In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

There are a number of potential vulnerabilities in NATO territory if the Cold War ever goes live, but three countries are especially scared of an attack to close the Suwalki Gap, a spot where NATO territory is only 60 miles wide with Belarus on one side, Russia’s Kaliningrad Enclave on the other, and relatively flat ground with little forest or natural defenses in the middle.


In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
A German Army Soldier directs military vehicles onto land during one of the largest combined exercises in Lithuania, the Suwalki Gap River Crossing, as media observe the event, June 20, 2017.
(U.S. Army Sgt. Shiloh Capers)

If Russian tanks and other forces quickly span the gap and dig in, they could cut Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia off from the rest of Europe and NATO for easy digestion, leaving the rest of NATO to decide whether its worth it to risk their own troops re-securing them.

These sorts of geographic and political choke points aren’t new. Cold War weapons development was heavily influenced by the Fulda Gap, one of Soviet Russia’s most likely routes of advance if they invaded western Europe. And in World War II, France fell so quickly partially because it had counted on holding Germany at the Albert Canal and River Meuse in Belgium, but Germany had gotten Belgium to rescind its alliances with France before the invasion.

But the Suwalki Gap is a particularly vulnerable and important point. Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave that borders the Baltic Sea, and Belarus is a historic ally of Russia. Russia could easily muster troops in both areas for a mad dash across the line, and it could do so quickly and with little warning.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
Battle Group Poland U.S. Soldiers locate their sector of fire for their weapons as part of the Bull Run training exercise near Suwalki, Poland, July 16, 2017.
(U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Wang)

On paper, NATO would be required to respond, but NATO’s joint defense clause has only been invoked one time, and that was when America was attacked on September 11, 2001. That’s part of why deploying to Afghanistan usually results in a service member receiving a NATO medal. The whole alliance was party to the invasion because one member of the alliance had been attacked.

But that was NATO allies backing up their most powerful member while invading a relatively weak, authoritarian state. The Taliban had little air force or proper army assets, and it quickly fell. Getting NATO allies to muster in Poland for an attack into Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia would be much more challenging, especially since many countries would be interested in holding back at least some of their military forces to defend their own borders as the situation developed.

Poland might be especially reluctant. The gap shares its name with a Polish city and a Polish County, and Poland shares a much larger border with Kaliningrad and with Belarus. It might legitimately need its troops to hold the line against further Russian attacks.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
The Iskander-M is likely a violation of the INF Treaty, and it gives Russia the ability to cover the entire Suwalki Gap and most of Eastern Europe with a few missile launchers
(Boevaya mashina, CC BY-SA4.0)

Meanwhile, remember how Russia is under a lot of pressure to get back in line with that INF Treaty that bans missiles of certain ranges, especially ones that can carry nuclear warheads? Well, a lot of the Iskander and Iskander-M systems that are likely in violation of that treaty are kept in Kaliningrad, where they could threaten U.S. and NATO ships in the Baltic Sea and army formations approaching Suwalki from the south.

An Iskander launcher could likely cover the entire Suwalki Gap from any point in Kaliningrad. Multiple launchers could take turns shooting and then scooting before they could be hunted down. Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion force would be north of the gap, conquering the NATO countries and setting up defenses ahead of the NATO counterattack.

The Suwalki Gap is something Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges talked about when he was the commanding general of NATO, saying that an invasion of NATO countries wouldn’t make any sense to him, but then neither had the seizure of Crimea or the Russian deployment to Syria.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
Battle Group Poland tested its readiness and interoperability as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence during Bull Run, a simulated training exercise, July 16, 2017, near Suwalki, Poland.
(U.S. Army)

For comparison, while the Suwalki Gap is 60 miles long, the annexation of Crimea created an approximately 85-mile-long front between Russia and Ukraine, though NATO wasn’t obligated to take part in that fight and much of that border is covered in water, making a Ukrainian counterattack much more risky and challenging.

Of course, all of this only matters if Putin is ready to do something even crazier than kidnapping an Estonian intelligence officer, annexing Crimea, or invading Georgia or the Donbas. While all of those actions were baffling for international observers, the annexed territory, at least, did have populations sympathetic to Russian rule.

While Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania do have some Russian-speaking populations, the countries as a whole strongly support NATO membership and have even inked agreements to move more U.S. and other NATO troops into the countries or allow more forces to transit through them. So, Russia would likely find it challenging to actually hold the countries permanently.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Marines practice hitting the beach with the Philippines and Japan

Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines, Japan Self-Defense Force, and US Armed Forces united to conduct an amphibious landing exercise at Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim during Exercise KAMANDAG 3 on Oct. 12, 2019.

The ship-to-shore maneuver, which was the culminating event of two weeks of combined training focused on assault amphibious vehicle interoperability, marked the first time the AFP conducted a multilateral amphibious landing with its own AAVs.

The drill’s success validated the multinational forces’ ability to conduct complex, synchronized amphibious operations, and it reaffirmed the partnerships between the Philippines, Japan and the United States.


In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

US Marine amphibious assault vehicles in an amphibious exercise during KAMANDAG 3 at Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim, Philippines, Oct. 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Bragg)

“It’s a major challenge taking three different elements with different backgrounds and bringing them together to execute one goal,” said Philippine Marine Sgt. Roderick Moreno, an assistant team leader with 61st Marine Company, Force Reconnaissance Group.

