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan 30, 2016) –Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Timothy Dunkel directs a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) fire drill in the well deck of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is forward-deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Sykes

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 26, 2016) Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Maxell Reynolds, from Palm Springs, California, takes part in a command swim call aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53). Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Mobile Bay, assigned to the Stennis strike group, is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Ryan J. Batchelder

MARINE CORPS:

Marines with 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, radio in a CH-53E Super Stallion as part of their avalanche scenario at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California Jan. 20, 2016. Marines across II MEF and 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade took part in the scenario as part of Mountain Exercise 1-16 in preparation for Exercise Cold Response 16.1 in Norway this March. The exercise will feature military training including maritime, land and air operations that underscore NATO’s ability to defend against any threat in any environment.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dalton A. Precht

A Light Armored Vehicle with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, take part in a mechanized assault course (MAC) during Integrated Training Exercise 2-16 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Jan. 28, 2016. The training was conducted to strengthen unit coordination and maneuvers during mechanized assaults.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Trever A. Statz

COAST GUARD:

Coast Guard crews routinely train to respond to emergency situations they may encounter while underway. Fire aboard a cutter can cause mass casualties or total loss of the vessel, but proper training can help crewmembers to quickly and safely save lives and the ship.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Coast Guard photo

The inside of our hangar.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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The craziest gifts presented to North Korea

North Korea is the weird kid at the back of the class who keeps making disturbing drawings in his notebook and trying to convince everyone that he’s the coolest.


Still, other countries give North Korea a lot of gifts. Some are presented to the current leader, Kim Jong-un, but a surprising number are still given to Kim Il-sung, a guy who has been dead since 1994, and Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011. The gifts are usually housed at the International Friendship Exhibition, a museum of the bizarre located two hours northeast of Pyongyang.

What do other world leaders get dead and crazy people who already have nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons? Why, a weird-looking Olympic bear, of course.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Photo: Youtube

Misha the bear was the 1980 Summer Olympics mascot. Held in Moscow soon after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the 1980 Olympics were the only Games boycotted by the U.S.

If the situation calls for something a little grander, North Korean leaders could always use a third personal train. The first was gifted to North Korea by Soviet General Chairman Joseph Stalin and the second came from Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong. They seem to share a paint job, but the Chinese train has better decorations around the windows. Stalin also gave the regime a bulletproof limousine.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Youtube

Nicaragua’s Sandinista rebels showed their love of Kim Il-sung by gifting him this not-at-all-creepy statue of a crocodile serving drinks.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Photo: Youtube

That’s not the only dead animal on display in the museum. An anonymous Canadian supposedly gave the North Korean leaders a polar bear skin with the head still attached while the leader of Madagascar presented them with a fossilized snail.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Photo: Youtube

This dead bear was a gifted by Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. No one is sure why it was presented with a lazy eye.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Photo: Youtube

Bears are a repeating symbol in the museum. Here, a family of bears plays inside of a large egg because reasons.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Photo: Youtube

And then there’s the plate with an animal walking off of it.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Photo: Youtube

The exhibitions contain many weapons including a hunting rifle from Vladimir Putin and this sword from the N-Trans Group, a Russian transportation company.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Youtube

Of course, life in North Korea isn’t all about awesome crocodile statues and sweet swords. Some argue that the money expended to build the grand museum would have been better spent feeding starving citizens. They’re probably just jealous of the more than 100,000 total gifts presented to the Kim dynasty.

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This Army private is to blame for military cadence calls

Don’t like yelling in formation? Well, you can blame one soldier from World War II for all those early morning sing-alongs.


Pvt. Willie Duckworth was a young soldier at Fort Slocum, New York in May, 1944, whose unit was dragging their feet during a march. To pep his brothers up, he began calling a chant to hep the men keep in step and to give them more energy.

The chant was an instant hit on base. The next year, the Army worked with recording engineers to make a V-Disc, a special recording distributed during World War II to aid morale. It was known as the “Duckworth Chant,” on base, but it was recorded and distributed as “Sound Off.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1v=Q6bhv4i8qso

Many of the traits of today’s calls are apparent in this first cadence. There is a back and forth between the caller and the formation, the lines are catchy, and Jody even makes an appearance (at 2:15 in the video above).

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Photo: Youtube

The chant’s fame worked out very well for Duckworth. He received royalty checks for the recordings and used them to start a successful pulpwood company he operated until his death in 2004. A section of Georgia highway near Duckworth’s former home has been renamed the Willie Lee Duckworth Highway and a granite marker was erected at the county courthouse.

