6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction - We Are The Mighty
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6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

After two decades of counter-terror operations, America’s Department of Defense, or DoD, is pivoting back toward great power competition with a slew of new programs and proposals that seemingly blur the line between science fiction fantasy and legitimate military capability.

America’s combat operations in places like the Middle East have afforded its defense apparatus a great deal of experience, but that benefit doesn’t come without a price. Aside from the significant wear and tear on equipment (and the associated maintenance costs), America’s defense apparatus has also offered its competition in nations like Russia and China a perfect opportunity to study and assess Uncle Sam’s military capabilities. While neither Russia nor China currently possesses truly peer-level military capabilities when compared to the United States, it’s important to remember that they don’t need to in order to pose a significant risk to American interests, or indeed its very safety.

With America’s combat playbook open for all to see, China and Russia have both devoted significant portions of their defense spending to leverage gaps in the U.S.’s proverbial armor. As a result, the United States now finds itself falling behind the technological power curve in a number of important ways, including hypersonics and potentially even anti-satellite weapons.

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Russia’s hypersonic Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile mounted on a Russian Air Force MiG-31K (WikiMedia Commons)

But despite the strategic advantage America’s defense commitments have offered its competitors in recent years, it wouldn’t be wise to count the U.S. out quite yet. In fact, the DoD already has a number of groundbreaking programs underway, and in recent months, the Defense Department has gone even further, soliciting proposals for advanced technology so unusual that practically read like science fiction.

Of course, soliciting proposals and even funding programs doesn’t mean every one of these efforts will result in an operational weapon or mature strategic capability. Some of these programs are sure to fail or to be pulled apart and devoured by other broader reaching efforts. Like SOCOM’s Ironman-like TALOS armor or the stealth RAH-66 Comanche, a DoD program doesn’t have to cross the finish line to benefit the force.

Here are 6 crazy-seeming DoD programs that are currently in development.

Fusion Reactors and “Spacetime Modification” weapons

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

In 2019, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) filed a number of seemingly out of this world patents that could, in theory, revolutionize not only military aviation, but just about everything. Among these filings were patents for a High Energy Electromagnetic Field Generator, which if functional, could produce massive amounts of power with far-reaching military and commercial implications and would practically result in the world’s first highly efficient fusion reactor.

But if near-limitless clean energy isn’t crazy enough, another offshoot of this work led by U.S. Navy aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais would see the creation of a “spacetime modification weapon” that would, in his words, “make the Hydrogen bomb seem more like a firecracker, in comparison.

You can read a thorough breakdown of Pais’ work, as well as a similar effort led by Lockheed Martin, in our coverage of this story here.

Plasma Holograms that can fool missiles (and maybe even people)

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Artist’s rendering of DoD program to field laser induced plasma filament holograms.

New technology under patent by the U.S. Navy could shift the odds of survival further into the favor of stealth aircraft by leveraging lasers to produce plasma bursts that could trick inbound missiles into thinking they’ve found a jet to chase that would actually be little more than a hologram.

According to their patent, the laser system could be installed on the tail of an aircraft, and upon detection of an inbound missile, could literally project an infrared signature that would be comparable to a moving fighter jet’s exhaust out away from the fighter itself. Multiple systems could literally project multiple aircraft, leaving inbound missiles to go after the decoy plasma “fighters” instead of the actual aircraft itself.

These “laser induced plasma filaments,” as researchers call them, can be projected up to hundreds of meters, depending on the laser system employed, and (here’s the part that’ll really blow your mind) can be used to emit any wavelength of light. That means these systems could effectively display infrared to fool inbound heat seeking missiles, ultraviolet, or even visible light. 

You can read more about this effort in our full coverage of it here.

