The suit, officially dubbed TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit, “was chartered to explore and catalyze a revolutionary integration of advanced technology to provide comprehensive ballistic protection, peerless tactical capabilities and ultimately to enhance the strategic effectiveness of the SOF operator of the future,” Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel III, commander of Special Operations Command, said recently.
The suit is a result of rapid prototyping between the Pentagon, academia, tech companies, and special operators coming together to build out the best platform.
Which means a focus on operator safety while maintaining freedom of movement.
The suit should offer helmets with heads-up display technology, while other prototypes may come with heating and cooling systems and sensors to monitor vital signs, according to DoD News.
This is a pretty early prototype, so there are definitely some changes to be made. But this video of where they are so far is pretty impressive.
Sure, the Academy Awards have categories like “Best Actor” and “Best Adapted Screenplay,’ and, yes, military movies like “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game” are in the mix this year. But all of that falls somewhat short of capturing the true military cinematic essence that this year’s crop of films produced. Here are nine categories that the Oscars forgot and the winners in each:
1. Best Misuse Of Government Property By A Leading Man: Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Because Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle was a super badass sniper, he had a phone so that generals and even the president could call him to tell him who he should put the crosshairs on next. What did Cooper’s Kyle use the phone for? To call his wife, usually right before a firefight was about to break out. And once it did he wouldn’t hang up (in order not to alarm her or anything).
2. Best Use of Kristen Stewart’s Bitch Face By An Actress In A Leading Role: Kristen Stewart, “Camp X-Ray”
Kristen Stewart plays a U.S. Army guard at Gitmo who develops a sympathetic relationship – through a prison door – with one of the detainees. But her sympathy is buried under the same expression she’s used in every movie she’s ever been in, that signature bitchy pouty girl face, so it’s hard to tell when she’s sympathetic and when she’s bored or pissed off. But, hey, like B.B. King said, “You can play just one note if it’s the right one.” We say bravo, Ms. Stewart.
3. Best Supporting Actor In A Role About The Fact All Vets Are Doomed: Brad Hawkins, “Boyhood”
Brilliantly filmed over a 12-year period, director Richard Linklater’s gem focuses on the life of a sometimes single mom and her two kids. The mom’s third love interest is a returning vet who’s just back from Iraq. He seems like a nice, well-adjusted guy, but after a while he’s holding down a job as a prison guard and sitting on the front porch guzzling beer and yelling at the son about being a good-for-nothing, which is to say they got it exactly right because that’s what always happens to returning vets.
4. Best Portrayal Of The Perils Of Having Sex In Combat: “Fury”
Brad Pitt’s Sherman tank crew stumble across the home of a war-weary German family with a hot daughter, and they enjoy a bit of normalcy. One of the crew hooks up with the daughter, and once they’re done the crew leaves and minutes later the family’s house gets blown to smithereens by an air strike.
5. Best WTFO? Moment: “300 – Rise of Empires”
In the middle of a kick ass war-at-sea between ancient sailing ships, General Themistocles suddenly produces a horse that he rides all over the deck while slashing and stabbing his foe. But it really gets good when the horse – without any hesitation – gallops through flaming wreckage, leaps into the water, and then jumps onto an enemy ship where Themistocles continues his savaging of the enemy – truly the year’s best WTFO? military movie moment.
6. Most Dramatic Flame-out Of A Military Movie Franchise: “Jarhead 2”
Three words: Straight. To. DVD.
7. Best Actress In A Role About The Joys Of Being A Military Mom: Michelle Monaghan “Ft. Bliss”
Michelle Monaghan plays a single mom soldier who returns home after 15 months in Iraq only to find that her 6-year-old son has forgotten who she is. (What, did the rest of family hide all the pictures of her? And no Skype?) About the point her son starts to warm to her she’s sent back to Iraq because that’s how the Army rolls. If the military wanted you to have a kid they would have issued you one.
8. Most Groundbreaking Guerrilla Warfare Sequence: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
One of the conniving chimps uses cute chimp moves to mollify two humans just long enough to get one of their automatic weapons and blow them away with it.
9. Best Actor In A Role About The Tortured Souls Of Those In The Intelligence Community: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the intel genius who knows a thing or two about code breaking. Cumberbatch’s Turing is at odds with his sexual orientation and anti-social and basically pained by everything in his life – in other words, he’s a lot like most of those in the intel community.
It’s no secret the Soviet Union had trouble keeping up with the United States in terms of heavy weapons during the Cold War. Even though the United States claimed there was a significant so-called “missile gap” between the US and the USSR, the reverse was actually true.
In reality, though the Soviet Union kept a large number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, it preferred to spend on other weapons of mass destruction. The main reason was cost. Until the oil boom of the 1970s, the Soviet Union wasn’t as flush with cash as we tend to believe.