“It was definitely a learning experience, but every year we participate in KAMANDAG, we get more in tune with our allies.”

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

US Marine amphibious assault vehicles participate in an amphibious exercise during KAMANDAG 3 at Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim, Philippines, Oct. 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Bragg)

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

US Marine amphibious assault vehicles approach shore during an amphibious exercise as part of KAMANDAG 3 at Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim, Philippines, October 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani)

“Today was about effectively coordinating with our allies from the Philippines and Japan,” said US Marine 1st Lt. Malcolm Dunlop, an AAV platoon commander with 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

“AAVs representing each country maneuvered simultaneously to conduct a movement up the beach. It’s crucial that we know how to do things side by side, so that in the face of serious military or humanitarian crises, we can work together to overcome the challenges that face us.”

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

US Marines, Philippine marines, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members and amphibious assault vehicles ashore after an amphibious exercise as part of KAMANDAG 3 at Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim, Philippines, Oct. 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani)

US forces have been partnering with the Philippines and Japan for many years, working together in many areas to uphold our shared goals of peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Training efforts between the AFP, JSDF, and US Armed Forces ensure that the combined militaries remain ready to rapidly respond to crises across the full range of military operations, from conflict to natural disasters.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

US Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen Weldon scans his surroundings during an amphibious exercise as part of exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim, Philippines, Oct. 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani)

“Although the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force normally participates in KAMANDAG, this was my team’s first time working with the Filipinos and the Americans together, and it went well,” said Japanese Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Itaru Hirao, an AAV crewman with the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, ARD Training Unit.

KAMANDAG 3 is a Philippine-led, bilateral exercise with participation from Japan. KAMANDAG is an acronym for the Filipino phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mga Manirigma Ng Dagat,” which translates to “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea,” highlighting the partnership between the US and Philippine militaries.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Video shows what it would take to turn Earth into a volcanic hellscape

You’re not going to wake up one morning to see Jupiter hanging in the sky, but two stunning animations show what it would look like if you did.

Amateur astronomer Nicholas Holmes makes videos about space on his Youtube channel, Yeti Dynamics. One of his creations, which has gone viral a few times since he published it in 2013, shows what it would look like if the planets in our solar system orbited Earth at the moon’s distance.

A second video depicts the same scenario — a parade of planets looming in the sky above a city street — as it would look at night.


“I wanted to see what it would look like,” Holmes told Business Insider in an email. “My primary drive is to settle my own curiosity.”

So he took some video of the Huntsville, Alabama sky and swapped the moon for other planets using 3ds Max software. The animations below are the result.

If the Moon were replaced with some of our planets

www.youtube.com

If other planets replaced our moon…

Planetary scientist James O’Donoghue, who works at the Japanese space agency (JAXA), said the sizes of the planets in the video are accurate.

“I checked the math!” he tweeted in October 2019.

If you look closely in the video, you can spot Jupiter’s four big moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. When Saturn takes its place, the moon Tethys glides past its rings.

You might notice one planet missing from the video: Mercury. That’s because it’s barely larger than Earth’s moon, with a 1,516-mile radius. Jupiter, on the other hand, is the largest planet in the solar system at 88,846 miles wide. Saturn appears even more dramatic because of its rings, which add 350,000 miles to its diameter.

Holmes also made a nighttime version of the scenario. This video shows the rings around Uranus. Saturn’s moon Dione also makes an appearance, orbiting Saturn at about the same distance as our moon. Of course, that means Dione would likely collide with Earth in the scenario depicted in the animation.

If the Moon were replaced with some of our planets (at night) 4k

www.youtube.com

Holmes also suggested a DIY way to roughly recreate the sizes these planets would appear if they hung in the sky at the moon’s distance.

“A simple demonstration is to hold out a dime at arms length. That’s about the diameter of the moon,” Holmes said. “If you hold out a dinner plate, that’s about the size of Jupiter. Maybe it doesn’t take up the ‘entire sky’ but it’s pretty darn big.”

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

The moon Io floats above the cloudtops of Jupiter in this image captured Jan. 1, 2001.

(NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

If big planets like Jupiter were close to Earth, that would lead to volcanic destruction

Not everything in Holmes videos is accurate, however.

First, the amount of sunlight shining on the planets is “slightly off from reality,” he said, in order to make details more clear. Additionally, the planets aren’t tilted to exactly the right degree and they aren’t rotating at the correct speeds.

Of course, if the planets got that close to Earth, the whole scene wouldn’t proceed as calmly as it appears in Holmes’s video.

If Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune appeared in the moon’s place, Earth itself would become one of that planet’s moons. To see what that would mean for us, we just have to look at Jupiter’s moon Io.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system, is seen in the highest resolution obtained to date by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft.

(NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Tidal forces from Jupiter stretch and compress Io — a similar process to the way our own moon makes the ocean tides on Earth (which change by up to 60 feet). But Jupiter’s huge mass stretches and compresses Io so much that its rock surface bulges back and forth by up to 330 feet.

Two of Jupiter’s other moons, Ganymede and Europa, also contribute to the tug-of-war with their own gravitational pulls on Io.

All that tugging heats up the tiny moon and builds pressure in the hot liquid below its surface, leading to volcanic eruptions so powerful that lava shoots directly into space. The tidal forces make Io the most volcanically active body in the solar system.

