US Navy ships that take brutal hits often don’t return, but every once in awhile they bounce back from the damage.
James Lawrence said, “don’t give up the ship” during the last fight of USS Chesapeake in 1813, and those words were emblazoned on Oliver Hazard Perry’s battle flag during the U.S. Navy’s decisive victory in the Battle of Lake Erie. That sentiment has proved to be very wise on the fighting seas since then. While the damage done to HSV-2 Swift in a recent attack looks bad, some US Navy ships have taken much worse and returned to active service.
Here are 5 examples:
1. USS San Francisco (SSN 711)
In the early morning hours of January 8, 2005, the fast attack submarine collided with a seamount that was not labeled on the charts the crew was using, suffering severe damage to the bow and killing one crew member and injuring 98 others. Despite the horrific-looking damage, San Francisco was repaired and will stay in the undersea inventory until sometime next year.
2. USS Cole (DDG 67)
On October 12, 2000, two Islamic militants detonated as much as 700 pounds of explosive against the hull of the vessel. Seventeen sailors were killed, 39 injured. The Cole suffered a 40-by-60-foot gash in the port hull and suffered some flooding. Despite the damage, the frigate was back in service in less than three years, and today is part of the fleet.
3. USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) ship
The USS Samuel B. Roberts came close to sinking after hitting an Iranian mine on April 14, 1988. The mine’s explosion damaged the ship’s keel, “breaking her back,” and threw the LM2500 gas turbine engines off their mounts. The ship was carried back to the United States for repairs and returned to service, sticking around for another 27 years after the attack.
4. USS Stark (FFG 31)
USS Stark also came back from horrific damage. On May 17, 1987, the frigate was hit by two AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles fired by an Iraqi jet (reports disagree as to whether it was a Mirage F1 or a Dassault Falcon). The two hits killed 37 sailors and wounded 21 more. The Stark managed to get back to the United States for repairs and remained part of the fleet until 1999.
5. USS Laffey (DD 724) ship
World War II offers some classic stories of ships that came back. USS Laffey (DD 724) is the most notable, having survived four bomb hits and six kamikazes. Laffey not only survived but went on to serve with the United States during the Korean War and stayed in service until 1975. The destroyer eventually became a museum in South Carolina.
The wisdom of James Lawrence’s final command is readily apparent. The history of these five ships should rebut those who think the Swift’s had it.
At the pointy end of the spear (and in the rear with the gear) there are official nomenclatures that you’ll find on procurement documents and supply forms and then there are the names that troops really use to identify something. Here are 37 nicknames that fleet players use to refer to the some of the stuff they use every day:
1. 100-mph tape
Basically, duct tape. Oddly enough, the tape called duck tape, duct tape, and 100-mph tape was supposedly named duck tape by American troops in WWII. When Duck Tape became a registered trademark, the military had to start using a different name for it in manuals and publications. 100-mph tape was substituted, but the actual tape is the same.
2. 30 mike-mike
The 30mm grenade launcher or the ammunition that it fires, most commonly used to refer to the cannon on an Apache helicopter or an A-10 attack plane. Another version of this is 40 mike-mike, referring to a 40mm grenade launcher, like the M320 or Mark-19, or the ammunition those weapons fire.
A large truck used to move supplies and troops. It is commonly misreported that the 5-ton (10,000 lb.) nickname comes from the weight of the truck, but it’s actually the cargo weight the vehicle is rated to carry in off-road conditions. Most of the trucks that have carried the nickname have actually weighed over 10 tons.
The large backpack troops carry in the field. Alice and Molle are both named for the acronym that described a specific generation of the equipment. ALICE stood for all-purpose, lightweight individual carrying equipment. MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. Ruck is simply short for rucksack.
A military asset with a lot of firepower, generally referring to armored vehicles or tanks.
7. Birth control glasses (“BCGs”)
Glasses given out in basic training that were nearly impossible to look attractive in. Designated the S9, the frames were dropped in 2012 for the 5A, frames with a slimmer, more contemporary look.
A weapon, most commonly an M4 or M16. This nickname is generally used by someone trying to sound stupid for comedic effect.
Camouflage uniform for blending into the environment.
Pronounced “chew,” CHU is an acronym for containerized housing unit. CHUs are shipping containers that are built to be shipped on trains and boats like normal cargo, but can be quickly converted into living areas on arrival at a base.
A truck designed to carry at least 2.5 tons (5,000 lb.) of cargo. The first truck to carry the designation was the GMC CCKW. The current deuce-and-a-half, the M35, is being replaced by the family of medium tactical vehicles. The FMTV has different models, but only one will continue the legacy of the “deuce and a half,” all other variants will carry 5 tons or more.
12. Donkey Dick
A flexible spout that can be screwed onto a gasoline can, especially the 5-gallon jug most commonly carried by military vehicles.
A shovel. The official term for the foldable shovel troops carry is an “entrenching tool.”
14. Fart sack
For Marines and soldiers, this is most commonly used to refer to sleeping bags. The Air Force will also use this term to refer to flight suits.
15. Fast mover
A jet, especially one that is providing close air support.
16. Full battle rattle
All combat equipment assigned to a service member. When troops are told to get into full battle rattle, it typically includes body armor, helmet, knees and elbow pads, ballistic glasses, ear plugs, gloves, weapons, and load carrying equipment.
17. Green Ivan
Pop-up targets used at ranges to test marksmanship. Green Ivans are made of shaped green plastic in the rough shape of a soldier complete with helmet and rifle.
18. Hangar queen
An aircraft in the maintenance area that is being used for parts.