Now, if only we could find the evil genius who came up with “C-130 rollin’ down the strip.”

NOW: 9 firsts in military aviation history

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This is why landing on an aircraft carrier never gets easy

There’s a reason Navy carrier pilots are so cocky.


Their jobs would be challenging if they were just steering small hunks of metal through the air at high speed in combat, but they also take off and land on huge floating hunks of metal moving at low speed through the waves.

WWII vet founded this university to help fellow vets take advantage of GI Bill
Most people only see successful carrier landings, but they can go horribly wrong. (GIF: YouTube/Superfly7XAF)

In this video from PBS, the already challenging task of landing on a floating deck gets worse in rough seas. With large waves striking the USS Nimitz, the flight deck pitches dozens of feet up and down, making the pilots’ jobs even harder.

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Five war heroes who also happened to be dogs

Heroes come in many forms; some are even furry and four-legged. Due in part to their superior ability to sniff and hear trouble, dogs have long been a fantastic ally and a great protector of humans. After all, it was Lassie who, through a series of barks, told the grown-ups that Timmy was in trouble again (Note: Timmy never actually fell down a well. Mineshaft, sure, but no well.) Dogs can also be quite brave and have been known to run into dangerous situations without a moment of hesitation. Throughout history, several dogs have gained a reputation as being courageous in wartime.


Here are the stories of five such dogs that became war heroes and helped saved human lives:

Gunner – Australia’s Alarm

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Japanese bombs started raining down on the capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory, Darwin, around 10 am on February 19, 1942, just over two months after the Japanese bombing of America’s Pearl Harbor. After the initial attack, which sunk eight ships and badly damaged 37 others, soldiers went looking for the injured among the rubble.

Under a destroyed mess hall, they found the smallest survivor of them all, a six-month-old male stray kelpie (an Australian sheep dog). He had a broken leg and was whimpering. Eventually, the injured pup ended up in the hands of Leading Aircraftman Percy Westcott. He made it his duty to get this dog help. Westcott took the dog to the doctor, who said he couldn’t treat any “man” who didn’t have a name or serial number. So, Westcott named the kelpie “Gunner” and gave him the number 0000. Satisfied, the doctor put a cast on Gunner’s leg and set them on their way.

From that point forward, Gunner and Westcott were inseparable. When Gunner’s leg began healing (despite his habit of chewing the cast), he would join Westcott on his daily tasks. One day not long after the attack, as the men worked on repairing several planes in the airfield, Gunner started barking and jumping up and down. The men paid no attention to the dog, but within a few minutes Japanese raiders swooped in and commenced shelling Darwin again.

Luckily, the men and Gunner managed to dive to safety, but it was another surprise attack. Well, to everyone but Gunner. In general, Australian Kelpie hearing, even more so than many other breeds of dogs, is fantastic. Two days later, Gunner again started making a commotion. This time, the men knew to find cover and prepare for the upcoming attack.

From February 1942 to November 1943, over sixty air raids were commenced on Darwin. Gunner warned the soldiers of nearly every one, saving countless lives. Another amazing aspect of this was that Gunner never barked when Australian planes took off or were returning. He was able to differentiate between Australian aircrafts and Japanese aircrafts. It is not known what happened to Gunner after the war.

Rip the Rescue Dog

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The Blitz commenced on London on September 7, 1940. For the next 57 days, German bombers enveloped the city in destruction. Right after a particular heavy shelling during one of the first days of the Blitz, an Air Raid Warden named E. King found a hungry stray walking the streets. He threw it some meat and the dog refused to go away. The dog followed King back to his post and, eventually, became something of a mascot. But Rip, as they called him, soon showed his worth beyond a simple mascot.

Rip came out with King after a bombing one night and his nose started twitching. Rip followed the scent to a collapsed building and started digging. What Rip found was a man, still alive, buried beneath. It was probably the best image this man had ever seen; a barking, sniffing mutt.

Despite never being formally trained, Rip became England’s first urban search and rescue dog. It was reported that he found and rescued over hundred people with his sensitive, life-saving nose. Due to Rip, today London’s police force and military trains hundreds of dogs per year to be part of their urban search and rescue teams.

In 1945, Rip was awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery, an honor bestowed animals for their service during war. On the medal, it reads “For Gallantry. We Also Serve.” Rip passed away in 1946 and is buried in Ilford Animal Cemetery in London.

