Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago - We Are The Mighty
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Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago

The official Japanese surrender ceremony took place aboard the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.  Here’s some amazing B-roll uncovered by the Naval History and Heritage Command that shows behind-the-scenes stuff like the Japanese delegation coming aboard American warships on their way to the ceremony as well as what it looked like to the hundreds of sailors perched above the main deck when it all went down. The ceremony was a veritable who’s who event with military rock stars of the day like MacArthur, Nimitz, and Halsey in attendance. (There’s no sound on the video, but it’s worth the time.)


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19 photos that show what Army sappers do

Sappers are the Army’s experts in mobility on the battlefield. They stop the enemy from moving around and clear obstacles that inhibit the U.S. infantry and other ground troops. To do these jobs, they have to know how to fight an enemy, construct infrastructure like bridges and fences, and destroy enemy obstacles with explosives and tools.


Here are 19 photos that show their mission:

1. Engineers clear routes through enemy territory for maneuver forces.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Spc. Joshua Edwards

2. To do this, they detect enemy mines, IEDs, barbed wire, trenches, and other obstructions.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Spc. Joshua Edwards

3. If an obstruction or explosive is detected, the engineers ‘interrogate’ (sapper speak) the obstacle and decide what to do.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army National Guard Spc. Adam Simmler

4. Once they identify a threat, they may mark it so infantry units know where the safe path is.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Debralee Best

5. But they often decide to blow the obstruction up. Sappers are known for their skill with explosives.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

6. When the enemy is hiding in a building, the sappers can cut through the walls or doors to get to them.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William S. Parker

7. They could also just blow the door off the hinges or a hole in a wall. Again, sappers blow up a lot of stuff.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: Joint Hometown News Service Benjamin Faske

8. Once the building is open, they can force their way inside but will often leave the task of searching the building to the infantry or other maneuver units.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Roger Ashley

9. When the enemy protects the objective with barbed wire and other obstacles, the engineers use Bangalore torpedoes to blow open a path.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

10. Another specialty of engineers is getting themselves and equipment to hard to reach places. Here, sappers create improvised rafts to cross a lake.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: Joint Hometown News Service Benjamin Faske

11. They also have proper boats, like the Zodiac, that they’ll use to cross the water.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Debralee Best

12. Sappers can even drop directly into the water with their equipment and boats via a helicopter.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: Joint Hometown News Service Benjamin Faske

13. They’ll climb up cliff faces or repel from ledges to open a route or block an enemy.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: Joint Hometown News Service Benjamin Faske

14. Sappers use many different explosives, including missiles, to complete their missions.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

15. Javelin Missiles are most commonly used to destroy enemy armored vehicles.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

16. Engineers may aim to hit an enemy tank or armored vehicle while it’s in a choke point, preventing other vehicles from crossing there.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army 251st Engineer Company

17. Enemy ground units can be stopped or slowed with mines. Claymores fire a barrage of steel bearings at enemies.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army

18. For more security, the sappers and other engineers can put up fences or other obstacles.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Debralee Best

19. This prevents enemy soldiers from getting to friendly forces as easily.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Darrin McDufford

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Recon Marines honor fallen brothers with a grueling 30-mile ruck run

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for troops who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States.


On this day, Americans may be posting tributes on social media or attending events to honor the fallen. For a group of Recon Marines however, their way of honoring fallen brothers is with an intense, grueling challenge over nearly 30 miles.

“I’ll run for him until I retire,” says Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher May of his comrade Staff Sgt. Caleb Medley, in a new video produced by the Marine Corps. Medley died in Feb. 2013 in a parachuting accident while training in California, according to The Marine Times.

Watch the video below:

SEE ALSO: 12 rare and amazing photos from the ‘War to End All Wars’

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Powerful video shows the special friendship between a US soldier and an Iraqi child

In 2005, Army Spc. Justin Cliburn befriended two local boys while deployed to Iraq with the Oklahoma National Guard that he will never forget.


“Once I met these children it made every day something to look forward to,” said Cliburn in the StoryCorps video below. “We would play rock, paper, scissors, we would kick around a soccer ball. We were about as close as people that don’t speak the same language can be. I had never been really good with children and this was the first time I felt I loved someone who wasn’t my family member.”