“We could expect a similar scenario on Earth. Initially, Earth’s mantle and crust would be gravitationally attracted to Jupiter and break apart like crème brûlée,” O’Donoghue told Business Insider in an email. “Volcanic activity on Earth would be the stuff of a disaster movie, and overall, Jupiter would make light work of Earth.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 expectations of WW2 military spouses

During WWII, women were tasked with an overwhelming number of expectations. In many cases, it was females who were left to fill jobs of manual labor. With so many soldiers fighting in the war, there was a huge void in the workforce. Women filled in, taking over jobs that were once only suitable for men to do. However, for military spouses, the expectations were far different. With a husband at war — or at least in the military in a time of war — women were expected to hold down the home, and then some. 

Compared to today’s norms, however, spouses of the 1930s and 40s had far different tasks assigned to them. Take a look at what it was like to be a spouse during WWII and how their expectations differ from military spouses today. 

  1. You served as a wife and mother

In all public cases during WWII, military spouses were females. That meant women married to a male service member, the most common enlistment and commission circumstances at the time. While women could serve in the military, it was simply less common than it is today. 

Then, the woman was expected to work in her own home. Not in a home office, but as a mother and wife. Her roles were to cook for her family, clean the home, and ensure the kids had when they needed. And for the cherry on top, she was expected to dress up and look nice while doing it. Heels and all. 

  1. You wrote long, detailed letters

If your spouse was at war, this meant the only form of communication was the written word — delivered via snail mail. Letters took weeks to land at their intended destination, and soldiers relied on long, hand-written letters to update them on everyday events and their family’s well-being. It was the spouse’s job to inform her husband and let him know how the family was doing. It was often frowned upon to write too much bad news and to keep soldiers’ morale up through descriptive, positive words. 

  1. You got married young

With soldiers who were likely to be shipped off soon after graduation, couples often married early. Highschool sweethearts rushed to the alter in order to wed before their man was shipped to war. This also meant young pregnancies, and young widows who were left alone if their spouse was killed at war. 

  1. You might be a “war bride”

War bride is a term describing women who met American men during their time overseas and got married. It’s estimated that 20,000 Germans and 15,000 Australians were brought to the United States during WWII after they married a soldier and transitioned to being an American citizen. There was also an influx in brides from France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Philippines, Japan, and China.

 

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
War brides in Australia in 1943, pictured on the steps of a “school for wives”.
  1. You had multiple children

It was common for military spouses to have many children during the war for several reasons. One, women were more likely to get pregnant when their husband was home on leave — whether they were trying or threw caution to the wind — stats support this, including the baby boom. In addition, Army families received more money if they had more children. With the passing of the Servicemen’s Dependents Allowances Act, families earned $40 for the first child and $10 for each subsequent kid. 

  1. You ran a tight ship

Military spouses were expect to keep their homes in tip-top shape. From a home that was clean at all times, to home cooked meals, to having snacks and coffee at the ready for unexpected guests, military spouses were essentially profesional hostesses during WWII. She often served her husband and other male guests who might have been visiting. 

Chances are standards laxed some while the husband was at war, but records don’t differentiate either way. 

  1. You relied on one another

With a spouse overseas and plenty of children to handle all on your own, women made due by relying on one another for help. Most notably, they traded babysitting services, taking kids while the other mother could run errands, or even while working a part-time job. Military spouses made fast friends and trusted the next woman with her kids. 

  1. You had to wait — long waits

In WWII, you didn’t know how long your husband would be gone … or when (and if) he would come home. For the spouse, that meant waiting, and more waiting. Waiting for letters, hopping a service member didn’t knock on your door, and more waiting for your beloved to come home. In fact, some soldiers were gone for multiple years, until the end of the war, when they were allowed to return home. 

  1. You didn’t talk about the war

In most cases, wives had no idea what their husbands were dealing with, or any specifics of the war. They didn’t talk about specifics because they didn’t have any. Without the ability to talk on the phone, details were left to letters — which were read and scanned for any key details. In fact, they might not even know where their loved one was stationed at the time. This certainly kept the mystery alive, but left women unable to speculate about the nitty-gritty stuff. 

  1. You might’ve traveled to see your husband

As soldiers prepared to ship off, they were moved from town to town to complete different trainings, receive medical care, etc. However, there was a population of women who left alongside them in order to sneak time away with their spouse. Known as “wandering wives,” these were usually a younger, childless crowd who were able to pack up and move from town to town. 

Military spouse norms have come a long way in the last several decades. And while these stereotypes weren’t a rule, they were expectations that were followed by many women of the time. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Starting today, kids born after 9/11 will start enlisting in support of the War on Terror

Well, here’s your sobering thought for the day: The War on Terror has officially turned seventeen years old today, which also happens to be the minimum age required to enlist in the armed services. Take that as you will — it’s neither a good nor a bad thing. It’s simply a thing.

For troops in earlier wars, the circumstances were a little more straightforward. We declared war against our enemies (or the enemies of our allies) and the resulting conflict ended when one side conceded or declared victory. A war against an insurgency, however, is inherently different. There isn’t a clear opposition over which to declare victory.