Antis – The “German” Who Saved Frenchmen

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As French Air Force gunner Robert Bozdech came barreling toward Earth in his now-disabled plane, death was on his mind, not making a new best friend. But that is exactly what happened when he crashed landed in Northern France, ominously known as “No Man’s Land.” He, amazingly, emerged from the wreckage of his plane barely hurt, but heard sounds from a nearby farmhouse. Thinking it was the enemy, he took out his gun, ready to shoot. What emerged was a gray ball of fur, a German Shepard puppy. He took the pup in his leather jacket and hitched a ride back two hundred miles to St Dizier Air Base. Bozdech’s peers were stunned he was still alive, much less having a new best bud.

Antis, named so because Bozdech loved to fly Russian ANT dive-bombers, became not just a loyal friend, but a seasoned war veteran. Much like Gunner, he barked in warning about oncoming enemy fire. Just like Rip, he learned how to sniff and dig for survivors. Robert and his comrades also considered Antis a good luck charm and, most importantly, braver than many a human soldier. He would hide away in Bozdech’s gunner plane to ensure that he would be there to protect his pal. Antis would also run into enemy fire to notify others where the injured men were. He was even once injured himself, yet that didn’t stop him from performing his duties. Several days after being injured, he somehow snuck onto Bozdech’s plane as a stowaway.

After the war, Antis was also awarded the Dickin Medal and lived with Bozdech the rest of his life, passing away at the age of 14 in 1953.

Salty and Roselle Safety Guides on 9/11

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While 9/11 wasn’t necessarily during war, it was certainly an act of war and war-like situation. Salty and Roselle were both part of the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program in New York, but came upon their fates differently. Roselle was only one and half when she was introduced to Michael Hingson, the man she was to guide. Hingson had been blind since birth, but earned a masters in physics from the University of California. On September 11, 2001, he was working as a computer sales manager on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center Tower 1.

Roselle was asleep when the plane struck the 99th floor. Calmly and cooly, she guided Hingson, and several others in the office, down over 1400 hundred darkened stairs and out of the door. The whole escape took about an hour, but within moments of making it to the street, Tower 2 collapsed, sending debris everywhere. Roselle was struck by pieces, but she was unfazed and continued moving, just like she was trained to do.

As Hingson said,

She saved my life. While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job. While debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm.

Salty had always loved fast-paced, city-living. When he was introduced to Omar Rivera, it was a perfect match. Rivera had gone blind due to glaucoma, but continued to work for New York’s Port Authority as a senior systems designer. He was working on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center Tower 1 on 9/11. Salty was lying next to Rivera when the plane hit. The whole building swayed, but Salty calmly got up, offered Rivera his guidance, and lead them down the stairs. At one point a co-worker, thinking the dog needed help, tried to take Salty’s leash, but he refused to leave his master’s side. They made it out the door and were two or three blocks away when the second tower collapsed.

Both Salty and Roselle were given the Dickin medal for their heroics despite all the chaos around them. Salty passed away in 2008 and Roselle in 2011. They are remembered as American heroes.

Bonus Facts:

  • Dogs weren’t the only animal to be bestowed the honor of a Dickin medal. In fact, pigeons were awarded the medal thirty two times, more than every other animal combined. It was given eighteen times to a dog, three times to a horse, and once to a cat. The cat’s name was Simon and he was given the medal in 1949 for his efforts in raising morale, surviving a cannon shell injury, and killing off a rat infestation during the Yangtze Incident. The Yangtze incident involved the British Royal Navy ship Amethyst being trapped on the Yangtze River for three months during the Chinese Civil War.
  • It isn’t known whether the dog was purposefully domesticated by humans or if they were self-domesticated, with certain of the gray wolves becoming friendly with humans from continually scavenging food scraps around human camps.  Also, similar to the domestic cat that all likely descended from just a handful of cats, it is thought that all dogs descend from just a handful of gray wolves in a small number of domestication events.  In the dogs’ case, this probably took place in East Asia, with the dogs quickly being bred and spreading throughout the world, even to North America around 10,000 years ago.
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How the US military prepares to take any airbase, anywhere in the world, in just 18 hours

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Paratroopers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, begin an assault on an enemy-held urban environment as part of a live-fire range at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, August 10, 2015. | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull


What happens when all hell breaks loose and the US military needs to act within hours?

