One of the Marine Corps’ most-selective units carries out a job that no one really wants to do.
Comprised of just 15 Marine infantrymen, the Body Bearers Section of Bravo Co., Marine Barracks Washington primarily handles the delicate task of bearing the caskets of fallen Marines, family members, and Marine veterans at Arlington National Cemetery and surrounding cemeteries in Washington, D.C.
“We go out into Arlington and just about every day it’s somebody’s worst day,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Ryder, in a video produced by Marine Barracks Washington.
The road to becoming a Body Bearer is not an easy. Each member has to demonstrate that he has the bearing and physical strength to carry out this mission. A typical day for a Body Bearer includes several hours of ceremonial drill practice and intensive weight training and conditioning. The remainder of the day includes infantry knowledge and skills proficiency training.
According to the video, Marines who try out for the section and attend ceremonial drill school must be able to complete 10 reps each of 225 pound bench press, 315 pound back squats, 135 pound military press (behind the head), and 115 pound bicep curls.
“It’s one of those jobs where it’s taxing on your emotions,” Ryder said. “But when you get it perfect for the family, everything is worth it.”
Airplane manufacturers have to make sure their planes can survive striking birds while the plane is at full speed. So, (dead) chickens are fired from large cannons at aircraft and engines to test their durability. The results can be messy, to say the least.
The testing is crucial to pilot safety and the survivability of the aircraft. The video below shows how much an F-16 canopy can flex without breaking, protecting pilots from taking a bird to the face at supersonic speeds.
Engines get similar treatment to make sure they’ll chop up and spit out a bird and keep running. The planes and their engines are also tested for how they perform when ice or liquid water is sucked through the engine.
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:
At the end of April 2021, intelligence reports indicated the use of directed-energy attacks on American troops over the course of the previous year. Politico reported that two groups of lawmakers were briefed about an investigation into the use of the weapons, both in writing and in person.
According to those intelligence briefings, the Pentagon believes intelligence points to the energy attacks on American service members in Syria and they believe that Russia is responsible. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, later told Congress he had seen “no evidence” of the attack.
In the fall of 2020, a number of U.S. troops in Syria began presenting with flu-like symptoms, the Politico report says. Similar symptoms have affected American diplomatic officials in Havana, Cuba since 2016. The “Havana Syndrome,” as it’s come to be called, is believed to be caused by a kind of directed-energy weapon.
The symptoms of those affected in Cuba not only include flu-like symptoms, but far-ranging and more severe symptoms. American diplomats have reported ringing and pressure in their ears, loss of equilibrium, and persistent headaches. The worst reports confirm long-term brain damage.
When U.S. troops in the vicinity of Russians began to mysteriously develop the same early symptoms, the Pentagon allegedly set up a task force to investigate. Politico says the details about the attacks and the suspected weapons systems aren’t clear.
What is known is that the attack used concentrated beams of electromagnetic energy, high-frequency radio waves, particle beams, or microwaves to hit their targets.The attacks disrupt electronic equipment and cause neurological and other kinds of injuries.
In Havana, researchers discovered the effects of the weapons can create air pockets in the fluids near the inner ear. Those bubbles float in the paths that carry blood to the brain. Once the cavities reach the brain, they can cause stroke-like effects.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has declined to comment about the reports but insiders told Politico that Congress has been briefed about Russia’s use of the weapons in Syria, but the only response from Congress came from Sen. Jim Inhofe, who only said that they would be talking about it and that discussion would be classified.
Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, and without any direct intelligence of the weapons involved, it’s difficult to know for certain if the attacks on Americans in Syria are really directed-energy attacks or if they are in any way similar to the Cuba attacks.
Not much is known about the energy attacks on the U.S. embassy in Havana. Without knowing for certain the weapon exists, it’s unlikely the United States would blame Russia for an attack that could just be an unrelated illness.
Scientists and researchers conducted thorough tests on more than 100 other embassy personnel in Cuba. Since some of the embassy workers were attacked in their homes, they also tested other people living in their respective buildings. No one else appeared to have been the victim, as they displayed none of the neurological damage or symptoms associated with the mysterious “Havana Syndrome.”