But that’s neither here nor there. The fact is, an entire generation of kids that learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center from history books instead from live television — in much the same way as we learned of the events of the American Cold War — is now capable of raising their right hand and taking an oath of enlistment.


In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

You know those troops are going to get mocked relentlessly — or just make all the senior NCOs depressed.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

The official rules of enlistment state that someone must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien, must be 17 years of age with parents’ consent or 18 without, must have a high school diploma (with very few exceptions), and must pass a physical medical exam.

While it’s not uncommon to receive a high school diploma at the age of 16, it’s unlikely that such an early achiever would apply their child-prodigy skills by enlisting as a young private when nearly any university would snatch them up in a heartbeat. However, if an applicant is from one of the seven states that 16-year-olds to test for a GED, can manage to swing a slot reserved for GED-holders, and they pass the ASVAB, well, they’ll officially be the first post-9/11 baby to serve in the post-9/11 military.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

They’ll get their chance again, if the war on terror doesn’t end within the next two years…

(U.S. Marine Corps)

It’s a fairly tough pill to swallow — a kid enlisting to serve in a war they were born into — but it’s not the only significant milestone. There are some troops who have enlisted and served into retirement, all in support of the Global War on Terror.

That’s right, troops who opted into the early retirement system that allowed troops who’ve served for over 15 years to take an early exit could have started and ended their career fighting the same insurgency. The program ended last December, but a handful of troops who enlisted right after 9/11 managed to squeeze into that “early out.”

There’s no word yet when the first post-9/11 baby will fill in the ranks, but I’m sure there will be plenty of pomp and circumstance around their enlistment. We’ll just have to wait and see.

See you in formation, kid.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Please, stop calling these other vehicles tanks

Look, we get it. It can be hard to write about the military. What’s the difference between soldiers, troops, and service members? Are Coast Guardsman sailors? Are they Navy personnel at all? Do those guys really prefer to be known as “seamen?”

There’s a lot of terminology to get straight, but still, it’s not that hard. And, frankly, we’re tired of seeing anything with more than 2 inches of armor being described as a “tank.” So, here’s a quick primer on America’s only current tank — and a whole bunch of armored vehicles that are not tanks:


In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
A U.S. M1A2 Abrams tank fires during a 2015 exercise in Estonia.
(U.S. Army Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt)

First, the only current American military vehicle that is actually a tank: the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. The first ones rolled out in 1976, but numerous upgrades have been made since. The modern M1A2 SEPV3 has ceramic armor made from depleted uranium and fires a 120mm cannon with everything from high explosive rounds to sabot. Sabot rounds are fast-flying darts that exit from the main gun.

Thousands of them exist in the U.S. arsenal and hundreds more are in service around the world, mostly in places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Australia. It’s easy to pick out because of its large size, free-moving turret with a large gun, and the massive tank treads that propel it across the ground.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
U.S. Army Arkansas National Guard soldiers fire paladins.
(U.S. Army Arkansas National Guard)

Next, the Paladin. This is probably the most convincing of the non-tanks out there. It’s significantly smaller than the Abrams and weighs less than half as much, but it is large, propels itself on two big tank treads, is well-armored, and has a big gun.

But it’s the gun and the mission that makes this artillery instead of a tank. The 155mm howitzer is made to primarily fire in an indirect fire mode, arcing the shells over the battlefield instead of engaging directly, like an Abrams. Its armor and speed also aren’t really up to snuff for direct combat.

You can differentiate it from a tank by focusing on the arm that supports the cannon barrel, the smaller size, and the reduced armor. Especially important is the lack of explosive reactive armor, the boxy armor panels on the skirts of Abrams tanks.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, ground guides an M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
(U.S. Army Spc. Esmeralda Cervantes)

Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Confusing a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle with a tank is pretty reasonable. It’s armored, propels itself on two tracks, and is often seen with the explosive reactive armor common on Abrams. It even has a free-turning turret like a tank and fights on the frontlines.

But the difference comes in the vehicles’ mission and the size of the main cannon. Bradleys have lighter armor and a much smaller gun, typically 25mm compared to the Abrams’ 120mm. They’re made to move quickly on the battlefield and carry up to 8 infantrymen into combat, though other variants drop the infantry carrying capacity to serve other missions, instead.

To differentiate it from the Abrams, focus on the size, reduced armor, and the much smaller gun.

The M113 armored personnel carrier is the predecessor the the Bradley. It, also, is not a tank. It’s smaller, has less armor, and lacks a turret.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
The M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle is based on the M1 Abrams tank, but it has no 120mm gun and is designed for breaching obstacles rather than defeating enemy forces in direct combat.
(U.S. Army Sgt. Patrick Eakin)

M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle

The M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle is based on the M1 Abrams, so getting mixed up makes sense. But M1150s lack the 120mm main gun of an Abrams.

They boast some kind of large plow on the front instead, usually a 15-foot-wide, bulldozer-like plow, but sometimes they’re seen with other mine-clearing equipment. They’re also equipped with a mine-clearing line charge, or MICLIC, that fires from the turret.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
The Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle is an impressive piece of hardware, but still not a tank.
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Christine Phelps)

Amphibious Assault Vehicle

These monstrosities are pretty sweet. They’re swimming armored vehicles with treads and the ability to carry up to 25 combat-equipped infantrymen (nearly always Marines).

