How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is - We Are The Mighty
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.

Intel

Why the newest flashpoint for World War III might be in Taiwan

On Mar. 26, 2021, 20 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, making one of the most aggressive moves against the island nation in recent years. The planes flew over the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines. 

Taiwanese security planners told Reuters that the formation was likely a training exercise simulating attacks on American warships that traverse the channel. 

China flew four nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and 10 J-16 fighter jets across the waterway as Taiwan’ missile defenses quickly organized in case of an impending attack. 

Taiwan is officially called the Republic of China, and it is where the Chinese Nationalists escaped in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War. The island was liberated from Japanese rule after World War II, during which Chinese Nationalists and Communists paused their fighting to focus on Japan.

With the defeat of Imperial Japan, the two sides resumed fighting. By 1949, the Communists under Mao Zedong forced the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek to evacuate to the island. Mainland China has claimed it as part of China ever since. 

Democratic Taiwan maintains its independence through its military strength, supported by the United States and other Pacific allies. 

China’s flights across the Bashi Channel are not the only aggressive moves mainland China has made against Taiwan in recent days. Taiwan says the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Forces have been making flyovers across the Taiwan-claimed Pratas Islands in the South China Sea almost daily since 2020. 

The Chinese say the flights were nothing unusual and are a part of routine defense exercises. 

The United States does not officially recognize Taiwan, backing out of the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty in 1979 in exchange for mainland China’s assistance in checking the threat of the Soviet Union’s worldwide aggression. 

The U.S.maintains close economic and defense ties with the island nation through the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which authorizes the sale of arms to Taiwan. The law also considers military or economic aggression toward the island a grave threat to the national security of the United States. 

In 1982, the Administration of Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan “Six Assurances” that would guide relations between the two countries. The U.S. will not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, will not mediate between the island and the People’s Republic of China, will not force Taiwan to enter negotiations with China, recognizes Taiwan’s sovereignty over the island, will not alter the Taiwan Relations act, and will not consult with Beijiing about what arms are sold to Taiwan.  

The Pratas Islands have no permanent residents, but both China and Taiwan lay claim to the islands. The islands are strategically important, as they lay 170 miles from Hong Kong and Chinese submarines traverse the Bashi Channel on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Control of the Pratas means control over the entrance to the channel.

China sees a U.S. Navy presence in the channel as a direct threat to Chinese sovereignty in the region. The United States fears the islands could be “China’s Crimea,” a land grab similar to Russia’s sudden annexation of the Ukrainian-held Crimea Peninsula in 2014. 

When the U.S. and NATO weren’t willing to go to war over Crimea, experts worried that China’s Xi Jinping would see it as a green light to do the same in the Pratas Islands. If the U.S. allows the Pratas to meet the same fate, it could lose its standing as the protector of the world’s status quo – it’s a red line that could mean war with China. 

Intel

This new documentary takes a critical look at ‘gun-free zones’

How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is
Photo: Safe Haven documentary


Outdoor Channel is taking a critical look at “gun-free zones” in America for its first-ever documentary, set to air on Wednesday.

Hosted by Katie Pavlich, “Safe Haven: Gun Free Zones in America” features interviews with a number of experts on self-defense, victims of gun violence, and educators to shine a light on why so-called “gun-free” zones don’t always stay that way.

“It appears that [criminals] are seeking a spot that will keep them from being prevented in accomplishing their mission,” J. Eric Deitz, a homeland security researcher at Purdue University’s College of Technology, says in the documentary. “And if their mission is mass casualties, they’re going to want to be undisturbed in that process until they’ve completed it.”

Deitz provides a computer model that shows the use of armed resource officers along with some citizens with concealed-carry firearms, can often result in fewer people being killed by an active shooter. As others mention in the film, the researcher talks about police response time not being fast enough to stop a shooting in progress.

