The mathematician who saved hundreds of flight crews - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

The mathematician who saved hundreds of flight crews

Abraham Wald, a Jewish mathematician, was driven out of Romania and Europe by the Nazi advance and emigrated to the U.S. where he would serve in the Statistical Research Group, a bunch of egg heads who used math to make the military better at everything from firing rockets to shooting down enemy fighters. And Wald was the one who convinced the Navy that they were about to armor the completely wrong parts of their planes, saving hundreds of flight crews in the process.


Abraham Wald, a mathematician who helped save hundreds of air crews by writing brainiac papers.

(Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach, CC BY-SA 2.0)

To understand how Wald, sitting in New York for most of the war, saved so many lives, it’s important to understand what role academics and subject matter experts had in the war. The U.S. and Britain especially, but really all the great wartime powers, put some stock in the ability of their academics to solve tricky problems and make warfighters more efficient, more lethal, or more safe.

Some of this was having physicists and engineers create better weapons, like how the Applied Physics Laboratory was created to develop proximity fuses that made artillery and anti-aircraft weapons more effective. Some of this was having mathematicians figure out the best mix of rounds to load into machine guns of different types for the gunners to more quickly kill their targets. One great example is all the physicists and other scientists who worked on atom bombs.

But Wald was a statistician, and his job was to look at wartime processes and figure out how they could be improved. Wald was still, technically, an enemy alien, so he had an odd setup at the Statistical Research Group.

Planes hit in the fuel supply and engines often didn’t make it back to base, throwing off Navy and Army Air Corps data.

(U.S. Air Force)

As Jordan Ellenberg wrote in How Not To Be Wrong, there was a running joke in the SRG that Wald’s secretaries had to rip notepaper out of his hands as soon as he finished writing on it because he didn’t have the clearance to read his own work.

But Wald was an amazing mathematician, and it’s not like he was the type of Hungarian who might harbor sympathies for Hitler. Remember, he had fled Austria because Hitler would have had him killed, same as Albert Einstein and plenty of others. So, Wald used math to try to help the Allies kill the Axis, and he was in the SRG when the Navy came to them with a seemingly straightforward problem.

The Navy, and the Army Air Corps, was losing a lot of planes and crews to enemy fire. So, the Navy modeled where its planes showed the most bullet holes per square foot. Its officers reasoned that adding armor to these places would stop more bullets with the limited amount of armor they could add to each plane. They wanted the SRG to figure out the best balance of armor in each often-hit location.

(Adding armor adds weight, and planes can only takeoff with a certain amount of weight that needs to be balanced between plane and crew, ammo, fuel, and armor. Add too much armor, and you have a super safe bomber that can’t carry any bombs.)

While doomed planes did, sometimes, manage to land, they were usually lost at sea or in enemy territory. Abraham Wald successfully argued that the military should estimate where they were hit when determining what parts of planes they should armor.

(U.S. Navy)

But Wald picked out a flaw in their dataset that had eluded most others, a flaw that’s now known as “survivor bias.” The Navy and, really anyone else in the war, could typically only study the aircraft, vehicles, and men who survived a battle. After all, if a plane is shot down over the target, it lands on or near the target in territory the enemy controls. If it goes down while headed back to a carrier or island base, it will be lost at sea.

So the only planes the Navy was looking at were the ones that had landed back at ship or base. So, these weren’t examples of where planes were most commonly hit; they were examples of where planes could be hit and keep flying, because the crew and vital components had survived the bullet strikes.

Now, a lot of popular history says that Wald told the Navy to armor the opposite areas (or, told the Army Air Corps to armor the opposite areas, depending on which legend you see). But he didn’t, actually. What he did do was figure out a highly technical way to estimate where downed planes had been hit, and then he used that data to figure out how likely a hit to any given area was to down a plane.

What he found was that the Navy wanted to armor the least vulnerable parts of the plane. Basically, the Navy wasn’t seeing many hits to the engine and fuel supply, so the Navy officers decided those areas didn’t need as much protection. But Wald’s work found that those were the most vulnerable areas.