The team that investigated those attacks ruled out any kind of head injury, instead finding that 100 percent of those who claimed to be affected suddenly began suffering from acute onset balance disorders, cognitive issues, and other neurological problems.
Featured image: Image created for the Directed Energy Weapons section of the “Competing in Space” unclassified report, depicting threats that can temporarily impair or permanently damage space-based systems.
Snipers are highly trained marksmen who can hit a target from incredible distances with high-powered rifles. Their craft requires training in camouflage, infiltration, reconnaissance, observation and more, making them feared in the field.
But at the end of the day it’s about who gets the job done. That’s right – snipers are ranked by confirmed kills.
Here’s when you know you’re probably an infantryman in the Army or Marine Corps, better known as a grunt.
#1: Whether it’s on the ground, in a bed, or in a helicopter, you can pass out ANYWHERE.
#2: You survive on this stuff, because it’s an amazing grunt power source.
#3: You have eaten way more of these than you’d care to remember.
#4: You wear camouflage uniforms so much, you wonder why they even issued you those dress uniforms that just sit in a wall locker.
#5: The aging of your body accelerates beyond what you imagined was possible.
#6: This is “the field,” and it’s your office.
#7: The guys in your fire team/squad/platoon know more about you than your own family. They are also willing to do anything for you.
#8: You have probably heard some crusty old enlisted guy say “all this and a paycheck too!”
#9: Your day often starts with a “death run” or a “fun run.” It is never actually fun.
#10: You watch “moto” videos of grunts in combat and get pumped up.
#11: A port-a-john in Iraq or Afghanistan (or anywhere really) has three purposes, not just “going #1 or #2.”
#12: If you are pumped up to deploy, you remember Iraq or Afghanistan is usually way more boring than people think, and the last time you went, your entire platoon watched “The O.C.” or some other show during free time.
The United States’ NATO ally Turkey is in hot water over its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile system. Turkey also purchased the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which the U.S. has not delivered due to the sanctions imposed as a result of Turkey’s S-400 missiles.
The Turkish Defense Minister recently doubled down on Turkey’s S-400 missiles, saying it would rather not be a part of NATO’s integrated defense if it meant giving up the missiles. But are they getting the better deal?
The Russian S-400 was first designed in the 1990s with many real-world scenarios in mind. But since the F-35 and the F-22 were still years away, how could the Russians be prepared for that kind of technology?
There are a few important things to know about the F-35. The first is that it’s a multi-role attack aircraft. It can be used for reconnaissance and electronic warfare just as easily as making strafing runs. The plane’s avionic collects and shares information with the entire command and control structure.
Secondly, the major threat behind the F-35 is its stealth ability combined with its heavy weapons payload. The aircraft is designed to enter airspace undetected and clear the way for more U.S. forces. To do this, it needs to enter unseen while being able to strike from long distances. It can attack targets from more than 100 miles away.
While the exact range of its weapons are classified, the F-35 can essentially enter the battlespace undetected, disrupt enemy sensors, and then see and hit targets from more than a hundred miles away. How do you defend against that?
The Russian S-400 is an interesting counter to the long ranges of the F-35 for many reasons. First and foremost is that the S-400 missiles aren’t just some missiles fired from the back of a truck. The system is designed to be integrated into existing anti-air radar systems, including ones that were developed in the 1980s.
The S-400 was also designed to be integrated into other aircraft, missile systems, and even armored personnel carriers on the ground. So the addition of the S-400 gives a boost to the capabilities of any surface weapons already in place.
Another major feature of the Russian missiles is the face that its command post doesn’t need to be near any one of the missile sites, so destroying an S-400 battery isn’t necessarily catastrophic to its integrated air defense system.
While it’s not known if the Russian S-400 radar can see the F-22 or F-35, the system is designed to react quickly should they detect an incoming attack. The S-400 provides similar electronic warfare and jamming capabilities as the F-35. Each radar site is also capable of using electronic countermeasures to throw anti-radar missiles off course. And if the Russians have to shut down the active radar, there are still passive radar that could provide information from cellphone towers and television and radio broadcast towers, while emitting no radar signals.
