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.
DARPA wants Navy SEALs to be more seal-like, so they invented PowerSwim.
“Technically it’s called an oscillating foil propulsion device,” DARPA program manager Jay Lowell says, in a video from DARPA TV. “That’s a really fancy way of saying it’s a wing that helps push a diver through the water.”
The typical swimmer fins are no more than 15 percent efficient in their conversion of human exertion. By contrast, PowerSwim helps divers swim 80 percent more efficient. This dramatic improvement in swimming efficiency will enable a subsurface swimmer to move up to two times faster than what’s currently possible, improving performance, safety, and range, according to DARPA.
The SR-71 is one of the greatest planes ever made and no military jet has beaten or matched its capabilities since it was retired in 1989.
“It’s the world’s fastest, it holds all the speed records, it goes higher than any other airplane in the world,” said retired Air Force Col. Rich Graham in the video below. “It flew across the entire United States in 64 minutes.”
That being said, flying this bird took more than the typical pilot gear and pre-flight preparations. Traveling at 80,000 feet meant that crews could not use a standard mask and flight suit. They wore specialized protective suits and helmets. Every flight was subject to a series of meticulous steps before, during, and after any mission.
Col. Rich Graham is one of the few people who flew the SR-71, and he explains what a typical mission aboard the Blackbird was like in this video.
Dr. Vince Houghton is a U.S. Army veteran and Historian and Curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. He grew up watching and loving the original Star Wars Trilogy. While in the Army, he served in a sort of intelligence role and after leaving the military, he earned a Ph.D. in Intelligence History with a background in diplomatic military history.
Every year on May 4th, he gives a lecture at the museum, making the argument for Star Wars being a series of spy films.
“People always debate about it,” Houghton says. “Is this fantasy, is this sci-fi, is it a western in space? For whatever reason, I’ve always seen it as a spy movie.”
Houghton argues that the backbone of the original trilogy is a spy operation — a story made into the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That story is the catalyst for Star Wars IV: A New Hope, which he sees as a classic spy movie.
“You could replace the death star with V2 or V1 or a German atomic bomb or the Iranian atomic bomb or any kind of scientific and technological intelligence and it becomes a spy movie,” he says. “Strip away all the science fiction and it’s a woman with stolen plans for a weapon trying to get them to a group of guerrillas fighting against this totalitarian empire — it could be the World War II resistance.”
But Houghton takes his argument further.
“With Empire Strikes Back, the whole thing is kicked off by the Empire attempting to use imagery intelligence, their drones, their probes, to locate the secret base of the rebels,” he says. “It’s still an intelligence operation, just a different kind.”
Houghton claims Return of the Jedi is a story based on intelligence gathering and counterintelligence.
“That’s also the catalyst behind Return of the Jedi,” Houghton says. “It’s stealing the plans for the second death star. It turns out, that’s actually a big deception operation — another key issue when it comes to intelligence.”
The Spy Museum Curator is talking about Emperor Palpatine allowing the Rebel Alliance to know the location of the second Death Star. Rebel Bothan spies capture the location and plans for the space station, but it’s a ruse for the Emperor to defeat the Rebel fleet on his chosen battlespace; it was a trap, a classic deception operation designed to hide the true strength of his forces.
“You could go all the way back to Mongolians in this case,” says Houghton. “Genghis Khan did everything from tying brooms to his horses’ tails so it would kick up a lot of dust and make sure it looked like there were thousands of soldiers instead of hundreds.”
In the case of Return of the Jedi, the Emperor’s plan just didn’t work because, you know, it’s Star Wars.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters Dec. 16th. You can catch more of Dr. Vince Houghton on the International Spy Museum’s weekly podcast, Spycast, on iTunes and AudioBoom.
The idea of winning hearts and minds dates back decades. Higher command believes that if allied forces do favors for and give material gifts to the enemy, they’ll be influenced by the acts of kindness and, perhaps, change their way of thinking.
Since that plan rarely works, many ground troops will appeal to the enemies’ children, thinking they can steer them over to the good side while they’re impressionable. In America, the idea of strange men giving candy to little kids is reprehensible, but on deployment, it’s cool.
However, in a country like Afghanistan, where most of the population is dirt poor, little kids have no problem with walking up to a patrol and asking an infantryman for “chocolate,” which means they’ll take any candy you have.
Sure, the kids usually have good intentions, but there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t give them those sugary snacks from your MRE.
It might piss off their parents
Some Afghan parents don’t want their kids socializing with American troops because they don’t want the bad guys to see it happening — or they just flat-out hate America.
