Marines have long dreamed of the day beloved retired Gen. James Mattis ‘finally’ takes residence in the White House, but they shouldn’t get their hopes up this campaign season.
In true Mattis fashion, the former head of U.S. Central Command gave it to ’em straight during a speech at Columbia Basin College in Washington State, letting his fans know that despite their interest, he would not be competing in the upcoming presidential race.
While many troops would love to see Mattis go up against the likes of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, he said he’d like to see others take on the challenge.
“[It’s] time for younger people, especially veterans, to run for office,” Mattis told Marine Corps Times.
That could leave many sporting “Mattis for president” T-shirts while drinking from their “Mattis in 2016” mugs disappointed. In 2012, one Marine veteran started a Facebook campaign to get voters to consider writing in Mattis’ name on their ballots.
Despite the promise of a rabid following in the veteran community, Mattis holds that he doesn’t have “a broad enough perspective” to be Commander-in-Chief, according to The Marine Corps Times.
If you have a problem with Somali pirates, South Korean Navy SEALs know how to solve it.
Case in point comes in this remarkable footage captured by one of the operator’s helmet-mounted cameras, while rescuing the crew of a hijacked freighter. The recently uploaded video shows how the Somali pirates’ chances of getting away quickly decimate once the team boards the ship.
The footage is just over four minutes long, but the mission began long before boarding the ship. A South Korean destroyer chased the Samho Jewelry – an 11,500-ton chemical carrier – for eight days before it was safe enough to carry out the pre-dawn rescue. Once on board, another five hours would pass until the operation was over.
Officials in Seoul said all 21 members of the crew – 11 Burmese, eight Koreans, and two Indonesians – were safe after the rescue mission, according to The Guardian.
Here’s the footage captured from the helmet-mounted camera. Check it out:
After they jump — most of the time with the use of static-line parachutes — they’ll often land behind enemy lines to seize an objective, such as an airfield. They are constantly training and maintaining their jump status, and that means going out of traditional aircraft, helicopters, and jumping alongside NATO allies.
A video posted by the 82nd Airborne shows an example of those last two items. 1st Brigade Combat Division writes:
Join your1st Brigade Paratroopers on a beautiful Day!! airborne as they conducted a joint airborne operation with German paratroopers on Fort Bragg, N.C., July 15, 2015. Operation Federal Eagle is an annual event led by the German paratroopers to promote friendship and military partnership.
Join your1st Brigade Paratroopers on a beautiful Day!! airborne as they conducted a joint airborne operationwith German paratroopers on Fort Bragg, N.C., July 15, 2015. Operation Federal Eagle is an annual event led by the German paratroopers to promote friendship and military partnership. #paratrooper #alltheway #devils #82ndAirborneDivision #fit #awesome #StrikeHold #US Army Airborne School, Fort Benning #bragg
Specifically, you can be a zombie in the upcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops III.”
Omaze and ActivisionBlizzard are holding a contest where the winner will be turned into a zombie featured in the upcoming game. In addition to the zombification, the winner will have their name placed somewhere in the game world.
Entering the contest is done through charitable donations to the Call of Duty Endowment on the contest page at Omaze. Larger donations grant more entries into the contest and all donations come with benefits based on donation size. A lot of great perks are on the table – everything from in-game exclusives to autographed swag to a special lunch and VIP tour of the Treyarch studios, the developer of “Call of Duty: Black Ops III.”
The money raised goes to the Call of Duty Endowment, an organization that finds the best nonprofits helping fight veteran unemployment and then provides them with extra funding and networking opportunities. The endowment estimates that a veteran is employed for every $914 they spend, so even small donations can help put a veteran to work. Also, ActivisionBlizzard will match funds raised in the contest, doubling the impact for veterans.
Today’s media is saturated in documentaries, TV series, and movies that all claim to depict the “realities” of war. But the truth is, binge watching “Band of Brothers” will never come close to mirroring a flesh-and-blood experience.
This audio clip of WWII vet George Chrisman proves that. In the recording, the 88-year-old recounts his experience at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 to Audioburst.
Chrisman was shot in the hand in the midst of the grisly battle and describes what it was like to rip the bullet out of his flesh with his teeth. At one point he remembers there was nothing left to do but “spit it out, burn your lips, [and] just do what you have to do.”
The Army is celebrating it’s 240th birthday today (June 14). Formed in 1775 by an act of the Continental Congress, the Army has grown from a ragtag group of state militias to one of the strongest combat forces in history. Check out this video to learn more about how the Army began and what its missions are today:
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.”