The S-400 is a decentralized system of eyes and missile launchers spread over hundreds of miles, using active and passive radar, target masking, creating false targets and launching missiles that can hit aircraft from more than 150 miles away.
Low-observable – or “stealth” – systems are the biggest issue. The stealth systems of the F-22 and F-35 are designed to reflect incoming radar signals in a different direction, so that radar signals won’t return to the point of origin. With bistatic radar, the signal isn’t supposed to go to a single point of origin – the transmitter and receiver are in two different places.
While bistatic radar doesn’t negate the advantages of stealth technology, it sure is a pain in the side of an F-35 pilot.
With so many classified variables in each system, it’s impossible to say for certain what would happen in a fight between F-35s or F-22s and the Russian S-400. The deciding factor will be who sees who first, and what ability they have to fend off the attack. What we can say for certain is that the S-400 is probably the F-35’s most formidable opponent.
If Godzilla actually existed and was bent on raising havoc, the Air Force’s 18th Wing out of Kadena Air Base thinks it’ll beat the 350-foot-tall monster.
But how do you defeat a monster that has withstood depth bombs, 50-caliber machine guns, 300,000 volts of electricity, Howitzer cannons, and an aerial bombardment in the 1954 Japanese film classic? How do you defend against atomic breath and super strength?
Senior Airman Mark Hermann and Master Sergeant Jason Edwards believe they have the answer.
Conscription in the United States military — also known as “the draft” — ended with the Vietnam War. Today men and women serve because they want to, not because they have to, but it wasn’t always that way.
Throughout history, when a country waged war and needed a large Army, it turned to drafting its people. The U.S. applied conscription as early as the Revolutionary War by drafting men into the militia and state Army units.
But every time a government turned to conscription, it stirred controversy, exposing fault lines of race, culture and social class. Some say it unifies the country, others argue it tears a society apart. Despite the all-volunteer force of the United States as an example of defense without conscription, there are many countries which still use a draft in 2015.
The United States Postal Service is intrinsically linked with the military. Military mail operates as an extension of the USPS and the postal service is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country with over 97,000 as of 2020. What many people may be surprised to learn is that the iconic right-hand drive mail trucks used by the USPS was manufactured by Grumman (now Northrop Grumman), the same defense contractor that made iconic Navy fighter planes like the F6F Hellcat and the F-14 Tomcat. However, the postal fleet of Grumman Life Long Vehicles have exceeded their service life. On February 23, 2021, the USPS announced that Oshkosh Defense had been awarded the design and manufacture contract for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle to replace the LLV. “[It’s] the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in three decades.”
The Grumman LLV was manufactured from 1987 to 1994 and was intended to have a lifespan of 24 years. Built at Grumman’s Montgomery, Pennsylvania plant, over 140,000 LLVs are in service with the USPS. The truck has also been exported and is used by Canada Post. Despite their intended lifespan, the majority of LLVs have been in use for over 27 years due to a service life extension program in 2009. The USPS has introduced vehicles to augment the LLV like the Dodge Caravan Cargo minivan, but a dedicated replacement was needed.
The NGDV contract includes an initial $482 million investment and calls for the delivery of 165,000 U.S.-built vehicles over a 10-year period with the first deliveries in 2023. Oshkosh Defense is no stranger to government contracts. The company currently supplies the majority of the military’s wheeled vehicles. These include the FMTV, HEMTT, JLTV (the Humvee replacement), and M-ATV, just to name a few. Like the improvements that these vehicles featured over older military vehicles, the NGDV promises to feature a number of improvements over the LLV.
Designed to meet 21st century needs, the NGDV will be larger, taller, and include airbags and air conditioning. It will also be equipped with back-up cameras, a forward collision warning system, automatic front and rear braking, and blind spot detectors. The NGDV will remain right-hand drive, but will feature an enlarged windscreen to improve visibility. These additions are huge improvements over the LLV and will greatly increase the safety and working conditions for the letter carriers that operate them.