Drone Wingmen and “Skyborg”

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II fly in formation with the XQ-58A Valkyrie low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle over the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground testing range, Ariz., during a series of tests Dec. 9, 2020. (US Air Force photo)

The 2005 movie “Stealth” depicts a team of 6th generation fighter pilots who are assigned a new wingman: an AI-enabled drone. The movie may not have gotten much right about military aviation, but the premise has proven not just viable, but likely. With programs underway like the Air Force Research Laboratories Skyborg and Boeing’s Loyal Wingman, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing data-fusing jets like the F-35 flying with their own constellations of support drones that can be used to extend their sensor reach, engage targets on the fighter’s behalf, or even sacrifice themselves to prevent a missile from reaching the crewed aircraft.

Recently, the U.S. Air Force successfully flew a Kratos Valkyrie UCAV alongside both of America’s 5th generation fighters, with an active data link connecting the F-35 to the drone. While still a rudimentary test, this flight was truly just the beginning.

You can learn more about this effort in our coverage here.

Artificial Intelligence in the cockpit

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

In August of last year, Heron Systems’ incredible artificial intelligence pilot system defeated not only its industry competitors, but went on to secure 5 straight victories against a highly trained U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot, without the human pilot even scoring a single hit. It was a significant success for the endeavor to get AI into the cockpits of American fighters, even if the competition was technically stacked in the AI’s favor.

The intent behind the competition wasn’t to embarrass a human pilot, but rather to improve both the AI’s ability to make decisions and develop a level of trust between human operators and future AI co-pilots. By outsourcing some tasks to a highly capable AI, pilots can focus more of their bandwidth on situational awareness and the task at hand.

You can read more about this effort in our coverage of it here.

6th Generation Fighters

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
(U.S. Air Force rendering of a 6th generation fighter.)

Last September, the U.S. Air Force shocked the world with the announcement that they had already designed, built, and flown a prototype of the next generation of fighters. Details released by the DoD are scarce, but there are a number of assertions we can make about this program based on publicly available information.

In order to justify the creation of a new fighter generation, this new jet will need to offer all the capabilities found in 5th generation jets like the F-35, along with a slew of entirely new capabilities. It seems feasible that the fighter that has already been tested by not be a mature platform destined for service, but may instead be a technology demonstrator used to assess the efficacy of some of these state-of-the-art systems.

You can learn more about what exactly makes a 6th generation fighter in our coverage here.

Using shrimp to track enemy submarines

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

DARPA’s effort to track undersea life’s behavior as a means to detect enemy submarines has just entered its second phase. In the first phase, DARPA’s Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program sought to prove that sea life would respond to the presence of a submarine in a measurable way. With that seemingly confirmed, the second stage of the program will focus on developing sensors that can identify that behavior and relay a warning back to manned locations aboard a ship or onshore.

Undersea life tends to behave in a certain way when it senses the presence of a large and foreign object like a submarine. By broadly tracking the behavior of sea life, PALS aims to measure and interpret that behavior to make educated guesses about what must be causing it. In other words, by constantly tracking the behavior of nearby wildlife, PALS sensors can notice a significant change, compare it to a library of known behaviors, and predict a cause… like an enemy submarine, even if a submarine was stealthy enough to otherwise evade detection.

You can read more about this program in our full coverage here.

Feature photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center

Intel

This First-Person Video Shows What Tankers See While Blowing Targets Away

Tanks firing isn’t something many people think of as requiring marksmanship, but tankers take it very seriously. A new video shows Marines engaging targets at the range, and most of the footage is from the perspective of the tankers.


Also Read: 7 Incredible Narco Tanks Built By Mexican Cartels

With tanks firing, the big gun is, of course, the main draw. The 120-mm smoothbore can accurately fire shells over 2 kilometers.

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

But the video also shows the operations of the loader, the crew member who feeds the gun.
6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

The tanks are on a firing line and there are great shots of one tank firing right after another.
6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Machine guns on the tank are not as flashy but crucial for protecting the crew. They get to spit some brass, too.
6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

Check out the full video on Youtube:

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Articles

US to evacuate Afghan interpreters ahead of troop withdrawal

The Biden administration told lawmakers Wednesday the US will soon start to evacuate thousands of Afghans who have assisted American troops for nearly two decades to other countries in an attempt to keep them safe while they apply for entry to the United States, The New York Times reported.

