The U.S. has conducted more than 4,700 air strikes against ISIS militants since Aug. 2014, and the American pilots carrying out those attacks often have awesome — and sometimes hilarious — callsigns.
In an interesting article for The New York Times, journalist Helene Cooper profiles some of the pilots flying from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who go by names like “Yip Yip,” “Pope,” and “Pizza.” The pilots talk about some of their missions to strike inside Iraq and Syria and the camaraderie among their squadron.
“Quite honestly, the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines own the skies,” Maj. Anthony Bourke, a former Air Force fighter pilot, told The Times. “So even though pilots dream of dogfights, the biggest risk now is small-arms fire, and if you stay above 10,000 feet, you’re not going to be hit.”
Though the Times article does not explain how they got their new names, it’s well known in the fighter pilot community that callsigns are usually earned during a “naming ceremony,” where fellow pilots bestow a newbie with something of a play on their name, or a name that evokes a past screw-up (cool names like “Iceman” or “Maverick” are usually out of the question).
So who are the mystery men flying in on F/A-18s to strike terrorist infrastructure? According to the photo spread accompanying the article, they are:
“Yard Sale” — Navy fighter pilot
“Chaz” — Navy fighter pilot
“Xerxes” — Navy weapons officer
“Pope” — Marine fighter pilot
“Yip Yip” — Navy fighter pilot
“Pickle” — Navy fighter pilot
“Skull” — Marine fighter pilot
“Pope” — Marine fighter pilot
“Betty” — Marine fighter pilot (and yes, he’s a guy)
“Sweet P” — Navy weapons officer
“Smoat” — Navy fighter pilot
“Bones” — Navy weapons officer
“Pizza” — the commander of the Roosevelt’s air wing
Now after an ISIS truck gets blown to bits, we know it may have all been the work of a guy named Yard Sale.
No military aircraft – past or present – can beat the altitude and airspeed performance of the SR-71 Blackbird.
It’s design and performance evolved out of necessity: “We had a need to know what was going on in other countries,” Jeff Duford, a historian at the National Museum of the US Air Force, said. “And the way that we were going to do that was having a photographic aircraft that could fly very high and very fast. And much faster than the U2, which proceeded it. The SR-71 was that answer for the US Air Force and for the United States.”
Here’s the remarkable story of the SR-71 in a 3 minute mini-doc:
The military and the biggest names in sports and entertainment showed up to the 2015 Guys Choice Awards to pay homage to the year in guydom. All service branches turned out to the event with our host Weston Scott filling in as the token Marine.
Watch Sir Ben Kingsley, Coolio, LL Cool J, and other notables give a shout out to all members of the military:
Typically, an amputation ends a military career. For a long time, most any level of amputation was considered to make a service member unfit for combat. As of last summer, only 57 amputees had returned to conflict zones and most of those stayed at a desk.
These three men wanted to get back into the fight.
1. The Ranger who swore he’d still be a squad leader
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Kapacziewski was in an armored vehicle when insurgents threw a grenade into it. Kapacziewski survived the blast with serious injuries. After months of surgeries and casts, he attempted to walk on his right leg again and heard the pins holding it together snap. Soon after, he asked doctors to remove it.
Over the months and years that followed, Kapacziewski (a.k.a. “Joe Kap”) relearned how to do the basic tasks required of Rangers . He ran, rucked, parachuted, and completed Army drills with his prosthetic leg. Since his amputation, he has conducted four combat deployments and even earned an Army Commendation Medal for pulling an injured soldier 75 yards during a firefight.
2. The paratrooper who led an airborne platoon with a prosthetic
1st Lt. Josh Pitcher finished relieving himself on the side of the road, closed his fly, and heard the loud pop of a small roadside bomb. Two days later, he was in a hospital in Germany, promising to return to combat despite losing his left leg beneath the knee. Before he could even try and return to active duty, Pitcher had to kick a pill and drinking habit he got trying to deal with the pain after his surgeries. But, he learned how to do his old job with his new leg. Less than two years after his injury, he returned with his unit, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, to Afghanistan. A few months later, he took over a 21-man platoon and led them for the rest of the deployment, most of it trudging through the mountains in the northern regions of the country .