Things changed when the nature of war took its course. This touching video shows how friendships form in the unlikeliest places and the lasting impressions they leave:

NOW: Watch this Iraq War veteran’s tragic story told through the lens of a cartoon

OR: Iraq war vet relives his most intense gunfight

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How a war between Michigan and Ohio would play out today

One of the least impressive wars in American history is the Toledo War. In 1835, a time after Ohio gained statehood and when Michigan was still a territory, war broke out between the two over who controlled Toledo. Two separate maps were drawn on either side, each claiming the highly profitable city of Toledo. Ohio and Michigan mustered their respective militias and prepared for war.


Luckily, or sadly, if you’re the type who enjoys violence, nothing happened. Instead, everyone got drunk and just shot their guns into the air. Only one person was actually injured, Sheriff Joseph Wood of Michigan, but he was stabbed in a bar fight. Additionally, Michiganders also managed to kill one Ohioan’s pig. Tensions were so high that President Andrew Jackson had to step in and sort things out. Toledo went to Ohio, while Michigan laid claim to the Upper Peninsula. In the long run, the forests and mines of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan turned out to be far more beneficial than the pretty-neat Toledo Zoo.

Today, the “war” is a funny footnote in American history that everyone from Michigan and Ohio will remind you of when it’s time for one the state’s sports teams to play the other’s. Out of pure speculation, let’s pretend that the two states prepared for a second Toledo War. For this scenario to play out, each state would act as their own country, not using any forces outside of already-established bases and National Guards, one half of the number of troops each state gives towards active duty as loyalists, and 2.5% of the state’s GDP (slightly above the world average for military expenditure).

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
And let’s pretend the cause for war is because Ohioans never forgave Michigan for that one pig. (Image via New York Public Library)

Michigan Forces

Guard Troops: 14,934.

Additional troops from Active: 1,044.

Military expenditure: $13.2 Billion.

Two things would make Michigan a formidable foe: Detroit Arsenal and the large lakes secured by a sizable Coast Guard. The Detroit Armory produced many of the U.S. Armed Forces’ tanks from 1940 until its transfer to civilian use in 2001. Michigan is a large hub for the Coast Guard with two stations, one in Detroit and the other in Traverse City. Michigan is also home to two Air National Guard Bases, Battle Creek ANGB and Selfridge ANGB. They also have Camp Grayling, the largest National Guard training center in the USA, both by physical size and number of troops trained.

Despite these benefits, Michigan is the underdog in nearly every statistic. The fact that it also has no sizable Active Duty installation outside of the Coast Guard puts Michigan at another disadvantage.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
All those woods up north make for good training grounds. (Michigan National Guard Photo by SPC Victoria Jacob)

Ohio Forces

Guard Troops: 27,208.

Additional troops from Active: 3,397.

Military expenditure: $16.87 Billion.

Other than higher numbers, a key strength Ohio has over Michigan is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This probably contributes to the 5,358 airmen who enlisted active duty out of the total 6,793 Ohioans who serve. Those numbers would definitely be able to manage the five other Air National Guard bases scattered throughout Ohio.

In this fight, there’s no doubt about who controls the air — but that’s about it. In a full-scale war against Michigan, Ohio would greatly lack in ground and naval troops.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
The war entirely comes down to how large of an Air Force you would need to overpower every other branch. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Marisa Alia-Novobilski)

Outcome

Winner: Depends on how long the war goes.

Ohio’s vastly superior Air Force would overpower Michigan in a heartbeat, but that’s about all they’ve got going on. Michigan has the means of production and self-sustainability to counter Ohio’s lack of ground and naval capabilities if the war drags on.

Who do you think would win in this fictional fight? What other states would you like to see duke it out in a fictional war? Let us know in the comments!

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5 surprising facts about naval aviation

Ever since Eugene Ely became the first person to take off from —  and land on — a ship in 1911, naval aviation has forged a unique identity within the American military. They fly, but they’re not the Air Force. They’re sailors, but only some of them never drive ships.


With a record of accomplishment in peace and war, they have a few things to brag about. Some of them might even surprise you.

