The Air Force took steps to relax the military’s current stance on transgender men and women serving in uniform earlier this month, by requiring a higher authority to authorize discharges for enlisted transgender airmen and airmen who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, according to a news release.
Openly transgender Senior Airman Logan Ireland hopes that this decision will eventually allow transgender servicemen and women to serve openly without the risk of involuntary separation, despite the fact that the Air Force policy itself has not changed .
Ireland joined the Air Force as a woman in 2010, and was featured in “Transgender, at War and in Love,” a documentary short exploring his relationship with fiancee and transgender soldier Laila Villanueva.
“Day in and day out, you’re constantly worried about a discharge…so every day when I put on my boots and strap on my gun and duty belt, I’m at risk for a discharge — and that’s the least of my worries in my personal job. No one should have to worry about that day in and day out. “
Bryan Sperry left college football at Kansas State to serve in World War II. At 19, he was an infantryman in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, Sperry returned to the game. He played football in England for a short period before making it back to the states and playing for Kansas University. He and the KU team went on to play in the 1948 Orange Bowl and only lost one game, the Orange Bowl, that whole season.
On April 25, KU held an alumni scrimmage with players from the 1948 team and Sperry, 70 years after his last KU appearance, scored an over 30-yard touchdown. The video of the touchdown is below. For the full story, check out the article in the Kansas City Star.
Each year, this five-day intensive training program, also known as Cool School, teaches over 700 servicemembers the survival skills necessary to fight back against nature and survive in the Arctic.
“Mother nature does not like you in this situation,” Survival Instructor Staff Sgt. Seth Reab, tells his students in the morning freeze. “She’s violent. She’s harsh. Your job is to survive until help comes; her job is to find a way to take your life.”
The Air Force’s Cool School, which brings in more than 700 participants every year across all service branches, takes place outside Eielson Air Force Base, deep inside Alaska. Temperatures average about 30 degrees below zero.
At the start of the course, all participants are given the emergency equipment they would have depending upon what plane they would be flying.
The emergency equipment usually works. But everything else in the Arctic will try to kill the participants. This includes subzero temperatures …
… and even dehydration. Despite the abundance of snow, it is extremely difficult to drink enough water under harsh Arctic conditions.
One of the first things students are taught is to harvest snow in parachutes, in order to melt it down for water.
This supply of snow can then be moved into tin cans, in which the snow can be mixed until it melts enough to easily drink.
Warmth is just as important as water. Students are taught to find tender wood with which to build a fire.
In Cool School, students are taught the ideal way to split wood into longer thin splints that will burn more easily and evenly.
Servicemembers learn to create sparks with a metal match. Though somewhat antiquated, metal matches can be used indefinitely.
Once students create a fire, it can be used for signaling, heat, and food preparation.
Students also learn more basic practical skills — they have to change socks in order to keep feet dry so as to avoid hypothermia.
On the first night of school, students are taught to create open primitive shelters that provide little insulation from the elements.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Reimer unpacks his duffle bag during the first night of arctic field training near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The course is five days in duration with instruction in familiarization with the arctic environment, medical, personal protection, sustenance and signaling. Reimer is an explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron
During the second day, instructors teach students to make more complex A-frame shelters out of wood and a parachute or tarp.
Airman 1st Class Ray Simon prepares the cover for his thermalized A-frame shelter during arctic survival training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The A-frame shelter is designed to keep the survivor warm and dry to endure harsh arctic nights. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief.
The A-frame is then covered with almost a foot of snow to provide insulation.
Airman 1st Class Ray Simon looks out of his thermalized A-frame tent during Arctic Survival School training. The thermalized A-frame is designed to keep survivors warm and dry in arctic environments. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief and also a member of a crash disable damage recovery team responsible for retrieving downed aircraft in emergency situations.
Another vital principle of survival students learn is how to create an effective signal fire by placing a flare inside a base of kindling and smoke-generating tree limbs.
Staff Sgt. Seth Reab ignites a flare in the middle of tender wood to create a smoke signal during a field training lesson at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The signal flare can be seen for up to 10 miles away and much further when rescue help is coming through the air. Reab is an Air Force Arctic Survival School instructor assigned to Det. 1, 66th Training Squadron at Eielson AFB.
Next to the smoke signal, students create a giant letter ‘V’ to alert passing pilots that they are in need of rescue.
You can watch a recap of the Arctic Survival School below.