3. The captain who calmly reported his own double amputation
When then-1st Lt. Daniel Luckett’s vehicle was hit by an IED in Iraq in 2008, a squad leader called up to ask if everything was all right. Luckett calmly responded, “Negative. My feet are gone.” Two years later, Capt. Luckett was with the 101st Airborne Division again; this time in Afghanistan. He uses a small prosthetic to assist what remains of his right leg. A much larger one serves as his left. His second day with his first prosthetic, he attempted to walk away with the leg. Doctors tried to get it back, but Luckett convinced them to let him keep it. He would go on to earn the Expert Infantry Badge during his efforts to prove he was still an asset. After successfully earning the award, the soldier was promoted to captain and allowed to deploy with his unit as part of the Afghan surge.
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.
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.
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 video documents what it’s like to have Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The words spoken in this video are those of real soldiers — soldiers who have personally suffered from TBI and PTSD most common injuries in returning soldiers. Sadly, too many of these injuries go undiagnosed or untreated — affecting not just soldiers, but their families. Join NAPA and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in our mission to help soldiers and their families have a safe and effective place to heal.
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.
With tanks firing, the big gun is, of course, the main draw. The 120-mm smoothbore can accurately fire shells over 2 kilometers.
But the video also shows the operations of the loader, the crew member who feeds the gun.
The tanks are on a firing line and there are great shots of one tank firing right after another.Machine guns on the tank are not as flashy but crucial for protecting the crew. They get to spit some brass, too.
ISIS militants have begun deploying aerial mines made of condoms and small packages of explosives, according to a report from Russia Insider, a Pro-Russian volunteer media outlet. The prophylactics are filled with a lighter-than-air gas and floated into the sky near Idlib, Syria.
There’s speculation that the bombs are actually being deployed by other militant groups. Popular Science pointed out that Idlib is controlled by the al-Nusra Front, not ISIS. Rebel factions fighting against Assad like al-Nusra have been the primary target of Russia’s bombing campaign in the area and it may be them resorting to extreme measures to try and get out from under the constant airstrikes.
The mines would be largely ineffective against the jets that conduct most of the attacks since the bombers fly at such a high altitude. They may have better luck against Russian helicopters that fly close to the ground, but it’s still a desperate action that’s unlikely to be successful. Protection from STDs and protection from aerial attacks don’t normally require the same equipment.
The Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition was held April 16-19 at Fort Benning, GA, hosted by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. This notable Army tournament is a culmination of grueling physical, mental and tactical tasks. The encounter got its start back in 1982 when it began among Ranger units. The contest was later expanded to all U.S. Armed Forces in 1987, so long as the participants meet certain criteria: they must be Ranger qualified, serving as active-duty soldiers, and acting as a two-man team.
The 2020 Best Ranger Competition (BRC) was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking this year as the 37th event.
Over 60 hours, the teams competed in various events, kicking off at 0530 Friday. From there, teams fought in back-to-back tests that were designed to challenge and grade them individually and as a partnership. Extended foot marches, land navigation, and Ranger-specific tasks were laid out for the entire weekend, with some events being open for friends and family members to spectate.
Each Best Ranger event is set up with 50 teams of participants who take on an array of events, which vary from year to year. Each BRC has included aspects of marksmanship, foot marches of 30+ miles (with a 60-lb ruck), military knots, weapons assemblies, obstacle course, land navigation, and water confidence/swim tests.
From its inception, the BRC was meant to place “extreme demands on each buddy team’s physical, mental, technical, and tactical skills as Rangers.” This year did not disappoint.
With no planned sleep, Rangers cover 60 miles while running, shooting, and identifying their way through obstacles; there was also a mystery event, leaving athletes in the dark on how to prepare.
This year’s title went to 1st Lieutenant Vince Paikowski and 1st Lieutenant Alastair Keys. Team 34 landed themselves in the #1 slot at the end of Friday, the first full day of competing, and didn’t budge through the entire event. They finished the final buddy run on Sunday, and were awarded in a final ceremony on Monday, April 19th.
The pair are stationed to the 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning, GA, and return the title back to the 75th for the first time since 2017.
Notable Best Ranger facts
There are 50 teams, but no #13; tradition skips the unlucky number, leaving the last team at #51.
The average Ranger in the BRC is 28 years old, 5’ 10” in height, and weighs 165 pounds.