A shelter. While “hooch” is sometimes used to refer to a service member’s room in a building, it is most commonly used to mean a small tent, sometimes improvised from items like tarps or ponchos.
20. Hook-and-loop tape
Commonly called Velcro. Like 100-mph tape, this term is used because Velcro is trademarked. The fasteners work by pushing together two pieces of cloth or plastic tape, one covered in tiny plastic hooks and one covered in tiny loops of thread or plastic. The hooks sink into the loops and hold fast.
Most service members use JDAM to refer to a GPS-guided, large bomb dropped from a plane, but it is more accurately a kit attached to the bomb. JDAM stands for joint direct attack munition, and it is a kit that combines GPS and a inertial guidance systems. The kit is attached to bombs between 500 and 2,000 lb. that do not have built-in guidance systems. The JDAM kit can guide the bomb to within a few meters of designated GPS coordinates.
A utility and combat knife used by service members since WWII, most famously the Marine Corps. “Ka-bar” is used to refer to any knife of the correct style, but it’s most properly used to refer to the original knife made by KA-BAR, a knife company based out of Olean, New York.
23. Kevlar/Steel pot
A helmet. Both nicknames are in current circulation, but U.S. helmets have not been made of steel since the early 1980s. Kevlar fibers were originally used in the PASGT helmet and are still a major component of the current helmet, the advanced combat helmet (ACH).
Nicknames for the M2, .50-cal. machine gun. “Mah-deuce” refers to the M2 nomenclature while “fitty” is a deliberate mispronunciation of the weapons caliber.
A flashlight. This nickname is most commonly used in the Marine Corps.
Gear used to protect troops from chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks. MOPP is an acronym for mission oriented protective posture.
Night vision devices. NOD is an acronym for night optic devices. NVG is an initialism that stands for night vision goggles. The nicknames are used interchangeably by troops.
A derogatory name for flight suits due to the suits’ visual similarity to onesie pajamas. The suits are a single-piece coverall that zips up the front.
Originally referred to the M60 machine gun, a 7.62mm machine gun that served in every branch of the armed forces. It was most famously used by ground troops in Vietnam. The M60 has been replaced by the M240, but the “Pig” is a legend even among troops who have never seen one.
30. SAPI plate
The armored plates that go into modern body armor. SAPI is an acronym that stands for “small arms protective insert.” The plates can stop 7.62mm or smaller rounds but are surprisingly susceptible to damage from drops of even a few feet.
31. Snivel gear
Cold weather gear worn by service members in uniform. Snivel gear is famously issued in a variety of styles with many being banned from wear. “Poly pros” and “waffle tops” are long underwear that, along with gloves, troops are generally allowed to wear. Other items, like most outer jackets, face coverings, or hats, are issued, but troops are seldom allowed to wear them.
32. Canopy/streamer/cigarette roll
A parachute. “Canopy” refers to an open parachute. “Streamers” and “cigarette rolls” are parachutes that have malfunctioned, deploying from the pack but not inflating with air. Senior paratroopers will sometimes refer to a newer jumper’s chute as a streamer or cigarette roll in order to make the jumper nervous by implying that the chute will malfunction.
A mop. This term is most commonly used by the U.S. Navy.
The crash crane on a U.S. Navy carrier to move damaged planes on the flight deck.
35. Tootsie roll
An artillery or mortar round. These rounds are transported in black cardboard tubes that resemble massive tootsie rolls.
36. Water buffalo
A large container for water. Though it is sometimes used to refer to bladders used for water storage on forward bases, the term is most commonly used for water tanks on trailers pulled behind military trucks.
37. Willy Pete
White phosphorous, which can be used for two purposes. First, as a smoke screen to protect friendly troops from observation. Since the smoke is extremely flammable, WP’s second use is to destroy enemy equipment or kill massed troops. Multiple white phosphorous round are dropped in the target area and, once the smoke has spread, a high explosive round is dropped to detonate the white phosphorous. This tactic is referred to as “shake-and-bake” or “Willy Pete plus H.E.” It’s use is limited by international agreements.
The Pentagon. That big, awkwardly shaped building that is the epicenter of all military goings-on in our country. Contrary to Hollywood’s portrayal, the Pentagon is not some cool, dimly-lit operations center filled with military folks perpetually in the middle of a life or death operation. Well, I’m sure they have those rooms; I’m just not allowed in them.
No, for the average Pentagon person it’s a really big office building with lots of cipher locks and meeting rooms where policy is laid out and then dissected in excruciating detail, a place where the art of the blind copy on email has no equal. It’s a must tour/assignment for many hoping to advance in their field and, though technically a military installation, it’s miles away from the experience you’ll have when assigned to Ft. Bragg or any other military base.
26,000 people, 17.5 miles of corridors and a rich (and sometimes tragic) history are all a part of what it means to work in “The Building.”
1. When you come off the metro escalator but are not yet in the building.
Some are covered, some are not—it’s a saluting no man’s land where anything goes…until a gung-ho Lieutenant Colonel decides to call you out right before the guard podium because you didn’t salute. Busted.
2. Those hallways, those polished floors.
The burning desire when in the Pentagon early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to run through the halls à la Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club” singing “I wanna be an Airborne Ranger!” at the top of your lungs.
3. The mirage of the uniform shop on the fifth deck.
Sometimes you can find it, sometimes you can’t…usually when you are in desperate need of a frog or a new ribbon rack.
4. The old food service versus the new food service.
Remember when one Burger King had to feed like 5000 people?