In the late 1950s, Kubrick became so concerned about the possibility of nuclear war that he read over 50 books on the subject. One of those books was Peter George’s Red Alert, which a friend had recommended. Mesmerized by the novel, he purchased the rights and began developing a reality-based thriller called Edge of Doom based on Red Alert.
But as he wrote the lighter side of armageddon emerged. “He kept coming across various aspects of the story that weren’t tragic but were comic,” said film critic Alexander Walker. “For example, if a man learns of nuclear annihilation in his office, the result is a documentary. When he’s in his living room, it’s a social drama. When he’s in the bathroom, it’s a comedy.”
Kubrick chose the latter, and the result is Dr. Strangelove. The film holds the record for being the 24th greatest comedic film of all time on Total Film magazine and has a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
This video is an interesting look into how the movie was made. Watch:
After two decades of counter-terror operations, America’s Department of Defense, or DoD, is pivoting back toward great power competition with a slew of new programs and proposals that seemingly blur the line between science fiction fantasy and legitimate military capability.
America’s combat operations in places like the Middle East have afforded its defense apparatus a great deal of experience, but that benefit doesn’t come without a price. Aside from the significant wear and tear on equipment (and the associated maintenance costs), America’s defense apparatus has also offered its competition in nations like Russia and China a perfect opportunity to study and assess Uncle Sam’s military capabilities. While neither Russia nor China currently possesses truly peer-level military capabilities when compared to the United States, it’s important to remember that they don’t need to in order to pose a significant risk to American interests, or indeed its very safety.
With America’s combat playbook open for all to see, China and Russia have both devoted significant portions of their defense spending to leverage gaps in the U.S.’s proverbial armor. As a result, the United States now finds itself falling behind the technological power curve in a number of important ways, including hypersonics and potentially even anti-satellite weapons.
But despite the strategic advantage America’s defense commitments have offered its competitors in recent years, it wouldn’t be wise to count the U.S. out quite yet. In fact, the DoD already has a number of groundbreaking programs underway, and in recent months, the Defense Department has gone even further, soliciting proposals for advanced technology so unusual that practically read like science fiction.
Of course, soliciting proposals and even funding programs doesn’t mean every one of these efforts will result in an operational weapon or mature strategic capability. Some of these programs are sure to fail or to be pulled apart and devoured by other broader reaching efforts. Like SOCOM’s Ironman-like TALOS armor or the stealth RAH-66 Comanche, a DoD program doesn’t have to cross the finish line to benefit the force.
Here are 6 crazy-seeming DoD programs that are currently in development.
Fusion Reactors and “Spacetime Modification” weapons
In 2019, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) filed a number of seemingly out of this world patents that could, in theory, revolutionize not only military aviation, but just about everything. Among these filings were patents for a High Energy Electromagnetic Field Generator, which if functional, could produce massive amounts of power with far-reaching military and commercial implications and would practically result in the world’s first highly efficient fusion reactor.
But if near-limitless clean energy isn’t crazy enough, another offshoot of this work led by U.S. Navy aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais would see the creation of a “spacetime modification weapon” that would, in his words, “make the Hydrogen bomb seem more like a firecracker, in comparison.”
You can read a thorough breakdown of Pais’ work, as well as a similar effort led by Lockheed Martin, in our coverage of this story here.
Plasma Holograms that can fool missiles (and maybe even people)
New technology under patent by the U.S. Navy could shift the odds of survival further into the favor of stealth aircraft by leveraging lasers to produce plasma bursts that could trick inbound missiles into thinking they’ve found a jet to chase that would actually be little more than a hologram.
According to their patent, the laser system could be installed on the tail of an aircraft, and upon detection of an inbound missile, could literally project an infrared signature that would be comparable to a moving fighter jet’s exhaust out away from the fighter itself. Multiple systems could literally project multiple aircraft, leaving inbound missiles to go after the decoy plasma “fighters” instead of the actual aircraft itself.
These “laser induced plasma filaments,” as researchers call them, can be projected up to hundreds of meters, depending on the laser system employed, and (here’s the part that’ll really blow your mind) can be used to emit any wavelength of light. That means these systems could effectively display infrared to fool inbound heat seeking missiles, ultraviolet, or even visible light.
You can read more about this effort in our full coverage of it here.