It’s not just a pool of pro-gun advocates, however. There are some interviewees who think arming people in schools may not be the best approach. Via Guns.com:

The problem with hiring more guards in schools across the country is that “you’re starting to look another $15 billion a year,” said Steven Strauss, a Weinberg/Goldman Sachs visiting professor of public policy at Princeton University.   

Strauss said that the amount of school shootings is so small that  the probability someone’s child will be killed over the course of a year is one in several million.

“Shooting incidents at schools is so low that you run into a real risk that the cure is going to be worse than the disease,” Strauss said.

Although a large part of the documentary focuses on high-profile mass shootings such as in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., it also features a heartbreaking interview with Amanda Collins, who recounts being raped while she walked to her car after class at the University of Nevada-Reno.

“My story is not that uncommon,” Colins says. “I could have defended myself.”

Grabbed from behind in a parking garage less than 100 yards from the classroom she just left, Collins didn’t have her licensed firearm at the time because her university was a gun-free zone. She was worried about expulsion from school and jail time, she says, but her rapist did have a gun.

“I’m not saying I could have prevented the rape from starting with the way that I was grabbed,” she says. “But I know that I would have been able to stop it.”

You can watch the trailer below, or click here to see when the doc is playing in your area.

Intel

New annual rifle qualification to make Marines more lethal

Marine Corps-wide implementation will take place no later than the beginning of fiscal year 2022, with active-duty forces transitioning by October 1, and Marine Forces Reserve transition in FY22. During the second and third quarters of fiscal year 2021, Weapons Training Battalion at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, will provide training and assistance on the conduct of ARQ to formal marksmanship training units in order to facilitate the transition to service-wide ARQ implementation.

The ARQ includes a three-day course of fire. Day one includes a “holds day,” with the drill portion conducted first. Days two and three are pre-qualification and qualification, respectively, where the destroy portion is conducted first with engagements starting far to near in order to foster an offensive combat mindset.

The more operational training requires Marines to conduct the course of fire in helmet and body armor but allows the opportunity to use bipods, rest the weapon on their magazine, or rest their weapon on their assault pack as long as time constraints are met. Scoring is measured by lethal effects with destroying targets in the allotted time.

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

“This enables the individual Marine the opportunity to engage their weapon system from multiple firing positions and find the most efficient way to utilize alternate shooting positions throughout the course of fire,” said Viggiani. “Our operating environment has changed over the years, so we had to make changes to our qualifications on marksmanship.”

Other significant updates include the incorporation of a singular target throughout the course of fire, with exception of a moving target at the 100-yard line, with a requirement to score by hitting “lethality zones” and the introduction of support barricades at the 100 and 200 yards, allowing Marines to shoot from the standing, kneeling, or supported position with stationary and moving targets. This transition from a competition-style course of fire to assessing lethal effects on a target is a significant change for the ARQ.

Similar to the Physical Fitness and Combat Fitness Tests, Marines must achieve a minimum standard in each portion of the course of fire to qualify in the overall assessment.

The implementation of the ARQ directly impacts the mission statement, “We must adapt our training in a manner consistent with the threat and anticipated operational challenges,” as stated in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance.

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

Articles

This mysterious desert air base could be China’s new ‘Area-51’

What started out as a lone dusty airfield in the middle of a remote desert in China is being built up at a furious pace. The airstrip raised eyebrows when the Chinese government landed its first unmanned space aircraft there in 2020. Now intelligence analysts are wondering: is this the Chinese “Area 51?”

Somewhere near Nevada’s Groom Lake and the Nevada Test and Training Range is a top secret U.S. Air Force installation where the most advanced aviation and weapons testing takes place. It was where the U.S. Air Force built and tested the U-2 spy plane used to conduct photographic reconnaissance over the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as well as any number of other unheard-of technologies.