5. The Escher-like hallways.
Walk the same way every day and at some point you will find your corridor blocked with a temporary wall because of construction.
6. Flight suits in the Pentagon.
I will never get used to this sight; unless they start parking jets and helos in the parking lot.
7. The sweet, sweet freedom of the “no cover, no salute” center courtyard.
It’s like we’re all equal!
Essential first-day-in-the-Pentagon guidance.
9. The eeriness of accidentally running into an official tour guide practicing in civilian clothes.
Because it’s just weird to see a guy walking backwards talking to himself about military history.
10. The planes.
For anyone who was there on September 11th, the inability to ever get over how low the planes fly when taking off from Reagan.
The look of defeated resignation on the faces of all those folks who would rather be out to sea/in the field/operational.
12. Your first day, when you saw a four star!
And your last day when you barely register that the SECDEF just chatted you up in the line at Starbucks.
Getting a knee injury from having to lean in on the constant curve when running around the teeny-tiny-itty-bitty track at the Pentagon Athletic Center. How many laps around for the PT test? 45 you say? Okay awesome.
14. Forgetting your ID when going to the Pentagon Athletic Center.
(Cue ominous music). Now walk the 20 miles back to your office space to get it out of your computer; unless those ninja-like CAC police have found it first…
Today, militaries all over the world are still pushing technological boundaries. Since the turn of the millennium, weapons featuring a vast range of technical sophistication have proven to be game changers.
Everything from concealed roadside bombs — cheap, primitive, and deadly — to multibillion-dollar aerial lasers have transformed conventional methods of combat and altered the world’s technological and political landscape.
Here are 19 of the most important weapons of the last 15 years.
Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs
America’s largest conventional bomb is precision-guided, 20 feet long, weighs 30,000 pounds, and can blast through underground bunkers.
Boeing’s Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb is designed to pierce 60 feet of reinforced concrete and then detonate 200 feet underground — making no bunker safe.
After the MOP’s first successful test in 2007, the US Air Force ordered an arsenal of these mega-bombs.
In a single widely condemned move, China had militarized outer space. It was a move that might have been inevitable, but whose long-term consequences are startling. If satellites were considered legitimate military targets, attacks could create debris fields that would knock out entire orbits or create chain reactions that might destroy vital communications and global-positioning satellites. Similarly, countries could deploy weapons to outer space capable of destroying terrestrial targets once the global taboo against space warfare is obliterated.
If that alarming worst-case scenario ever comes to pass, future generations could identify the successful 2007 test as the moment that space became a military frontier. The test also displayed China’s eagerness to develop weapons that its rivals would never use — showing how a state can use asymmetrical means to close the gap with it more powerful rivals.
The Navy’s X-47B is a strike-fighter-sized unmanned aircraft with the potential to completely change aerial warfare.
Northrop Grumman’s drone is capable of aerial refueling, 360-degree rolls, and offensive weapon deployment. It’s carried out the first autonomous aerial refueling in aviation history, and has taken off and landed from an aircraft carrier.
It cruises at half the speed of sound, and has a wingspan of 62 feet — as well as a range of at least 2,400 miles, which is more than twice that of the Reaper drone.
The M19 Reaper drone has radically changed the way that the US carries out military operations. First released in 2001, the Reaper drone has been used in surveillance operations and strikes against militants in places ranging from Iraq to Somalia to Pakistan.
Reaper drones are built to be effective at both surveillance and air support. The drones are capable of reading a license plate from over two miles away while at an altitude of 52,000 feet.
The drones can also carry 500-pound bombs and both air-to-ground missiles and air-to-air missiles. Capable of staying airborne for 36 hours, the drone has given the US a remarkable ability to strike targets quickly and quietly around the world — and without risking personnel in the process.
The V-22 Osprey
The V-22 Osprey is a multitask tilt rotor aircraft that has become a staple of the Marine Corps since its introduction into service. The Osprey can take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but it can also travel at speeds approaching that of a fixed-wing plane.
The Osprey originally suffered from several worrisome accidents, including a series of fatal crashes, before it was officially introduced into service in 2007. The plane’s later models have now become absolutely indispensable for the Marines. It has seen use in combat and rescue operations as far afield as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
The Air Force, Navy, and Marines have used the Osprey for almost every conceivable mission. It has been used for troop transport, MEDEVAC missions, supply transport, and aerial delivery; it is also being tested for use as an aerial refueling platform. As it can land vertically, the Osprey is also able to take part in operations normally out of bounds for traditional aircraft, which typically need hundreds of feet of runway space.
Boost-glide hypersonic weapons
Boost-glide hypersonic weapons are the latest arena in which the US and China are competing militarily. Neither country has quite developed a working advanced hypersonic weapon (AHW) prototype, but the two countries both tested their own versions in August 2014.
Boost-glide weapons can hit their targets with unprecedented speed and effectiveness. If they ever become operable, these weapons would be able to deliver weapons payloads while traveling at a velocity five times faster than the speed of sound over a range of several thousand miles.
Boost-glide weapons are capable of traveling on a trajectory that makes them difficult for missile-defense systems to intercept, since those systems are designed to work against the high arc of traditional ballistic missiles. Boost-glide projectiles travel quickly and at a flat angle, working at speeds and trajectories that flummox existing missile defense technologies.
On January 27, the Navy carried out a successful test of a steerable marine-launched Tomahawk missile. Guided by an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the modified missile was able to change directions in flight and hit a moving maritime target.
“This is potentially a game-changing capability for not a lot of cost,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said at the WEST 2015 conference. “It’s a 1,000-mile anti-ship cruise missile.”