But their primary offensive armament is a .50-cal. machine gun or a 40mm grenade launcher, a far cry from the cannons used on tanks, especially the 120mm on the Abrams. They also have armor that’s perpendicular to the ground, something that tank designers avoid in key areas since it helps the enemy round penetrate during fights.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch
Marines fire the main gun of the LAV-25 during gunnery training. This impressive bit of armor is super useful, but it’s still smaller, less armored, and less powerful than a main battle tank.
(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Barker)

LAV-25

This is another armored vehicle that swims across open ocean. Used primarily by the U.S. Marine Corps, it has a 25mm chain gun and some light armor, but it’s still underpowered and underarmored compared to main tanks.

But the easiest way to tell the LAV-25 from a tank is that it has rubber road wheels instead of metal ones on treads. In fact. lots of armored platforms that are sometimes described as tanks are rolling on rubber road wheels, something tanks don’t do.

So, just like the LAV-25, Army Strykers are not tanks. Nor are any of the lighter vehicles, like humvees, MRAPs, or M-ATVs.

If all of this leaves you wondering what, exactly, a tank is, well, sorry — it’s changed over time. But modern tanks are typically heavily armored vehicles with large guns, rotating turrets, and treads. They’re designed to engage in direct combat with other forces, including enemy armor, by using their armor and the terrain for protection while firing their main gun as their primary offense.

When dealing with anti-tank infantry, they may rely more heavily on their machine guns, but many countries field shotgun-like ammo for their tanks for this scenario.

If it doesn’t fit all of these categories, it’s almost certainly an infantry fighting vehicle, self-propelled artillery, or a similar platform.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Diabetes education and training

When someone has diabetes, there’s a constant stream of questions. Did you check your blood sugar? Are you exercising and keeping a good diet? Do you have your insulin handy?

Mary Julius, a program manager for the diabetes self-management education and training at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, wants to help educate veterans and their families about how to self-manage diabetes.


Julius broke down the differences between Type I and Type II diabetes.

  • Persons with Type I diabetes produce little or no insulin.
  • Persons with Type II diabetes make insulin but there is a resistance to the insulin.

According to Julius, diabetes awareness and education are increasingly important for veterans and their families; “25% of veterans receiving VA care have been diagnosed with diabetes.” Without awareness and education, people diagnosed with diabetes put their health at risk. Thus, veterans who have been diagnosed with diabetes should work closely with their primary provider, but, she emphasizes, veterans and their family also need the tools and education to apply self-management techniques.

Finally, Julius shares how VA has been working on creating a virtual medical learning center for veterans and their families to learn more about diabetes and related topics. Veterans and their families can access this learning site at VAVMC.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Air Force and Army join forces in training

Airmen from Joint Base Charleston and Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, supported Battalion Mass Tactical Week at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, Aug. 18-23, 2019.

BMTW is a joint exercise designed to enhance servicemembers’ abilities by practicing contingency operations in a controlled environment. The exercise incorporated three Air Force C-130J Super Hercules, three Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs and Army paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The exercise allowed all parties to quickly complete training tasks, such as personnel drops and cargo air drops, to better prepare joint forces to operate during global mobility missions.


“We do these types of exercises quarterly throughout the year,” said Lt. Col. Justin Warner, 437th Operations Support Group director of operations and the BMTW air mission commander. “The goal of the BMTW is to have a joint collaboration between the Air Force and the Army. We want not just C-17s, but also other airframes to take part in the same formations to support the Army in whatever their specific scheme of maneuvers may entail. This is a great training opportunity for airlift loadmasters and pilots to see and understand Army procedures, tactics and how they’re organized.”

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

An Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airdrops equipment onto a landing zone during Battalion Mass Tactical Week at Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 20, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody R. Miller)

Starting in 1917, the 82nd Airborne Division’s mission has evolved to strategically deploy, conduct forcible entry parachute assault and secure key objectives in support of U.S. national interests within 18 hours of notification. However, without the help of transport aircraft, the 82nd Airborne wouldn’t be able to execute this mission and get where they need to go. Air Force assets like the C-130J and C-17 allow for soldiers to safely get to their drop points and complete the mission.

While working with the 82nd airborne soldiers, airmen were able to complete training tasks with a focus on joint operations, readiness and interagency operability.

“Any type of repetition to help us stay proficient and current helps aircrew,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Hampton, a 16th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “We could be deployed in a matter of weeks or days so training like this really helps us prepare for anything we might face while in a deployed environment. Coming out to work with Army is great because we get to learn their way of doing things and how to work in a joint environment.”

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Air Force Capt. Peter Callo, a 621st Mobility Support Operations Squadron air mobility liaison officer from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., inspects communications equipment during Battalion Mass Tactical Week at Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 20, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody R. Miller)

BMTW implemented a mixed formation with the C-130Js and C-17s to target small drop zones in a restricted and austere environment, challenging the expertise of the mission planners and those executing the mission. Despite challenges of weather, timelines and effective communication, participants continued to be flexible and resilient to successfully complete BMTW.

“A mission is only as good as the plan that’s been developed for it,” Warner said. “The planners that have worked here to learn both Army and Air Force terminology and understand how both branches communicate have greatly enhanced our ability to get us to that next level of training and execution.”