Another issue with the LLV was its fuel efficiency. Despite an average EPA fuel economy of 17 mpg, the actual average fuel economy reported by the USPS is 10 mpg. This is due to the extensive stop-and-go nature of residential mail delivery. To address this, the NGDV will be available with two different engines. The first is a low-emission traditional internal combustion engine. The second is a battery-powered motor. To futureproof the NGDV, vehicles fitted with internal combustion engines will be able to be retrofitted with electric motors in the future. This will allow the USPS to slowly adapt its fleet as electric vehicle infrastructure grows while still meeting the needs of routes that electric vehicles wouldn’t be able to reach until then.
The LLV is expected to remain in service past the NGDV’s introduction in 2023. Total replacement of the LLV by the NGDV is not yet forecated. In the meantime, Oshkosh Defense is working to finalize the NGDV’s design and tool a dedicated assembly plant. If you’ve ever wanted a surplus Grumman product, but couldn’t afford an F-14, a retired LLV might be your best bet.
Shot by First Lt. Mike Scotti on his home camera,and told through the journal entries of Kristian Fraga, “Severe Clear” is a first-person account of the Marines who were on the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
“Here is the truth about being a Marine that you won’t find on the local news,” Scotti says behind a jiggling, hand-held camera. “We’re loud. We drink too much, fight too much and swear too much. Truth be told, our rifles are the only things we think about more than sex.”
Watch this brief clip that captures some of the ups and downs of this roller coaster documentary:
DARPA has been hard at work on the Mission Adaptive Rotor program, a system allowing helicopters to land on sloping, uneven, craggy, or moving surfaces by lowering robotic legs that bend to accommodate the terrain.
While helicopters can already land in plenty of locations other aircraft can’t, there are still a lot of places where landing is tricky or impossible because of the terrain.
The system worked successfully in a recent flight demonstration, but engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology will continue working on it. Beyond allowing for easier and safer takeoffs and landings, the gear is expected to reduce the damages from a hard landing by as much as 80 percent, according to a DARPA press release.
To see the system in action, check out the video below:
People have a range of different reasons for joining the military, and each US veteran has their own unique experiences and memories while in the service.
Redditer user airmonk asked the veterans at the military community on Reddit about their single best experiences while serving. The answers run from the mundane to the comical to the serious, and present a glimpse into life in the military that many outside of the service rarely encounter or even know about.
Below are some of our favorite answers to airmonk’s question: “veterans of reddit, what is the best experience you’ve had while serving?”
Bat_Manatee, a member of the US Army, said that his best experience was taking part in the commemorations of the D-Day invasion’s 70th anniversary over the summer in 2014: “Jumped into Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The entire Normandy experience was awesome, capped off by the jump.”
User docskreba, a member of the Air Force, was also at the commemorations and echoed Bat_Manatee’s sentiment:
“I was part of the crew running the flight line at Cherbourg for that jump (and everything else going on that week). I have a video of the elephant walk somewhere…”
I do have this videoof a C-130 flyby at Pointe du Hoc.
Very cool experience indeed.
Other veterans said that their favorite experiences while serving were the moments of silence and contemplation.
Stinkfingers, a member of the US Coast Guard, shared this experience: “Being at sea looking at the stars. All you can hear is the gentle rumble of the diesel engines and the water sloshing. Very relaxing after a long day.”
Likewise, Spritzertog, a member of the Marines, held a similar affinity for staring skyward: “Sitting on the hood of my car with a female Marine friend of mine, in the middle of the desert just outside of 29 Palms [a Marine base in California] … staring up at the star-filled night sky with absolutely no lights anywhere nearby.”
Potato_Muncher, an Army veteran, enjoyed the hard living and action that came with serving in Iraq:
68W AIT [healthcare specialist advanced individual training]. Enough trim and alcohol to kill a small elephant.
Besides that? Probably the outpost outside of Bartella, Iraq near Mosul. I loved that little 75 x 75yd plot of land. No one to tell you what to do, leadership that was as exhausted as you, my own room (Medic perks), daily foot patrols, etc. It was like an awesome FTX [field training exercise] away from Big Army.
Blew up a house on the 4th of July. I was EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] and we were called out to clear/dispose of a cache found in a house. The IA major in charge of the area wanted us to take down the house since they kept finding caches there. We happily obliged.
But for thepancakedrawer, serving in the military was worth it just for the nuggets: “Free chicken nuggets on Mondays at Chick-Fil-A.”