The new converted Tomahawks would have a range of almost 1,000 nautical miles, allowing the US to maintain a considerable edge over rival naval powers. On the other side of the Pacific, one of China’s most threatening new military advancements is its development of its own advanced anti-ship cruise missiles. While potentially threatening to US ships, these missiles would have just half the range of the converted Tomahawk.
The most advanced missile system on the planet can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky with a 100% success rate — from a truck, no less.
With its unmatched precision, the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system can equalize conflicts around the world. With its mobility and strategic battery-unit placement, the THAAD can close the gap between mismatched military forces and take away an enemy’s aerial advantage.
Impressively, the THAAD missile does not carry a warhead, instead using pure kinetic energy to deliver “hit-to-kill” lethality to ballistic missiles inside or outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Each launcher carries up to eight missiles and can send multiple kill vehicles, depending on the severity of the threat.
The YAL Airborne Laser Testbed
Weaponized lasers will likely be a feature on the battlefield of the future. Even though only one of the weapons was ever built and the program has been discontinued, the YAL Airborne Laser Testbed was an important proof of concept.
The military decided the YAL was impractical — in order to intercept a missile, the aircraft would have to already be in the air, while the weapon itself was expensive to fabricate, operate, and maintain. Still, it demonstrated that enormous, high-powered lasers could destroy large and fast-moving objects, and do so in midair.
If lasers ever become a feature of aerial combat, it will be because of the precedent of the YAL.
The Laser Weapon System
The Navy’s Laser Weapon System, or LaWS, is a ship-mounted weaponized laser that can burn through enemy targets in less than 30 seconds.
The energy used to deploy a single LaWS laser shot costs approximately $1 compared to the traditional SM-2, a similar surface-to-air system that runs $400,000 per missile.
Earlier this year, Boeing signed a contract with the US Navy to upgrade the current software used on the laser system.
In 2010, a malicious computer program swept through Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Stuxnet caused uranium enrichment centrifuges to inexplicably fail and knocked out as much as 20% of Iran’s enrichment capacity. The computer worm essentially slowed Iran’s nuclear efforts, raising the pressure on Tehran and buying the US and its allies some valuable time to build up international opposition to the country’s program.
Stuxnet was a turning point in the modern history of warfare. It was a state-sponsored hack, a computer program likely built by the US and Israel in order to influence the behavior of a rival government. It arguably worked, to a degree — Iran’s program was slowed; the international community tightened its sanctions regime; the Iranian economy teetered on the brink of collapse, and the conditions for the current negotiations slid into place.
But it also set a precedent for governments hacking one another and hashing out their disagreements in the cyber realm. The North Korean hack of Sony is arguably the next step in the process and shows how cyber weapons may be so hard to control now that they’ve been introduced into international affairs.
Ever since Hezbollah rained hundreds of rockets over northern Israel during a July 2006 escalation in hostilities, projectile attacks have been the country’s most pressing security challenge. There have been some 15,000 rocket attacks on the country since 2001, including attacks from Iranian and Russian-made missiles capable of hitting Israel’s major population centers.
The Iron Dome antimissile battery is capable of tracking the trajectory of an incoming projectile and then launching an interceptor that detonates the missile at a safe altitude. Iron Dome saves lives on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Hamas rocket attacks during flare-ups in 2012 and 2014 killed few people inside of Israel even including days in which more than 100 rockets were fired. Without Iron Dome, the death toll would have been far higher in both conflicts and Israel’s response might have been even more protracted.
Iron Dome was developed by a state-owned Israeli defense company to face a specific threat and therefore has little battlefield applicability beyond the country’s borders. But it’s one of the primary modern examples of a country mustering all of its technological resources to solve a highly specialized and difficult security problem. In an era where large, set-piece battles between armies and traditional battlefield tactics may be a thing of the past, this may be the kind of the military edge that ends up counting the most.
Both China and the US have developed nonlethal “heat rays” that cause extreme pain and can aid in crowd control. The general idea behind the weapons is to heat the water just below the surface of a person’s skin so as to induce pain, causing the target to flee without inflicting death or incapacitation.
The Chinese heat ray can target individuals at up to 262 feet away. When hooked up to an extra power source, the beam can hit targets at distances of 0.6 miles.
The US version of the heat ray, known as the Active Denial System (ADS), had a range of 1,000 meters and could raise the temperature of a target’s skin by 130 degrees. However, the ADS was recalled by the US military without ever having been used over questions of its ethical application.
Bullets that can change direction in flight
Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) are bullets that can change their path during flight to correct for the movement of a target or any other factors that might have driven the projectile off-course.
The bullets feature optical tips that can detect guidance lasers focused on a target. Tiny fins on the bullets then guide the bullet towards that laser. The Pentagon just successfully conducted a live-fire test utilizing these rounds.
If fully implemented, these rounds could drastically improve the accuracy of US soldiers. The weapons would also help reduce the risks of friendly-fire incidents or of stray bullets harming civilians.
The Golden Hour blood container
This isn’t a weapon — but it’s still a game changer.
The Golden Hour, developed by US Army scientists in 2003, helped keep US soldiers alive after suffering a major battlefield injury. The box-like thermal container preserved red blood cells at a temperature that would prevent donor blood from dying under harsh environmental conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan — all without having to use electricity, batteries, or ice to moderate the blood’s temperature.
If soldiers were injured on the battlefield, there would be life-saving donor blood immediately on hand in small and easily portable containers that require no actual energy input. This allows medics to perform transfusions quickly and efficiently when soldiers’ lives are most at risk.