Enter the 5,000 specialists of Global Response Force, from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Brigade, Joint Special Operations Command, and the US Air Force, capable of deploying to any location on earth within 18 hours.

“We need to have demonstrated legitimacy in this capability. It’s our muscle. It’s us flexing our muscle. Nobody wants to get in the ring with the undefeated heavyweight champion,” Staff Sgt. Dillon Heyliger said of the GRF.

In the slides below see how the GRF trains to take enemy airfields with overwhelming force.

The first wave is an airborne assault with the goal of taking control of an enemy airfield.

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US Army photo

Within minutes, paratroopers are on the ground putting heavy lead downrange.

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Spc. Francisco Matinez provides security during a tactical logistics convoy across the desert at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. | 82nd Airborne Division photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

As with any good military exercise, casualties and injuries are simulated to help train field medics.

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Paratroopers provide immediate medical aid to a simulated gunshot casualty during a tactical logistics convoy across the desert at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. | Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

Specialized vehicles pour an overwhelming number of soldiers onto the scene.

In addition to infantry, sniper teams provide support during the mission …

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Snipers in ghillie suits hide among the brush during Operation Dragon Spear. | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

… and they’re gone as quickly as they came.

High-mobility artillery rocket systems live up to their name and quickly launch devastating salvos against the enemy.

As the night rolls in, AH-64 Apache helicopters fly and light up the sky with their 30 mm guns.

Once the first wave secures the area, they prepare for the second echelon of aircraft and heavy vehicles to move in. Armored vehicles are flown in to reinforce the infantry’s gains.

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A Stryker vehicle from the 2nd Infantry Division rolls out of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft following a joint forcible-entry operation for Operation Dragon Spear at Fort Irwin, California, August 6, 2015. | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

Here come the Abrams and Bradley tanks.

Paratroopers complete the raid of the airbase, and use it in the future as a forward operating base for US forces.

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Paratroopers clear buildings during an assault on an enemy-held urban environment at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

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The 3 elite Green Berets killed in Jordan earlier this month were working for the CIA

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U.S. Special Operations personnel take cover to avoid flying debris as they prepare to board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. | DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Weiss, U.S. Navy


The three members of Army Special Forces who were killed earlier this month outside a Jordanian military base were working for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to a report in The Washington Post.

The three soldiers with the Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 5th Special Forces Group were killed while entering a military base in Jordan on November 4. The soldiers, Staff Sgts. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27; Kevin J. McEnroe, 30; and James F. Moriarty, 27, were apparently fired upon by Jordanian security forces at the gate to King Feisal Air Base, where they were deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Also read: The US lost 6 elite Green Berets in a 72-hour span last week

According to The Post, the soldiers were working on the CIA’s program to train moderate Syrian rebels. It’s still unclear what the circumstances were surrounding their deaths.

Jordanian military officials said that shots were fired as the Americans’ car tried to enter the base, and a Jordanian military officer was also wounded, according to Army Times. Reporting from the Post seems to suggest that an accidental discharge from the Green Berets inside their vehicle may have led to a shootout, which an official called a “chain of unfortunate events.”

The loss of the three soldiers may be the deadliest incident for the CIA since 2009, when a suicide bomber killed seven members of a CIA team in Khost, Afghanistan.

The CIA often “details” special operations units to operate within its paramilitary force, called Special Activities Division. Some notable examples include the use of Army’s Delta Force in the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan and the operation to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, which was carried out by Navy SEALs assigned to the CIA.

It has been particularly rough time for the Army Special Forces community. Besides the three soldiers killed in Jordan, there were two others killed in Afghanistan and another killed during scuba training this month.

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The US Army has big plans for its next-generation tank

The Army is now performing concept modeling and early design work for a new mobile, lethal, high-tech future lightweight tank platform able to detect and destroy a wider range of targets from farther distances, cross bridges, incinerate drones with lasers and destroy incoming enemy artillery fire –  all for the 2030s and beyond.


The new vehicle, now emerging purely in the concept phase, is based upon the reality that the current M1A2 SEP Abrams main battle tank can only be upgraded to a certain limited extent, senior Army officials explained.

Related: 17 reasons why the M1 Abrams tank is still king of the battlefield

The Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, is now immersed in the development of design concepts for various super high-tech tank platforms, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout Warrior in an exclusive interview.

Bassett emphasized the extensive conceptual work, simulation and design modeling will be needed before there is any opportunity to “bend metal” and produce a new tank.

