The A-10 Thunderbolt II (AKA Warthog) was designed around its massive GAU-8/A Avenger nose cannon.
The gun and plane were developed in parallel, which resulted in the perfect marriage. In fact, without the nose cannon, the plane is completely off balance and can’t fly.
Developed by General Electric, the 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon was designed to combat tanks and provide close air support. Both the A-10 and its GAU-8/A gun entered service in 1977. This video explains the cannon’s role in today’s battlefield.
A new short film created by the U.S. Air Force has been nominated for an Emmy Award.
Produced by Airman Magazine, the two-minute video captures the harrowing challenges airmen face during SERE training. “The Perfect Edge” compares the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program that airmen undergo to the process of forging a survival knife, and the parallel is visually striking.
It features real footage of participants engaging in the intense wilderness survival and physical training exercises at SERE, along with narration by Senior Airman Joseph Collett, an instructor at the school.
The name Ranger commands respect in the military community. Synonymous with top-tier units like the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, the Philippine Scout Rangers, and the Nepalese Mahabir Rangers, they are elite warfighters in the military community. The U.S. Army’s Rangers trace their history back to Francis Marion, the legendary Swamp Fox who employed guerilla tactics and maneuver warfare against the British during the American Revolution. The British Army, who also fielded a Ranger unit during the Revolution, are forming a new Ranger Regiment for the 21st century.
In early 2021, the UK Ministry of Defence announced the formation of a new special operations brigade, the core of which will be the Ranger Regiment. Comprised of four battalions, the regiment will be a proactive rather than a reactive force. “The best way to prevent conflict and deter our adversaries is to work alongside partners to strengthen their security and resilience,” said Defence Minister Ben Wallace. “These Ranger battalions will be at the vanguard at a more active and engaged armed forces.”
Over the next four years, £120 million will be invested into the formation of the new brigade, with the Rangers receiving a portion of the funds. The thousand-strong regiment is scheduled to be established in August 2021 and hopes to deploy by early 2022. To build its ranks, the Ranger application is open to all members of the British Armed Forces. However, the regiment will begin an exclusively infantry unit. Four specialized infantry battalions, 1 SCOTS, 2PWRR, 2 LANCS, and 4 RIFLES have been selected to seed the regiment. They will form the nucleus of what will eventually become an “all-arms, all-Army” unit.
As global threats evolve, so too must the warfighters that meet them. Basic infantry skills will be vital to any prospective regiment applicant. However, Rangers will have to adapt to the complexities of the modern battlefield, “Matching brainpower with firepower, data and software with hardware,” said Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith.
The new Ranger Regiment will be routinely deployed around the globe, supporting allied nations in defense and security operations. “They will be able to operate in complex, high-threat environments, taking on some tasks traditionally done by Special Forces,” the Defence Command Paper said. “This work will involve deterring adversaries and contributing to collective deterrence by training, advising and, if necessary, accompanying partners.” So far, Mozambique and Somalia have been announced as two countries under consideration for the Rangers’ first deployment.
There is nothing better than being shot at and missed.
Soldiers in combat develop especially strong bonds of brotherhood, and even when everything is going to hell, they usually can remain positive. This 2012 video captured by soldiers right after they got into a firefight with the Taliban is a perfect case in point.
The unidentified cameraman is running around keeping his unit’s spirits up from what appears to be a close call with the enemy, judging by the sight of a soldier being treated for a wound to the arm. While the soldiers face outward for any possible threats, they still manage to joke around for a video, and even the guy who gets wounded joins in.
Just because we haven’t heard of sporadic shots being fired in the Persian Gulf doesn’t mean everything is going just fine. On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Navy had to fire warning shots at an Iranian boat in the region for the first time in four years.
Iranian ships in the Gulf have a habit of hassling American vessels. The most recent incident is the second in the month of April 2021 alone. The first came when Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast-attack craft swarmed two U.S. Coast Guard cutters on April 2.