As the drawdown in Afghanistan enters its final stages, many veterans and some legislators have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis for the locals who have helped American forces during the past 20 years of war.

“When that last soldier goes wheels up out of Afghanistan, it is a death sentence for our local allies, the Taliban have made that clear in their words and in their actions as they hunt these people down right now as we speak,” Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican and former Green Beret, said last week.

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Marine Cpl. Devon Sanderfield and an Afghan interpreter communicate with a local man in Changwalok, Afghanistan. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Zachary Nola, courtesy of DVIDS.

More than 18,000 interpreters, security guards, fixers, embassy clerks, and engineers have applied for the Special Immigrant Visa, which takes more than two years on average to obtain. The Times reports that those applicants have 53,000 family members. A senior administration official told the Times family members would also be evacuated to another country to await visa processing.

Calls for the Biden administration to swiftly evacuate Afghan contractors have grown in recent months, with advocates fearing the Taliban could go “house to house” after Western forces leave, targeting interpreters and their families. The Taliban, meanwhile, said earlier this month that Afghans who helped foreign forces have nothing to fear as long as they “show remorse for their past actions” and don’t engage in future “treason against Islam and the country.”

Interpreters don’t trust that promise. The Taliban has tortured and killed dozens of Afghan translators during the past two decades, the news agency AFP reported.

“The Taliban will not pardon us. They will kill us and they will behead us,” Omid Mahmoodi, an interpreter who worked with US forces between 2018 and 2020, told AFP.

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Matthew Zeller, far left, in Afghanistan with his interpreter, Janis Shinwari, third from right, who later came to the US with Zeller’s help. Zeller has worked for years to bring interpreters and other Afghans to America. Photo courtesy of Matthew Zeller.

It’s not clear yet where Afghans will wait, or whether third countries have agreed to the plan. In a June 12, 2021, letter to President Joe Biden, Guam’s governor Lourdes Aflague Leon Guerrero asked that the island be a landing point for those in need, like it was in 1975 when the US evacuated approximately 130,000 Vietnamese refugees.

According to a document from the Truman Center obtained by Coffee or Die Magazine, the cost of flying Afghan allies to Guam would be relatively low. The Truman Center’s Matthew Zeller estimates the average price would be $9,981.65 per person, for a total cost of about $699 million for 70,000 evacuees.

“It sounds like a lot of money until you realize it’s an additional 8.3 hours of the DOD budget. But it’s a hell of a down payment in keeping Americans alive in future wars. Because this is how we’re going to show people that we keep our word,” Zeller said.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Feature image: US Army photo by Spc. Andrew Baker

Intel

Could we really build a B-1B gunship?

In 2018, Boeing filed patents for a number of potential cannon mounting solutions for the supersonic heavy payload bomber, the B-1B Lancer, with the intent of creating a B-1B gunship similar in capability to the famed Spooky AC-130 and its most recent successor, the AC-130J Ghostrider. While the patents indicate Boeing’s interest in prolonging the life of the venerable Lancer, there’s been little progress toward pursuing this unusual design.

Recently, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to begin retiring its fleet of B-1Bs in favor of the forthcoming B-21 Raider, prompting us to ask ourselves: could we actually build a B-1B gunship to keep this legendary aircraft in service?

Could we really build a B-1B Gunship?

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

Boeing’s patents indicate a number of cannon-mounting methods and even types and sizes of weapons, giving this concept a broad utilitarian appeal. America currently relies on C-130-based gunships that, while able to deliver a massive amount of firepower to a target, max out at less than half the speed that would be achievable in a B-1B gunship. The Lancer’s heavy payload capabilities and large fuel stores would also allow it to both cover a great deal of ground in a hurry, but also loiter over a battlespace, delivering precision munitions and cannon fire managed by a modular weapon control system.