The container shows that not every major battlefield development is weapons related, and it demonstrates just how far technology has come in saving soldiers’ lives.
Improvised explosive devices
Every era of modern warfare has had weapons that closed the gap between powerful state militaries and nonstate militant groups. During the Cold War, rebel groups around the world used the cheap and plentiful AK-47 to defeat far larger armies around the world.
The roadside bomb is how insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan bogged down a far larger and more powerful US military. Camouflaged “improvised explosive devices,” often hidden in cars or potholes, could be detonated using cell phones. They could also be built quickly and covertly, and without a huge amount of engineering expertise.
IEDs killed as many as 3,100 US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, representing around two-thirds of total US combat deaths. The bombs prevented the US from winning in both countries through conventional means, leading to technological developments like the MRAP and a shift to counterinsurgency strategy in both wars. IEDs have arguably transformed the US military and its mission like no other modern weapon.
Roadside bombs showed how in the 21st century, it’s still possible for a small and technologically primitive military force to wreak havoc on a larger and infinitely better-equipped one.
Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles
The US was in huge trouble in Iraq in 2005. The American-led mission was losing ground to a growing insurgency led by Al Qaeda elements. And the US was suffering huge losses from improvised explosive devices that would rip through even heavily armored vehicles. Insurgents were setting bombs that would detonate under American personnel carriers, which weren’t built to withstand the insurgents’ weaponry.
The heavily armored MRAP was designed, developed, and built in a matter of months to counter the US’ biggest operational challenge in Iraq; by 2009 over 21,000 of them were in service.
Each member of Navy SEAL Team Six is issued $65,000 four-tube night-vision goggles, according to Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette in his book, “No Easy Day.”
Compared to the standard two-tube goggles, which Bissonnette says are similar to binoculars, the four-tube model gives soldiers a greatly expanded field of view.
The Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles are made in Londonderry, New Hampshire, by L-3 Warrior Systems’ Insight division, Defense One reports.
Since 2010, the Pentagon has spent at least $12.5 million on this elite military eyewear, according to Defense One.
The Ghost hovercraft
Developed by Juliet Marine Systems, the Ghost could become one of the military’s ships of the future.
Propped on two blade-like pontoons, the Ghost cuts through the water while maintaining enhanced balance. The design allows the ship to reduce friction and increase its stability.
The ship has also been designed for maximum stealth. It is nonmagnetic and hard to detect via sonar, making it ideal for infiltration and surveillance of enemy waters.
The Ghost can also deploy a range of offensive weapons that are similar to what an attack helicopter would carry. The vessel can be equipped with Gatling guns, Griffin missiles, and rockets launched either from its hull or from the craft’s skin.
Julius Caesar had a pretty bad day at work on March 15, 44 BCE. The dictator of Rome was lured to a meeting and stabbed to death by his coworkers.
He would’ve done well to beware the Ides of March.
Several years earlier, the politician and general had rose to power in a civil war. His assassination sparked yet another civil war that doomed the Roman Republic. The state ended up mutating into an empire, with Caesar’s adopted heir, Octavian, at the helm.
Today, Caesar is still considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His name is also synonymous with cults of personality and political strongmen.
So, how exactly did the one-time high priest of Jupiter accrue so much power during his lifetime?
Business Insider looked through some of his own writings — as well as the less-reliable but still interesting works of contemporary, ancient writers — to get a sense of his leadership style.
1. Presentation matters
The best leaders don’t just do amazing things — they know how to present a compelling story.
After a relatively brief war with a certain Pharnacles II of Pontus, Caesar had to sit down and write out a report to Rome detailing his conquest. According to both Greek biographer Plutarch and Roman historian Suetonius, the commander didn’t go into too much detail, writing simply: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
The phrase proved so catchy that we still remember it, centuries later.
Caesar could have gone on and on about his military prowess (in fact, he was the author of several long military accounts). Instead, he realized that the simple note would convey the most powerful message.
In ancient Rome, crossing the Rubicon River with an army was kind of a big deal. It was tantamount to a declaration of war and could be punishable by death.
When Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legion, he put everything on the line. In The Life of the Deified Julius, Suetonius writes that Caesar quoted an Athenian playwright as he crossed the river, declaring “the die is cast.”
He risked it all and it paid off (in the short-term, at least).
3. There’s nothing wrong with starting small
Oftentimes, you’ve got to start out as a large fish in a small pond in order to succeed as a leader.
Caesar understood this. He managed to climb back into a position of power, even after losing his inheritance in a coup as a young man.
According to the ancient Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives,” the general also made a rather curious remark while passing through a small village in the Alps: “I assure you I had rather be the first man here than the second man in Rome.”
As a general, Caesar knew that circumstances could change in an instant. According to Bill Yonne’s Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror, Caesar once wrote that “in war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.”
Resting on your laurels is never a good idea — because things can always take a turn for the worst.
5. Never kid yourself
Even if you’re a successful leader, you never want to get to the point where you start to buy your own nonsense.
In his chronicle of the Gallic Wars, Caesar concludes that: “in most cases, men willingly believe what they wish” when describing a tactical mistake on the part of his Gallic enemies.
The best leaders behave rationally and don’t allow their feelings or preconceived notions to dominate their decision-making. Gut calls and instincts are important, too, but the best leaders utilize both — not one or the other.
No matter how good things look, the best leaders never fail to anticipate the worst outcomes.
In his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, Caesar writes: “The immortal gods are wont to allow those persons whom they wish to punish for their guilt sometimes a greater prosperity and longer impunity, in order that they may suffer the more severely from a reverse of circumstances.”