1. The U.S. Navy is the second largest air force in the world.

Judged on number of airplanes, the U.S. Navy is the second-largest air force, not just in the United States, but in the entire world. It has over 3,700 aircraft — far fewer than the U.S. Air Force’s 5,500 but more than the Russian Air Force’s 3,000 planes. That is, at least until Vladimir Putin buys more.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Just wait.

2. They were the first Americans in WWI.

The first American military force to arrive in Europe after the United States entered World War I was the 1st Naval Air Unit, commanded by Lt. Kenneth Whiting (Naval Aviator #16, who had been trained by Orville Wright… yes, that Orville Wright).

He led seven officers and 122 sailors to Europe aboard USS Jupiter (which would later become USS Langley, America’s first aircraft carrier) and USS Neptune. For his service in leading the first Yanks “over there,” he was awarded both the Navy Cross and France’s Legion of Honour (Chevalier).

3. They completed the first crossing of the Atlantic by air.

Naval aviators must have decided riding colliers across the ocean wasn’t such a good deal because not long after the war, they started figuring out a better way to make the crossing. In May 1919, the Navy’s flying boat NC-4 made the transatlantic flight. Departing from Long Island with an unscheduled stop in Massachusetts, Lt. Cmdr. Albert C. Read and his crew routed via Halifax and the Azores before arriving in Lisbon eight days later.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
A Curtiss NC-4 Flying Boat.

It was the only plane out of three that started the journey to make it, the other two made forced landings along the way. Commander Read would later call it, “a continuous run of unadulterated luck.”

4. U.S. Presidents are naval aviation alumni.

Naval Aviation came of age in World War II, when — thanks, in part, to the Imperial Japanese Navy — the aircraft carrier replaced the battleship as the Navy’s most important capital ship. Future-President Gerald Ford served with ship’s company on USS Monterey, a light carrier, while George H. W. Bush flew missions from the decks of USS San Jacinto.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Lt. George H. W. Bush making notes before an air sortie in WWII.

When Bush earned his Wings of Gold, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy. He was shot down in September 1944 and rescued by a submarine. His son would later become the first American president to make an arrested landing, flying in an S-3B Viking and trapping aboard USS Abraham Lincoln.

5. Naval Aviation in the Space Program.

The Navy has been well represented in space, too. Four of the Mercury Seven — America’s first astronauts — wore Wings of Gold. Alan Shepard, who flew F4U Corsairs before becoming a test pilot, was the first American in space. John Glenn, a Marine pilot (hey, they wear the same wings) who flew in WWII and Korea, was the first American to orbit the earth. He’d later be the oldest person — and, so far, only sitting senator — to fly in space.

And how about Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon? You guessed it — he flew in the Navy, too, taking the F9F-2 Panther to war in Korea. Jim Lovell, who commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, flew Banshees and Demons before graduating first in his class at test pilot school. Eugene Cernan, the commander of Apollo 17, was the last man to walk on the moon; he bagged over 5,000 hours and 200 traps flying the FJ-4 Fury and A-4 Skyhawk.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Eugene Andrew Cernan in Apollo Lunar Module. (NASA)

And when NASA was ready to take their new hotness — the Space Shuttle — out of the atmosphere, who did they trust? Two Naval Aviators. John Young and Robert Crippen both flew from carriers before becoming test pilots.

If you find yourself near the gulf coast of Florida, you can visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation to learn more. Its director, Captain (retired) Sterling Gillam, and historian, Hill Goodspeed, graciously offered their time and expertise in helping with this article.

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The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat

By 2030, the United States Marine Corps might look a little different from the Marine Corps of today. According to a 180-page document released by Breaking Defense, there’s an aggressive strategy in place to redesign the sea service in less than 10 years. 

Called the “Tentative Manual For Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations,” the Corps is going to be overhauled to focus on the challenges posed by an emerging China and a newly-aggressive Russia. 

The Marine Corps newest iteration, according to the unreleased manual, is going to create small units to focus on individual small unit capabilities, specifically air defense, anti-ship warfare, fighting for control of small, temporary bases all in an “island-hopping” campaign in the Pacific.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
A fire team of Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 1st Marine Logistics Group, rush toward simulated aggressors during the certification exercise of the Basic Combat Skills Course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Devan K. Gowans/Released)

If that sounds familiar, that was the strategy used by the United States Marine Corps and Navy during World War II in the Pacific, meant to check the expansion of Imperial Japan. That plan was itself based on Operational Plan 712: Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia, one of the Marine Corps’ foundational doctrines. 