And that makes sense. After all, if you start leaking gas while still far from home, you likely won’t make it home. Have an engine destroyed even a few miles from home, and you likely won’t make it home. So the military took Wald’s work and applied armor to the areas he had defined as most vulnerable, primarily the engines, instead of putting armor on the areas with the most observed hits. And, guess what? Planes started surviving more hits.

Now, it didn’t win the war on its own, of course. Just like giving the Navy proximity fuses to make gunners more effective against enemy planes didn’t stop every Japanese dive bomber or Kamikaze attack, the armor didn’t save every plane and crew.

But winning a war isn’t about winning every engagement. It’s about paying less than you are willing to pay for victory and suffering less than you’re willing to suffer for each defeat. If you can do that, you’ll eventually win.

And Wald had driven down the price of success and the likelihood of failure for airplanes. Ironically, he died five years after the war in a plane crash, robbing us of his expertise in Korea and Vietnam, though his papers written during World War II continued to influence military decisions for decades.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia showed off a new ‘robotank’ in its Victory Day parade

In films and in comics, combat robots have caught our imaginations for years. Whether it’s the Terminator, Optimus Prime, or giant Gundams, robots with serious firepower draw big crowds to the box office. But such mechanical marvels haven’t yet emerged on the real battlefield.

That may soon change — at least for Russia, who recently demonstrated the Uran-9 unmanned ground combat vehicle (UGCV) at the 2018 Victory Day Parade on May 8.


Now, this vehicle isn’t some mech out of Robotech. According to Rosoboronexport’s website, this system is designed to provide “remote reconnaissance and fire support to combined arms, recon, and counter-terror units.”

Since it doesn’t need to haul any crew or grunts, the Uran-9 is a very compact vehicle that can hide and ambush the enemy.

(Rosoboronexport)

The system consists of a control station, a truck, and two remote-controlled tankettes. It might not sound like much, but this small tank (it weighs about 11 tons) can punch way above its weight. In fact, its armament suite is comparable to some full-sized Russian infantry fighting vehicles.

The main weapon on the Uran-9 is a 30mm autocannon, similar to those used on the BMP-2, BTR-90, BTR-80A, and BMP-3 IFVs. It also carries four AT-9 Spiral 2 anti-tank missiles, six RPO thermobaric rockets, and a 7.62mm PKT machine gun.

A look at the 30mm autocannon and two AT-9 Spiral 2 anti-tank missiles used on the Uran-9.

(Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

The Uran-9 is a versatile system and can swap out and add weapons to better suit the mission. For example, it’s capable of using the SA-16/SA-18 man-portable, surface-to-air missiles for stronger anti-aircraft capability. While its diverse arsenal makes it very capable fighter, it also carries sensors and tracking gear to find the enemy.

The United States doesn’t have a similar system, but has used packbots and larger robots for clearing explosives and urban recon.

Learn more about this super-lethal, unmanned Russian tankette in the video below!

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘High-risk’ Marine colonel warmed burrito on aircraft exhaust duct

The ousted commander of a Marine Corps air station rearranged his pilots’ flight schedules to give himself more time in the cockpit and had a reputation of being a “big, angry colonel,” according to an investigation into complaints about him.

Col. Mark Coppess, the former commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, abused his staff and officers for months “so he could achieve his personal objectives to fly,” a 351-page report into his behavior states. A copy of the investigation was obtained by Military.com on Aug 6, 2018.


UC-35D in flight

(NAVAIR)

Coppess was relieved of command June 5 by Brig. Gen. Paul Rock, head of Marine Corps Installations Pacific. Rock lost confidence in the colonel’s ability to lead, the service reported at the time.

Some believed Coppess, an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter pilot, was aggressively trying to earn flight time in a UC-35 Cessna Citation business jet. Coppess, who could not immediately be reached for comment, requested that he be scheduled to fly three times per week, according to the investigation.

“Colonel Coppess would remove pilots from the flight schedule and replace them with himself,” one witness said, according to the documents. “… This looked like Colonel Coppess was trying to receive more fixed-wing time to set himself up for a career post-Marine Corps.”

A Super cobra flies past USS Fort McHenry during a Search and Seizure (VBSS) drill

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson)

One witness said Coppess put his own time in the cockpit ahead of more junior pilots, adding that the colonel once said, “the captains can fly less. I’ve done my time.”