Basically, if you’re on a winning streak, watch out. Caesar would have done well to actually follow this advice himself. Instead, he allowed a conspiracy to boil under him once he became dictator, resulting in his famous assassination.
7. Never sell yourself short
In order to lead, you need confidence in your own abilities. This is something that Caesar never seemed to lack.
This is illustrated by one notable incident in the ancient Roman’s life (involving pirates, of all things). In his account of Caesar’s life, Plutarch writes that, as a young man, Julius Caesar was abducted by the pirates.
Livius.org provides a translation of what happened next: “First, when the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents, Caesar burst out laughing. They did not know, he said, who it was that they had captured, and he volunteered to pay fifty.”
Caesar went on to promise the pirates that he’d personally kill them once he was free. After he was ransomed, he raised a fleet, hunted them down, and did just that.
Russia continues to issue threats to countries on its borders — most notably those with significant populations of ethnic Russians like Georgia and Ukraine which have already felt Moscow’s wrath in recent years.
But many European countries have reduced their spending in the decades since World War II, so preparing for a potential war with their aggressive and highly militarized neighbor is not as simple as giving their soldiers MREs, bullets, and marching orders.
Here’s what eight countries in Eastern Europe are doing to get ready for the war they hope never comes:
1. Ukrainians are hastily emplacing fixed defenses
Ukrainian soldiers practice clearing trenches on Nov. 2 during an exercise in Ukraine with U.S. soldiers. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)
Ukraine is the one state on the list who is currently engaged in a war with Russia. While their troops have fought limited groups of Russian “volunteers,” Ukraine’s top generals are worried about a full-scale air attack and ground invasion.
2. Estonia is training a guerrilla force to bleed Russian occupiers dry
Estonian soldiers provide cover fire for U.S. paratroopers on Nov. 3, 2016, in Hellenurme, Estonia, during a joint training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)
Estonia fields an army of only 6,000 soldiers and fully expects to be overrun within days if attacked by Russia, an outcome that the RAND Corporation agrees with. But Estonia plans to make the Russians regret ever acre they took.
The nation is hosting “military sport” contests and encouraging citizens to keep weapons in their homes. The sports events include 25-mile ruck marches, evasion exercises, plant identification, and others which test skills useful for an insurgent force. Over 25,000 Estonians have joined the weekly drills.
3. Latvia is training up a “home guard” and investing in special operations
Latvian soldiers drive their armored combat vehicles into position during a joint training exercise with U.S. troops on Oct. 31, 2016, in Adazi, Latvia. (Photo: U.S. Army)
Norway officially acknowledged that it believes Ukraine was illegally occupied by Russia during a state visit to Ukraine on Oct. 18. Russia later added Norway to its list of targets for “strategic” weapons. Russia uses the word “strategic” to differentiate between conventional and nuclear-capable forces.
6. Poland is buying massive amounts of equipment, including new subs
Poland, which is considered to be one of the more hawkish NATO members, has been warning of a threat from Moscow for some time. For the past few years, it has championed regional security agreements with its neighbors and worked hard to ingrain itself with NATO.
7. and 8. Finland and Sweden are securing defense agreements with the U.K. and U.S.
Finland and Sweden are countries which famously prefer to avoid alliances, but Russian aggression has spurred an interest in limited defense agreements which will make it easier for NATO troops to deploy to those countries in the event of war.
We love movies! That’s why producers spend millions of dollars making them. Sometimes the films we watch are so compelling, audience members believe every moment that is spoon fed to them is the truth.
We’re all guilty of falling for it. Many movie goers get sold on the narrative as the story unfolds across the big screen — even to the point where the performances feel true to life — and the delicate line between truth and fiction becomes too thin.
So check out these military myths that Hollywood puts in their movies and want us to think actually happen — but don’t fall for it.
1. Vietnam veterans are crazy
Movies and TV shows love to feature characters that had tough military careers and reverted to drinking to suppress the memories. This does happen in real life from time-to-time, but not to everyone.
Most who served during that era use their military experience to propel themselves and inspire others.
2. You throw your clean cover after a military graduation
It’s a lot of work to not only find the cover you just flung into the air but clean the grass stains off too.
Does anyone have a tide pen? (Paramount)
3. Cinematic deaths
They just don’t exist — but we tip our hats to filmmaker Oliver Stone (an Army veteran) for capturing this epic movie moment in 1986s Platoon.
How many rounds do you think he took? (Orion Pictures)
4. That one guy who can save the day
In the military, you train as a team and you fight as one, as well.
The debate isn’t if one single person can save another’s ass during battle — that frequently happens.
What we call bullsh*t on is when that single motivator springs into action and becomes the final denominator and leads them to victory as the rest of his team remains pinned down and losing the fight.
They have the need for speed (Paramount)
5. No one gets concussions…ever
We’ve seen countless movies where people get blown up by various sources of explosive ordnance and seem to recover right away (just watch any 80s movie). Since we want to believe the good guys are as tough as nails, they will just brush off the injury and carry on.
Elite special forces are some of the best-trained and most formidable units a country can boast.
They go where other soldiers fear to tread, scoping out potential threats, taking out strategic targets, and conducting daring rescue missions.
These really are the best of the best.
Although it’s extremely difficult to rank these forces relative to one another, there are some units that rise above the rest in their track record and the fear they instill in their adversaries. These soldiers have been through rigorous training exercises designed to weed out those who can’t hit their exacting standards.
In a world where the importance of the sheer size of a country’s military forces is no longer a guide to their effectiveness, these soldiers are the ones states look to in order to get the job done.