“We’ve used concept modeling. What are the limits of what you can do? What does a built from the ground up vehicle look like? We are assuming, if we are going to evolve it, it is because there is something we can’t do in the current vehicle,” Basset explained.

The new tank will emerge after the Army first fields its M1A2 SEP v4 upgraded Abrams tank in the 2020s, a more lethal Abrams variant with 3rd Generation Forward Looking Infrared Sensors for greater targeting range and resolution and more lethal Advanced Multi-Purpose, or AMP ammunition combining many rounds into a single 120mm round.

The AMP round will replace four tank rounds now in use. The first two are the M830, High Explosive Anti-Tank, or HEAT, round and the M830A1, Multi-Purpose Anti -Tank, or MPAT, round.

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1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, participated in the annual Summer Heat training exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., June 26 to July 2. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jeremy Fasci)

The SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, will also include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated on-board networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links and laser warning receivers.

However, although Army developers often maintain that while the latest, upgraded high-tech v4 Abrams is much more advanced than the first Abrams tanks produced decades ago, there are limits to how much the existing Abrams platform can be upgraded.

A lighter weight, more high-tech tank will allow for greater mobility in the future, including an ability to deploy more quickly, handle extremely rigorous terrain, integrate new weapons, cross bridges inaccessible to current Abrams tanks and maximize on-board networking along with new size-weight-and-power configurations.

Although initial requirements for the future tank have yet to emerge, Bassett explained that the next-generation platform will use advanced sensors and light-weight composite armor materials able to achieve equal or greater protection at much lighter weights.

“We will build in side and underbody protection from the ground up,” Bassett said.

Bassett said certain immediate changes and manufacturing techniques could easily save at least 20-percent of the weight of a current 72-ton Abrams.

The idea is to engineer a tank that is not only much more advanced than the Abrams in terms of sensors, networking technology, force tracking systems, an ability to control nearby drones and vastly increased fire-power – but to build a vehicle with open-architecture such that it can quickly accommodate new technologies as they emerge.

For instance, Bassett pointed out that the Abrams was first fielded with a 105mm cannon – yet built with a mind to potential future upgrades such that it could be configured to fire a 120mm gun.

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Abrams Main Battle Tank platoons position themselves on the battlefield in order to lay suppressive fire during Hammer Strike, a brigade level live-fire exercise conducted by the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. | US Army photo

“The vehicle needs to have physical adaptability and change and growth ability for alterations as one of its premises – so it can learn things about energy and power and armor. The Army really needs to think about growth as an operational need,” Rickey Smith, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, Training and Doctrine Command, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Smith explained how, for example, Humvees were not built for the growth necessary to respond to the fast-emerging and deadly threat of roadside bombs in Iraq.

The new tank will be specifically engineered with additional space for automotive systems, people and ammunition.  As computer algorithms rapidly advance to allow for greater levels of autonomy, the Abrams tank will be able to control nearby drones using its own on-board command and control networking, service developers said.

Unmanned “wing-man” type drones could fortify attacking ground forces by firing weapons, testing enemy defenses, carrying suppliers or performing forward reconnaissance and reconnaissance missions while manned-crews remained back at safer distances.

Bassett, and developers with General Dynamics Land Systems, specifically said that this kind of autonomy was already being worked on for current and future tanks.

Active protection systems are another instance of emerging technologies which will go on the latest state-of-the-art Abrams tanks and also quite likely be used for the new tank. Using computer algorithms, fire control technology, sensors and an interceptor of some kind, Active Protection Systems are engineered to detect, track and destroy incoming enemy fire in a matter of milliseconds.

The Army is currently fast-tracking an effort to explore a number of different APS systems for the Abrams. General Dynamics Land Systems is, as part of the effort, using its own innovation to engineer an APS system which is not a “bolt-on” type of applique but something integrated more fully into the tank itself, company developers have told Scout Warrior.

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US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cody Haas

The use of space in the new vehicle, drawing upon a better allocation of size-weight-and-electrical power will enable the new tank to accommodate better weapons, be more fuel efficient and provide greater protection to the crew.

“If you have less volume in the power train, you can get down to something with less transportability challenges,” he said. “If you add additional space to the vehicle, you can take out target sets at greater distances.”

While advanced Abrams tanks will be using a mobile Auxiliary Power Unit to bring more on-board electrical power to the platform for increased targeting, command-and-control technologies and weapons support, mobile power is needed to sustain future systems such as laser weapons.