This time, three more Revolutionary Guard fast-attack craft began to head directly for a U.S. Navy patrol boat, the USS Firebolt, and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Baranof while in international waters.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Navy said the IRGCN boats came into an “unnecessarily close range with unknown intent, coming as close as 68 yards of the ships.”
The Americans issued numerous verbal warnings via radio and other means in an effort to communicate with the Iranians. When they finally got too close without heeding the warnings, the Firebolt opened fire. Only then did the Iranians move away from the Americans.
“The IRGCN’s actions increased the risk of miscalculation and/or collision,” the spokesperson said. “U.S. naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense.”
The incident comes at a time when the United States is trying to re-enter the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. In May 2018, the White House under President Donald Trump unilaterally left the agreement and implemented harsher sanctions on Iran.
Iran officially responded by issuing a statement that required European parties to the agreement to abide by its terms and maintain relationships with Iranian banks and purchase Iranian oil despite U.S. pressure to do the opposite. On the ground, the Iranian Quds Forces in Syria fired rockets at targets inside Israel. Israel has continued its direct and indirect means of sabotaging any Iranian nuclear enrichment.
The United States only heightened tensions with Iran after the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in 2020. Soleimani was the leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, one of Iran’s most popular figures. Iran retaliated by launching missiles against U.S. forces in Iraq. No U.S. troops were killed, but 110 were wounded.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have remained high ever since, despite Trump’s failed re-election bid and the Biden Administration’s attempt at rejoining the JCPOA and any proposed concessions to do so.
The entire Persian Gulf region has essentially been an area in crisis since 2019 as tensions between Iran and the west – not just the United States – began in earnest. Iran has been responding to and provoking responses from the U.S. and western allies including the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Israel throughout the area.
While tensions mount, risky incidents like Iranian fast-attack craft provoking warning shots from U.S. Navy ships are likely to continue in the near future until either side takes action to defuse the situation.
It’s perfectly legal for Dutch citizens to join the fight against ISIL.
Since late last year, members of the “No Surrender” biker gang have joined Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Klaas Otto, the leader of the group, has confirmed that at least three of the gang’s members were in Syria, according to The Daily Mail.
However, to be clear, you can’t join a foreign force — i.e. ISIL — against the Netherlands.
The story of Dutch citizens wanting to fight against ISIL seems natural, according to The Daily Beast:
So many lunatics from Europe, including from The Netherlands, have joined the head-choppers of ISIS, and here was a group of badasses on choppers out to kill those bastards. It was promoted on what might be called not-quite-mainstream or, indeed, axe-to-grind media. It cropped up on a Kurdish channel and on a local German channel. Then RT, Russian Television, fell in love with it. So did the British tabloids. And a New York one. And the story just keeps rolling.
Here’s a two-minute BBC interview with the leader of “No Surrender” explaining their involvement in the fight against the terrorist organization:
United States Coast Guard personnel live by this credo: “You have to go out; you don’t have to come back.” Here’s a WATM salute to the United States Coast Guard for being “Semper Paratus” for 225 years:
Andrew Jackson’s future as a badass started at the tender age of 13 during the Revolutionary War. He joined the Continental Army as a courier and was taken prisoner along with his brother Robert in April 1781.
When a British officer ordered him to spit shine his boots during captivity, Jackson refused. Not amused by the boy’s defiance, the redcoat drew his sword and slashed Jackson’s left hand and head, which left him with a permanent scar. The brothers were released from captivity after two weeks as part of a prisoner exchange, but Robert died within days due to an illness contracted during detention. Another one of Jackson’s brothers and his mother died before the war ended, leaving him with a lifelong hatred toward the Brits.
Jackson earned the nickname “Old Hickory” because he used to carry a hickory cane, which doubled as a weapon. He dished out his most famous cane beating to Richard Lawrence, who attempted to assassinate him while Jackson was serving as President. Lawrence approached Jackson with two pistols —plan A and plan B—both of which misfired. After noticing he was out of danger, Jackson proceeded to beat Lawrence to a bloody pulp.