Others cited a poor command climate under Coppess and alleged abuse of authority and undue command influence. Five pilots interviewed during the investigation reported “personally being pressured to produce certain outcomes not in accordance with orders, [standard operating procedures] and directives” for Coppess’ benefit.

“He creates an atmosphere of fear and reprisal,” a witness told the investigating officer. “He is using his position, title, and rank to get what he wants for himself.”

Coppess denied using his position to unduly influence flight operations at Futenma, but acknowledged that he’d heard about the accusations from Rock.

A former operations officer at Futenma said scheduling staff had to route the weekly flight schedule through Coppess’ office before producing the daily schedules.

“He inserted himself into the schedule writing process,” the officer said. “… There is a perception of a ‘self hook-up’ concerning Col. Coppess’ flying.”

Coppess also told his Marines there was “no rank in the cockpit.” But those under his command didn’t always find that to be the case.

The colonel showed an unwillingness to accept constructive feedback from junior personnel, one witness said, adding they feared some might be unwilling to “correct procedural deviations and potential flight safety concerns due to apprehension about retribution from Col. Coppess.”

Pilots weren’t comfortable flying with Coppess, according to the investigation, and he was identified as a “high-risk aviator.” He had a reputation for being “difficult in the cockpit,” one witness said. Others said he was not experienced flying a fixed-wing aircraft.

www.youtube.com

Coppess once “rose his flaps at a non-standard time,” according to a witness, and on another occasion “warmed a burrito on the exhaust duct of the aircraft.”

While there aren’t any Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization [NATOPS] prohibiting pilots from doing either, the witness said the acts were considered “different enough” for the aircraft commanders to raise the issue to a party whose name was redacted in the report.

Coppess did not address those incidents in the investigating officer’s documents, but did say that he supports naval aviation’s constructs for safety and standardization.

In a memo for a May command meeting, he urged other aviators to be straight with him about his aviation skills, despite his rank and position. The memo was included in the investigation, though it’s not immediately clear whether the meeting was held.

“It will help me in knowing and owning my weaknesses and seeking improvement,” Coppess wrote in the meeting memo. “… I fully intend to know and own my shortcomings as an aviator.”

Despite the deficiencies some witnesses described, several people told the investigating officer that Coppess was pressuring people in the command to make him a Transport Aircraft Commander, or TAC. One in particular said he was under “constant pressure” to make Coppess a TAC in the UC-35D.

“[He] is not ready and is a below-average copilot,” the witness said. “I was specifically told by him a few months ago that he will be a TAC, will be dual [qualified to fly both our UC-35 and UC-12], and that he will be an instructor in at least one of the planes.”

Coppess addressed those issues in an April 27 letter that was included in the investigation. Writing to a redacted party, Coppess said he recognized the standardization board’s role in nominating pilots for additional designations and qualifications. He did “not intend to influence members of the Standardization Board in their responsibilities,” he wrote.

“I apologize for the unintentional perception of undue command influence on the [board’s] role of nominating pilots for designations and qualifications,” he said. “That won’t happen again. When the [board] determines I’ve progressed in proficiency and I’m nominated, I will be ready for the TAC syllabus.”

He also invited the person to bring any fears of reprisal to his attention.

While at Futenma, Coppess racked up more flight hours than any other air station commanding officer in the Marine Corps during the same period, according to the investigation. His command did not immediately respond to questions about his current assignment.

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

Humor

10 MP memes that will make you laugh all day

These young men and women are the first troops you’ll see in the morning as you drive onto base and they’re the last people you’ll see as you exit at night. The military police protect us from the various threats trying to sneak onto secured territory and they carefully watch the convicted criminals that are locked up — and this thankless job isn’t freakin’ easy.

The brave souls who serve as military police also take a lot of sh*t from their brothers- and sisters-in-arms — but it’s all in good fun… just like these memes.


(The Salty Soldier)

MIGHTY CULTURE

With the wind: Former Nike athlete joins the military and shares his journey

In the July 2019 issue of Military Spouse Magazine, Sam Chelanga and his family were featured regarding their drastic life move into the military. Sam retired from his career as a Nike sponsored professional runner to join the Army during the summer of 2018. Many could not believe such a successful athlete would leave his lucrative spotlight to become a soldier. That spotlight seems to keep following him regardless.