Drone Wingmen and “Skyborg”
The 2005 movie “Stealth” depicts a team of 6th generation fighter pilots who are assigned a new wingman: an AI-enabled drone. The movie may not have gotten much right about military aviation, but the premise has proven not just viable, but likely. With programs underway like the Air Force Research Laboratories Skyborg and Boeing’s Loyal Wingman, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing data-fusing jets like the F-35 flying with their own constellations of support drones that can be used to extend their sensor reach, engage targets on the fighter’s behalf, or even sacrifice themselves to prevent a missile from reaching the crewed aircraft.
Recently, the U.S. Air Force successfully flew a Kratos Valkyrie UCAV alongside both of America’s 5th generation fighters, with an active data link connecting the F-35 to the drone. While still a rudimentary test, this flight was truly just the beginning.
You can learn more about this effort in our coverage here.
Artificial Intelligence in the cockpit
In August of last year, Heron Systems’ incredible artificial intelligence pilot system defeated not only its industry competitors, but went on to secure 5 straight victories against a highly trained U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot, without the human pilot even scoring a single hit. It was a significant success for the endeavor to get AI into the cockpits of American fighters, even if the competition was technically stacked in the AI’s favor.
The intent behind the competition wasn’t to embarrass a human pilot, but rather to improve both the AI’s ability to make decisions and develop a level of trust between human operators and future AI co-pilots. By outsourcing some tasks to a highly capable AI, pilots can focus more of their bandwidth on situational awareness and the task at hand.
You can read more about this effort in our coverage of it here.
6th Generation Fighters
Last September, the U.S. Air Force shocked the world with the announcement that they had already designed, built, and flown a prototype of the next generation of fighters. Details released by the DoD are scarce, but there are a number of assertions we can make about this program based on publicly available information.
In order to justify the creation of a new fighter generation, this new jet will need to offer all the capabilities found in 5th generation jets like the F-35, along with a slew of entirely new capabilities. It seems feasible that the fighter that has already been tested by not be a mature platform destined for service, but may instead be a technology demonstrator used to assess the efficacy of some of these state-of-the-art systems.
You can learn more about what exactly makes a 6th generation fighter in our coverage here.
Using shrimp to track enemy submarines
DARPA’s effort to track undersea life’s behavior as a means to detect enemy submarines has just entered its second phase. In the first phase, DARPA’s Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program sought to prove that sea life would respond to the presence of a submarine in a measurable way. With that seemingly confirmed, the second stage of the program will focus on developing sensors that can identify that behavior and relay a warning back to manned locations aboard a ship or onshore.
Undersea life tends to behave in a certain way when it senses the presence of a large and foreign object like a submarine. By broadly tracking the behavior of sea life, PALS aims to measure and interpret that behavior to make educated guesses about what must be causing it. In other words, by constantly tracking the behavior of nearby wildlife, PALS sensors can notice a significant change, compare it to a library of known behaviors, and predict a cause… like an enemy submarine, even if a submarine was stealthy enough to otherwise evade detection.
You can read more about this program in our full coverage here.
Fascinated by a French reporter’s ability to purchase a nuclear warhead on the black market, American journalists from Vice travelled to Bulgaria to meet the man who sold it, according to the video below.
They met with Ivanoff, a former military intelligence colonel turned entrepreneur, whose business led him into the Saudi Arabian building industry. Through his business dealings, Ivanoff met with terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden, who was interested in making a “dirty bomb” out of radioactive waste. Ivanoff suggested why not get the real thing, a nuclear warhead.
The nation’s highest award for valor was first introduced exclusively for sailors and Marines, while the Army rejected the medal as a bad idea.
But six months after it was introduced in 1861, the Army changed its tune and authorized the Medal of Honor for soldiers. Since its creation, more than 3,400 military personnel have received the medal, which is awarded for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”
In a documentary called “Medal of Honor – The History,” there are many more insights into how the medal came to fruition during the Civil War, its different designs, and how the requirements for receiving it changed over time. Interestingly enough, the idea of “stolen valor” frauds that today’s veterans continue to fight was a problem even in the late 1800s, which led recipients to form the Medal of Honor Legion.
The film, which is narrated by Gary Sinise, also explores the actions of some of the heroes who received the medal. It’s worth a watch.
The military is like an organized play. Everyone who assumes a position is supposed to follow the script to their role. However, some take it too far and continue even after the play has ended. These folks are always in character and they expect the same out of everyone around them.
In the field it’s understandable but if one of these “motards” pulls rank on you during liberty, you may be inclined to react the same way this Marine does.