Exercises like BMTW are held regularly to keep airmen current and up-to-date on current joint tactics. This specific BMTW was to prepare participants for the upcoming Exercise Mobility Guardian 2019, Air Mobility Command’s premier, large-scale mobility exercise. Mobility Guardian, which is scheduled for Sept. 8–28, 2019, provides a realistic training environment for more than 2,500 airmen to hone their skills with joint and international partners and keep a competitive edge in future conflicts.

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why squadrons are the ‘beating heart’ of the Air Force

In the Air Force, squadrons are the basic level of operations, its “beating heart” as Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein calls them.

To better understand how significant the squadron is to the Air Force, it’s also important to know what a squadron is.

Within the Air Force, the squadron is the lowest level of command with a headquarters element. Squadrons are typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel, though smaller squadrons may be commanded by majors, captains and sometimes even lieutenants. Squadrons can also vary in size and are usually identified numerically and by function. An example would be the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron or the 355th Communications Squadron.


Two or more squadrons form a group. In the Air Force, groups are usually based upon the assignment of squadrons with similar functions. For example, the supply squadron, transportation, and aircraft maintenance squadron would be assigned to the Logistics Group, the flying squadrons would be assigned to the Operations Group and the Dental Squadron and the Medical Squadron would be assigned to the Medical Group. Groups, in turn, are then assigned to a wing with the same number. For instance, the 49th Logistics Group is assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

However, the squadron actually predates the Air Force. In March 1913, the first squadron was created when the Army ordered the creation of the Army Air Services’ 1st Provisional Aero Squadron – known today as the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, the U.S. military’s oldest flying unit.

The creation of higher echelons came later as the role of air power grew during World War I. Groups and wings were formed in order to remedy the difficulty of coordinating aerial activities between dispersed aero squadrons. Though WWI saw the first great military mobilization, it also saw the first huge drawdown. What was more than 660 aero units diminished to a little over 70 squadrons by 1919, with an air component that was 19,000 soldiers strong reduced to around 5 percent of what it used to be. No one would have predicted that after two decades, the air component found itself expanding once again.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

108th Bombardment Squadron during the Korean War activation formation in 1951.

(US Air Force photo)

With the advent of World War II, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt acknowledged the growing importance of airpower. He believed, according to his adviser, Harry Hopkins, “that airpower would win the war.” What was then renamed to the Army Air Corps was well funded and grew rapidly, seeing more planes and squadrons than it ever will in its history – from a workforce comprised of 26,500 soldiers in 1939 to a staggering 2,253,000-strong by 1945.

The aerial component saw a considerable drawdown after the war ended, and, despite becoming its own department through the National Security Act of 1947, the number of airmen and squadrons continued to fluctuate and shrink over the years.

In the current Air Force, led by Wilson, Goldfein, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, the push for revitalizing squadrons, empowering airmen and supporting innovation is stronger than ever, but unbeknownst to many, these concepts have been implemented by many successful military leaders of the past. A prime example is one of the U.S. Air Force’s most iconic figures: a man known for his prowess in the aerial battlefield and his famously distinctive lip foliage, Big. Gen. Robin Olds.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

“Wolfpack” aviators of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing carry their Commanding Officer, Colonel Robin Olds, following his return from his last combat mission over North Vietnam, on 23 September 1967. This mission was his hundredth “official” combat mission, but his actual combat mission total for his tour was 152. Olds led the 8th TFW Wolfpack from September 1966 through September 1967, as it amassed 24 MiG victories, the greatest aerial combat record of an F-4 Wing in the Vietnam war.

(US Air Force)

Along with inspiring the Air Force tradition, Mustache March, Olds was known as a triple ace for shooting down 17 enemy aircraft during his career. Along with the accolades he received as a skilled fighter pilot, Olds was known for his innovative leadership. In Vietnam, he led the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing to 24 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 jet aircraft kills – an unsurpassed total for that conflict.

One of the most significant moments in his career was on Jan. 2, 1967, during Operation Bolo, where he, as a colonel, entrusted the planning of an experimental and high-stakes mission to a quartet of veteran junior officers and pilots in his unit. Operation Bolo was conceived in response to the North Vietnamese use of MiG-21s to successfully shoot down F-105 Thunderchief aircraft. Olds noticed that F-4 Phantoms and F-105 Thunderchiefs routes became predictable. Enemy intelligence analysts would listen in on radio transmissions and were able to recognize F-105 and F-4 call signs and flight patterns and used the information to target the more vulnerable F-105s. Olds charged his men to come up with a plan to trick the North Vietnamese into thinking the F-4s were the F-105s. The F-4s were then fitted with the jamming pods usually carried by F-105s so that their electronic signature would be the same and also used the same call signs and flew the same routes and pod formations as the F-105s. Needless to say, the operation was a success and lead to the most MiGs shot down during a single mission.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Francis S. Gabreski (left) congratulates another World War II and Korean War ace, Maj. William T. Whisner (center). On the right is Lt. Col. George Jones, a MiG ace with 6.5 kills.

(US Air Force)

In a commentary commemorating Olds in March of 2018 written by Lt. Col. Bobby Schmitt, 16th Space Control Squadron commander, he said that Operation Bolo “showed innovation could work when the leader trusted and empowered his people to think of and implement new and better ways to do business.”

He also referred to Olds as “an innovative leader” at a time when the Air Force was in dire need of innovation to face difficult missions where a lot of people’s lives were at stake.