Sam Chelanga is now an author! His book With the Wind is already hitting the top sellers lists. It is no surprise that the famous athlete, Sam Chelanga, would have some profound things to say about running, or that the man who came to America against all odds from his humble beginnings in rural Kenya would have some intriguing stories to tell. What many may find surprising though, is the amount of profound insights on life that Sam saturates the pages with. It truly is a must read.


“What makes me any different than the man to my right or left? All of my accolades, my earnings, medals, honors, and fame were thrown out the window at that very moment. We got straight to the root of man on the asphalt that day. As the summer sun beat down on our heads and the sweat poured down our face in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, I could see I was with the wind.”
– an excerpt from Sam Chelanga’s new book, With the Wind

(Military Spouse)

In Sam’s book, With the Wind, Sam encourages and moves the reader to discover that in essence we are all “with the wind.” He expresses a take on life that involves letting go. He leads the reader to understand that happiness and joy are most successfully found when we do not try so hard to search it out. Instead, if we are able to treasure the here and now, we will find that the source to the happiness we were seeking was there all along. Sam Chelanga’s book is highly recommended by many. Each chapter digs into the spirit of the readers and leads them on a journey of their own.

It is no secret that 1LT Chelanga has a great love for the USA. His book not only expresses his gratitude and pride for America, but also shines a very important light on the military and life itself. Sam stresses in his book that people are all the same at their core, and he closes the last chapter by stressing that it was when he joined the Army that he felt he was most “with the wind.”

With the Wind is available on Amazon now and will be released in stores on July 28, 2020. Buy Now.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise is massive

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise, better known as RIMPAC, is the largest regular naval exercise in the world. Every even-numbered year, countries from around the globe take part in this massive operation. 15 nations took part in RIMPAC 2018 (China was disinvited), bringing together a total of 48 ships off the coast of Hawaii.

But there’s much more to RIMPAC than ships.


All sorts of units take part in this massive, international exercise. Off the coast of Southern California, participants carried out mine counter-measures exercises. Dolphins from the Navy Marine Mammal Program also pitched in to help with mine-clearing. Meanwhile, Camp Pendleton got in on the RIMPAC action as United States Marines trained with their Mexican and Canadian counterparts.

If that’s not enough, the United States Army and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force teamed up to put some hurt on a ship. Special Operations forces also got to do their thing during this exercise — hell, even the bands got involved!

A Mk 7 bottlenose dolphin prepares to mark a “mine” during RIMPAC 2018.

(US Navy)

Historically, there’s been no limit as to what missions might be practiced. Ships get sunk during RIMPAC (arguably a highlight of the exercise), but units there also practice humanitarian missions, amphibious assaults, and even submarine rescues.

In 2018, the exercise was interrupted by a real search-and-rescue mission off the island of Hawaiian island of Niihau that involved Navy and Coast Guard units. In short, if it can happen in war, it can happen at RIMPAC!

Multi-national Special Operations Forces (SOF) participate in a submarine insertion exercise with the fast-attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) and combat rubber raiding craft off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Michelle Pelissero)

This year, two aircraft carriers, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and JS Ise (DDH 182), took part, as did the amphibious assault ship USS Bon Homme Richard (LHD 6), HMAS Adelaide (L01), and 44 other vessels, ranging from the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T AH 19) to the Peruvian maritime patrol boat BAP Ferre.

Watch the video below to get a glimpse at all the ships that took part in RIMPAC 2018!

MIGHTY TRENDING

A NATO ally is fighting US-backed forces in Syria

Turkey will carry out new military operations along its borders after its two previous offensives into Syria, President Tayyip Erdogan said on May 6, 2018, as he announced his manifesto for June 2018’s snap elections.

Turkey is now carrying out an offensive into northern Syria’s Afrin region against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish militants waging an insurgency on Turkish soil.


The Afrin campaign is Turkey’s second cross-border operation into Syria during the seven-year-old civil war. The first, dubbed “Euphrates Shield”, targeted Islamic State and Kurdish fighters further east than Afrin, and was completed in early 2017.