How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is
The U-2, one of many top secret projects developed at Area 51 (U.S. Air Force photo)

Because of its secretive nature and the wonder tech (likely) developed there, it acquired a reputation and mythology that involved conspiracy theories, UFO sightings, and of course, allegations of alien activity. How much of that is true is open for debate, but what is certain is that some of the greatest Air Force aircraft of the Cold War (and beyond) got their start at Area 51. 

The U-2, the SR-71 Blackbird, the B-2 Spirit and the F-117 Nighthawk were all developed at Area 51. Not a bad track record for any facility. It’s no wonder the area is so top secret the United States wouldn’t even officially admit it existed for around 70 years. 

When China landed a reuseable, unmanned spacecraft at a remote area in the Taklamakan Desert, in China’s Xinjiang province, it was the first notable activity anyone ever saw in the area. Now, reconnaissance satellites are detecting a frenzy of activity and new buildings at the site, leading many to believe that it’s a facility designed for China to create and build its own wonder weapons. 

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

The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) outlined a plan to develop commercial satellite launch services and to perfect a reusable space plane at a conference in October 2020. The announcement included plans for lowering the costs and increasing the frequency of space launches.

The month before, China launched an experimental space aircraft with a two-stage Long March 2F launch vehicle that was successfully delivered into orbit. The concept is similar to the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane, which was currently in orbit at the time of the Chinese launch. Not much else was known about the mission until the aircraft landed in Xinjiang.

How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is
“Long March 2F” launch vehicle (Chinese News Service/ Wikimedia Commons)

Like the USAF’s X-37B, no one really knows what the aircraft did while in orbit, but some believe it may have launched a secret satellite or other spacecraft. When the aircraft landed, the Taklamakan Desert facility was little more than the landing strip, but more recent photographs provided to NPR show built up facilities in the form of an equilateral triangle. 

Once large hangars that could house experimental aircraft are built, the world may have a better idea of what’s going on in Xinjiang. Until then, everyone outside of the Chinese government is left to speculate. 

China has a lot of catching up to do in terms of military power and prowess – and it’s been working on it. On top of creating its own homegrown aircraft carrier and its own fifth-generation fighter, it’s rumored to be creating its own stealth bomber (dubbed the H-20). A remote desert airfield might be exactly what the Chinese Communist Party needs to keep its developments a secret.

Feature image: satellite image of Taklamakan Desert/ Wikimedia Commons

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Tom Cruise ‘Deepfake’ videos fortell the future of warfare

The Greek tragedian Aeschylus famously wrote: “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Well, in this new era of so-called “hybrid” or “gray zone” warfare, truth is not only a casualty of war — it has also become the weapon of choice for some of America’s contemporary adversaries.

Recent “deepfake” videos of the actor Tom Cruise illustrate the power of the new technological tools now available to foreign adversaries who wish to manipulate the American people with online disinformation. The three videos, which appear on the social media platform TikTok under the handle @deeptomcruise, are striking in their realism. To the naked eye of the casual observer, it’s difficult to discern the videos as fakes.

Equally as stunning is an artificial intelligence tool called Deep Nostalgia, which animates static, vintage images — including those of deceased relatives. Together, these technological leaps harken back to the famous line by the writer George Orwell: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

The technology now exists for America’s foreign adversaries, or other malign actors, to challenge citizens’ understanding of their present reality, as well as the past. Coupled with the historic loss in confidence among Americans for their country’s journalistic institutions, as well as our addiction to social media, the conditions are certainly ripe for deepfake disinformation to become a serious national security threat — or a catalyst for nihilistic chaos.

“The internet is a machine, but cyberspace is in our minds. As both expand and evolve faster than we can defend them, the ultimate target — our brains — is closer every day,” Kenneth Geers, a Cyber Statecraft Initiative senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Coffee or Die Magazine.

According to a September Gallup Poll, only 9% of Americans said they have “a great deal” of trust in the media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly.” On the other hand, when it comes to trusting the media, six out of 10 Americans, on average, responded that they had “not very much” trust or “none at all.” Those findings marked a significant decline in Americans’ trust for the media since polling on the topic began in 1972, Gallup reported.