Jackson was known for being a serial duelist; historians estimate “Old Hickory” participate in anywhere between 13 and 100 duels. (That is too many duels by any standard.) Jackson fought his most famous duel in 1806 against Charles Dickinson, who was an excellent shot. Despite knowing about Dickinson’s pistol prowess, Jackson insisted that he fire first. This American Heroes Channel video illustrates the events leading to the duel and why he gets our vote for ‘most badass American president.’
On February 2, 2020, the Air Force announced a new evaluation system for its senior enlisted airmen and officers. E-7 through E-9 and O-1 though O-6 personnel will be graded on 10 Airman Leadership Qualities focused on character and competence. According to the Air Force, the 10 ALQs are categorized under four major performance areas which coincide with both the major graded areas of the Air Force Unit Effectiveness Inspection program and the language used to describe expected performance factors provided to promotion boards. Arguably the most interesting aspect of the new form is that it is optional.
“We designed the addendum to be used in conjunction with the primary Airman Comprehensive Assessment form to serve as a guide for raters to help facilitate actionable discussions during feedback that incorporate the Airman leadership qualities,” said Air Force Talent Management Innovation Cell Director Col. Laura King. Following initial release, the service will collect and implement feedback from commanders to rework and finalize the ALQs and the evaluation system as a whole.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass noted that the new system is in its infancy. “This is just the beginning stages of constructing a system that clearly defines the qualities we value and need in our Airmen,” Bass said. “The synergy between the officer and enlisted evaluation systems is a huge win for how we develop our Airmen to build the Air Force our nation needs.”
The four major performance areas and 10 ALQs of the new evaluation system are broken down as follows:
Executing the Mission
Job Proficiency: Demonstrates knowledge and professional skill in assigned duties, achieving positive results and impact in support of the mission.
Initiative: Assesses and takes independent or directed action to complete a task or mission that influences the mission or organization.
Adaptability: Adjusts to changing conditions, to include plans, information, processes, requirements and obstacles in accomplishing the mission.
Inclusion and Teamwork: Collaborates effectively with others to achieve an inclusive climate in pursuit of a common goal or to complete a task or mission.
Emotional Intelligence: Exercises self-awareness, manages their own emotions effectively; demonstrates an understanding of others’ emotions, and appropriately manages relationships.
Communication: Articulates information in a clear and timely manner, both verbally and non-verbally, through active listening and messaging tailored to the appropriate audience.
Stewardship: Demonstrates responsible management of assigned resources, which may include time, equipment, people, funds and/or facilities.
Accountability: Takes responsibility for the actions and behaviors of self and/or team; demonstrates reliability and transparency.
Improving the Unit
Decision Making: Makes well-informed, effective and timely decisions under one’s control that weigh constraints, risks, and benefits.
Innovation: Thinks creatively about different ways to solve problems, implements improvements and demonstrates calculated risk-taking.
As the Air Force revamps its evaluation system following these 10 ALQs, leaders are encouraged to “use it to the maximum extent practical” according to a service press release. That said, if you have to pester your leadership for an evaluation, try not to do it to such an extent that you wind up on their bad side.
Top U.S. and United Kingdom defense officials signed an agreement this week to merge some military forces in 2021 to form a combined carrier strike group.
Marine CorpsF-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Navy destroyer The Sullivans will deploy as part of the strike group, former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced Monday. The U.K.-U.S. combined strike group will be led by the U.K. aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth.
The agreement was signed by Miller and U.K. Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace. The strike group is scheduled to sail out of Portsmouth, U.K., later this year.
“This deployment underscores the strength of our bilateral ties and demonstrates U.S.-U.K. interoperability, both of which are key tenets of the U.S. National Defense Strategy,” the Pentagon’s announcement on the agreement states.Advertisement
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in November that the task force will operate in the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and East Asia.
“Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on our most ambitious deployment for two decades,” he said. “… We shall forward-deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions, protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation.”