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction

In theory, it all sounds well and good, but there are also a number of significant limitations. The B-1B Lancer’s swing-wing design does allow it to fly more manageable at lower speeds, but it would almost certainly struggle to fly as slowly as an AC-130J can while engaging targets below. Likewise, a B-1B gunship would be just as expensive to operate as it currently is as a bomber–making it a much more expensive solution to a problem one could argue the U.S. has already solved.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll never see this concept, or even these patents, leveraged in some way. If you’d like to learn more about the concept of turning a B-1B into a gunship, you can read our full breakdown (that the video above is based on) here.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Intel

These Incredibly Brave Activists Expose The Terror Of Living Under ISIL Control

The so-called Islamic State has people exposing its daily atrocities from the inside.


While the band of terrorists of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attempt to masquerade as a legitimate government in their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, a brave group of activists living inside the city have been documenting life under the brutal regime.

Also Read: The King Of Jordan Sent Out This Badass Photo In Response To ISIL

Known as Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, the group posts photo, video, and social media updates from the city.

From The Daily Beast:

[The group] follows developments in ISIS very closely and appear to be well-sourced inside the city of Raqqa, which is the so-called Islamic State’s capital. The group reported on a failed Jordanian attempt to rescue Muadh al Kasasbeh, a downed pilot from the Jordan Air Force, and his subsequent execution, burned alive, weeks before the hideous video of his murder was made public by ISIS.

Now, in an exclusive video interview from The Wall Street Journal, one of the activists has given his first in-person interview.

“Young guys they just think about going to the bars, meeting girls, and having girlfriends,” the activist says in the video. “But I think about how I will expose ISIS. How I will make the world notice my city.”

It’s a must-watch:

NOW: This Retired Navy Jet Is Finding New Life In The Fight Against ISIL

OR: Meet The Dutch Biker Gang Fighting Against ISIL

Intel

How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is

If the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has taught Russia’s neighbors anything, it’s that you never really know if Russia is going to make good on a threat. And if it does, you need to be seriously prepared for what comes next. 

While Lithuania doesn’t exactly share a border with Russia, it’s still in a tough neighborhood. It does share a border with Moscow’s closest Eastern European ally, Belarus. And as a former member of the Soviet Union, they know Russia could be back at any time. 

The soldiers of Lithuania’s armed forces know this fact better than anyone else. Forced conscription of Lithuanian citizens ended in 2008 but after Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula and began to support Russian separatists in Ukraine, the country revived the practice. 

Ever since, Lithuanian special forces have been training Ukrainian troops to resist Russia and the separatist movements it backs. Despite the small size of its armed forces, the Lithuanians punch well above their weight class, seeing action everywhere from Mali to Iraq to Afghanistan.

The skill and training of Lithuania’s military was demonstrated in 2020 when the Žemaitija Motorised Infantry Brigade, a reconnaissance unit attached to Lithuania’s land forces, conducted a military escape and evasion exercise. Five soldiers, including a draftee, were assigned to evade the rest of their unit. They did it a little too well. 

After the soldiers failed to reach their predetermined meeting point, the Lithuanian military believed something bad happened to them and launched an all-out rescue effort that included helicopters and search dogs. 

The only problem was that no one told the soldiers the exercise had ended. 

According to Lithuanian military spokesman Laimis Bratikas, the event is a kind of graduation exam for military scouts, training in the heart of Lithuania’s deep forests. These soldiers were about to get the highest marks on this exam.

For a full 24 hours, the five men didn’t just avoid a military exercise, they successfully evaded a real-world rescue operation.

russian soldiers
Russian soldiers with the 13th Tactical Group and American soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery (1-41), take a short break at checkpoint 75 in the east sector of Kosovo, during Operation JOINT GUARDIAN II.

The next time you hear someone try to downplay the skills of America’s NATO allies, remember that some of them, even those drafted into their armed forces, might have more skills than you think. They’ve been preparing to fight Russia for most of their lives.