The last thing a grunt wants to hear is a potential Taliban member screaming at them.
What if the kids have allergies?
Some kids are allergic to chocolate, coconuts, or peanuts — and you can be sure that they won’t read the nutritional facts to see what’s in the small treat you gave them. Most of the kids think all candy is called chocolate and they want that piece you have stowed away in your cargo pocket. Once they get it, they just pop it in their mouth.
If they eat that bite-sized Snickers bar you gave them, suddenly go into anaphylactic shock, and their airway closes, you’ve just made the local populous even more pissed off than they already are at you for being in their country.
A friendship going bad
Grunts are people, too, and they have one or two strands of humanity floating around in their bloodstreams — somewhere. Frequently, the infantryman will notice a little kid who reminds him of someone back home. In this moment, they might “bro down” a little and give them some candy.
However, Marines wear dump pouches that they use to put things in, like empty magazines or extra bottles of water. There could be a time where their new little friend sneaks up to them, discreetly steals something out of the dump pouch (or puts a ticking grenade in there) and takes off running.
That troop could die because he trusted that little sh*t. We’re speaking from experience here.
They might sell it for drugs
Countless kids we encountered on patrol while in Afghanistan were high off their asses. They were entertaining as hell, yes, but doped out of their minds. It’s possible that the piece of candy you gave them was what they need to sell to get the cash to buy their next fix.
We could put a photo of some Afghan kids getting lit below, but this article isn’t supposed to depress anyone… right?
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:
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan — and many people who have trained at sandy places like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California — know about the beautiful halo of light that surrounds helicopter blades at night when the air is full of dust.
What most people don’t know is that photojournalist and Special Forces veteran Michael Yon learned that these halos didn’t have a name and so decided to give them one. He chose to honor two soldiers, an American and a Brit who died from wounds suffered in Afghanistan in 2009.
Hitler’s engineers developed some of the most ambitious projects and produced sophisticated technology decades ahead of its time. But not everything was a tank, airplane, or some other heavy machinery. Nazi scientists also tinkered with biological weapons, super soldiers, mind control and even finance.
Here are 10 of craziest Nazi plans for world domination, according to Alltime10s.
On February 2, 2020, the Air Force announced a new evaluation system for its senior enlisted airmen and officers. E-7 through E-9 and O-1 though O-6 personnel will be graded on 10 Airman Leadership Qualities focused on character and competence. According to the Air Force, the 10 ALQs are categorized under four major performance areas which coincide with both the major graded areas of the Air Force Unit Effectiveness Inspection program and the language used to describe expected performance factors provided to promotion boards. Arguably the most interesting aspect of the new form is that it is optional.
“We designed the addendum to be used in conjunction with the primary Airman Comprehensive Assessment form to serve as a guide for raters to help facilitate actionable discussions during feedback that incorporate the Airman leadership qualities,” said Air Force Talent Management Innovation Cell Director Col. Laura King. Following initial release, the service will collect and implement feedback from commanders to rework and finalize the ALQs and the evaluation system as a whole.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass noted that the new system is in its infancy. “This is just the beginning stages of constructing a system that clearly defines the qualities we value and need in our Airmen,” Bass said. “The synergy between the officer and enlisted evaluation systems is a huge win for how we develop our Airmen to build the Air Force our nation needs.”
The four major performance areas and 10 ALQs of the new evaluation system are broken down as follows:
Executing the Mission
Job Proficiency: Demonstrates knowledge and professional skill in assigned duties, achieving positive results and impact in support of the mission.
Initiative: Assesses and takes independent or directed action to complete a task or mission that influences the mission or organization.
Adaptability: Adjusts to changing conditions, to include plans, information, processes, requirements and obstacles in accomplishing the mission.
Inclusion and Teamwork: Collaborates effectively with others to achieve an inclusive climate in pursuit of a common goal or to complete a task or mission.
Emotional Intelligence: Exercises self-awareness, manages their own emotions effectively; demonstrates an understanding of others’ emotions, and appropriately manages relationships.
Communication: Articulates information in a clear and timely manner, both verbally and non-verbally, through active listening and messaging tailored to the appropriate audience.
Stewardship: Demonstrates responsible management of assigned resources, which may include time, equipment, people, funds and/or facilities.
Accountability: Takes responsibility for the actions and behaviors of self and/or team; demonstrates reliability and transparency.
Improving the Unit
Decision Making: Makes well-informed, effective and timely decisions under one’s control that weigh constraints, risks, and benefits.
Innovation: Thinks creatively about different ways to solve problems, implements improvements and demonstrates calculated risk-taking.