The USSR was looking for ways to be competitive in the arms race, but without the hefty price tag the United States military was paying to develop, build, and maintain its arsenal of nuclear ICBMs.
According to defectors, the Soviets employed tens of thousands of scientists and workers to create alternative weapons of mass destruction, like chemical weapons but especially biological weapons. One Soviet scientist told the New York Times that biological weapons were very cheap, especially compared to nuclear and chemical weapons.
Judging the weapons efficiency by how much it would cost to kill half the population of one square kilometer of the United States, there was just no comparison to biological warfare.
“We calculated to achieve an effect [of killing half the population] in one square kilometer it cost $2,000 with conventional weapons, $800 with a nuclear weapon, and $600 with chemical weapons and $1 with biological weapons,” the scientist said.
The Soviet Union created entire secret cities dedicated to developing biological weapons, often disguised as anti-biological weapons research stations. Even after signing onto the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, the USSR continued to experiment with anthrax, tularemia, Q-fever, brucellosis, glanders, the plague, Crimean-Congo fever, typhus, botulism, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and smallpox.
Many of these toxins were engineered to also be resistant to antibiotics and other common treatments for the diseases, forming “super” versions of the strains.
It could also mass produce all of the biological agents on an industrial scale, even though it wasn’t necessary. Biological agents are difficult to weaponize for use against a military target. The Soviets had to keep its own weapons handlers from getting sick and spreading the pathogen, they had to deliver the weapons and then ensure it was resistant to treatment.
By far the most horrifying examples of the effects of biological weapon use comes from the Soviet Union itself. In 1971, a smallpox weapon test accidentally infected the city of Aralsk in what is today Kazakhstan. It was powerful enough to be resistant to the smallpox vaccine and killed six people. In 1979, experimental anthrax spores escaped from a research facility in Sverdlovsk, killing 19 people before the virus was contained.
The Soviets may have even used biological weapons in Afghanistan. In a 1999 book, former Soviet scientist Kenatjan Alibekov charges that the USSR sprayed glanders, bacteria found in horses that can be lethal to humans, on Taliban rebels there.
While weaponization is the most difficult step, it doesn’t take a lot of the pathogen to introduce it to a civilian population. As we have seen throughout the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, just a small introduction can have catastrophic effects on a population. Fallout from the spread of a disease can include hundreds of thousands of deaths, along with crippling production and economic consequences long before the pathogen is contained.
Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills is one of only five quadruple amputees of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now recovered and continuing to live his life despite the physical barriers of having no arms or legs, Mills’ story is an inspiration to all. Especially when he has a philosophy of “Never give up. Never quit.”
“I woke up for the first time on my 25th birthday to find out that I had no arms or legs anymore, and I was a quadruple amputee,” Mills says in this video from NowThis News.
“You’re gonna fall down, but don’t be embarrassed about it. Just get out there and keep going at it,” he says. Mills himself has lived by this advice, keeping positive and even joking about his injuries, while serving other wounded warriors through his non-profit The Travis Mills Foundation.
The Cold War prompted the space race, the nuclear arms race and other weapons races that yielded forward-thinking innovations like fixed-wing planes that can take off vertically—VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) — from any platform or surface.
The technology was already being tinkered with by the Germans before the Nazi collapse and further developed by other nations, including the Brits and the Soviets. The U.S. Navy saw its potential and became interested in high-performance fighter aircraft capable of taking off from small ships.
Lockheed and Convair were awarded contracts in May 1951 to develop VTOL fighters suitable for the military. But the project was canned in 1955 after it became clear that VTOL fighters were too slow and only the most experienced pilots could fly them. So much for the notion of having tactical aircraft on every ship.
The following is video footage of Convair’s XFY Pogo’s takeoff and landing test on May 18, 1955.
No military aircraft – past or present – can beat the altitude and airspeed performance of the SR-71 Blackbird.
It’s design and performance evolved out of necessity: “We had a need to know what was going on in other countries,” Jeff Duford, a historian at the National Museum of the US Air Force, said. “And the way that we were going to do that was having a photographic aircraft that could fly very high and very fast. And much faster than the U2, which proceeded it. The SR-71 was that answer for the US Air Force and for the United States.”
Here’s the remarkable story of the SR-71 in a 3 minute mini-doc:
The Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition was held April 16-19 at Fort Benning, GA, hosted by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. This notable Army tournament is a culmination of grueling physical, mental and tactical tasks. The encounter got its start back in 1982 when it began among Ranger units. The contest was later expanded to all U.S. Armed Forces in 1987, so long as the participants meet certain criteria: they must be Ranger qualified, serving as active-duty soldiers, and acting as a two-man team.