“Americans’ confidence in the media to report the news fairly, accurately and fully has been persistently low for over a decade and shows no signs of improving,” Gallup reported.

That pervasive distrust in the media leads to increased political polarization and is bad for America’s democratic health, many experts say. Americans’ loss of trust in the media could also portend a national security crisis — especially as contemporary adversaries such as Russia and China increasingly turn to online disinformation campaigns to exacerbate America’s societal divisions.

In fact, Russia already used deepfake technology in its disinformation campaign to influence the 2020 US election, said Scott Jasper, author of the book, Russian Cyber Operations: Coding the Boundaries of Conflict. In advance of the election, Russian cybercriminals working for the Internet Research Agency created a fake news website called “Peace Data,” which featured an entirely fictitious staff of editors and writers, multiple news agencies reported.

“Their profile pictures were deepfakes generated by artificial intelligence,” Jasper told Coffee or Die Magazine. “The fake personas contacted real journalists to write contentious stories that might divide Democratic voters.”

A Soviet doctrine called “deep battle” supported front-line military operations with clandestine actions meant to spread chaos and confusion within the enemy’s territory. Similarly, modern Russia has turned to cyberattacks, social media, and weaponized propaganda to weaken its adversaries from within. According to an August State Department report, Russia uses its “disinformation and propaganda ecosystem” to exploit “information as a weapon.”

“[Russia] invests massively in its propaganda channels, its intelligence services and its proxies to conduct malicious cyber activity to support their disinformation efforts, and it leverages outlets that masquerade as news sites or research institutions to spread these false and misleading narratives,” wrote the authors of the State Department report, Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem.

Some experts contend that the cyber domain has become the proverbial “soft underbelly” of America’s democracy. In the past, America’s journalistic institutions served as gatekeepers, shielding the American people from foreign disinformation or propaganda. However, due to the advent of social media and the internet, America’s adversaries now enjoy direct access into American citizens’ minds. Consequently, the ability to manufacture video content indistinguishable from reality is an exponential force multiplier for adversaries intent on manipulating the American people.

The emerging deepfake threat spurred the Senate in 2019 to pass a bill mandating that the Department of Homeland Security provide lawmakers an annual report on advancements in “digital content forgery technology,” which might pose a threat to national security.

According to the Deepfake Report Act of 2019: “Digital content forgery is the use of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, to fabricate or manipulate audio, visual, or text content with the intent to mislead.”

However, the bill died in the House and has not become law.

The advancement of deepfake technology has been meteoric. Just a couple of years ago, the casual observer would have been able to rather easily tell the difference between genuine humans and their computer-generated, deepfake doppelgangers. Not anymore. Much like the advent of nuclear weapons, the Pandora’s box of deepfake technology has officially been opened and is now impossible to un-invent.

The potential dangers of this technological leap are practically boundless.

Criminals could conceivably concoct videos that offer an alibi at the time of their alleged crimes. Countries could fabricate videos of false flag military aggressions as a means to justify starting a war. Foreign adversaries could generate fake videos of police brutality, or of racially charged acts of violence, as a means to further divide American society.

“I think it’s a safe assumption that video manipulation is a key short-term weapon in the arsenal of less reputable political-military organizations needing to shape some opinions before the contents can be disputed,” Gregory Ness, a Silicon Valley cybersecurity expert, told Coffee or Die Magazine.

There are certain commercially available artificial intelligence, or AI, tools already available to detect deepfake videos with a fidelity surpassing that of the human observer. Microsoft, for example, has already developed an AI algorithm for detecting deepfakes.

Some cybersecurity experts are calling on social media platforms to integrate these deepfake detection algorithms on their sites to alert users to phony videos. For his part, Geers, the Atlantic Council senior fellow, was skeptical that social media companies would step up on their own initiative and police for deepfake content.