8. The Special Services Group, SSG, in Pakistan is better known in the country as the “Black Storks” because of the commandos’ unique headgear. Training reportedly includes a 36-mile march in 12 hours and a five-mile run in 50 minutes in full gear.
In October 2009, SSG commandos stormed an office building and rescued 39 people taken hostage by suspected Taliban militants after an attack on the army’s headquarters.
7. Spain’s Unidad de Operaciones Especiales, or the Naval Special Warfare Force as it has become since 2009, has long been one of Europe’s best-respected special forces. Originally established as the volunteer Amphibious Climbing Company unit in 1952, it has since followed the SAS’s example to become an elite fighting force.
Earning the UOE green beret, however, is a big ask with the failure rate of candidates averaging between 70% and 80%. It’s not uncommon for 100% of would-be new recruits to be rejected.
6. Russia’s Alpha Group is one of the best-known special forces units in the world. This elite antiterrorism unit was created by the KGB in 1974 and remains under its modern-day counterpart, the FSB.
Russian special forces, and the Alpha Group in particular, came under criticism during the 2002 Moscow hostage crisis in which 129 hostages died from the effects of the gas used to knock out militants who had seized a theatre.
5. Of all the counterterrorism forces in the world, few can compete with France’s National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN). The group is 200 strong and trained specifically to respond to hostage situations. They claim to have freed over 600 people since they were formed in 1973. It is against French law to publish pictures of their faces.
One of the most extraordinary episodes in the GIGN’s history was the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979. Because of the prohibition on non-Muslims entering the holy city, a team of three GIGN commandos briefly converted to Islam before helping the Saudi armed forces to plan the recapture of the mosque.
4. Israel’s Sayeret Matkal is another of the world’s most elite units. Its primary purpose is intelligence gathering, and it often operates deep behind enemy lines. During the selection camp (Gibbush), would-be recruits endure hardcore training exercises while being constantly monitored by doctors and psychologists. Only the strongest get in.
In 2003, Israeli taxi driver Eliyahu Gurel was kidnapped after transporting four Palestinians to Jerusalem in his cab. But the Sayeret Matkal unit located and rescued him from a 10-meter-deep pit in an abandoned factory in a suburb of Ramallah.
3. The British Special Air Service (or SAS as they are more commonly known) are the infantry counterparts to the SBS. Their insignia bears the famous phrase “Who dares wins.” Asked about the importance of the SAS’s role in the fighting that followed the Iraq war, US Gen. Stanley McChrystal responded: “Essential. Could not have done it without them.”
2. The UK equivalent of the Navy SEALS is the Special Boat Service. The selection process involves a grueling endurance test, jungle training in the rainforests of Belize, and combat survival training, which involves intense interrogation of candidates. And you get only two attempts to pass.
1. Last up, the US Navy SEALs. To join their ranks, you have to be able to do a minimum of 42 push-ups in two minutes, 50 sit-ups in two minutes, and run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes. And that’s before training starts.
BONUS: The US Marines are hardcore in their own right. Below, a US Marine drinks the blood of a cobra during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the “Cobra Gold 2014” joint military exercise.
What the folks back home think troops do while deployed is just a fraction of what actually happens downrange. In many ways, the average Joe is doing the same busy work that they’d be doing back stateside — this time, with the added “benefit” of doing it in full battle rattle with a weapon slung across their back.
Sometimes, Private Snuffy deserves to be put on the detail, but most times, he probably doesn’t. The fact of the matter is that things just need to get done. Having to sweep the motor pool back in the States may suck, but sweeping the motor pool while you’re deployed in the middle of the desert is futile. Details suck, but these tasks particularly suck when you’re deployed.
1. Sandbag Building
Even with the concertina wire, Hecso barriers, and giant-ass concrete walls, the military still seems to think that the only thing separating troops from certain death is having the Joes fill sandbags and use them to haphazardly barricade everything.
This isn’t to discredit the 30lbs of sand stuffed into an acrylic or burlap bag — they probably work. The problem is that they’re a pain in the friggin’ ass to fill, carry, and painstakingly stack.
2. Guard Duty
At first, it sounds like fun. This is what you signed up for and you’re going to do your part to save freedom, one field of fire at a time. Then, the heart-crushing reality sets in. You’re stuck in the same guard tower for 12 hours with someone who smells like they haven’t showered in 12 days. There you are, just watching sand. Occasionally, you get lucky and there’s a farmer out in the distance or a camel herder to break the monotony.
On the bright side, the cultural barrier between you and the ANA (Afghan National Army) guy you’re stuck with can lead to some hilarious conversations.
3. TOC/COC Duty
In a near tie with guard duty, being in the command center for 12 hours blows just a little bit worse. In the guard tower, you have some sort of autonomy. In the TOC, you’re stuck with higher-ups breathing down your neck.
To add insult to injury if you’re a grunt, you’re listening to all of your buddies do the real sh*t while you’re stuck on the bench. You’re just listening to them do all the things you enlisted for while you’re biting your lip. If you’re a POG, I guess watching the same AFN commercial 96 times over sucks, too.
4. Connex Cleaning
Replacing containers, prepping for redeployment back stateside, grabbing that one thing that your Lieutenant swore was in there — whatever the reason, anything to do with the pain-in-the-ass that is heavy lifting inside a Connex that’s been baking in 110 degree heat is just unbearable.
No matter what the lieutenant was looking for, it’s not there. It’s never going to stay clean. Everything inside is going to get shuffled around, regardless of how much effort you put into it.