Without an immediately adjacent staging area from which to launch an invasion American and its allies will have to build up forces in the region once a fight comes. This means that for the first time since World War II, American troops will have to invade a country from over the horizon.
The Fifth Fleet, based at NSA Bahrain, would have the initial task of fighting off Iranian naval forces. With Tehran’s limited power projection this would be the largest impediment to building up forces near Iran.
With the natural bottleneck at the Strait of Hormuz, this is likely where the Iranian’s would make their stand. Iran’s conventional navy has little means of dealing with the powerful American fleet. Bested by America before, they would likely suffer a second ignominious defeat.
The real naval threat comes from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Navy. The IRGC has procured numerous agile speedboats armed with ship-killing missiles. Manned by fanatical defenders of the Islamic Republic of Iran their mission is to swarm a hostile force, unleashing a barrage of missiles, and hoping to score a victory with sheer numbers.
While the U.S. Navy will not emerge unscathed, their force of destroyers and patrol ships will utterly destroy the threat. Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems will deal with many of the missiles, though there is likely to be extensive damage to some ships. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft will blow the boats not caught in the hellfire out of the water.
Those aircraft will also be actively engaging the Iranian Air Force as the battle for air superiority begins. Heavily outnumbered the planes will also have to rely on the anti-aircraft capabilities of the Navy ships below.
The Air Force will divert planes already operating in the area while other squadrons proceed to friendly bases within range of the fight. The Air Force’s B-52 and B-2 bomber forces will also begin flying strikes against critical Iranian infrastructure, particularly Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
While this fight rages over the Persian Gulf, ground forces will begin deploying to fight. The 82nd Airborne will have the Global Response Force wheels up in 18 hours though they will not immediately jump into action. The rest of the division will soon follow.
The Marines will look to I Marine Expeditionary Force to be the backbone of their fighting capability. Elements of the III Marine Expeditionary Force will bolster this force.
As the buildup of ground forces continues, and as the Navy eradicates Iranian naval resistance, Marine Raiders and Navy SEALs – supported by Marine infantry – will assault and reduce Iranian naval forces on several islands in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. This will clear the way for the invasion fleet to strike.
Launching from bases in Kuwait and Bahrain the invasion fleet will then steam towards the port of Shahid Rejeai, adjacent to the city of Bandar Abbas. Striking here will allow for the capture of a large port facility while simultaneously conducting a decapitation strike against the Iranian Navy headquartered at Bandar Abbas.
Prior to the landings at the port itself, Army Rangers supported by a brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division will conduct a parachute assault on Bandar Abbas International Airport in order to establish an airhead.
The remaining two brigades of the 82nd will secure the flanks of the invasion against counterattack by conducting parachute assaults onto critical road junctions and bridges.
At dawn, the Marines will spearhead the assault. The Marines’ armor will be critical in supporting the light infantry forces as they storm ashore to capture facilities for follow-on armor. Staged on numerous ships offshore Navy and Marine helicopters will carry troops in air assaults against positions while others land ashore in landing craft and AAVs.
By evening, armored units aboard roll-on/roll-off ships will be unloading in the ports while Marine units will have driven forward to link up with the paratroopers. Light infantry and Stryker forces will be airlanding at the recently secured airport.
With the beachhead established the invasion force will launch a massive sustained drive on Tehran. While an armored thrust storms up highway 71, the 101st Airborne, held in reserve until now, will conduct an air assault from NSA Bahrain onto Bushehr airport to open the way toward Shiraz, an important military city.
The Iranian military, long-suffering from embargoes and sanctions lacks the technology and wherewithal to put up serious resistance. Iranian armor will lay smoldering in the wake of American firepower.
The largest threat will come from the irregular forces of the IRGC and the Islamic militias, or Basij, which are prepared to defend Iran to the death. However, after years of counterinsurgency operations American forces will be ready to defend against such threats.
Light infantry and Special Forces will capture Shiraz eliminating a serious threat and providing a logistical support base for continued operations. Other special operations forces will be operating throughout Iran to bolster friendly forces.
The long supply line from Bandar Abbas to the front lines will mean the 82nd Airborne will be busy capturing more air bases to bring in more troops and sustain the prolonged ground assault.
Eventually, all necessary forces will be positioned around Tehran for a final push to destroy the Ayatollah’s regime. Thunder runs and air assaults will criss-cross the city as American and allied forces seek to drive out the last remnants of resistance.