Articles

Russia Trying To Develop An Aircraft Carrier That Can Hold 100 Planes

Russia’s government-owned Krylov State Research Center is on its way towards developing Russia’s latest aircraft carrier, according to Russian media.


The aircraft carrier is in a very rudimentary stage of its development. It’s still under conceptual testing in Krylov’s laboratory.

Also Read: 37 Awesome Photos Of Life On A US Navy Carrier

But if the tests prove successful and the carrier’s design is deemed plausible, the research center will follow through with a 1:1 scale metal mock-up of the carrier (China may have just constructed its own mock-up of a new carrier).

According to Russia’s TV Vezda, the carrier would be able to stow 100 aircraft onboard. The body of the carrier is also being designed to minimize drag by 20 percent compared to past Russian carriers. If built, the vessel would be Russia’s first carrier to debut since the Admiral Kuznetsov, which launched in 1985. The Kuznetsov is Russia’s only functioning carrier.

TV Vezda also stated that the ship would feature catapults on the ship’s top to launch aircraft during storms. However, this claim is countered by the fact that the carrier’s models feature a ski-ramp style aircraft in the front aircraft takeoff like older Soviet models, which did not have catapults.

The Russian carrier, if constructed, would be slightly larger than the US’s current Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, which can carry around 90 aircraft.

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Krylov’s small scale mockup of its future carrier. (Photo: YouTube)

However, any indication of Russian plans should be taken with skepticism. The carrier is still in a conceptual phase and only a scaled mockup has been built so far. Any plans for Russia’s construction of the carrier could also be seriously hampered as Moscow is expected to enter a recession due to current economic sanctions and the falling value of the Russian ruble. It might not have the money for this ambitious of a military project, especially with so many other needs.

Russia’s drive to modernize its navy comes as its force is deteriorating rapidly. The vast majority of Russia’s Navy is a holdover from the country’s Soviet fleet. These ships are older than Moscow would like and suffer from frequent mechanical failures.

Of Russia’s 270 strong navy, only about 125  vessels are functional. Only approximately 45 of those 125 ships and submarines are functional and deployable, according to War Is Boring.

Russia was meant to have received two Mistral-class assault ships from France in 2014 as part of its fleet modernization, but the deal was put on hold over the crisis in Ukraine.

In Oct. 2014, China’s Xinhua reported that Russia would seek to acquire an advanced aircraft carrier by the 2030s. The vessel would be capable of operating in diverse environments and could accommodate both manned and unmanned systems.

More from Business Insider:

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

Intel

America’s rural veterans face an uphill battle for help after they return home

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Brian Stansberry


Mickey Ireson, a Marine Corps veteran in rural America, struggled with all the worse elements of the VA system. He drove three hours each way to appointments, struggled to reach doctors, and had to juggle his medical needs with school and a full-time job. He kept fighting to stay on an even footing, but he slowly gave way. Eventually, he was homeless, jobless, and kicking a drug habit.

Some vets who have learned to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare are helping out their peers. An Army veteran who knew the problems of getting care from the VA in the country met Ireson through a non-profit and helped him out. Ireson is now back in school with a 3.8 GPA, president of his student veterans club, and employed.

Still, Ireson’s story is not unique. Check out the full story on America’s rural veterans from from James Clark at Task and Purpose 

Intel

Watch a soldier return from Afghanistan to surprise a total stranger

We’ve all seen the military homecoming videos, with a service member returning from overseas to surprise their loved ones.


But what happens when a soldier comes home and surprises a total stranger? Well, not to worry, because the satirical website ClickHole has you covered.

“I think he’s going to be very surprised, because he has no idea that I’m finally back from Afghanistan,” says “Sgt. Luke Brundage,” in the video produced by the one-year-old offshoot of The Onion.

With the look and feel of many familiar homecoming videos, the video hilariously illustrates a very awkward meeting, if something like this ever did occur. Interestingly enough, the actor who portrays Brundage is a Marine veteran, according to The Marine Times.