Instead of massive invasions like the ones seen on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, however, the Marines will be called in to capture or construct small bases to launch missiles or use as resupply stations as Marines and Naval forces operate throughout the Pacific Theater. 

“The scale of the problem today cannot be met by merely refining current methods and capabilities,” the manual reads.

The Marine Corps also isn’t limited to the technology of days past, either. The Corps will use precision-guided missiles, unmanned aerial and seaborne vehicles, and any other innovations that would make movement between islands and contesting islands more practical and decisive. 

One of the first signs of developing this newly-oriented, more agile Marine Corps will come in the 2022 defense budget requests from the Marine Corps. The document predicts the Corps will want a hundred Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessels available for use, along with Light Amphibious Warships in Littoral Maneuver Squadrons. 

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Candidates assigned to Lima Company, Officer Candidate School, navigate through the combat course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Ezekiel R. Kitandwe/Released)

It will also list Navy-Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS) batteries, hundreds of anti-ship Naval Strike Missiles with a 115-mile range built on the chassis of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. 

This document is said to outline Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s very fast timeline to reconstruct the Marine Corps and its combat roles. Combat teams will be roughly battalion-sized, according to Breaking Defense, and will see at least three Marine Littoral Regiments stood up in the Pacific within the coming years. Each will be responsible for multiple versions of these small bases. 

The bases will be “conducting sustained operations to enable fleet operations via sea denial” and be a supply and refueling point for units “conducting major combat operations,” the article says. 

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Colin Anderson, rifleman, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, practice urban combat during Weapons and Tactics Instructors (WTI) course 2-19  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ashlee Conover)

Marines operating at these “ad hoc” bases will be protected from advanced aircraft and advanced ballistic weapons by Marine air wings, communications, and ground-based air defenses.

One of the reasons the “Tentative Manual For Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations” is being taken so seriously is that unlike many other so-called “concept papers” from military branch leaders, this document is painstakingly detailed over 200 pages, covering everything from joint force interoperability to command and control oversight, as well as the size and roles of individual Marine Corps units.

Read more about the newer, smaller, and more agile Marine Corps from the original at Breaking Defense.

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Venezuela may soon be fighting a war with Marxist rebels from Colombia

On Mar. 21, 2021, Venezuela’s Nicholas Maduro appeared on Venezuelan state television to announce the Venezuelan military clashed with rebel groups from neighboring Colombia. 

He didn’t give any more details about the fighting, but an exiled Venezeulan general told news agency Agence France Presse that the rebel groups came from elements of the former Colombian rebel group FARC.

FARC was first formed in 1964 as a Marxist-Leninist separatist group looking to overthrow the elected government of Colombia. The group waged guerrilla warfare against the government from Colombia’s mountains and jungles for more than 50 years. At its height, FARC fielded as many as 10,000 fighters. 

In 2016, a ceasefire was finally called for good and a peace agreement was reached between the two sides and the rebel guerrillas began to disarm. But not every FARC member agreed with the peace deal. Dissidents broke away from the main force and began to operate along the Venezuela-Colombia border. 

In February 2021, Colombia accused Venezuela of harboring those dissidents and Maduro threatened to respond by force if Colombia violated Venezuelan sovereignty in hunting down the remnants of FARC. 

On Sunday, March 21, Maduro’s chickens came home to roost as FARC rebels attacked the Venezuelan town of Arauquita. Venezuela responded with an aerial bombing campaign according to some reports

Venezuelan armed forces then moved into the area, claiming to have captured 32 people, destroyed six camps and confiscated weapons, ammunition, explosives, vehicles and drugs.

The ongoing fighting has now displaced some 4,000 Venezuelans, who have crossed the border into Colombia to escape the violence. Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Police have moved into the area, conducting raids and arbitrarily detaining and killing civilians. 

Elements of FARC are continuing to fight the Colombian government and no one is exactly sure how strong the group actually is in Colombia. In recent days, the revolutionaries managed to bomb a police station in the capital city of Bogota. 

The rebels could be an extreme pain for Venezuela’s military. Though large, the military is mostly staffed by conscripts, and experiencing a wave of desertions in the face of Maduro’s mishandling of the Venezuelan government.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
A peaceful march in Venezuela, where conflict has been brewing for years.