Speaking to thousands of supporters in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkey’s operations along its southern border would continue “until not a single terrorist is left.”

“We will not give up on constricting terrorist organizations. In the new period, Turkey will add new ones to the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in order to clear its borders,” Erdogan said.

“We shattered the terror corridor being formed on our southern border with these operations. Our soldiers, who lastly wrote an epic in Afrin, are ready for new missions,” he said.

Erdogan has previously threatened to push its Afrin offensive against the YPG further east to Manbij, where U.S. troops are stationed, risking confrontation between the NATO allies.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and has been infuriated with U.S. support for the militia.

On May 4, 2018, the US also announced details of a proposed $717 billion annual defense policy bill, which included measures to temporarily halt weapons sales to Turkey.

Ankara is looking to purchase more than 100 F-35, and possibly Patriot missile defense systems, but has also recently signed an agreement with Moscow to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which are incompatible with NATO systems.

On May 6, 2018, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said “Turkey will absolutely retaliate” if the US halts the weapons sales, adding that the US “needs to let go of this.”

But Cavusoglu also said on May 6, 2018, that Ankara and Washington have reached an understanding on a roadmap in Syria’s Manbij in which the militants will leave the area, and that the details were being discussed with the new U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

Erdogan has also said Turkey could carry out a joint offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq with Baghdad. Cavusoglu said the operation was still on the agenda.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 truths about the drill life

Whether you’re about to live it or are wondering if it’s a viable personal move (as well as a great professional move), there are many questions surrounding drill life. Known as being “on the trail,” drill sergeants and their families deal with a schedule and a lifestyle that differs from the rest of the military world. (And the rest of training units for that matter.)


Here are 5 truths of what it’s like to live on the trail, and what you can expect as a military spouse or dependent of an incoming drill.

It’s not like “regular” military life

If you’re a milspouse, you think “been there, done that,” right? Perhaps your spouse has been deployed, you’ve experienced several TDYs apart, and more. So if going drill is on the table you might be thinking, NBD. But the truth is, the life of a drill family greatly differs from the rest of the military.

Training units in general are a whole new world, but add in trainees that – at least for a portion of time – have to be supervised at all hours, and you’re looking at a schedule that’s spotty at best, and an unequal balance of parenting and household responsibilities. Be ready to pick up the slack; life on the trail is by far a family effort.

The hours are long

Military spouses are often left to handle things at home for days on end. Middle of the night calls when they have to go into work? Check. Last-minute overnights? Also a yep. Because trainees are involved, planning days ahead doesn’t always work. Everything could be listed out in excruciating detail, then something goes incredibly wrong, and drill sergeants have to return to work. Is that always the case? Of course not. Units do their best to keep hours low, but it’s always a possibility.

Experience depends on unit

Drill schedules take this to a new level. For instance, each MOS has its own timeline for basic and AIT scheduling. Each also comes with various rules on if/when weekends are non-work days, how many drills have to be present at each time, etc. But even furthermore, each individual company has its own rundown for days off, long weekends, especially in OSUT scenarios. (BCT and AIT in one location.)

If you have orders, the best source of information will be those who have been there first.

Stephen Colbert learns how “mean” drill instructors can be.

They’re loud, but not “in-the-movies” mean

When the “brown round” goes on, the voice escalates. Privates are talked down to, they’re encouraged to learn respect, and quickly. Being a drill means your spouse will have to, from time to time, be mean. But don’t freak out, either; it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, drill school teaches how to break and build incoming soldiers, but personality plays into this, too. Each drill will have their owner leadership style, their own way of being heard. Donning the same headgear as Smokey the Bear won’t suddenly make your spouse a screaming, demanding individual.

Drills don’t like being gone either

It won’t take long for most military spouses to wish they had more time with their always-working spouse. But while they’re gone for hours, sometimes days, remember that they don’t like the schedule, either. They are likely getting little sleep and training round-the-clock.

Being married to a drill is definitely a grind, but with a solid effort, it’s also a great way to fast-track a military career.