And while it does have some technical errors (using “soldier” instead of Marine, for instance), it’s still funny as hell. And the actor, Jonah Saesan, had little to do with pointing those out.

“A few people want to focus on the detail,” Saesan told The Times. “I don’t think they understand how little I had to do with the creative process.”

Now watch the video:

NOW: The hilarious ‘Awesome Sh-t my Drill Sergeant Said’ is now in book form

Intel

How it feels to get attacked by a military working dog

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Fritz the Belgian Malinois Military Working Dog Photo: Gizmodo


It is one thing to admire a 125 pound Belgian Malinois Military Working Dog from a distance. It is quite another to let it attack you for an Air Force training exercise.

Freelance writer Justin W. Coffey was brave enough to take the road less traveled. After visiting the K-9 kennel on the U.S. Air Force base in Japan where he lives, a Security Forces Commander asked if he was interested in letting one of the animals try and rip him to shreds. Intrigued, he conceded, and wrote about his adventure so readers like us could experience the incident without actually getting throttled by a killer dog.

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Coffey and Fritz get acquainted Photo: Gizmodo

Coffey shared his experience of getting attacked by Fritz the dog with Gizmodo:

It was 95 degrees out, so donning the heavily padded safety suit felt like putting on a sauna. After my first encounter with Fritz, I was happy to be wearing it. Sh–, I’d have worn two if it was possible.

The first thing they had me do was hold my arm out while the dog sat there, patiently awaiting its orders. It’s an odd feeling to have an animal as powerful as this one look at you in anger. And suddenly, before you can even blink, he’s on you, with his teeth sunk into the suit’s arm. They told me to fight, to throw my arm back and forth, to pull up if I could. The idea is to try and prevent the dog from “typewritering,” moving his bite up and down your arm. Being that Fritz is just 25lbs shy of my weight, his bite and subsequent thrashing threw me around like a rag doll.

“Fight back!” The handlers screamed. “Keep him from biting your hand!” It was all in vain; I was typewritered.

They shouted some abrupt orders that I couldn’t understand and Fritz let go, tongue wagging, eagerly awaiting his next command.

“Say something mean to the dog and then run away!” The handlers instructed. “You need to provoke him, it’ll make the pursuit more realistic.”

Alright. “F–k you Fritz!” And I ran, as fast as I could.

To read more about Coffey’s intense encounter, check out photos and the full article at Gizmodo

h/t Justin W. Coffey

Articles

This New Movie Unflinchingly Reveals The True Faces Of PTSD

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
Delta Force veteran Tyler Grey fires a pistol at a desert range. His right arm was wounded during a firefight in Iraq. (Image: Armed Forces Foundation)


In “That Which I Love Destroys Me,” a newly-released documentary that deals with the current PTSD epidemic, writer and director Ric Roman Waugh (“Felon,” “Snitch”) does exactly what he needed to do to respect the importance and delicacy of the subject matter:  He gets out of the way of the story by letting the principals tell it themselves.

Also Read: This Project Is A Real And Raw Look At How Military Service Affected Veterans 

“My job was to let them tell their story with unflinching candor,” Waugh said at a recent screening in Los Angeles.

TWILDM follows the post-war lives of two veteran special operators.  Jayson Floyd served in Afghanistan as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, and Tyler Grey was a member of Delta Force and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Floyd and Grey met at a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan in 2002, but their friendship blossomed after their complicated paths of post-active duty life joined around the methods they’d unlocked for dealing with their PTSD – mainly understanding the benefits of a supportive community of those wrestling with their own forms of post-traumatic stress.

Waugh sets the tempo of the documentary with soliloquies featuring a number of people, but mostly Floyd and Grey.  Their personalities are at once different and complimentary.  Floyd is Hollywood-leading-man handsome, moody and brooding, and speaks with a rapid-fire meter that forces you to listen closely to cull out the wisdom therein.  Grey is more upbeat, a conversationalist who uses comedy to mute his emotional scars.  He is quick with folksy metaphors that show how many times he’s told some of these stories, and he matter-of-factly relates how he sustained massive wounds to his right arm as breezily as a friend talking about a football injury.