The 2020 Best Ranger Competition (BRC) was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking this year as the 37th event.
Over 60 hours, the teams competed in various events, kicking off at 0530 Friday. From there, teams fought in back-to-back tests that were designed to challenge and grade them individually and as a partnership. Extended foot marches, land navigation, and Ranger-specific tasks were laid out for the entire weekend, with some events being open for friends and family members to spectate.
Each Best Ranger event is set up with 50 teams of participants who take on an array of events, which vary from year to year. Each BRC has included aspects of marksmanship, foot marches of 30+ miles (with a 60-lb ruck), military knots, weapons assemblies, obstacle course, land navigation, and water confidence/swim tests.
From its inception, the BRC was meant to place “extreme demands on each buddy team’s physical, mental, technical, and tactical skills as Rangers.” This year did not disappoint.
With no planned sleep, Rangers cover 60 miles while running, shooting, and identifying their way through obstacles; there was also a mystery event, leaving athletes in the dark on how to prepare.
This year’s title went to 1st Lieutenant Vince Paikowski and 1st Lieutenant Alastair Keys. Team 34 landed themselves in the #1 slot at the end of Friday, the first full day of competing, and didn’t budge through the entire event. They finished the final buddy run on Sunday, and were awarded in a final ceremony on Monday, April 19th.
The pair are stationed to the 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning, GA, and return the title back to the 75th for the first time since 2017.
Notable Best Ranger facts
There are 50 teams, but no #13; tradition skips the unlucky number, leaving the last team at #51.
The average Ranger in the BRC is 28 years old, 5’ 10” in height, and weighs 165 pounds.
26% of participants have previously competed.
The most winningest participant of the BRC is CPT Mike Rose, who has won the competitions three separate times (twice with one partner and one with another). His last title was in 2019. Three others have been awarded the BRC twice, all with different partners each time.
Teams turn in an intent to compete and are reviewed by command teams who then review the Rangers. This is done to include a collection of the best, highly trained Ranger-qualified soldiers.
Only a lucky few civilians can boast, “I flew in an F-16,” and Gerard Butler is now one of them. The “300” star flies in the rear cockpit in a video published on the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds’ YouTube channel.
“Oh my god, that’s the best thing I ever did in my life,” Butler says as the pilot pulls him out of an aerial roll. Even for a superstar like Butler the experience is incredible; he even pulled out his iPhone to capture the moment. When asked if he’d had enough for the day he says, “No, I wouldn’t mind pulling more Gs.”
On Jul. 19, 2017, the Air Force posted a request on FedBizOpps, the U.S. government’s contracting opportunities site, looking for price quotes on how much it would cost to acquire 12 each fresh frozen normal human Synovial tissue and Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) samples. So why do they want Russian DNA?
The samples must be free of sexually transmitted diseases and musculoskeletal injuries. The most interesting part was the requirement that all the samples be from Russia and be Caucasian – Ukrainian blood, RNA, and tissue samples will not be accepted. This recently raised a few eyebrows in Russia.
No weapon like this has ever proved to actually exist. So what could the Air Force actually want?
1. They want to solve the Anastasia Romanov mystery.
You know what I mean. If you’re anywhere near the age of 30, chances are good you’ve heard the story of the last Tsar of Russia’s “missing” daughter, Anastasia.
It’s a well-known fact that the Tsar’s Russian Imperial family was murdered by Communists, gunned down, bayoneted, and clubbed in a basement somewhere near Yekaterinburg. Somehow, the story goes, the 17-year-old Duchess survived, escaped, and fled to America. In the intervening years, many women have come forward, claiming to be the lost Anastasia Romanov.
It might be time for the Air Force to settle the mystery once and for all. And maybe find a real claim to the throne. Who loves America.
2. Better digestion.
Have you eaten an MRE lately? Are you still waiting for it to digest? I ate a chicken tetrazzini MRE in 2006 and I’m still upset about it. But do you know who seems like they can digest anything? Russians. Especially Russian soldiers. Look at what they get served in their DFACs.
Yet, the Russian Army still runs on its galvanized steel stomach. Maybe in basic training they’ll stop putting salt peter in the gatorade and switch to hearty Russian gut bacteria.
If you’ve ever spent a day in the U.S. military, you probably know what makes the grass grow. Maybe Russian blood can help the cabbage grow, too.
4. Whatever is happening here.
Seriously, who is this woman from the meme? Is she really Russian? And what purpose will tossing tree trunks serve? Are we planning to invade Scotland and fight on their terms?
5. Seriously, a biological weapon.
It would help immensely to be able to expel ethnic Russians from Ukraine without killing Ukrainians. Or anyone else for that matter. Imagine a war where only the enemy dies.