Keep in mind that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and incredible honor involved with life on the trail. It’s a great way for families to become tight-knit and rely on one another, even with crazy schedules.

Articles

Germany just threw a UXO party for 50,000 people

Unexploded ordnance, often called “UXO,” has long been a problem after wars. In World War II, the Allies dropped almost 1.6 million tons of bombs on Germany – the equivalent of 6.4 million 500-pound bombs. Every major city was hit.


The problem is that not all the bombs exploded — not surprising when so many were dropped. These have been hanging around – and even now, 72 years after V-E Day, some of them still turn up.

And in Hanover, Germany, on May 7, 2017, three of those UXOs were found by construction crews, according to the BBC.

A 2,500 pound German bomb, buried opposite University College Hospital, London, was removed by Army sappers. Before the bomb, which fell in 1941, was de-fused, people in the area were evacuated to a safe distance. (National Archives)

According to a report by FoxNews.com, the city government evacuated 50,000 people, the largest since an unexploded bomb was found in Augsberg, Germany, last Christmas. In February, a German bomb that failed to detonate was discovered in the United Kingdom while construction work was underway to improve the intended home port for the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

With so many people affected, the city decided to throw a big UXO party. Numerous events were set up, including screenings of films for kids, sporting events, and museum tours. There were also efforts made to provide food and other essential supplies to the evacuees while the Allied bombs were secured.

(Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sean Carnes)

There’s no doubt about it, UXO can still kill, even after decades under ground. The BBC reported that in 2010, three German EOD techs were killed while trying to defuse a World War II leftover. In 2012, a construction worker was killed when his equipment hit an old bomb. Old World War II ordnance has sometimes been discovered during training exercises, notably in the Baltic Sea.

In the United States, most of the UXO is from the Civil War. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a number of cannonball left over from that conflict were unearthed.

Humor

5 messed-up ways troops welcome the new guy

The military is a close-knit family, built upon multiple generations of camaraderie and inside jokes. Whenever a new person is introduced into that family, they have decades of knowledge to catch up on.

Troops will always rib the new guy — it’s their way of welcoming a new brother and sister.


Of course, just because it’s time to share a life lesson or two doesn’t mean troops will pass up the opportunity to have some fun at someone else’s expense. The following techniques apply to anyone new to a unit — not just the boots.

For maximum effect, mess with the butterbars.

“Hurrying up and waiting” is the most valuable skill in the military

(Meme via /r/military)

Teach them the unit’s pace

The moment you meet a new guy is the perfect time to show them how things are done — first impressions and whatnot. Chances are, they’ve still got a lot of in-processing that needs to get done and they’ll need a sponsor.

Now’s your chance. You can make this go one of two ways: Move things along at a blistering pace and watch as the new guy tries to keep up or grind things down to a screeching, maddening halt. Choose whichever way more accurately describes your unit.

Everyone will find it funny. Totally.

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Introduce them to their new unit

Your unit has been strengthened by years of bonding. Any dumb fights or petty squabbles have been lost to time. The new guy, however, is fresh meat. You get to relive all of those old jokes without letting them know you’re joking.

For example, let the new guy know that the dude in supply isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed — so they’ll talk extremely slowly to them. Or inform them that the hard-ass First Sergeant really enjoys hugs if you go for one. The sky’s the limit.

Great way to get them up to speed on how PT is done in the unit as well.

(Meme via /r/military)

Introduce them to the unit after hours

Troops wear their hardcore alcoholism on their sleeve. If the new kid just graduated high school, the most they have to brag about is, likely, that one party where someone’s dad gave them a beer. What better way to give them a more interesting story than subjecting them to possible liver failure?

This is the point where I should throw out there that, legally speaking, consumption of alcohol under the age of 21 is against the law, UCMJ action could be taken, and the MPs will bring the hammer down on those who provide alcohol.

But, you know… Not all military traditions are technically “legal.”

If they’re a lieutenant, everyone will just believe your story that they just “wandered” around post.

(Meme via /r/military)

Show them the local landscape

You’d be amazed at how quickly someone learns geographical landmarks when they’re lost. Even more so if they’re on foot. It’s like an impromptu land-nav lesson. Show them the company area and then swing by the Exchange for lunch. Then, out of the blue, you’ll just happen to get an important call the moment they’re out of sight.