Cliver Alcalá, who retired from Venezuela’s military in 2013 as Maduro came to power, says the experienced rank and file has been gutted by the desertions. For the common Venezuelan soldier, the choice is to either desert and try to survive, or stay for next to no pay and maybe starve to death

It has left the country’s armed forces inexperienced and full of general officers. He says the glut of high rank has made the army “top heavy” and eroded the chain of command. 

“There is no way to know who is in charge of operations, who is in charge of administration and who is in charge of policy,” he told Reuters in 2019.

To top it all off, their commander in chief is Nicholas Maduro. If Maduro’s military acumen is anything like his skill at administration or handling of the government’s oil sales, the Venezuelan military is in for a long fight. 
Venezuela might be looking to use its newly-trained force of civilians to fight the FARC rebels, which, if the 4,000 refugees fleeing to Colombia is any indication, will not be successful.

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The Air Force once tested cats in zero gravity

It’s well known that cats will always land on their feet when dropped. According to this clip, those cat-like reflexes are completely lost in a weightless environment.


Along with cats the Airmen also fly pigeons in a weightless state, and some of them wound up flying upside down.

The 1947 video was part of the U.S.  Air Force’s aerospace medical research lab’s bioastronautics research in Dayton, Ohio.

Watch the full 13-minute video here, which includes pretty nifty slow-motion ejection seat footage (not using cats).

 

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Here’s the terrible reality of the ISIS kidnapping industry

ISIS terrorists reportedly have hundreds of hostages from around the world, which they hold for ransom.


Also read: A former ISIS hostage describes Jihadi John’s terrifying mock executions

As it turns out, kidnapping is big business. Between 2008 and 2015, terrorist groups have reportedly collected more than $125 million in ransom payments. But terrorists don’t just kidnap to make money, they can make way more selling oil — roughly $3 million per day.

This TestTube News video explains other reasons they abduct people and the pros and cons of negotiating with terrorists:

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DARPA Is Building A Drone That Can Tell What Color Shirt You’re Wearing From 17,500 Feet

Get ready for an insane leap forward in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, courtesy of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


For the past few years, DARPA has been working on a system called ARGUS-IR, or Autonomous Real-Team Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance – Infrared, which can take video over an area that is so super high resolution — 1.8 gigapixels — it would take a fleet of 100 Predator drones to produce the same images.

Also Read: This Army Spouse Was Hacked By ISIS And She Didn’t Flinch

A PBS documentary last year explored the program, which uses hundreds of cell phone cameras linked together into a sophisticated rig. Mounted underneath an RQ-4 Global Hawk for example, ARGUS could loiter over an area at 17,500 feet and capture images as small as six inches square on the ground, effectively being able to tell the color of the shirt you are wearing.

It’s pretty incredible — and somewhat scary — stuff.

Here’s how DARPA describes it:

Current infrared systems either have a narrow field of view, slow frame rates or are low resolution. DARPA’s Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance – Infrared (ARGUS-IR) program will break this paradigm by producing a wide-field-of-view IR imaging system with frame rates and resolution that are compatible with the tracking of dismounted personnel at night. ARGUS-IR will provide at least 130 independently steerable video streams to enable real-time tracking of individual targets throughout the field of view. The ARGUS-IR system will also provide continuous updates of the entire field of view for enhanced situational awareness.

In July, the Air Force made the first step toward making ARGUS a reality with the implementation of the Gorgon Stare Increment 2 pod on the MQ-9 Reaper.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo Credit: LiveLeak (courtesy of PBS Nova)

Here’s the view from an ARGUS system from 17,500 feet. It can capture a very wide area.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo Credit: LiveLeak (courtesy of PBS Nova)

When an operator wants to zoom in, the system places boxes over cars, people, and other objects and tracks them in real time.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
Photo Credit: LiveLeak (courtesy of PBS Nova)

Now check out the PBS Nova documentary on the project:

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Meet the American raising a Christian army to fight ISIS

Former Georgetown grad Matthew VanDyke is fighting ISIS the only way he knows how — through a grassroots military training initiative he calls Sons of Liberty International (SOLI).