5. Burn Pit
Whether you’re opting for the quick and easy solution to getting rid of classified intel, destroying old gear left behind, or burning human waste, nothing about burn pit duty is enjoyable.
Big military said that they’ve done away with burn pits and that everything is peachy keen now — too bad that’s not even close to true. Whether being exposed to the pits by KBR facilities or command directed, anything dealing with burn pits is a serious concern for your health. No matter how hard it gets denied in court, veterans are still dying from the “quick and easy way.”
If you believe you might have been affected by burn pits, register with the VA here. It’s a very serious health concern and the more veterans that stand up, the more seriously the issue will be taken.
The military is widely known for giving free medical and dental benefits to its service members and their families. Sometimes there can be a co-pay, but overall it’s a pretty sweet deal.
Although going to medical is also a smart way to skate your way through the day.
But many hate the idea and just want to conduct their business and get out. The fact is, unlike sick commandoes (you know who you are), you’ve got work to do and don’t want to spend your day fighting your way through the process of being seen.
So check out these reasons why troops hate going to sick call.
Depending on what command you report to every morning, you’re required to be there at a specific time. In most cases, medical is usually open before you need to get to work or it never closes. Since the majority of the military population (not all) are seeking to get an SIQ chit (Sick in Quarters) and stay home, they show up at the butt-crack of dawn like everyone else, causing long lines.
Unless you’re very high ranking or know the doctor well — you’re going to have to wait.
2. One chief complaint at a time
Military doctors treat dozens of patients per day then have to write up and complete the S.O.A.P. note. They’re typically face-to-face with the patient for just a few minutes, but behind the scenes, they can spend valuable time developing a treatment plan.
An unwritten guideline is a doctor only has time to treat one symptom or chief complaint per visit — that’s if the issues aren’t related. So in many cases, if you have a headache and a twisted ankle, pick one then wait in line to be seen for the other. So hopefully the medic or corpsman who’s helping out knows what he or she is doing and can treat you on the side.
3. Missing paperwork
Depending on your duty station, you may notice that the staff hand wrote the majority of your documented medical visits and probably never scanned them into the computer. That means there’s only one copy floating around.
When you plan on separating and you file for disability claiming you were seen in medical for that shoulder injury, if it isn’t in your medical record, it didn’t happen.
When doctors order labs or x-rays in hospitals, staff members usually come to the patient to either extract the sample or transport them to the right area.
In a sick call setting, those services may not even be located in the same building. So good luck getting from A to B.
5. Not getting what you want
Patients frequently enter medical feeling sick as a dog and convince themselves they wouldn’t be efficient at work. So when your temperature reads normal and the doctor doesn’t see a reason to let you go home for the day, don’t hate on medical when you get…
In World War II, armored warfare played a key role in North Africa as Patton, Montgomery, and Rommel duked it out. They moved across the plains of Europe and fought through the snow in Russia. But not all tanks were created equal. Vote for your favorite tanks of World War II in the list below.
Military police get a bad rap. Sure, they spend a lot of time trying to catch speeders going 2 mph over the limit in the middle of the night and give the driver a ticket that stalls his career for no good reason, but they also do useful stuff like these six things:
1. Engage in maneuver warfare
A Marine Raider supervises military police training on urban patrolling on Nov. 2, 2016, in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Nicholas Mannweiler)
Believe it or not, the troops voted most likely to work as mall security after they get their DD-214 are trained to take and hold territory from the enemy in war. While the MPs aren’t as specialized in these tasks as the infantry, they are capable.
The U.S. Army military police school’s manevuer training focuses on breaching operations, route recon and surveillance, controlling river crossings, and other essential elements of controlling the battlespace.
2. Guard mission-critical infrastructure
So, yeah, there’s a reason that MPs do make good mall cops if they ever feel the need to take that route. They do train to protect stationary places from local hooligans. It’s just those stationary places are air bases and ammo dumps and those local hooligans are hardened insurgent fighters.
The MPs call it “critical site security.” And they train to do it in chemical gear, under fire, and facing off against enemy infantry. So you better believe they can keep the stoner kids out of Spencer Gifts.
3. Evacuate civilians from conflict areas and natural disasters
When the rains come, whether they’re rains of artillery or torrential downpours of water, the MPs are just as ready to rush in and get civilians out of harm’s way as they seem in all those recruiting commercials.
“Dislocated Civilians,” “Populace and Resource Control,” and “Straggler, Dislocated Civilian Control” are all military police functions that pretty much mean that MPs will corral you to safety and help figure out the food situation during the next zombie apocalypse.
4. Investigate crimes
Unless you’re a murderer. Because the MPs will definitely not have your back if you’re a murderer. Or a drug user. Or dealer. Or really, any crime. That’s because some military police become MPIs, military police investigators, and will be investigating those crimes.
While the MPIs don’t get the headlines like the special agents of the Criminal Investigations Division or the Naval Criminal Investigations Service, they do assist in the investigations of major crimes by collecting witness testimony and physical evidence. And, like all MPs, they are federal law enforcement officers.
5. Contain riots and civil unrest
Military police don’t just train on hunting enemy soldiers and tracking down hardened criminals. They also learn how to deal with angry protestors. The military emphasizes de-escalation when possible, but MPs learn how to hold the line against Molotov cocktails and armed protesters if necessary to contain riots and civil unrest. This includes everything from fire phobia training to the proper use of tear gas.
6. Teach policing fundamentals to partnered military and law enforcement agencies
Of course, all this training turns new recruits into law enforcement experts, or at least people with enough expertise to train brand new police officers. Military police units are often sent around the world to train the police departments of American allies.