It’s a win-win scenario. They learn the area like the back of their hand and you get a break from babysitting.

Either way, the FNG probably won’t get that you’re messing with them, so have at it.

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Scavenger hunts!

There is no time-honored tradition tradition quite sending the new guy to retrieve one of the many items in the endless treasure trove of “completely real” things. Recruiters and older vets may try and take away the fun by letting the younger kids know that “blinker fluid” isn’t real, but there are plenty more in the cache.

Get creative and reach for the obscure. Ask the radio guys for a “can of squelch” or the not-blatantly-obvious ID-10-T form. It may sound cruel at first, but on the “search,” they’ll be run around the company area, getting familiar with who does what and where things are kept.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A Saddam Hussein loyalist still fights an insurgency in Iraq

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was with Saddam from the very beginning and on through to the very end when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 spread him and his compatriots to the winds. The next thing he knew, he was the King of Clubs on the U.S. military’s now-famous most-wanted Baathist decks of cards.


Unlike most of the people who appeared on the deck, Al-Douri was one of seven figures who managed to completely evade capture. Also unlike most of his fellow Baathists, the 77-year-old Baath party chairman also kept fighting the fight for Saddam’s Iraq – a fight he continues to this day.

He was said to have helped the rise of ISIS.

The United States left Iraq as a ruling force back in 2011. By then, most of the people featured on the deck of cards were either captured, killed, or some combination of the two. The only exceptions were seven individuals who managed to flee the invasion and then evade capture somehow. Al-Douri was one of these evaders. Not only did he manage to evade capture for the entire duration of the Iraq War, but he also launched his own insurgency against the Americans, calling it the Naqshbandi Army.

Its full name is the Army Men of the Naqshbandi Order, and its ideology is a blend of pan-Arab nationalism (like the Baath party before it) and fundamentalist Islamic beliefs. They clashed with other Sunni groups like al-Qaeda in Iraq while fighting a guerrilla war against the Americans. The entire group operated in independent cells of seven to ten men. Al-Douri was said to be leading this group from neighboring Syria.

So brave.

In April 2015, it was believed Al-Douri was killed by a Shia paramilitary group in Iraq’s Salahuddin Province, but DNA testing was inconclusive, and his insurgent group denied the reports. Al-Douri appeared on television and other media later, discussing events that took place after his death, so it was soon widely accepted that the body found was not Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. With the Americans (mostly) gone from Iraq, Al-Douri and his fighters have started to turn their attention to Iranian forces in the country, troops Al-Douri fought as a Baathist for years during the Iran-Iraq War.

He has since declared that Iranians will be the groups next targets in the coming years, blaming Iran for “directly invading” Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has promised to form a special team to kill or capture Al-Douri, but one has yet to materialize.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia will get a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier – just not anytime soon

The commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy says that Russia will build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for the first time, but the country will not have this modern flattop anytime soon.

“There will be, of course, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier but not in the short-term perspective,” Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov said July 10, 2019, in St. Petersburg, according to the state-run TASS News Agency.

The admiral’s comments reflect earlier reports citing unnamed sources in the Russian shipbuilding industry that suggested development of a new carrier might not begin until well into the next decade.


Russia’s naval forces are not expected to even receive the ship until sometime in the 2030s — assuming they ever receive it at all, shipbuilding sources previously told Russian media.

The new carrier is expected to be a marked improvement over the troubled Admiral Kuznetsov.

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

Last fall, the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, was severely damaged when the massive Swedish-built PD-50 dry dock at the 82nd Repair Shipyard in Roslyakovo sank with the aircraft carrier on board. A heavy crane fell on the vessel, punching a large hole in the hull and deck.

Russia’s ability to repair the damage appears to be limited due to the substantial damage to the vital shipyard, and there has even been talk of scrapping the flagship of the Russian navy rather than paying for costly repairs. The carrier offers very little in terms of capability, even with the planned modifications meant to modernize the often disappointing Cold War relic.

The Nevskoye Design Bureau, part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, presented its design for what it called the Project 11430E Lamantin nuclear-powered aircraft carrier this week at the St. Petersburg international maritime defense show, where the Russian admiral made his comments.