Ten Marine F-35B Lightning II fighter jets embarked on the Queen Elizabeth in September as part of a training deployment. The embark was in preparation for this year’s full-length deployment, Marine officials said last year.
Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, the former head of Marine Corps aviation, said in 2019 that the F-35 embark would serve as a “new norm” for how the U.S. will conduct operations with maritime partners.
Wallace said the deployment embodies the strength of bilateral ties between the U.S. and U.K., and reflects the depth of the vital defense and security partnership.
“I am delighted that the U.K. now possesses a 21st-century carrier strike capability, which has been greatly assisted by the unswerving support and cooperation of the United States at all levels over the past decade,” he said.
The Greek town of Vrontados on the island of Chios has an Easter tradition they call Rouketopolemos, which literally means Rocket War.
This annual event pits two rival parishes against each other by firing tens of thousands of home-made rockets at the opposing side’s bell tower. The next day, both congregations count the direct hits to determine the winner, but no matter the results, each parish claims victory. Since both sides end in disagreement, they agree to settle the score next year, thus perpetuating the rivalry.
The origins of this tradition are unclear, but one popular story states that it was born from the Turkish occupation of Greece. People from the island were prohibited from celebrating Easter the way they used to. So, the Christians from the churches of San Maria and San Marco decided to have a fake war with rockets to keep the Turkish away. Frightened by the sudden violence, the Turkish kept their distance. In the meantime, the communities celebrated Easter they way they were accustomed to, according to Rocketwar.
The midnight rocket war is truly a spectacle, the action begins at 3:40 of this video:
If you know a thing or two about military life, then you’ve probably heard of military working dogs. These faithful animals bring a lot to the table for American troops. That being said, they aren’t the only members of the animal kingdom who chip in to help. In fact, the Navy has used a number of marine mammals to assist in essential missions.
The United States Navy’s marine mammal program has been around for almost six decades now. These dolphins and sea lions serve under the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1. Here’s a rundown of these Marine Mammal Systems, listed by designation.
Dolphins that specialize in deep-water mine countermeasures are designated the Mk 4 Marine Mammal System. The dolphins pictured here are being deployed for the de-mining of New Caledonia, an allied base in World War II.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young)
Mk 4 Dolphins
These dolphins specialize in locating and neutralizing mines moored in deep water. When you think about it, it makes sense for dolphins to assist in this mission. Their echolocation is a form of sonar, which is the primary means of locating mines.
A Mk 5 is photographed during a retrieval exercise. Unlike a salvage company, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg – just some fish.
Mk 5 Sea Lions
These sea lions are used for the retrieval of submerged objects. Unlike human divers, sea lions can dive deep without suiting up for the mission. What’s more is that these highly-trained mammals will happily hand over whatever they find in exchange for a fishy treat.
This Mk 6 Marine Mammal System looks friendly and playful… unless you’re an enemy swimmer. Then he’ll take you down without remorse, thinking only of the extra fish he’ll get as a reward.
(U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class Wes Eplen)
Mk 6 Dolphins and Sea Lions
We all do our best to keep intruders out of our yards. Well, the Navy does the same for their harbors. And for good reason: Enemy swimmers can do damage — just ask the crew of USNS Card (T-AKV 40). The dolphins and sea lions in this system are intended to find and help detain enemy divers. The water is their natural element; intruders stand little chance of escaping.
Mk 7 Marine Mammal Systems handle the shallow-water mine countermeasures mission.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mr. John F. Williams)
Mk 7 Dolphins
There are some places laden with mines that drones or ships simply can’t reach. In order to best protect troops and technology, these dolphins use their sonar and agility to clear the way. After all, their natural ability is arguably superior to current mine-detecting technologies.
These dolphins find safe lanes for landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles to use for delivering Marines ashore.
(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Elena Pence)
Mk 8 Dolphins
When storming a beach, you first need to find a safe lane for your landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles to travel within. These dolphins are specially trained to use their echo-location techniques to find a safe canal.