“Social media profits from our negativity, vulnerability, and stupidity,” Geers said. “Why would they stop?”

The overarching intent of disinformation campaigns — particularly those prosecuted by Moscow — is not always to dupe Americans into believing a false reality. Rather, the real goal may be to challenge their belief in the existence of any objective truths. In short: The more distrustful Americans become of the media, the more likely they are to believe information based on its emotional resonance with their preconceived biases. The end goal is chaos, not brainwashing.

“If we are unable to detect fake videos, we may soon be forced to distrust everything we see and hear, critics warn,” the cybersecurity news site CSO reported. “The internet now mediates every aspect of our lives, and an inability to trust anything we see could lead to an ‘end of truth.’ This threatens not only faith in our political system, but, over the longer term, our faith in what is shared objective reality.”

Some experts say the US government should get involved, perhaps by leveraging the power of the Department of Defense, to patrol the cyber domain for deepfake videos being spread by foreign adversaries. The Pentagon, for its part, has already been called in to defend America’s elections against online disinformation.

In the wake of Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election, the Department of Defense partially shouldered the responsibility of defending against foreign attacks on America’s elections. By that measure, it’s certainly within the bounds of national security priorities for Washington to leverage the US military’s resources to root out and take down deepfake videos.

“Governments will inevitably step in, but what we really need is for democracies to step up and create innovative policies based on freedom of expression and the rule of law,” Geers said.

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

Articles

China to deploy its first home-built aircraft carrier

China has quietly been reaching a naval milestone: They floated their first indigenous aircraft carrier on April 23, 2017. The vessel is sort of a half-sister to their current aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.


The Liaoning was once the Varyag, Russia’s second Kuznetsov-class carrier. If you’ve followed WATM, you probably have heard about the Kuznetsov’s many problems. The splash landings, the hellacious accommodations, and the need for oceangoing tugs to sail along because the engines are shit are just the tip of the iceberg for the Kuznetsov. During that carrier’s first-ever combat deployment in 2016, the Russians flew the Kuznetsov’s air wing from shore bases. Or course, their video tribute glossed over all those realities.

How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is
The Liaoning. (JMSDF photo)

And the Chinese decided to copy this less-than-successful vessel – which probably should be hauled away to the boneyard.

According to DefenseNews.com, the new vessel, reportedly named Shandong, is almost a copy of the Liaoning. The big difference is in the arrangement of phased-array radars. But it has the same limited capacity (roughly 36 planes). Appropriately, the carrier has been designated as he Type 001A, while the Liaoning was designated Type 001.

The Liaoning has made some trips to sea. Japan took photos of the Liaoning and some escorts near the South China Sea, one of the biggest maritime flashpoints in the world, last year.

How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is
China’s carrier Liaoning

The Shandong, though, may be the only ship in her subclass. The DefenseNews.com report notes that China is no longer testing the ski ramp – and instead has been trying to build catapults for launching aircraft. According to GlobalSecurity.org, China is planning to build two Type 002 aircraft carriers, followed by a nuclear-powered design, the Type 003.

The Type 002 carriers are slated to include catapults – which are far better at launching planes than the ski jump on the Kuznetsov-class design, and displace anywhere from 70,000 to 80,000 tons. The Type 003 will displace about 100,000 tons and be comparable to the Nimitz and Ford-class carriers.

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

China has stated a goal of having 10 aircraft carriers by 2049.

Intel

The military department you didn’t know Samsung had

Apple’s biggest smartphone competitor also makes tanks, self-propelled howitzers, and jet engines.


Billed as promoting peace and stability, Samsung Techwin is the South Korean manufacturer’s defense branch. It makes surveillance, aeronautics, automation, and weapons technology. Since its launch into the defense industry in 1983, Samsung Techwin has developed and produced artillery systems like the 155mm self-propelled Howitzer M109A2, K9 Thunder, K10 ammunition resupply vehicle, fire directions center vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles and other weapons, according to Samsung.