With the Ayatollah deposed and victory declared American forces will settle in for a nation-building campaign while a new government gains its strength.
The Air Force‘s Airman Battle Uniform is getting its official send-off. On Thursday, airmen will be required to retire their old “Tiger Stripe” camouflage for good and switch to the Operational Camouflage Uniform, or OCP. The service has spent three years phasing in the Army‘s service duty uniform.
The Air Force approved the OCP to be worn full-time beginning Oct. 1, 2018, with the expectation that all airmen and Space Force guardians would make the complete changeover by April 1, 2021, after wearing the Airman Battle Uniform, or ABU, for more than a decade.
The OCP already has a history with the service.
Since 2012, nearly 100,000 airmen have worn the uniform when deployed overseas to places like Afghanistan or while operating outside the wire, Maj. Gen. Robert LaBrutta, then-Air Force director of Military Force Management Policy and deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, said in 2018. LaBrutta retired in 2019.
Air Force Special Operations Command members were some of the first to don the OCP, along with some Security Forces units, LaBrutta said at the time.
Service member feedback played a big role in the decision to switch to the OCP, top officials have said. Airmen have expressed on social media that moving to a single combat uniform for the service couldn’t come soon enough.
In 2013, The Washington Post reported that there were 10 different types of military camouflage uniforms in use, depending on service and where troops were stationed.
The ABU’s “tiger stripe” pattern was supposed to pay homage to camouflage used during the Vietnam War, according to the Post.
But early iterations “looked slightly off” from one uniform to the next, with multiple shades making up the pattern, according to Master Sgt. Mike Smith, who wrote a farewell tribute to the ABU earlier this year. Smith serves at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee.
“Not since leisure suit wearers were cool has an outfit been so disliked and oppositely loved,” he said in a release. “One opponent compared its camouflage design to an over-patterned couch; another advocate hailed its unique ability to channel the wind down her sleeves, from one arm to the other while driving down the road — she will miss that.”
Airmen at the Tennessee base got together to say goodbye to the ABU one last time March 29, taking selfies in the tiger stripe.
“We’ve come a long way in this uniform, here and deployed,” said Chief Master Sgt. Steven Durrance, the enlisted professional military education center commandant at McGhee Tyson.
“It’s important to capture this moment and take time for our heritage, who we are, and where we come from,” he said in a separate release.
The service will donate leftover uniform gear associated with the ABU to junior ROTC programs across the country, service officials have previously said.
Last month Evander Holyfield turned 53, but instead of swimming in birthday gifts, it was he who was doing the giving. The former heavyweight boxing champ teamed up with Don Mann, a former Navy SEAL Team 6 member and founder of Frogman Charities, to raise $1,000,000 for SEAL veterans and their families.
The non-profit’s mission is to register participants for a self-paced 5K of either walking, running, biking, or paddling and making a donation.
“They get a medal, award, certificate, and the money goes to support these charities among the SEAL organizations,” Mann said in the NBC video below. “These charities support the active duty folks with PTSD or combat-related injuries and wounds. It supports families who’ve lost husbands and fathers.”
The former champ didn’t just decide to support these charities out of the blue, it turns out his father was a veteran and joining the Navy was plan B if his boxing career didn’t take off.
The MTV Music Video Awards was filled with stars that support the military. Our hosts, Marine Corps veteran Weston Scott and Air Force veteran Skye P. Marshall ran into Tito Ortiz, Kool Mo Dee, Jasmine Villegas and more.
We asked our celebrity supporters to snap to attention and give us their best salute, here’s how they fared:
Apple’s biggest smartphone competitor also makes tanks, self-propelled howitzers, and jet engines.
Billed as promoting peace and stability, Samsung Techwin is the South Korean manufacturer’s defense branch. It makes surveillance, aeronautics, automation, and weapons technology. Since its launch into the defense industry in 1983, Samsung Techwin has developed and produced artillery systems like the 155mm self-propelled Howitzer M109A2, K9 Thunder, K10 ammunition resupply vehicle, fire directions center vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles and other weapons, according to Samsung.
Samsung Techwin’s flagship K9 is currently used by Poland, Turkey, and South Korea. Watch its impressive agility at 3:40 in the video below. The K9 becomes even more impressive when combined with the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle (5:00). The K10 pulls up behind the K9 and automatically feeds more ammunition into the K9, eliminating the need of resupplying the vehicle by hand, which minimizes the risk of troop exposure. Together they create an automated weapons system for the field.