The self-made nonprofit aims to equip the Christian north of Iraq against the threat of the so-called Islamic State, mobilizing local volunteers against insurgents that have devastated Assyrian communities since ISIS invaded last year.

Despite VanDyke’s zeal for the cause, reactions to SOLI and the involvement of fellow Westerners in the Arab conflict are greatly divided. The American Evangelical community hails VanDyke’s work as revolutionary, while others are suspicious of SOLI, which has zero backing from Iraqi or American governments.

SOLI’s main objective is to empower the Ninevah Plain Protection Units (NPU), a volunteer Christian militia that is comprised of Iraqi civilians, American ex-soldiers and everything in between. Originally operating as a ragtag defense unit, VanDyke and senior NPU members are shifting the group to the offensive, hoping to reclaim ISIS-occupied Assyrian villages and eventually join the fight for the ISIS-stronghold of Mosul.

VanDyke himself has no formal military training, but he’s no stranger to Middle Eastern conflict. The 36-year-old ‘s rap sheet includes living as a POW after fighting with Libyan rebels in 2010, as well as working alongside war journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff while filming a documentary short to promote the Free Syrian Army.

In an interview with Adam Linehan of Maxim, VanDyke expressed his fierce belief in SOLI and its work:

“Sometimes I question if it was a wise decision,” he said. “But once you become aware of the brutality of the modern world, there’s no plugging back into the matrix. There’s no un-ringing that bell.” Then, after a long pause, he added: “I’m fully committed to the cause. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

For the full story, check out Maxim

To watch SOLI train, watch the video below:

NOW: ISIS may be on the verge of losing its biggest asset

OR: An American has died fighting ISIS in Syria

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The Army found cannons and other Revolutionary War artifacts in the Savannah River

The Army Corps of Engineers was dredging the Savannah River in Georgia when a historic discovery was made. The dredging pulled up an anchor, a piece of ship timber and three old cannons. At first, they were assumed to be from the Civil War. Army archaeologists examined the artifacts with the help of the British Royal Navy to try and identify them.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
The cannons appear to be from the 18th century and predate the Civil War (Army Corps of Engineers)

The bustling coastal city of Savannah was crucial to the British effort during the Revolutionary War. The British hoped to gain the support of colonial loyalists in the American south. To do this, they occupied Savannah in 1778. However, less than a year later, the city fell under siege. In need of support, the Royal Navy dispatched the HMS Rose to relieve the beleaguered Redcoats at Savannah.

HMS Rose had already developed a reputation among American sailors. With her 20 guns and crew of 160, HMS Rose began her colonial tour intercepting smugglers around Rhode Island. She then patrolled the New York waterways and along the east coast where she clashed with Continental Navy ships before she was redeployed south.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
The anchor that was recovered from the Savannah River (Army Corps of Engineers)

With the patriot siege of Savannah intensifying, the French military dispatched reinforcements to sail up the river and join the colonists. In an incredible strategic decision, British commanders determined that the best way to halt the French was to scuttle HMS Rose and block the river. On September 19, 1779, the ship was sunk in the Savannah River east of where River Street runs in the city today. The ship’s sacrifice paid off for the British who broke the siege and retained control of Savannah for the majority of the war.

The five-foot-long cannons that were dredged up were determined to be of 18th century origin and coincide with HMS Rose‘s fate. The anchor and ship timber require further investigation before any conclusions are drawn. “We are looking at whether they came from a single context, or if the anchor came from a later ship,” said Corps of Engineers district archaeologist Andrea Farmer. The Savannah District Corps of Engineers has experience temporarily preserving historical artifacts after the recovery of the CSS Georgia Civil War ironclad from the river in 2015.

It is also believed that HMS Rose may have been partially salvaged after she was scuttled. The question remains, how many more artifacts from the 18th century ship remain hidden on the riverbed? “I think it’s fantastic and interesting when artifacts from maritime history come to light,” said Cmdr. Jim Morley, the British assistant naval attaché in Washington. “It just gives us an opportunity to look back at our common maritime history and history in general.” Archaeologists and historians continue to study the recovered artifacts and search for more to uncover the stories that they hold.

Rare color footage shows the behind the scenes of the Japanese surrender 70 years ago
One of the recovered cannons (Army Corps of Engineers)
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