The Army cancelled its plans for a future Ground Combat Vehicle, largely for budget reasons, some of the innovations, technologies and weapons systems are informing this effort to engineer a new tank for the future.

Design specs, engineering, weapons and other innovations envisioned for the GCV are now being analyzed for the new tank. In particular, the new tank may use an emerging 30mm cannon weapon planned for the GCV – the ATK-built XM813.

The XM813, according to Army developmental papers, is able to fire both armor-piercing rounds and air-burst rounds which detonate in the air in proximity to an enemy in defilade, hiding behind a rock or tree, for example.

The computer-controlled and electronically driven weapon can fire up to 200 rounds per minute, uses a dual-recoil firing system and a semi-closed bolt firing mode, Army information says.

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M1 Abrams tanks conduct a live fire range day. (Photo from U.S. Army)

Light Weight 120mm Cannon

The new tank may quite likely use a futuristic, lightweight 120mm cannon first developed years ago for the Army’s now-cancelled Future Combat Systems, or FCS; FCS worked on a series of “leap-ahead” technologies which, in many instances, continue to inform current Army modernization efforts.

The FCS program developed next-generation sensors, networking, robots and a series of mobile, high-tech 27-ton Manned-Ground Vehicles, or MGVs.

The MGVs included a Non-Line-of-Sight artillery variant, Reconnaissance and Surveillance, Infantry, Medical and Command-and-Control variants, among others. One of the key vehicles in this planned future fleet was the Mounted Combat System, or MCS.

The overall MGV effort was cancelled by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009 because Gates felt that the 27-ton common chassis was not sufficiently survivable enough in a modern IED-filled threat environment.

Also read: Abrams tanks to be updated with robotic attack drones

Although the MGVs were engineered with a so-called “survivability onion” of networked sensors and active protection systems to identify and destroy approaching enemy fire at great distances, many critics of FCS felt that the vehicles were not sufficient to withstand a wide range of enemy attacks should incoming fire penetrate sensors or hit targets in the event that the sensor malfunctioned or were jammed.

The Army’s MCS program developed and test-fired a super lightweight 120mm cannon, called the XM360, able to fire existing and emerging next-generation tank rounds. The lightweight weapon being developed for the MCS was two-tons, roughly one-half the weight of the existing Abrams 120mm cannon.

The MCS was to have had a crew of two, a .50 caliber machine gun, and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

In fact, the Army’s recent Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy specifically mentions the value of adapting the XM360 for future use.

Next-Generation Large Caliber Cannon Technology. The XM360 next-generation 120mm tank cannon integrated with the AAHS will provide the M1 Abrams a capability to fire the next generation of high-energy and smart-tank ammunition at beyond line-of-sight (LOS) ranges. The XM360 could also incorporate remote control operation technologies to allow its integration on autonomous vehicles and vehicles with reduced crew size. For lighter weight vehicles, recoil limitations are overcome by incorporating the larger caliber rarefaction wave gun technology while providing guided, stabilized LOS, course-corrected LOS, and beyond LOS accuracy

Bassett said the potential re-emergence of the XM360 is indicative of the value of prototyping and building subsystem technologies.

The MCS was test-fired at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., in 2009. The platform used an aluminum turret and three-man crew using an automatic loading system. Also, the MCS was engineered to fire 120mm rounds up to 10 kilometers, what’s called Beyond-Line-of-Sight using advanced fire control and targeting sensors, General Dynamics developers explained at the time.

Special new technology was needed for the XM360 in order to allow a lighter-weight cannon and muzzle to accommodate the blast from a powerful 120mm tank round.

Elements of the XM360 include a combined thermal and environmental shroud, blast deflector, a composite-built overwrapped gun, tube-modular gun-mount, independent recoil brakes, gas-charged recuperators, and a multi-slug slide block breech with an electric actuator, Army MCS developmental documents describe.

Smith added that a lighter-weight, more mobile and lethal tank platform will be necessary to adjust to a fast-changing modern threat environment including attacking RPGs, Anti-Tank-Guided Missiles and armor-piercing enemy tank rounds.  He explained that increased speed can be used as a survivability combat-enhancing tactic, adding that there are likely to be continued urban threats in the future as more populations migrates into cities.

“Never forget what it is you are trying to use it for,” Smith said.

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Here’s how to get real about the ISIS threat

ISIS has made alarming gains in Iraq and Syria over the past week.