Just like Olds, Goldfein and Wilson ask airmen to help come up with ideas to reinvigorate squadrons for the force to be ready for the 21st-century fight.

They have gone as far as reviewing all Air Force instructions and empowering commanders to maneuver and make decisions as well as encourage wing commanders to let squadron commanders make important decisions.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Capt. Lacey Koelling, the 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, and 34th Bomb Squadron members Capt. Lillian Pryor, a B-1 pilot; Capt. Danielle Zidack, a weapon systems officer; Capt. Lauren Olme, a B-1 pilot; and 1st Lt. Kimberly Auton, a weapon systems officer, conduct a preflight briefing prior to an all-female flight out of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 21, 2018. The flight was in honor of WomenÕs History Month and consisted of routine training in the local area.

(Air Force photo by Sgt. Jette Carr)

During an Air Force update in September 2017, where Goldfein talked about creating healthy squadrons who excel in multi-domain warfare and ready to lead the joint force, he concluded by saying, “It’s the secretary and my job to release the brilliance found throughout the airmen in our Air Force,” a sentiment that echoes the voices of great Air Force leaders of the past, the present and the future.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This boot camp helps veterans grow tech start-ups

Basic Training — often called boot camp — introduces new service members to military life and customs. Boot camp “accelerates” a citizen’s transformation to a soldier, sailor, airman or marine.

A Colorado-based company, Techstars Accelerator, created Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) to help service members transition out of the military. More importantly, PBC helps transitioning service members and entrepreneurial veterans turn their business ideas into tech start-ups.

The 15th installment of Patriot Boot Camp was held in Lehi, Utah on Aug. 23-25, 2019. Veterans, active duty service members, and military spouses with business ideas or existing businesses gathered for three days to learn from industry leaders. The event was hosted MX Data, and sponsored by MetLife Foundation, USAA, and Jared Polis Foundation.


The PBC connected the event’s attendees to a community of over fifty mentors — many of whom traveled from across the nation to make entrepreneurship tangible. A testament to the dedication and belief in this program was that the mentors all volunteered their time, at their own expense, to provide one-on-one mentoring.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Patriot Boot Camp founder Taylor McLemore address the veteran entrepreneurs.

More than 850 veterans have gone through the program, and they have hired over 1,600 employees and raised 0 million in venture capital while generating millions in revenue.

By the numbers

  • Jobs created: 1,600+
  • Hours of mentorship: 2,500+
  • Alumni entrepreneurs: 850+
  • Entrepreneurs attending PBC Utah: Coming from 23 states, one from Austria
  • Capital raised by alumni: 0 million
  • Diversity: 50% service-connected, disabled Veteran-owned business
  • Female founders: 23%

According to an article in TechCrunch, PBC graduates show “…that startups aren’t the sort of crazy risk that they first appear. Indeed, after what many of these men and women have just been through, it may not be all that daunting of a next mission after all.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard details the importance of the service to the nation

The United States Coast Guardsman will wear multiple hats during their service to this nation. They are an armed force, environmental protector, maritime law enforcer and first responder.

Every single day.


“We have eleven statutory missions that we perform for the country with 42,000 active duty, 6,000 reservists, and 8,000 civilians. We don’t get overtime, we are on duty 24/7 and are subject to the uniform code of military justice. We work a lot of hours to get it done,” shared Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Jason Vanderhaden.
In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

He continued on sharing the differences between those that serve under the Department of Defense and the USCG. He explained that those under DOD leave to fight, and when they get home, they have a chance to recharge and retrain. That’s not the case for those in the USCG. When a ship returns home from deployment, there are continual repairs and work that doesn’t stop. Then – it redeploys again, to continue serving the mission.

The defense readiness aspect of the USCG is unique. They have always had a respected partnership with the United States Navy and have fought in every major war since their inception on Aug. 4, 1790. They are overseas even now, serving in the ongoing middle eastern conflict. It may surprise the public to learn that they are the nations oldest continuing seagoing service.

“I want to paint the picture that we have a very challenging mission set, but at the same time, we do it well,” shared Vanderhaden. He continued on saying that it’s almost as though coasties thrive on that environment, which is evidenced in the retention rate.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

It may surprise people to learn that the USCG has an absolutely vital role in America’s anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism battle. As a matter of fact, they are on the front lines of it. On any given day, they are enforcing security zones, conducting law enforcement boardings, and working to detect weapons of mass destruction.

They are also the nation’s first line of defense against drugs entering the country. The USCG’s drug interdictions account for over half of the total seizures of cocaine in the United States.

While patrolling and protecting America, they are also continually serving her water and its marine inhabitants. They partner with multiple organizations and groups to protect the environment. One of the core missions of the USCG involves protecting endangered marine species, stopping unauthorized ocean dumping, and preventing oil or chemical spills.

“You’ll go a lot of places where people don’t know what the Coast Guard does, that’s for sure. We also struggle a little bit because people think they can’t join the Coast Guard because they don’t swim well. If you are in the water – something is probably wrong,” said Vanderhaden with a laugh. This is because there is truly only one rating or MOS where they have to get into the water, and that is the aviation survival technician, most commonly known as the rescue swimmer.