26% of participants have previously competed.
The most winningest participant of the BRC is CPT Mike Rose, who has won the competitions three separate times (twice with one partner and one with another). His last title was in 2019. Three others have been awarded the BRC twice, all with different partners each time.
Teams turn in an intent to compete and are reviewed by command teams who then review the Rangers. This is done to include a collection of the best, highly trained Ranger-qualified soldiers.
Cyberattacks are the best way for America’s enemies to mess around with the United States without triggering a full-scale war. Let’s be real, if China and Russia saw real-world retaliation for every time they messed with U.S. computer systems, we’d be in the middle of World War III right now.
But aside from stealing military technology, hacking the names and bank accounts of every federal employee, and mucking about in some utility companies, their cyber intrusions have been little more than a nuisance up to this point. That’s not how American cyberwarriors operate.
When the United States and Israel conduct a cyber attack, there’s a good reason for it and the target is clear. Stuxnet, a malicious virus designed to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment program, was the sniper rifle of the U.S. cyber weapons arsenal.
First uncovered in 2010, the Stuxnet worm was introduced onto the computer systems of the Iranian uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. The program was specifically engineered to be on that particular server, one that had to be running Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software, that had to be using Siemens technology (specifically, Siemens 7), and had control over a programmable logic controller (PLC), controlling an electric motor. If all of these conditions didn’t exist, the program would eventually delete itself.
PLCs are a critical component of almost all major manufacturing facilities and automated machines, managing everything from traffic lights to pipe valves. There was only one place in the world where those conditions existed: the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Those motors were controlling the centrifuges that were enriching uranium for Iran’s nuclear program.
What this means is that whoever created the Stuxnet worm had an insider in the Natanz nuclear facility, one who knew the exact conditions malicious code would have to attack, as well as how best to permanently damage the facility’s operations, or at least set it back a little bit.
Moreover, since the computer systems at Natanz weren’t connected to the internet, the inside man would also have to be able to introduce the worm to the Natanz controlling systems. According to the Times of Israel, this was done by the CIA and Mossad, who set up a fake front company with the sole purpose of getting Dutch intelligence agents posing as technicians into the facility.
Once introduced, the worm lay dormant. Once awakened, it looks for the conditions that would begin its destructive sequence. At Natanz, it found those conditions and began to force the centrifuges to spin too fast for too long, damaging the mechanical equipment. Meanwhile data collection and reporting software tells monitoring engineers that all systems are operating normally.
At Natanz, Stuxnet damaged 1,000 of the estimated 5,000 gas centrifuges before Iran realized something was amiss. They would reportedly execute a number of personnel at the facility, although it’s not known if intelligence assets were killed in the fallout. The day the Iranian government revealed what happened there, two Iranian nuclear scientists were killed by car bombs, further complicating the program’s restart.
No intelligence agency has ever taken credit for the Natanz Stuxnet attacks, but evidence is clear that it was a highly-engineered bug, designed for a limited mission with a small target. But like most clandestine operations, there was unexpected blowback.
The Stuxnet virus escaped from the computers at Natanz and has since spread to other systems across the world, including European manufacturers and a Russian nuclear power plant – and possibly more. Stuxnet is difficult to find and is self-replicating, so computer systems infected by the worm may not realize it until it’s too late.
The highest rate of fire for a machine gun in service is the M134 Minigun. The weapon was designed in the late 1960s for helicopters and armored vehicles. It fires 7.62 mm calibre rounds at a blistering rate of 6,000 rounds per minute, or 100 rounds per second — about ten times that of an ordinary machine gun, according to the Guinness World Records.
The Metal Storm gun, on the other hand, makes the M134 look like a toy. The prototype gun system was rated at 16,000 rounds per second or 1,000,000 rounds per minute. The gun system was developed by an Australian weapons company by the same name. In 2007, Metal Storm Inc. started delivering its gun systems to the US Navy for surface ships. This video shows how the Metal Storm gun achieves its head spinning firing rate.
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.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is the perfect example of a dictator. His authoritarian government holds complete power over the North Korean state and its people.
Un was declared supreme leader following his father’s funeral in December 2011, making him one of the youngest dictators in recent history. However, his time in power pales in comparison to the dictators in this video.