As the Air Force revamps its evaluation system following these 10 ALQs, leaders are encouraged to “use it to the maximum extent practical” according to a service press release. That said, if you have to pester your leadership for an evaluation, try not to do it to such an extent that you wind up on their bad side.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The US-led annual multinational military exercise Cobra Gold kicked off in Thailand on Monday, despite a faltering relationship between the two countries following Thailand’s military coup in May 2014.
Cobra Gold 2015 is scaled down due compared to past years because of the frosty relations between Thailand’s ruling military junta and the US. But it’s still a massive military exercise even in a reduced form. This year 13,000 personnel from 7 participating nations have joined in the exercises, the AP reports.
The participant countries are Thailand, the United States, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Malaysia, while India and China are taking part in humanitarian training missions. Even though the exercise is smaller than in the past, the scope of Cobra Gold has grown since the first one was held in 1982 and involved only the US and Thailand.
Exercises in Cobra Gold 2015 include jungle survival training and civic assistance programs in underdeveloped regions of Thailand.
Survival training is a big part of Cobra Gold. Thai Marines demonstrate how to capture a cobra in the wild.
US Marines then help decapitate the cobra and take turns drinking its blood. Cobra blood is surprisingly hydrating and can be used as a temporary replacement for water if a Marine is lost without supplies.
Thai Marines also teach their counterparts how to recognize edible jungle fruits.
Like cobra blood, several of the fruits can serve as an improvised source of hydration.
Marines are also instructed in the proper way to eat scorpions and spiders. Spiders are eaten after their fangs are ripped off, while scorpions are edible once the stinger is removed.
Aside from survival lessons, participant countries also take part in construction projects to build greater regional cooperation in the event of disasters like typhoons or plane crashes. Here, Chinese and US soldiers work together to build a school as part of Cobra Gold 2015.
How does a runner on second know when he should steal third? Does a batter automatically know when to bunt? When does a quarterback call an audible – and how can he communicate that play without the other team knowing just what he saw in their defense? Hand signals and codes are simple ciphers designed to communicate a simple message. It’s no different from what intelligence agents have been doing since days of Julius Caesar.
Sports teams have been using encrypted signals since before World War I. Most famously, the 1951 Giants put a man with a telescope in center field to read the opposing teams calls and signals. The Giants overcame an almost 14-game deficit that year to force a playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers. From the Giants’ center field manager’s office, coach Herman Franks relayed the opposite teams’ signs to the bullpen using an electric buzzer system. The catcher’s call would then be relayed to the batter.
The scheme was simple intelligence tradecraft.
“These are simple messages being sent,” says Dr. Vince Houghton, the curator and historian of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. “They take a basic step of encryption, the way an army encrypts tactical plans to attack or defend. You can let the enemy know what you’re going to do next, so you can’t send these messages in the clear.”
The reason the ’51 Giants encrypted their signals was the same reason they climbed back into the playoffs: unencrypted messages were easy to intercept, which made it so their hitters knew what the pitcher would do, giving them a huge advantage.
The relationship between sports cryptography and the military can go the other way, too. In Vietnam, Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton was shot down in an EB-66 near the North-South Vietnam Demilitarized Zone. This was literally the worst situation for military intelligence. Hambleton not only had the intelligence vital to the Vietnam War, but the U.S. military’s entire Cold War-World War III contingency plans. If he was captured by the North Vietnamese, they would be able to give the Soviets the entire Strategic Air Command war plans.
Hambleton survived and the NVA knew exactly how valuable he was. While looking for extraction, he had to evade the NVA patrols looking for him while making his way to the rescue area. The problem was he had to be told how to get there over the radio – and an unencrypted radio was all he had.
Knowing Hambleton was crazy about golf – perhaps the best in the U.S. Air Force – the military fed him the info he needed to move using a simple substitution cypher. It took Hambleton a half-hour to figure out what they were doing.
“Instead of telling him to move south 100 meters, they would tell him to walk the first hole on Pebble Beach,” says Dr. Houghton. “He was tracked by using descriptions of golf course holes he knew well.”
Other codes included playing 18 holes, starting on No. 1 at Tucson National.
“They were giving me distance and direction,” Hambleton later explained. “No. 1 at Tucson National is 408 yards running southeast. They wanted me to move southeast 400 yards. The ‘course’ would lead me to water.”
Unlike using a radio, sports code has to be done in plain sight — that’s where the hand signals come in to play.
For tickets to visit the exhibits and see the largest collection of espionage-related artifacts ever placed on public display, visit https://www.spymuseum.org/tickets/. Also, there’s a $6.00 military discount!