The carrier, as designed, would displace about 80,000-90,000 metric tons, making it much larger than the Kuznetsov but smaller than US Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers.

USS Nimitz.

While Russia has dreams of building a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the cash-strapped country is also considering conventional alternatives.

Last month, the Krylov State Scientific Research Center unveiled what it said was “a principally new concept of an aircraft carrier” designed to outshine the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth. The conventional gas turbine-powered carrier would be, according to the developers, four to six times cheaper than a nuclear-powered version the center presented a few years ago.

Russian defense firms and research centers have been pitching aircraft carrier designs for years, but for now, the Russian Navy has only the out-of-action Kuznetsov.

Russia has nuclear-powered submarines, but it has never had a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in its fleet. In the final years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union began work on a nuclear-powered carrier known as the Ulyanovsk, but the fall of the Soviet Union led the Russians to suspend development. The project was scrapped, and the ship’s partial hull was disassembled.

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

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After 100 years World War I battlefields are poisoned and uninhabitable

No war in recent memory can compare to the meat grinder of World War I. Europe still bears the scars of the war, even almost a century later. The gruesome and terrifying type of warfare typical of the Great War had a lasting impact on those who witnessed and experienced it. It also created such carnage on the land where it was fought that some of those areas are still uninhabitable to this day.


The Battlefield at The Somme (Imperial War Museum photo)

The uninhabitable areas are known as the Zone Rouge (French for “Red Zone”). They remain pock-marked and scarred by the intense fighting at places like Verdun and the Somme, the two bloodiest battles of the conflict.

During the Battle of Verdun, which lasted over 300 days in 1916, more than 60 million artillery shells were fired by both sides – many containing poisonous gases. These massive bombardments and the brutal fighting inflicted horrifying casualties, over 600,000 at Verdun and over 1 million at the Somme. But the most dangerous remnants of these battles are the unexploded ordnance littering the battlefield.

The Battlefield of Verdun in 2016 (French Government photo)

Immediately after the war, the French government quarantined much of the land subjected to the worst of the battles. Those areas that were completely devastated and destroyed, unsafe to farm, and impossible for human habitation became the Zone Rouge. The people of this area were forced to relocate elsewhere while entire villages were wiped off the map.

Nine villages deemed unfit to be rebuilt are known today as the “villages that died for France.” Inside the Zone Rouge signs marking the locations of streets and important buildings are the only reminders those villages ever existed.

Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

Areas not completely devastated but heavily impacted by the war fell into other zones, Yellow and Blue. In these areas, people were allowed to return and rebuild their lives. This does not mean that the areas are completely safe, however. Every year, all along the old Western Front in France and Belgium, the population endures the “Iron Harvest” – the yearly collection of hundreds of tons of unexploded ordnance and other war materiel still buried in the ground.

Occasionally, the Iron Harvest claims casualties of its own, usually in the form of a dazed farmer and a destroyed tractor. Not all are so lucky to escape unscathed and so the French and Belgian governments still pay reparations to the “mutilée dans la guerre“– the victims of the war nearly 100 years after it ended.

Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

To deal with the massive cleanup and unexploded ordnance issues, the French government created the Département du Déminage (Department of Demining) after World War II. To date, 630 minesweepers died while demining the zones.

An estimated 720 million shells were fired during the Great War, with approximately 12 million failing to detonate. At places like Verdun, the artillery barrages were so overwhelming, 150 shells hit every square meter of the battlefield. Concentrated barrages and driving rains turned the battlefield into a quagmire that swallowed soldiers and shells alike.

Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

Further complicating the cleanup is the soil contamination caused by the remains of humans and animals. The grounds are also saturated with lead, mercury, and zinc from millions of rounds of ammunition from small arms and artillery fired in combat. In some places, the soil contains such high levels of arsenic that nothing can grow there, leaving haunting, desolate spaces.

Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

Though the Zone Rouge started at some 460 square miles in size, cleanup efforts reduced it to around 65 square miles. With such massive amounts of explosives left in the ground, the French government estimates the current rate of removal will clear the battlefields between 300 and 900 years from now.