On May 17, ISIS fighters took Ramadi, a city just 70 west of Baghdad, after a battle in which the jihadist group advanced into the city behind a wave of suicide bombers. Capturing Palmyra, a former Assad regime bastion in Syria, proved easier, as a collapsing Syrian military essentially vacated the city in the face of the ISIS advance.

And an 11-month US-led bombing campaign hasn’t prevented ISIS from taking and holding additional territory. This week, ISIS has looked formidable, while the US’s strategy has seemed particularly ineffective and aimless. On May 21st, reports began circulating that ISIS controlled half of Syrian territory.

But such claims about ISIS’s degree of territorial control obscures how and why the group has been successful so far — and how it might eventually be defeated. ISIS doesn’t really “control” half of Syria.

As these maps from the Institute for the Study of War demonstrates, ISIS has a sliver-shaped core of direct administrative control, insulated by hundreds of square miles of desert where the jihadist group and other militant forces maintain a degree of operational capability.

There are gradients of ISIS control in Syria, and understanding them hints at how the group can be successfully countered.

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“ISIS’s fighters are likely clustered in key defensible terrain,” Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria conflict analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, told Business Insider. Cafarella explained that ISIS focuses its efforts and manpower around the populated and strategic areas along the Euphrates river.

“There’s little actual human terrain in close proximity to ISIS in eastern Syria that ISIS does not already control,” she said. “Beyond that is the vast Homs Desert, where ISIS has been able to operate with impunity.

“But it’s too inhospitable for any military to decisively hold and of low enough strategic value that is can’t be considered an exclusively ISIS-governed area.”

As Cafarella says, the desert in the east of the country is at least “maneuverable terrain by really all military forces.”

The issue is that ISIS currently has free reign there — the Assad regime, for instance, doesn’t have on the ground intelligence, the capacity, of perhaps the willingness to discover and then bomb ISIS convoys traveling across Syria’s desert east.

“We still don’t have the ground partner necessary to contest ISIS-held terrain inside of Syria in any meaningful sense,” says Cafarella.

In Syria, ISIS has a small core area of control, a wider area of operational freedom, and no real ground-level counter-force pressuring the group.

What it doesn’t have is an administrative entity that actually comprises half of the country’s territory.

In other areas, over-emphasis on ISIS’s territorial control can have an even more distorting impact on the group’s actual reach. In Libya, it’s been frequently reported that ISIS rules over territory, with The New York Times reporting in March that ISIS had a foothold in Sirte, along the Mediterranean coast. On May 21st, Reuters reported that ISIS had captured the city.

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ISIS trucks driving around Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: ISIS sources on the web)

In reality, ISIS doesn’t really control any territory in Libya, or at least not in the same sense as in Iraq and Syria.

“The places they’re said to be in control of are heavily contested,” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider. “It hasn’t captured cities and imposed an administrative structure.”

The idea that ISIS has territorial control in Libya “directly feeds into ISIS propaganda,” says Gartenstein-Ross. It shows that the “caliphate” has spread beyond Iraq and Syria, and that he group can fight and hold territory far beyond its center of power. An exaggerated sense of ISIS’s Libya capabilities may have been part of what convinced the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram to pledge allegiance to ISIS in March.

Understanding the nature and extent of ISIS’s territorial control is especially important amidst growing criticism of the US’s strategy against the group. Gartentstein-Ross explained that ISIS has adjusted its own battlefield approach, opting for small-scale attacks over vulnerable large-scale mobilizations. Furthermore, the group is only opening fronts against forces they are relatively certain they can defeat, like the Iraqi military.

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Photo Credit: Vice News/screenshot

“They’re using smaller and more mobile units that are better at evading the air campaign,” says Gartenstein-Ross.

ISIS’s tactics are adjusting to the US’s now 11-month-old air campaign, but this doesn’t mean the group is invincible. ISIS took Palmyra because the Syrian regime fled, and it took Ramadi because the Iraqi Security Forces aren’t a viable or a competent fighting force.

On the other hand, ISIS has an apparent unwillingness to contest areas held by battle-hardened Iranian-supported Shi’ite militia groups in both Iraq and Syria, and has made little progress against Kurdish forces in either country.

So even as the group expands, it’s clear that it isn’t on an inevitable victory march across Iraq and Syria.

“I don’t think their capability should be overstated vis a vis the full range of their opponents,” says Gartenstein-Ross.

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