Samsung Techwin’s flagship K9 is currently used by Poland, Turkey, and South Korea. Watch its impressive agility at 3:40 in the video below. The K9 becomes even more impressive when combined with the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle (5:00). The K10 pulls up behind the K9 and automatically feeds more ammunition into the K9, eliminating the need of resupplying the vehicle by hand, which minimizes the risk of troop exposure. Together they create an automated weapons system for the field.

Samsung Techwin is just one subsidiary of the 80 businesses the tech giant is involved in.

Here’s a video of Samsung Techwin’s defense program:

Kadrun, YouTube

Intel

The top 5 bizarre weapons of World War II

The military often concocts some amazingly innovative technologies for use on the battlefield, but that’s not always the case.


As a video from This is Genius shows about weapons developed during World War II, there were plenty of projects that were much more bizarre than they were innovative.

There were the short-range rockets developed by the U.K. that were supposed to snag on enemy planes with cables and the Soviet bomb dogs that were trained to attack German tanks. They didn’t always work out as planned.

Check out the video for more

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?

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

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.

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

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

Why the USGS says it’s stupid to roast marshmallows over a volcano

There’s nothing better to do while you’re out camping with the people you tolerate love than to crack open a beer and roast some marshmallows over a nice fire. I mean, who doesn’t love a little puffed sugar that’s slightly caramelized?

As everyone knows, the entire state of Hawaii has collectively forgotten the last time they gave a f*ck. Many people are taking the recent volcanic eruption with far less seriousness than natural disasters deserve — unlike here in Los Angeles, where a light drizzle brings the entire city to a terrified stand-still.

How 5 Lithuanian soldiers showed how serious living next to Russia really is
Still not as terrifying as reenlisting.

Many Hawaiians have reacted to the flow of lava by taking photos of the incoming molten rock and, generally, taking the whole thing in stride. Twitter user @JayFurr was trolling the official United States Geological Survey — Volcanoes twitter account and asked if it was okay to roast marshmallows in the heat given off by the lava.

@USGSVolcanoes responded with their own half-trolling response.


Which is all legitimate advice. Sulfur dioxide is, essentially, air pollution and hydrogen sulfide is what gives volcanoes that farty smell (hence the joke in Shrek). The sulfuric acid within the vog (or volcanic fog) actually has a really kick-ass reaction when met with sugar. Check the video below for example.

The USGS took the trolling in stride, even if nearly every news outlet insists they took it seriously. For obvious reasons, getting close to lava is a dumb idea and, from the get-go, it was obvious this Twitter user was kidding — Jay Furr’s account even says he’s from Vermont.

But this wasn’t the only time the idea of cooking marshmallows over a pool of magma has come up. Storytrender on YouTube did it a while back in New Zealand. There’s no audio, but you can kind-of see the guy wince while he eats the roasted marshmallow.

It’s safe to assume it tasted like farts.

Intel

Photo of soldiers breastfeeding in uniform goes viral

What was intended as a photo for the wall of a nursing room at Fort Bliss’ headquarters has exploded across social media after the Air Force vet who took the shot posted it to her Facebook page.


“Support for breastfeeding moms wasn’t even an option to consider,” photographer Tara Ruby wrote on Facebook. “To my knowledge a group photo to show support of active duty military mommies nursing their little’s has never been done. It is so nice to see support for this here at Fort Bliss.”

It’s doubtful Army officials will be as enthusiastic. In June 2012, photos of two Air National Guardsman breastfeeding their children went viral and stirred up a national debate over breastfeeding in uniform. Though military officials said the airmen violated a policy against “using the uniform to further a cause,” they were not disciplined.

However, Crystal Scott, the civilian organizer of the 2012 photo shoot, was fired from her job.

Now: Suck it, monster! Here’s how the Air Force would defend against Godzilla

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