The two warriors’ physical appearance changes throughout the documentary, which has the net effect of showing the passage of time and the range of their moods.  Sometimes they’re clean-shaven; sometimes they’re bearded.  Their hair length varies.  The differences color the underlying chaos around the search for identity of those dealing with PTSD.

[brightcove videoID=4058027763001 playerID=3895222314001 height=600 width=800]

Others are featured, as well.  Grey’s ex-girlfriend singularly comes to represent the toll of PTSD borne by those around the afflicted.  She’s beautiful and articulate, and as she speaks from a couch with Grey seated next to her, a pathos emerges that is intense and heartbreaking.  You can tell she loves him, but they’ll never be together again.  Too much has been said during the darkest days.  For his part, his expression evinces resignation for the beast inside of him that he is still taming, as he’ll have to for the rest of his life.  The sadness in his eyes is that of a werewolf warning those who would attempt to get close to stay away lest they be torn to shreds in the dark of night.

Floyd’s brother tells of the letter Floyd wrote explaining why he couldn’t be physically present to be the best man at his wedding.  As the brother reads the letter he begins to weep, which causes Floyd to weep as well.  The image of the tough special operator breaking down is very powerful.

But perhaps the most powerful scene is the one featuring Grey participating in a special operations challenge in Las Vegas.  He’s back in his element, wearing the gear he wore so many missions ago, a member of a team of elite warriors bonded by a clear-cut mission.

The team cleanly makes its way through a series of obstacles, but at the last one – where they must each climb a 15-foot rope to ring a bell – Grey falters.  His wounded hand won’t hold him.  He tries again and again, each attempt increasingly pathetic.  It’s hard to watch.  He finally gives up.

His teammates pat him on the back and put on the good face, but Grey is obviously crushed by his failure – something that goes against every molecule of his special operations DNA.

Grey convinces his teammates (and the camera crew, as Waugh revealed at the LA screening) to get up early the following day and try again before the event organizers tear down the obstacle course.  This time Grey rings the bell.  The scene captures the triumph of that day and, in a broader sense, the will to triumph over PTSD.

“Dealing with PTSD is a constant process,” Floyd said.  “To do this right we had to rip the scab off and show the wound.”

“We know we’re not the worst case,” Grey added.  “This is our story – just about us – and we’re putting ourselves out there not to compare but hopefully to coax people into sharing.”

Find out more about “That Which I Love Destroys Me,” including dates and places for the nationwide tour, here.

Buy the movie on iTunes here.

NOW: This Group Works To Salvage Good From The Ultimate Tragedy Of War 

OR: 7 Criminals Who Messed With The Wrong Veterans 

Intel

Stunning footage shows pilot’s eye view from inside a Blue Angel cockpit

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are arguably the best among military aerial demonstration teams. While they claim to be no better than any of their fleet peers, Blue Angel pilots operate with margins that only the “best of the best” could handle day in and day out.


The Blues have been soaring through the wild blue yonder since 1946, dazzling hundreds of thousands of fans from March to November every year.

Join the team for a close formation, high-G ride in this amazing video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKkbSch90qs
Intel

This video shows the awesomeness of the US Navy’s submarine force

In case you missed it, the U.S. Navy published a moto video about its submarine force called “The Silent Service.” It gives remarkable details — which are likely inaccurate — about the number of troops, types of submarines, and weapons on board.


The promotional video opens with an inspiring quote by Admiral Nimitz:

It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of peril.

It dives into the capabilities. (See what we did there?)

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
YouTube: US Navy

The types of missions . . .

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
YouTube: US Navy

The types of missiles . . .

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
YouTube: US Navy

And, of course, no submarine video is complete without the money surfacing shot . . .

6 crazy new DOD programs that sound like science fiction
YouTube: Navy

Now watch the full video:

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