Now, before you get up in arms, know that these dolphins and sea lions tend to live longer than their wild counterparts. They also get excellent care from veterinarians and experienced trainers throughout. While the Navy is working on underwater drones, the fact is, these Marine Mammal Systems have served well for almost six decades and will likely continue to serve alongside sailors and Marines for a long time yet.
North Korea hasn’t always been a nuclear pariah. For most of its history, it was just a regular pariah. Even the Soviet Union wasn’t thrilled with Kim Il-Sung’s special brand of communism, but as time went on other communists became hard to come by, so they cut the North Koreans a break.
Time definitely took its toll on communist countries. These days, there are very few communist countries left; Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and China all stand with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). But North Korea is the only one that still goes around threatening its neighbors. For most of the post-Cold War era, no one really cared much. Then they got nukes.
But it wasn’t always that way. In 1985, the DPRK actually signed the worldwide Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), committing it to halting the spread of nuclear weapons and associated technologies. It also promoted the peaceful use of nuclear energy. North Korea even had a nuclear power plant. This might have been at the behest of its Soviet benefactors, but it was still a good step forward.
Just before the fall of the Soviet Union, the USSR and the United States signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which limited the deployment of nuclear weapons around the world. As part of this 1991 treaty, the United States removed its nuclear arsenal from the Korean Peninsula. The decision was celebrated in North Korea, where the two Koreas agreed not to produce or receive nuclear weapons or process uranium the very next year.
But like most things in North Korea, it was short-lived. In 1993, the country was suspected of having an underground nuclear enrichment program and refused inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). As tensions mounted, the DPRK threatened to withdraw from the NPT. Cooler heads prevailed after the U.S. intervened and talked it out.
Tensions soon mounted yet again and it looked like North Korea and South Korea were on a collision course for war. In 1994, former President Jimmy Carter met with Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and defused the situation, paving the way for a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the DPRK.
During this time, the founder and President of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung died and his son, Kim Jong-Il took over amid a worsening famine there. That same year, the two countries agreed on a framework to halt North Korea’s illegal nuclear program in exchange for food aid, oil, food and two light-water reactors for energy.
Within five years, construction on the light-water reactors had begun and North Korea issued a moratorium on nuclear-capable missile testing. Its willingness to put its arsenal on hold led to the first Inter-Korean Summit in 2000. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung visited Pyongyang after five decades of constant threats and conflict. The two left the summit with an agreement to begin multiple joint business ventures and cultural cooperation projects. Families separated by the Korean War were reunified and the U.S. eased economic sanctions on the DPRK.
The warming relations between the two countries lead to a state visit in Pyongyang from U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright. The two countries talked about an end to North Korea’s missile program but were unable to seal a deal before the end of President Bill Clinton’s time in office.
Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, listed North Korea as part of an “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address and his administration refused to certify North Korea’s compliance with the 1994 Agreed Framework. North Korea responded by leaving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and disregarding all agreements with South Korea. It expelled all IAEA inspectors and reactivated its nuclear plant in Yongbyon.
To ease tensions, leaders from North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States and China agreed to meet in Beijing in 2003. The Six-Party Talks (as they became known) succeeded in getting everyone together but no agreements were made. Two years later, the Six-Party Talks bore fruit, resulting in a North Korean agreement to end its nuclear program. It didn’t rejoin the NPT, but agreed to its terms.
Until 2006, that is, when North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test, along with seven ballistic missile tests. North Korea had officially joined the nuclear club. Since then, the effort to get North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs has been a mess of quick starts and stops. Every time progress is made in negotiations, the DPRK finds a way to destroy it and advance the programs.
Kim Jong-Il died in 2011, and his successor (and son) Kim Jong-Un briefly halted the nuclear program. The new leader briefly raised hopes of a nuclear-free Korea, but even those were soon dashed. Today, no one knows how many nuclear weapons the North has, or even how many missiles, but it is known that it is capable of striking the west coast of the United States – and everywhere in between.