The USCG often conducts search and rescues in extreme weather conditions. This mission involves multi-mission stations, cutters, aircraft, and boats that are all linked by communication networks. Although public references to movies like The Guardian cause eye rolls within the USCG community; it did bring rescue swimming to a higher level of respect within the public. The rescue swimmer motto should give you goosebumps: “so that others may live.”

You’d think that recruiting potential coasties would be easy with the continuous news coverage and more visibility with certain movies, but it isn’t. Vanderhaden shared that only a small percentage of the population will actually qualify to serve in the armed forces, and getting the word out about the USCG is still very challenging. This is because they do not have the recruiting budgets that the DOD has, so you’ll almost never see a USCG commercial. “We rely on people finding us,” said Vanderhaden.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

With the world currently being consumed with the coronavirus or COVID-19 spread, Vanderhaden was asked about the USCG’s response and continuing of its missions during the pandemic. “We still have the service that we have to provide to the nation…. We are still doing our job and we have to, we are just taking more precautions,” he shared. There is no stand down for all of the vital operations of the USCG. He continued on saying, “We do need to make sure that we are always ready to respond, and we will continue to do that.”

Their core values are honor, respect, and devotion to duty. These values guide them in all they do, every single day. They willingly don the multiple hats and are prepared to sacrifice it all in the name of preserving this nation. That’s the United States Coast Guard, always ready.

To learn more about the Coast Guard and their missions, click here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here are the new uniform changes for female Marines

Marines have been given the approval to let their hair down — at least some of it — while they work out.

Women with medium-length hair are now allowed to wear a “half ponytail” hairstyle during physical training. The style, which pulls the top portion of the hair away from the face and into a ponytail while the rest of the hair remains down — is one of several new uniform-related changes the commandant signed off on this week.


“The section of hair pulled back into the half ponytail should be secured over the ‘crest of the head,'” according to a graphic depicting the new authorized look. “The half ponytail must lay flat, and hair may not stick straight out or at extreme angles from the head.”

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Female Marines with medium-length hair are now allowed to wear a “half ponytail” hairstyle during physical training.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pamela Jackson)

Half ponytails are allowed only for female Marines with medium-length hair. The style is authorized during PT, including when the Marine Corps combat utility uniform is worn during physical training. Women with long hair will still need to put their hair up, in a regular ponytail or free-hanging braid.

Half ponytails won’t be allowed with any Marine Corps headgear, the message states. And if the combat utility uniform isn’t being worn for PT, it’s back to the regular hair regs for all women, according to the message.

Women have also been given the OK to wear silver earrings with their service uniforms. Female Marines were previously allowed to wear only gold earrings with that uniform.

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit participate in an endurance course.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb McDonald)

“Small, polished, yellow gold or silver colored, ball, or round stud earrings (post, screw-on, or clip), not to exceed 6 millimeters (about 1/4 inch) in diameter, may be worn with the service, blue dress, and blue-white dress [uniforms],” the message states.

The changes follow a survey the Marine Corps Uniform Board conducted earlier this year. Officials declined to provide the results of that survey, but it did ask Marines to weigh in on these two approved changes.

The commandant also this week granted men the approval to use black umbrellas when it’s raining while they’re in their service or dress uniforms.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A Vietnam veteran re-enlisted to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan

Don Nicholas joined the military twice. The second time was for a reason soldiers don’t often give. His first enlistment began as a Marine in 1971. He spent the war on an aircraft carrier and didn’t set foot in South Vietnam until the war was over. He re-enlisted to land a spot as an embassy Marine in Saigon in 1974. He was on the second-to-last American helicopter leaving the city as it fell in 1975. He left active duty in 1978.

In 2004, he came back. The Marines thought he was too old at age 52. But for the Army Reserve, he was just what the doctor ordered. Literally.


It’s really not a fascination with war itself,” Sgt. Nicholas, who became a podiatrist in the intervening years, told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s more trying to keep people from getting killed. I’m taking the spot of some 19-year-old.”
In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

The now-Army NCO Nicholas’ Marine Corps Saigon Embassy ID photo.

(Don Nicholas)

In 2011, he was 59 years old, the oldest of 6,000 troops in the 25th Infantry Division sent to eastern Afghanistan. He tried for years to get back into the military after his service ended. He tried during Desert Storm and again after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It wasn’t until the height of the Iraq War that the Army was ready to take a man of his skill and advanced age.

Though “advanced” is a term used only because the Army’s average age of enlistees back in 2004 was somewhere between 30 and 35. Nicholas’ wife says his return to service actually replenished his youthful vigor.

He doesn’t want the other 19-year-olds to go,” Mrs. Nicholas said. But “it makes him 19 again. He finds youth in the military.”
In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

Don Nicholas in Afghanistan.

(Fox News/Daily Mail UK)

After his initial re-enlistment in 2004, he was sent to Iraq for 11 months. After a brief stay back at home, he redeployed to Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, among other places. At age 60, he would be ordered out of the battlefields of Afghanistan due to age restrictions. Instead, he fought to stay in Kunar Province of Afghanistan for another year, pushing back against the military’s attempted mandatory retirement. He has only seen 16 years of active service and wants to complete 20 years.

If I have my chance to stay in and complete my 20 years. I absolutely would,” he told the Daily Mail. “Probably would stay in a few more years after that if I could.” As of 2011, he was hoping his podiatry practice could get him attached to a medical unit.
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