Samsung Techwin is just one subsidiary of the 80 businesses the tech giant is involved in.
Here’s a video of Samsung Techwin’s defense program:
The days of the United States staring down the evil empire of the Soviet Union are long passed. Today, Russia is a Wal-Mart version of its former self, and it shows. Although it may seem like a military or strategic powerhouse, it’s ability to project real power is seriously limited.
In the bygone Russian heyday, the communist threat loomed large. It was a threat that was enough to make the United States – the only other global superpower – limit its wars and interventions for fear of sparking another world war.
Today, Russia’s biggest threat comes in the form of either bungled poisonings of former Soviet-era operatives and dissidents, election interference, and hacking corporate software that allowed it to collect intelligence on government email servers.
While the SolarWinds hack was definitely threatening and potentially disastrous, it’s not really the great power struggles we’ve come to expect from an increasingly belligerent Russia. In real terms, according to the RAND Corporation, Russia isn’t really able to make a significant threat to forces on the ground… Unless you happen to be within arms reach.
In a March 2021 blog post, the RAND Corporation’s Molly Dunigan and Ben Connable wrote that Russia’s ability to project power on the ground has actually become a strategic vulnerability, and one the Biden Administration could exploit, if it chose to do so.
“It has almost no organic ability to project and sustain ground power more than a few hundred kilometers beyond its own borders. Russian strategic lift is anemic compared to Soviet-era lift. Available forces are often tied down in one of the many frozen conflicts that ring Russia’s western and southern borders,” they write.
The conflicts they are referring to are most notably the Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War and backing separatist rebels in Ukraine.
Russia, they posit, depends on an army full of drafted Russians who are serving one-year enlistments, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decreed that drafted Russians will never be deployed outside of Russia. Those forces make up around half of Russia’s total ground force.
Instead of using its drafted army to project power, Russia instead uses companies that provide military services, some might call them “mercenaries” to reach its foreign policy goals in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen, Burundi, and elsewhere.
Russia will contend that its use of mercenaries alongside its special operations and conventional forces allows it to compete with the United States, Dunigan and Connablle wrote, but that narrative is counterfactual. Such a force actually squared off against a force of United States special operators and Kurdish SDF fighters in Khasham, Syria in 2018. The fight did not go well for the Russians, their mercenaries, and their Syrian allies.
500 Russian, Syrian, and Shia Militiamen with T-72 and T-55 tanks hit a base of 40 special forces troops, backed by United States Marine Corps artillery, U.S. Air Force “Spooky” gunships, and more firepower were quickly routed in Khasham, losing a quarter of the attacking force in the firefight. It wasn’t even close.
Rather than bolstering the Russian military on the ground, the mercenaries are instead an example in the decline of the former Soviet Union’s ground force, indicative of its increasing dependence on small, special operations missions and sneaky espionage tactics. But these too are things the United States will have to learn to counter as Russia’s skills with them grow.
The Armata is billed as Russia’s deadliest battle tank and is based on a universal combat platform that serves as the chassis for other military vehicles.
The first configuration, the T-14, has a heavily armored hull and a 125-mm cannon.
T-14 Armata, Wikimedia
The second configuration is an infantry fighting vehicle with a smaller, 30-mm cannon and is called the BMP Armata, or T-15.
The third configuration has a crane instead of a cannon and is the Armored Repair-Evacuation Vehicle, or T-16. It is used to recover damaged armored vehicles and tanks.
The Armata platform has been under development since 2009 and began trials in Feb. 2015. Large deliveries of the tank will start in 2017 or 2018, according to Interfax. Here is the latest video showing the capabilities of the tank, including shots of its interior.
Heat, smoke, and that loud “wop-wop” sound make helicopters easy targets on the battlefield. For these reasons, helicopters make the unlikeliest candidates for stealth technology. But during the 1990s and early 2000s, Boeing-Sikorsky challenged that notion with the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.
The Light Helicopter Experimental program is the brainchild of the U.S. Army. It charged Boeing-Sikorsky with developing armed reconnaissance and attack helicopters. The result incorporated stealth technologies that minimized radar and human detection. It used advanced sensors for reconnaissance intended to designate targets for the AH-64 Apache. The helicopter was also armed to the teeth with tucked away missiles and rockets to destroy armed vehicles. Two prototypes were built and tested but the project was ultimately canceled in 2004.