Except the Russian Army is as genetically diverse as the American Army. Many countries in the former Soviet Union are still very friendly to Russia and fiercely pro-Russian. Non-Russians have joined its military since the days of the Soviet Union.
6. No, really. Trauma research.
Human synovial tissue is an incredibly specific request, judging by my time researching medical things and then asking my pathologist ex-girlfriend what those big words mean.
But the Air Force says, “the supplier originally provided samples from Russia, suitable for the initial group of diseases, the control group of the samples should also be of Russian origin. The goal is the integrity of the study, not the origin (of the samples).”
When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the studios of state-owned media outlet Russia Today in 2013, he reportedly instructed them to break “the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on global information streams.”
It appears he has not forgotten that goal.
Politico reported on Monday that Russian hackers have been posing as attractive women and friending US troops on Facebook to gather intelligence about the military.
These actions are part of a larger Russian strategy aimed at manipulating and extracting intelligence from the US military.
The U.S. military’s online behavior campaign is used to highlight the importance of appropriate conduct online and social media behavior to help eradicate bullying, exploitation and degradation of fellow service members. (Graphic Illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay/Released)
Russia seems to be infiltrating the social media accounts of US troops for at least two reasons, according to Politico.
One, it allows Russia to better glean the activities of the US military through what its troops post online. “Spies understand that a great deal can be discerned about what militaries are up to based on the unclassified behavior of soldiers,” John Bambenek, of Fidelis Cybersecurity, told Politico.
Two, it gives them the chance to make US troops sympathize with Russia by inserting propaganda into their news feeds.
For example, former military contractor Serena Moring told Politico she noticed US service members sharing a link about a Russian soldier who heroically died while fighting ISIS in Syria.
According to the Pravda report, the Russian soldier supposedly called in an airstrike on himself while surrounded by ISIS militants, telling his command, “I don’t want them to take me and parade me, conduct the airstrike, they will make a mockery of me and this uniform. I want to die with dignity and take all these bastards with me.”
While the veracity of the story is unknown, Moring told Politico that US soldiers were sharing it with admiration.
“All of the response from the military guys was like, ‘That is awesome. That’s an epic way to die,'” she told Politico. “It was a very soldier-to-soldier bond that was created through social media.”
Russia is employing these hybrid warfare tactics against many Baltic states as well.
According to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, hybrid warfare are “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, or guerrilla force in a denied area.”
In fact, Kyiv recently outlawed Russian social media sites, which Ukrainian officials said were being used to spread propaganda. Human Rights Watch, however, accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of trying to curb freedom of expression.
Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. was known for his courage and skill on the battlefield in world War II, but he was nearly as well known for his colorful character. He carried ivory-handled pistols, designed his own sword, and once burned a crate of Red Cross cash after he was offered free coffee.
Patton was moving through Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944 with one of his drivers, Francis “Jeep” Sanza. Patton spotted a Red Cross canteen truck and told Sanza to pull over.
The men got out of the Jeep and went to order food. Sanza got two crullers and a coffee, for which he was charged 10 Francs. The Red Cross worker then told Patton that he could have his snack for free. The general became angry that the Red Cross would give him special treatment but still charge his men. He demanded the woman show him the money the Red Cross had collected.
“So she takes out this orange crate filled with money, puts it down on the ground. He took out a lighter, lit one bill, let it burn and then ignited the whole box. Then he took a shovel from the Jeep and buried the ashes.”
Patton seems to have escaped punishment for his outburst, likely because his forces broke through German lines in Bastogne at the end of the same month. His success allowed 101st Airborne Division paratroopers under German siege to escape and pushed the German forces across of the Rhine River.
The U.S. military has a lot of great options when it wants to kill the enemy. Some of the world’s best planes, artillery, and helicopters work with ground pounders to dominate lethal operations.
But when it comes to dealing with crowds, the military wants more options. One of its most promising candidates is the Active Denial Technology system, which focuses a beam of energy to heat the target’s skin 1/64 of an inch deep. It creates a sensation of sudden heat and pain, convincing the target to run.
The GI Film Festival is an annual event that introduces new and established filmmakers that honor the stories of the American Armed Forces.
“From the very beginning, it has been about fostering a positive image for men and women in uniform,” said Brandon Millet, co-founder and director of the GI Film Festival. “We’ve expanded that image to also connecting service members to society given that only one percent serve. We want people to come to the event and be highly entertained and walk away with a greater sense of appreciation for what are men and women in uniform do for us on a daily basis and if we accomplish those two missions we’re happy.”
The GI Film Festival is open to filmmakers of every level, from first-timers to veteran directors and producers. Here’s a short video featuring some of the directors, actors, and producers at the GI Film Festival this year: