The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

On the scenic Thai island of Koh Sumai, tucked away in the Wat Khunaram temple is the mummified body of one of Thailand’s most famous monks- Luang Pho Daeng. Remarkably well preserved, Luang Pho Daeng’s body was put on display sometime in the 1970s and is still there today, virtually unchanged from the day he passed away, with the notable exception of a giant pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that were added later. So how does his body stay so naturally well preserved and why is he wearing Ray-Bans?


Born sometime in 1894 on Koh Sumai, Luang Pho Daeng first became ordained as a Buddhist monk in his twenties. However, he only remained a monk for a few months before he decided to abandon the pursuit to raise a family and live an otherwise normal life. That said, his brief time as a monk had a profound impact on Luang Pho Daeng’s life and guided his actions throughout the ensuing decades. For example, during WW2, Pho Daeng, who was a financially successful businessman during his adult life, donated large amounts of money as well as clothing and medicine to those in need and otherwise placed high value on all life.

The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

(Photo by Per Meistrup)

It was also around this time, in 1944 at the age of about 50 years old that he, apparently with the support of his wife and six now grown children, decided to once again become a monk.

After being ordained, Luang Pho Daeng threw himself into studying Buddhist texts and became fascinated with various meditation techniques, soon becoming a master meditator, in particular of Vipassana meditation, which literally translates to “seeing clearly”.

His skill at meditation was such that he could reportedly meditate for upwards of 15 days at a time, during which period he’d neither move nor consume food or drink. Although the man himself claimed that he needed no nourishment during his marathon meditation sessions, he was frequently warned by physicians that he was causing severe harm to his body through his regular extended bouts of no fluid or food intake.

As you might imagine, during these sessions, he lost a great deal of weight through muscle, fat, and fluid loss and was often so weakened by his meditation that he needed to nursed back to health via fluid resuscitation and the like, before ultimately he would once again resume meditating.

The true extent of the damage Luang Pho Daeng did to his body while meditating was largely lost on his followers thanks to the decidedly monk-like stoicism with which he was able to endure the withering effects of severe dehydration and hunger. As a result, Luang Pho Daeng became something of a celebrity amongst the residents of Koh Sumai and many travelled to Wat Khunaram temple to learn from him.

In addition to his impressive meditative abilities, Pho Daeng was known for his strict adherence to a simplistic lifestyle, on a normal day eating only one, simple meal and apparently always eating from the same bowl.

The Mummified Monk Thailand Koh Samui

www.youtube.com

According to the monks of Wat Khunaram where Luang Pho Daeng served as an abbot, shortly after his 79th birthday in 1973, Luang Pho Daeng foresaw his own death and made it known that he would mummify himself, which is totally possible if excruciating and an extremely time consuming process that, given the time of his eventual death, meant he must have started the process long before he made this announcement.

In preparation for his anticipated success at this, he requested that his disciples build him an “upright coffin” made of glass in which his body should be put on display if he was successful in his goal of achieving self-mummification. His ultimate aim being that his remains would serve as an eternal testament to the Buddhist belief in the transience of human existence if he was successful.

Unfortunately for those of us who like the details, exactly how he prepared himself for self-mummification was never recorded by the monks of his temple. That said, one known method used by certain types of Buddhist monks was a total of a nine year process, about six of which the monk would be alive for.

The monks would begin by ceasing eating any food except various nuts and seeds, with some accounts stating that they were also allowed to eat fruits and berries. They would also begin a regimented program of heavy physical exercise, which they would continue throughout this first period that lasted one thousand days.

During the next one thousand days, the monks would further restrict their diet by only eating bark and various roots, again with some accounts stating that they were also allowed to eat a limited amount of fruits and berries. Near the end of this period, they would drink a concoction made from the sap of the Urushi tree. This tree’s sap is mildly poisonous and is normally used as a natural lacquer. Ingesting the drink caused the person consuming it to vomit frequently, further restricting the body’s ability to obtain nutrients from the sparse diet they ate. They would also rapidly lose bodily fluids due to vomiting. As a side effect, this sap also worked as a preservative in their bodies.

The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

Urushi tree.

In the final stage of self-mummification, the monk’s body would be little more than skin and bones. If the monk survived to this point, he would lock himself into a stone tomb that was just large enough for him to fit in, sitting in the lotus position, which is a position he would not move from until he died. The tomb itself contained an air tube, so that the monk could live for a time after being entombed. It also contained a bell, which the monk would ring on a daily basis to let those outside the tomb know he was still alive.

While in the tomb, the monk would sit in the lotus position and meditate until death. Once the monk died and, thus, no longer rang the bell each day, the breathing tube would be removed and the tomb sealed for the final thousand day period of the ritual. At the end of this period, the tomb would be opened to see if the monk was successful in mummifying himself. If he was, the preserved body would be put on display in the temple. Having successfully demonstrated mastery over the physical, the priest would also then be declared a Buddha.

Whether some semblance of this was what Pho Daeng did or not isn’t known. Whatever the case, after his preparations were complete on an unknown date in 1973, he sat down and meditated for the final time of that particular life.

When his followers discovered that he’d passed away while meditating, they hastily constructed the upright coffin he’d requested and placed his body inside to wait and see if it would decompose or not. If it did decompose, he left instructions that his remains were to be cremated. If it didn’t, as mentioned, he requested they be put it on display.

In keeping with his final wishes, when his body failed to decompose normally, he was then put on display in Wat Khunaram.

The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

Wat Khunaram.

Nearly three decades later, in 2002, his remains were still externally in remarkably good shape, spurring researchers at the Bioanthropology Research Institute to study the corpse. In the process, among other things, they performed a radiographic analyses on it.

The results?

Amazingly his organs, including brain, are all still remarkably well preserved, more or less having shrunk from dehydration, but otherwise still there and intact. In fact, one of the only parts of Luang Pho Daeng’s body that actually rotted away were his eyes, which sunk into his skull shortly after his death.

This became something of an issue for the monks of the temple wanting to display Luang Pho Daeng’s corpse as per his final wishes, because children who visited the temple were understandably terrified of his eyeless visage, rather than in awe of his self-mummification.

After contemplating the issue for some time, the monks of the temple came up with the rather novel solution of simply covering Luang Pho Daeng’s eye sockets with a pair of Ray-Bans, which would not just mask the eye sockets, but also make him look rather stylish.

Luang Pho Daeng has rocked this look ever since. And as a result of both his startlingly well-preserved state and timeless fashion sense, his former body has become the temple’s most famous attraction.

Incidentally, one other interesting thing the study by the Bioanthropology Research Institute discovered in examining the body was that at some point a Gecko or Geckos managed to lay eggs in his eye sockets and skull, as well as in his mouth and throat…

Moving swiftly on, the monks of Wat Khunaram don’t mind visitors taking pictures or even recording videos of Luang Pho Daeng body (so long as they do so in a respectful manner) and the temple is free to the public, meaning images of this fashion conscious mummy are plentiful for those who can’t make the trip.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

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  • MIGHTY TACTICAL

    The Air Force’s tricky paths to 386 operational squadrons

    The U.S. Air Force will soon need to make a decision on whether its plan to grow to 386 operational squadrons should focus on procuring top-of-the-line equipment and aircraft, or stretching the legs of some of its oldest warplanes even longer, experts say.

    Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced in September 2018 that the service wants at least 74 additional squadrons over the next decade. What service brass don’t yet know is what could fill those squadrons.


    Some say the Air Force will have to choose between quantity — building up strength for additional missions around the globe — or quality, including investment in better and newer equipment and warfighting capabilities. It’s not likely the service will get the resources to pursue both.

    “It’s quite a big bite of the elephant, so to speak,” said John “JV” Venable, a senior research fellow for defense policy at The Heritage Foundation.

    Wilson’s Sept. 17, 2018 announcement mapped out a 25 percent increase in Air Force operational squadrons, with the bulk of the growth taking place in those that conduct command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and tanker refueling operations.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks with members of the workforce during a town hall at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., April 5, 2018.

    (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki)

    She broke down the planned plus-up as follows:

    • 5 additional bomber squadrons
    • 7 more fighter squadrons
    • 7 additional space squadrons
    • 14 more tanker squadrons
    • 7 special operations squadrons
    • 9 combat search-and-rescue squadrons
    • 22 squadrons that conduct command and control and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
    • 2 remotely piloted aircraft squadrons
    • 1 more airlift squadron

    Venable, who flew F-16 Fighting Falcons throughout his 25-year Air Force career, estimated that buying new aircraft such KC-46 Pegasus tankers, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and newer C-17 Globemaster IIIs for the squadron build-up could set the Air Force back some billion on plane costs alone.

    An additional 14 airlift squadrons using C-17s could cost roughly billion; five bomber squadrons of fifth-generation B-21 Raider bombers would cost roughly billion; and seven additional fighter squadrons of either F-22 Raptors or F-35s would be .5 billion, Venable said, citing his own research.

    “Tanker aircraft, that was the biggest increase in squadron size, a significant amount of aircraft [that it would take for 14 squadrons] … comes out to .81 billion,” he said.

    By Venable’s estimates, it would require a mix of nearly 500 new fighter, bomber, tanker, and airlift aircraft to fill the additional units. That doesn’t include the purchase new helicopters for the combat-search-and-rescue mission, nor remotely piloted aircraft for the additional drone squadron the service wants.

    And because the Air Force wants to build 386 squadrons in a 10-year stretch, new aircraft would require expedited production. For example, Boeing Co. would need to churn out 20 KC-46 tankers a year, up from the 15 per year the Air Force currently plans to buy, Venable said.

    The service says it will need roughly 40,000 airmen and personnel to achieve these goals by the 2030 timeframe. Venable said the personnel that come with these missions would cost an additional billion over the next decade.

    The Air Force thus would be spending closer to billion per year on these components of its 386-squadron plan, he said.

    New vs. old

    In light of recent Defense Department spending fiascos such as the Joint Strike Fighter, which cost billions more than estimated and faced unanticipated delays, some think the Air Force should focus on extending the life of its current aircraft, rather than buying new inventory.

    The Air Force will not be able to afford such a buildup of scale along with the modernization programs it already has in the pipeline for some of its oldest fighters, said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Harrison was first to estimate it would cost roughly billion a year to execute a 74-squadron buildup, tweeting the figure shortly after Wilson’s announcement.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    F-16 Fighting Falcons in flight.

    If the Air Force wants to increase squadrons quickly, buying new isn’t the way to go, Harrison told Military.com. The quickest way to grow the force the service wants would be to stop retiring the planes it already has, he said.

    “I’m not advocating for this, but … as you acquire new aircraft and add to the inventory, don’t retire the planes you were supposed to be replacing,” said Harrison.

    “That doesn’t necessarily give you the capabilities that you’re looking for,” he added, saying the service might have to forego investment in more fifth-generation power as a result.

    By holding onto legacy aircraft, the Air Force might be able to achieve increased operational capacity while saving on upfront costs the delays associated with a new acquisition process, Harrison said.

    The cost of sustaining older aircraft, or even a service-life extension program “is still going to be much less than the cost of buying brand-new, current-generation aircraft,” he said.

    Just don’t throw hybrid versions or advanced versions of legacy aircraft into the mix.

    It has been reported the Air Force is not only considering an advanced F-15X” fourth-plus generation fighter for its inventory, but is also open to an F-22/F-35 fifth-generation hybrid concept.

    “That would just complicate the situation even more,” Harrison said.

    Venable agreed.

    “Why would you ever invest that much money and get a fourth-generation platform when you could up the volume and money into the F-35 pot?” Venable said.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Boeing is proposing a new version of its F-15 Eagle, the F-15X.

    (Boeing)

    Running the numbers

    Focusing on squadron numbers as a measure of capability may not be the right move for the Air Force, Harrison said.

    The Navy announced a similar strategy in 2016, calling for a fleet of 355 ships by the 2030s. But counting ships and counting squadrons are two different matters, he said.

    “While it’s an imperfect metric, you can at least count ships,” Harrison said. “A squadron is not a distinct object. It’s an organization construct and [each] varies significantly, even within the same type of aircraft.”

    Still less clear, he said, is what the Air Force will need in terms of logistics and support for its planned buildup.

    Harrison estimates that the aircraft increase could be even more than anticipated, once support and backup is factored in.

    For example, if it’s assumed the squadrons will stay about the same size they are today, with between 10 and 24 aircraft, “you’re looking at an increase [in] total inventory of about 1,100 to 1,200” planes when keeping test and backup aircraft in mind, he said.

    A squadron typically has 500 to 600 personnel, including not just pilots, but also support members needed to execute the unit’s designated mission, he said. Add in all those jobs, and it’s easy to reach the 40,000 personnel the Air Force wants to add by the 2030 timeframe.

    “It’s difficult to say what is achievable here, or what the Air Force’s real endstate is,” said Brian Laslie, an Air Force historian who has written two books: “The Air Force Way of War” and “Architect of Air Power.”

    “[But] I also think the senior leaders look at the current administration and see a time to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak,” Laslie told Military.com. “Bottom line: there are not enough squadrons across the board to execute all the missions … [and] for the first time in decades, the time might be right to ask for more in future budgets.”

    The way forward

    Air Force leaders are having ongoing meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill ahead of a full report, due to Congress in 2019, about the service’s strategy for growth.

    So far, they seem to be gaining slow and steady backing.

    Following the service’s announcement of plans for a plus-up to 386 operational squadrons, members of the Senate’s Air Force Caucus signaled their support.

    “The Air Force believes this future force will enable them to deter aggression in three regions (Indo-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East), degrade terrorist and Weapons of Mass Destruction threats, defeat aggression by a major power, and deter attacks on the homeland,” the caucus said in a letter authored by Sens. John Boozman, R-Arkansas; John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “We are encouraged by the Air Force’s clear articulation of its vision to best posture the service to execute our National Defense Strategy.”

    For Air Force leadership, the impact of the pace of operations on current and future airmen must also be taken into account.

    “Every airman can tell you they are overstretched,” Wilson said in late September during an address at The National Press Club.

    The secretary said the new plan is not intended to influence the fiscal 2020 budget, but instead to offer “more of a long-term view” on how airmen are going to meet future threats.

    “I think we’ve all known this for some time. The Air Force is too small for what the nation is asking it to do. The Air Force has declined significantly in size … and it’s driving the difficulty in retention of aircrew,” Wilson said.

    There will be much to consider in the months ahead as the Air Force draws up its blueprint for growth, Laslie said.

    “I think the Air Force looks at several things with regard to the operations side of the house: contingency operations, training requirements, and other deploymentsF-22s in Poland, for example — and there is just not enough aircraft and aircrews to do all that is required,” Laslie said. “When you couple this with the demands that are placed on existing global plans, there is just not enough to go around.”

    It’s clear, Laslie said, that the Air Force does need to expand in order to respond to current global threats and demands. The question that remains, though, is how best to go about that expansion.

    “There is a recognition amongst senior leaders that ‘Do more with less’ has reached its limit, and the only way to do more … is with more,” he said.

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

    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    The Marines want to arm the Osprey for assault missions

    The Marine Corps is now arming its Osprey tiltrotor aircraft with a range of weapons to enable its assault support and escort missions in increasingly high-threat combat environments.

    Rockets, guns, and missiles are among the weapons now under consideration, as the Corps examines requirements for an “all-quadrant” weapons application versus other possible configurations such as purely “forward firing” weapons.

    “The current requirement is for an allquadrant weapons system. We are re-examining that requirement — we may find that initially, forward firing weapons could bridge the escort gap until we get a new rotary wing or tiltotor attack platform, with comparable range and speed to the Osprey,” Capt. Sarah Burns, Marine Corps Aviation, told Warrior Maven in a statement.


    Some weapons, possibly including Hydra 2.75inch folding fin laser guided rockets or .50-cal and 7.62mm guns, have been fired as a proof of concept, Burns said.

    “Further testing would have to be done to ensure we could properly integrate them,” she added.

    All weapons under consideration have already been fired in combat by some type of aircraft, however additional testing and assessment of the weapons and their supporting systems are necessary to take the integration to the next step.

    “We want to arm the MV-22B because there is a gap in escort capability. With the right weapons and associated systems, armed MV-22Bs will be able to escort other Ospreys performing the traditional personnel transport role,” Burns added.

    The Hydra 2.75inch rockets, called the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), have been fired in combat on a range of Army and Marine Corps helicopters; they offer an alternative to a larger Hellfire missiles when smaller, fast-moving targets need to be attacked with less potential damage to a surrounding area.

    Over the years, the weapon has been fired from AH-64 Apaches, Navy Fire Scout Drones, Marine Corps UH-1Ys, A-10s, MH-60s Navy helicopters and Air Force F-16s, among others.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    (BAE Systems)

    Bell-Boeing designed a special pylon on the side of the aircraft to ensure common weapons carriage. The Corps is now considering questions such as the needed stand-off distance and level of lethality.

    Adding weapons to the Osprey would naturally allow the aircraft to better defend itself should it come under attack from small arms fire, missiles, or surface rockets while conducting transport missions; in addition, precision fire will enable the Osprey to support amphibious operations with suppressive or offensive fire as Marines approach enemy territory.

    Furthermore, weapons will better facilitate an Osprey-centric tactic known as “Mounted Vertical Maneuver” wherein the tiltrotor uses its airplane speeds and helicopter hover and maneuver technology to transport weapons such as mobile mortars and light vehicles, supplies and Marines behind enemy lines for a range of combat missions — to include surprise attacks.

    Also, while arming the Osprey is primarily oriented toward supporting escort and maneuver operations, there are without question a few combat engagements the aircraft could easily find itself in while conducting these missions.

    For example, an armed Osprey would be better positioned to prevent or stop swarming small boat attack wherein enemy surface vessels attacked the aircraft. An Osprey with weapons could also thwart enemy ground attacks from RPGs, MANPADS or small arms fire.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    (U.S. Navy photo)

    Finally, given the fast pace of Marine Corps and Navy amphibious operations strategy evolution, armed Ospreys could support amphibious assaults by transporting Marines to combat across wider swaths of combat areas.

    New Osprey Intelligence System – Sustainment to 2060

    Overall, the Marine Corps is accelerating a massive modernization and readiness overhaul of its MV-22 Osprey to upgrade sensors, add weapons, sustain the fleet and broaden the mission scope — as part of an effort to extend the life of the aircraft to 2060.

    “We plan to have the MV-22B Osprey for at least the next 40 years,” Burns said.

    While first emerging nearly two decades ago, the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has seen an unprecedented uptick in deployments, mission scope, and operational tempo.

    Other elements of Osprey modernization include improved sensors, mapping and digital connectivity, greater speed and hover ability, better cargo and payload capacity, next-generation avionics and new survivability systems to defend against incoming missiles and small arms fire.

    The 2018 Marine Aviation Plan specifies that the CC-RAM program includes more than 75 V-22 aircraft configurations, identified in part by a now completed Mv-22 Operational Independent Readiness Review. CC-RAM calls for improvements to the Osprey’s Multi-Spectral Sensor, computer system, infra-red suppressor technology, generators and landing gear control units, the aviation plan specifies.

    As part of this long-term Osprey modernization trajectory, the Marines are now integrating a Command and Control system called Digital Interoperability (DI). This uses data links, radio connectivity and an Iridium Antenna to provide combat-relevant intelligence data and C4ISR information in real-time to Marines — while in-flight on a mission.

    In addition, the Osprey is being developed as a tanker aircraft able to perform aerial refueling missions; the idea is to transport fuel and use a probe technology to deliver fuel to key aircraft such as an F/A-18 or F-35C. The V-22 Aerial Refueling System will also be able to refuel other aircraft such as the CH-53E/K, AV-8B Harrier jet and other V-22s, Corps officials said.

    “Fielding of the full capable system will be in 2019. This system will be able to refuel all MAGTF (Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force) aerial refuel capable aircraft with approximately 10,000 pounds of fuel per each VARS-equipped V-22,” the 2018 Marine Aviation Plan states.

    Due to its tiltrotor configuration, the Osprey can hover in helicopter mode for close-in surveillance and vertical landings for things like delivering forces, equipment and supplies — all while being able to transition into airplane mode and hit fixed-wing aircraft speeds. This gives the aircraft an ability to travel up 450 nautical miles to and from a location on a single tank of fuel, Corps officials said. The Osprey can hit maximum speeds of 280 Knots, and can transport a crew of Marines or a few Marines with an Internally Transportable Vehicle.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Internally Transportable Vehicle can fly on the Osprey.

    (Marine Corps Photo By: Pfc. Alvin Pujols)

    Corps developers also emphasize that the V-22 modernization effort will incorporate new technologies emerging from the fast-moving Future Vertical Lift program; this could likely include the integration of newer lightweight composite materials, next-generation sensors and various kinds of weapons, C4ISR systems, and targeting technologies.

    Fast-moving iterations of Artificial Intelligence are also likely to figure prominently in future V-22 upgrades. This could include advanced algorithms able to organize and present sensor data, targeting information or navigational details for Marines in-flight.

    While the modernization and sustainment overhaul bring the promise of continued relevance and combat effectiveness for the Opsrey, the effort is of course not without challenges. The Corps plan cites concerns about an ability to properly maintain the depot supply chain ability to service the platform in a timely manner, and many over the years have raised the question of just how much a legacy platform can be upgraded before a new model is needed.

    Interestingly, as is the case with the Air Force B-52 and Army Chinook, a wide ranging host of upgrades have kept the platforms functional and relevant to a modern threat environment for decades. The Air Force plans to fly its Vietnam era B-52 bomber weill into the 2050s, and the Army’s Chinook is slated to fly for 100 years — from 1960 to 2060 — according to service modernization experts and program managers.

    The common thread here is that airframes themselves, while often in need of enhancements and reinforcements, often remain viable if not highly effective for decades. The Osprey therefore, by comparison, is much newer than the B-52 or Chinook, to be sure. This is a key reason why Burns emphasized the “common” aspect of CC-RAM, as the idea is to lay the technical foundation such that the existing platform can quickly embrace new technologies as they emerge. This approach, widely mirrored these days throughout the DoD acquisition community, seeks to architect systems according to a set of common, non-proprietary standards such that it helps establish a new, more efficient paradigm for modernization.

    At the same time, there is also broad consensus that there are limits to how much existing platforms can be modernized before a new aircraft is needed; this is a key reason why the Army is now vigorously immersed in its Future Vertical Lift program which, among other things, is currently advancing a new generation of tiltrotor technology. Furthermore, new airframe designs could, in many ways, be better suited to accommodate new weapons, C4ISR technologies, sensors, protection systems and avionics. The contours and structure of a new airframe itself could also bring new radar signature reducing properties as well as new mission and crew options.

    Overall, the Marine Corps is accelerating a massive modernization and readiness overhaul of its MV-22 Osprey to upgrade sensors, add weapons, sustain the fleet and broaden the mission scope — as part of an effort to extend the life of the aircraft to 2060.

    “We plan to have the MV-22B Osprey for at least the next 40 years,” Capt. Sarah Burns, Marine Corps Aviation spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.

    While first emerging nearly two decades ago, the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has seen an unprecedented uptick in deployments, mission scope and operational tempo.

    This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

    MIGHTY FIT

    Does your PT run even matter?

    I used to think the distance run in the Marine Corps PT test was BS, antiquated, and pretty useless. Seriously, how the hell was a 3 mile run in go-fasters supposed to prove that I would be able to operate in combat with a full kit of more than 50 lbs of gear?


    What does the distance run even measure, and is that actually relevant to the demands of the job of someone expected to perform in combat? Is aerobic fitness really what we think it is? Should the same standard be expected of all service members?

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joe Boggio)

    What the test measures.

    The distance run on the military PT tests is “designed” to measure aerobic endurance and by proxy cardiovascular health.

    Aerobic endurance is more difficult to measure than you think though. The faster you run, the more energy you need to fuel that running. That means your body needs to be more efficient at using oxygen to create energy, since that’s what aerobic exercise actually is, movement fueled using oxygen.

    If your body isn’t used to using oxygen to create fuel to run at a certain intensity, it will begin to switch over to anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration occurs when you’re running so fast that the body can’t adequately use oxygen to make fuel. That’s what the “an” in anaerobic means: ‘without’ oxygen.

    You know you are in the aerobic zone if you can still speak in short sentences while running, AKA, the talk test. You’re in the anaerobic zone if you can’t. Pretty simple right?

    Using this logic, a PT ‘distance’ run that requires you to run so hard that you can’t speak at all, let alone in short sentences, is not a test of aerobic endurance. It’s a test of anaerobic endurance and lactate threshold.

    A true test of aerobic endurance would be something like a run that measures heart rate or administers a talk test periodically to see when someone switches from aerobic to anaerobic. Something similar to what doctors do when testing heart rate variability.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Carlie Lopez)

    How does this translate to real life?

    The main thing that aerobic endurance tells us is the efficiency of the heart at getting oxygen into the bloodstream so that it can be used to make energy. We find that level of cardiovascular fitness at the aerobic threshold. This is a very important thing to measure, especially in a world where cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death.

    From the aerobic threshold on the run is showing how much lactate a person can handle. The body’s ability to handle that burning feeling in the muscles that occurs when you’re in an anaerobic state is very important. That’s what the 880m run in the USMC CFT measures as well as the Sprint-Drag-Carry in the Army CFT. Will someone have to move many miles as fast as possible in a combat scenario? Most definitely. Will they ever have to do that same thing in go-fasters and silkies? That’s doubtful.

    The mere fact that the PT run isn’t done in boots means that it doesn’t translate very well to job-specific tasks. Especially for troops that are expected to be combat ready.

    The expectation is entirely different for those that work in an office all the time and will never be expected to go to combat. For those troops, aerobic endurance is more important since cardiovascular disease is more likely to kill them than incoming mortar fire (that you may need to run away from as anaerobically quickly as possible.)

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    (Photo by Lance Cpl. Shane Manson)

    Use the test to measure what you need to train.

    Which category do you fall in? Combat or non-combat?

    The answer to that question should dictate how you train for the distance run portion of your PT test.

    If you’re training for combat, get great at operating in a high-stress, more anaerobically dominated environment in a full combat kit.

    If you’re training to not die from heart disease train to up your aerobic threshold to make your heart better at pumping oxygen.

    TO ANSWER THE HEADLINE QUESTION: Yes, your PT run matters; it just depends on how.

    Even though all members of the DOD have vowed to protect the country, that doesn’t mean every member will be doing that in the same exact way. For that reason, it’s foolish to expect everyone to train the same way with the same end in sight.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    If you’re trying to figure out how to train in order to get better at your job or just get healthier check out the Mighty Fit Plan!

    If you want me to explore some other element of training, fitness, or nutrition, let me know in the Mighty Fit Facebook Group.

    If you have a more personal inquiry feel free to shoot me a direct email to michael@composurefitness.com

    MIGHTY HISTORY

    This why the national anthem is played before sporting events

    During the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814, Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and poet pulled into port on a mission to negotiate the release several POWs from British forces.


    Before a deal could be reached, the British started bombing the city of Baltimore, restricting Key’s access to the fort. Key witnessed the devastation of the battle and documented the events in a poem — which we know today as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    Francis Scott key by Joseph Woods. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

    The song grew in popularity, often playing at public events and various celebrations throughout the nation.

    Fast forward to 1889, the Secretary of the Navy ordered Key’s song to play during the each raising of the flag at the beginning of the day.

    In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that the “The Star-Spangled Banner” be played at all military ceremonies and other various occasions.

    Soon after America entered WWI, Major League Baseball started to feature a variety patriotic rituals like pregame military drills.

    During game one of the 1918 World Series, the players took their traditional seventh-inning stretch, and a band started to play the anthem. The song caused the Cubs and Red Sox to stand at attention and face the centerfield flag pole.

    The crowd stood on their feet and sang along to the anthem — applauding afterward. Since the song had gotten such positive feedback, the band continued to play the tune during the next few games.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    M.L.B. 1918 World Series.

    Once the series moved to Boston, the anthem was played at the beginning of the game under the Red Sox owner’s request. In March 1931, the patriotic song passed through congress, confirming it as America’s official national anthem.

    President Herbert Hoover signed the document, and the tradition spread throughout the major sporting events.

    Intel

    This stealth helicopter was awesome right up to the point the program was canceled

    Heat, smoke, and that loud “wop-wop” sound make helicopters easy targets on the battlefield. For these reasons, helicopters make the unlikeliest candidates for stealth technology. But during the 1990s and early 2000s, Boeing-Sikorsky challenged that notion with the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.

    The Light Helicopter Experimental program is the brainchild of the U.S. Army. It charged Boeing-Sikorsky with developing armed reconnaissance and attack helicopters. The result incorporated stealth technologies that minimized radar and human detection. It used advanced sensors for reconnaissance intended to designate targets for the AH-64 Apache. The helicopter was also armed to the teeth with tucked away missiles and rockets to destroy armed vehicles. Two prototypes were built and tested but the project was ultimately canceled in 2004.

    www.youtube.com

    Articles

    These 3 snipers had more kills than Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam

    While Carlos Hathcock is perhaps the most famous sniper of the Vietnam War, he actually ranks fourth in the number of confirmed kills.


    Yeah, that’s right. Hathcock was out-scored by three other snipers during that conflict. So, who are the guys who bested Hathcock’s 93 confirmed sniper kills? Let’s take a look at them.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    Carlos Hathcock | Photo: Marine Corps Archives

    3rd place: Eric R. England – 98 confirmed kills

    The Union County Historical Society reports that Eric England had his service in Vietnam cut short at seven months.

    England also had a lengthy track record of success in competitive shooting, including winning the Leech Cup — the oldest competitive shooting trophy in the United States.

    England rates as perhaps the most obscure of the snipers who out-shot Hathcock. Aside from some photos taken during the 2011 Memorial Day Parade in Union County, Georgia, few, if any, photos of this legend are publicly available.

    Second Place: Chuck Mawhinney – 103 confirmed kills

    Chuck Mawhinney served from 1967-1970 in the Marine Corps. According to a 2000 Los Angeles Times article, he spent 16 months in Vietnam. After leaving the Marine Corps, he worked in the United States Forest Service.

    Mawhinney’s youth was spent hunting, and he chose the Marines because they allowed him to delay his entry until after deer season. Some Marine recruiter did his country a service with that call.

    Mawhinney noted that every one of his kills had a weapon — with one notable exception: A North Vietnamese Army paymaster who he took out from 900 yards away.

    Today, Mawhinney is talking about what he has done, seeking to dispel the many stereotypes of snipers that are in people’s minds.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    This is the M40 sniper rifle used by Chuck Mawhinney during the Vietnam War. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

    1st Place: Adelbert Waldron — 109 confirmed kills

    America’s top sniper of the Vietnam War wasn’t a Marine. He served with the 9th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Yeah, you read that right. Marines got all the press and the glory, but an Army guy was the top sniper shot of the Vietnam War.

    Waldron had served in the United States Navy for 12 years before going to civilian life. In 1968, he enlisted in the Army. SniperCentral.com noted that Waldron spent 16 months in Vietnam. Waldron primarily used the M21 Sniper Weapon System, a modified M14.

    Waldron was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice. He also was awarded the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. Still, he never talked about his service with the media, and died in 1995. His total would be the top score for an American sniper until Chris Kyle totaled 160 during the Global War on Terror.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    Adelbert Waldron, America’s top sniper of the Vietnam War.

    So, when it comes to Vietnam War snipers, the legendary “White Feather” ranks at number four.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    The US-China Trade War of 2018 is officially on

    In the overnight hours of July 5th, $34 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods went into effect in the United States. China immediately retaliated with the opening shots of what it called the “biggest trade war in economic history.”

    Not to be outdone, the United States is looking at expanding its 25-percent duty on China’s exports by another $16 billion in just a few short weeks — the Trump Administration has, historically, not waited to implement policy or take initiatives. On anything. Ever.


    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Seriously.

    (The White House)

    In the hours before the U.S. tariffs were set to go into effect on things like washing machines, solar panels, steel, and aluminum, President Trump spoke of the possibility of even more duties on upwards of 0 billion’s worth Chinese imports. It’s the latest in a long history of tough talk on trade.

    Even his most vocal critics will agree that it’s one thing he’s never changed his stance on.

    The President’s stated goal in trade restrictions with both allies and ideological rivals is to close the widening trade deficit between what the U.S. imports and what it exports. With China, that trade deficit topped out at 5 million. As of May 2018, the trade deficit was .1 billion, at 5 billion for the year.

    A large trade deficit doesn’t necessarily mean the economy is weak or struggling. And tariffs aren’t always the best way of closing that gap. Even the right-leaning Heritage Foundation says there is no correlation between trade deficits and weak economy.

    But while the President argues that a trade deficit hinders economic growth and hurts job creation in the United States, his argument runs counter to the widely-held economic belief that the trade deficit tends to grow during periods of strong U.S. economic growth because increased demand brings more imported goods. Consumer goods is exactly where the bulk of the U.S. trade deficit with China is growing.

    Another goal for the President and those around him is to stop the numerous unfair and often illegal things China practices in the global marketplace. They have long been known to artificially devalue their currency in order to undermine other countries in the global market, demand trade secrets from corporations in exchange for access to the Chinese market, and to outright steal intellectual property and technology from other countries and firms, to name just a few.

    Related: How the Civil War created the modern US economy

    The Trump Administration already placed tariffs on products from certain other countries, like Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. In retaliation, they have implemented tariffs of their own, placing duties on politically-charged goods that target members of Congress — cheese, targeting House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and bourbon, targeting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for example.

    Retaliatory tariffs are designed to hit an official’s constituency, making trouble for their potential re-election campaign (though Ryan has opted not to run again). These countries have also targeted the Trump voters themselves, placing fees on red-state products like, soybeans and pork.

    Russia has also slapped U.S. steel imports with a tariff of its own.

    There’s no single definition of when retaliatory tariffs become a “trade war,” but exchanges in escalating economic pressures, like the recent exchange between the U.S. and China, is a surefire place to start. What Americans need to be prepared for is the passing of costs to the consumer. A rise in the price of steel due to tariffs is going to be passed on to the consumer of cars, for example.

    The price of a washing machine has already risen 16 percent in the last few months, while the trade deficit saw the largest three-month reduction in the past ten years. The rising Chinese market is estimated to shrink by as much as one percent in the coming days while the U.S. will look at shrinking just .2 percent. U.S.-bound orders in China have shrunk while shares of Chinese businesses are already down 12 percent over the past few months.

    But U.S. allies in Europe have declined to join China in a coalition against the Trump Tariffs.

    While economists say no one would criticize the idea of trying to force China to play by the rules, the same economists would tell you they’re uncertain that tariffs are the way to go about it.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    2 of Asia’s strongest militaries working deal to gain edge against China

    A meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in October 2018 may yield more progress on a deal that would allow their armed forces to share military facilities.

    The proposed agreement, likely to be discussed during the 13th India-Japan summit in Tokyo on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29, 2018, would increase their security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region by allowing the reciprocal exchange of supplies and logistical support, according to the Deccan Herald.

    The proposed deal was first discussed in August 2018, when Japan’s defense minister at the time, Itsunori Onodera, met with India’s defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, in New Delhi. It came up again in October 2018 during a meeting in Delhi between Modi and Abe’s national-security advisers.


    Sources with knowledge of preparations for the summit told the Herald that the deal would allow Japan and India to exchange logistical support, including supplies of food, water, billets, petroleum and oil, communications, medical and training services, maintenance and repair services, spare parts, as well as transportation and storage space.

    It’s not clear if any agreement would be signed in October 2018, though there are signs India and Japan want to conclude it in the near term, given plans to increase joint military exercises next year and in 2020, according to The Diplomat.

    The deal would not commit either country to military action, but it would allow their militaries — both among the most powerful in the world — to access ports and bases run by the other.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Ships from the Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and the US Navy sail in the Bay of Bengal as part of Exercise Malabar, July 17, 2017.

    (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole Schroeder)

    For India, that means it would be able to use Japan’s base in Djibouti, which is strategically located at the Horn of Africa between the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, overlooking one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

    In addition to Japanese troops, Djibouti also hosts a major US special-operations outpost at Camp Lemonnier, just a few miles from China’s first overseas military outpost, which opened in 2017 and which US officials have said raises “very significant operational security concerns.”

    In turn, Japan would be able to access Indian bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which sit on important sea lanes west of the Malacca Strait, a major maritime thoroughfare between the Indian and Pacific oceans. (The majority of China’s energy supplies currently flow through the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Strait.)

    India has started stationing advanced P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol planes and maritime surveillance drones at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    At the summit in October 2018, Japan is also expected to raise India’s potential purchase of 12 Shinmaywa US-2i search-and-rescue and maritime surveillance planes, which would also be stationed at the islands.

    Delhi reached a similar logistical-support deal with France— which has territories in the southern Indian Ocean and a base in Djibouti — in 2018 and with the US in 2016. (India and the US reached another deal on communications and technical exchanges in September 2018.)

    Further discussion of an India-Japan logistical-support deal comes as those two countries and others seek to ensure freedom of movement in the Indian Ocean and to counter what is seen as growing Chinese influence there.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    The JSMDF submarine Oryu at its launch on Oct. 4, 2018.

    (JMSDF/Twitter)

    Japan, which, like India, has territorial disputes with China, has sought to expand its military’s capabilities and reach.

    In October 2018, Japan’s largest warship, the Kaga helicopter carrier, sailed into the port at Colombo, in Sri Lanka — a visit meant to reassure Sri Lanka that Japan would deploy military assets to a part of the world where Chinese influence is growing.

    A few days after the Kaga left Colombo, Sri Lanka navy ships were scheduled to conduct exercises with both the Indian and Japanese navies.

    Japan has also expanded its security partnerships with countries around the Indian Ocean and pledged billions of dollars for development projects in the region.

    Beijing’s activity around the Indian Ocean region is particularly concerning for Delhi.

    China’s base in Djibouti, its role in the Pakistani port of Gwadar, its 99-year lease of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, and other infrastructure deals with countries in the region have set Delhi on guard, Faisel Pervaiz, a South Asia expert at the geopolitical-intelligence firm Stratfor, told Business Insider in October 2018.

    “India’s view is that South Asia’s our neighborhood, and if another rival military power is expanding its presence — whether in Bhutan, whether in the Maldives, whether in Sri Lanka, whether in Nepal — that is a challenge, and that is something that we need to address,” Pervaiz said.

    India’s focus is likely to remain on its land borders with rivals China and Pakistan, Pervaiz said, but Delhi has made moves to bolster its position in the Indian Ocean region — a change in focus that has been called “a tectonic shift.”

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    India’s first-in-class Kalvari submarine during floating at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai in October 2015.

    (Indian navy photo)

    India is working to develop a port at Chabahar on Iran’s southern coast, which would provide access to Central Asia and circumvent existing overland routes through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

    India is particularly concerned about Chinese submarine activity in the Indian Ocean and has held anti-submarine-warfare discussions with the US and is seeking to add more subs to its own force.

    “For India, the concern now is that although it maintained this kind of regional hegemony by default, that status is beginning to erode, and that extends to the Indian Ocean,” Pervaiz said. “India wants to maintain [its status as] the dominant maritime power in the Indian Ocean, but … as China’s expanding its own presence in the Indian Ocean, this is again becoming another challenge.”

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

    Articles

    This U.S. Army artillery unit savaged 41 Iraqi battalions in 72 hours

    During Desert Storm the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment provided artillery support to the 24th Infantry Division throughout the invasion of Iraq. During one phase of the war they took out 41 Iraqi battalion, two air defense sites, and a tank company in less than 72 hours.


    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment fire their Multiple Launch Rocket Systems during certification. Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Jacob McDonald

    3-27 entered Desert Storm with a new weapon that had never seen combat, the Multiple Launch Rocket System. Nearby soldiers took notice, to put it mildly, as the rockets screamed past the sound barrier on their way out of the launcher and then roared away from the firing point. A first sergeant from the 3-27 told The Fayetteville Observer that the first launch created panic in the American camp. Soldiers that had never seen an MLRS dove into cover and tried to dig hasty foxholes.

    “It scared the pure hell out of everybody,” Sgt. Maj. Jon H. Cone said. But the Americans quickly came to love the MLRS.

    “After that first time, it was showtime,” Cone said.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Carlos R. Davis

    Like everyone else during the invasion, the 24th Infantry Division wanted to push deeper and seize more territory than anyone else. That meant their artillery support would be racing across the sand as well. 3-27 came through and actually spent a lot of time running ahead of the maneuver units, looking for enemy artillery and quickly engaging when any showed.

    During a particularly daring move, the battalion’s Alpha battery moved through enemy lines and conducted a raid from inside enemy territory, engaging artillery and infantry while other U.S. forces advanced.

    The largest single attack by the 3-27 was the assault on Objective Orange, two Iraqi airfields that sat right next to each other. 3-27 and other artillery units were assigned to destroy the Iraqi Army’s 2,000 soldiers, ten tanks, and two artillery battalions at the airfield so the infantry could assault it more easily.

    The launchers timed their rockets to all reach the objective within seconds of each other, and used rockets that would drop bomblets on the unsuspecting Iraqi troops.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Duane Duimstra

    A prisoner of war who survived the assault later told U.S. forces that the Iraqis were manning their guns when the rockets came in. When the rockets began exploding in mid-air, they cheered in the belief that the attack had failed. Instead, the bomblets formed a “steel rain” that killed most troops in the area and destroyed all exposed equipment.

    By the time the infantry got to the airfields, the survivors were ready to surrender.

    The battalion was awarded a Valorous Unit Citation after the war for extreme bravery under fire.

    (h/t to The Fayetteville Observer‘s Drew Brooks and to “Steel Rain” by Staff Sgt. Charles W. Bissett)

    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    There’s about 10 millimeters of movement between you and potential traumatic brain injury

    This article is sponsored by MIPS, pioneers in brain protection systems.

    There’s no amount of science that will protect you from a .50 cal round to the head. As of today, that’s a simple fact.

    Here’s another simple fact: There have been over 350,000 documented cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among post-9/11 veterans as of 2017. Very, very few of those cases have been as extreme as a bullet to the brain (less than 7%). Over 45% of those injuries were the result of blunt force — either debris colliding with a helmet or the result of a fall — not a bullet.

    Unfortunately, the helmets we put on our troops are not protecting them from these types of collisions as well as they could. Why? We have the technology and it’s ready for implementation today. Truly, it’s just a matter of understanding.

    So, let’s fix that problem.


    Here are the two most important words in understanding why we’re not protecting our brains in the right way: rotational movement.

    Let’s illustrate this. First, imagine your skull is a snow globe — your cerebrospinal fluid is the water contained therein and your brain is the collection of floaty bits. Now, watch what happens when we bring that snow globe straight down onto a flat surface.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Linear Movement — Well, about as linear as my imperfect, human brain could get it.

    Not that interesting. Now, watch what happens when we give that same snow globe a light twist.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Rotational Movement — Come on, baby. Do the twist.

    Looks a little more like New Year’s at Times Square, right? But this isn’t a cause for celebration — it’s a cause of traumatic brain injury.

    That first example is a demonstration of linear force. The amount of linear force a helmet can withstand is currently the primary standard to which the helmets we put on our troops are held up against — and, if you think about it, how often does a troop fall directly onto the top of their head? Not very often.

    A much more likely scenario is that force comes at you from some sort of angle. Whether it’s a piece of concrete blasting toward you from an exploded building, getting ejected from your seat and into the roof of the Humvee after running over an IED, or even something as simple as tripping and eating a nasty fall. When your helmet comes in contact with something from an angle, rotational movement is sent from the shell of the helmet, through the protective layers of Kevlar and foam, through your skull, and what’s left is absorbed by the brain – the snow globe’s floating bits. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t very good at handling the shearing movement caused by rotation.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    A look at the effects of linear (left) and rotational (right) movement on the brain. The images above were generated using the FE Model, a computational model that represents the most critical parts of the human head. Learn more about the model here.

    (MIPSProtection.com)

    But technology exists today that is designed to diffuse some of that rotational force within the helmet before it reaches your most important organ — yes, we’re still talking about the brain.

    Recently, I took the trek out to Sweden to meet the people dedicated to putting that technology in today’s helmets — they’re called MIPS, named after their technology: the Multi-directional Impact Protection System.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    As I walked into the building (the whole thing is shaped like a helmet, by the way), the passion for creating protective headwear was palpable. These people are doers — whether it’s mountain biking, skiing, motocross, or battling it out on the gridiron. They know that all good things come with an inherent level of risk, and they’re passionate about doing what they can to mitigate that risk; especially when something like a TBI can cause a lifetime of complications for both the afflicted and their loved ones.

    There, I spoke with MIPS founders Dr. Hans von Holst and Dr. Peter Halldin. Between the two of them, they boast an impressive 60 years of experience in neuroscience and biomechanics — which they distilled down into an hour-long frenzy of science, analogy, and visuals. That one-hour lesson didn’t make me a neurosurgeon, but it certainly highlighted a fundamental problem in the way we evaluate (and later, equip troops with) head protection.

    The current U.S. Army blunt impact test methodology is borrowed from the U.S. Department of Transportation Laboratory Test Procedure for Motorcycle Helmets. To break it down Barney-style, we test helmets by dropping them from various, set heights at various angles onto a flat surface and measuring the results of impact. These tests are designed to be repeatable and cost effective — the problem is, however, that all of these tests are very good at measuring linear impact — and if you think back to the snow globes, that impact isn’t always very eventful.

    MIPS twists the formula here in a small but very important way. Instead of dropping a helmet onto a flat surface, they drop it on to an angle surface. This small adjustment to the test methodology allows them to analyze collisions more in-line with real world examples — ones that involve rotational motion.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    (MIPSProtection.com)

    But enough about types of force — what does MIPS’ technology actually do to protect your brain? Well, the genius is in the simplicity, here — and it’s best described with visuals.

    In short, MIPS is a low friction layer that sits between the inner side of the helmet and the comfort padding, custom fit to each helmet shape and size. That low friction layer lives somewhere between the helmet’s shell and your head and allows for a 10-15mm range of motion in any direction. This relatively tiny movement allows your head to move independently of your helmet, acting like a second layer of cerebrospinal fluid when it comes to protecting your brain in the crucial milliseconds of impact.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    (MIPSProtection.com)

    This technology hasn’t been introduced into military helmets just yet, but it’s coming soon. In fact, right now, MIPS is partnering with a Swedish manufacturer, SAFE4U, to better equip special operators that need lightweight protection. The two companies worked together to create a helmet that is stable enough to work with attached NVGs, but still protects from oblique impacts.

    Check out the brief video below to learn a little more about the multiple layers of protection involved:

    While the technology is sound (and proven to work), here’s the thing that really impressed me: When I finished talking with the team about their product, I asked them what they were looking to get out of the article you’re reading right now. They wanted just one thing: to educate. They want you, our readers, to know why you’re not getting your brain the protection it needs and what you can do to rectify that problem.

    Yes, one way is to find yourself a helmet that’s equipped with MIPS’ technology (currently, you’ll find MIPS’ protection system in 448 different models of helmets), but it’s not the only way. Whatever you do, make sure that the helmets you use (when you have a choice) are equipped to deal with the dangers of rotational movement and protect your thinkin’ meat.

    This article is sponsored by MIPS, pioneers in brain protection systems.

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    Portraits of veterans painted by former president on display

    Visitors to The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., can see a collection of veteran portraits on display through Nov. 15, 2019.

    The collection is Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, painted by another veteran, President George W. Bush.

    The collection highlights 98 men and women out of the approximately five million post-9/11 veterans. The exhibit showcases 66 full-color oil portraits and a four-panel mural painted by the former president, himself an Air Force veteran.


    Upon entering the display, visitors see a two-minute video by the 43rd president. Bush talks about the positive assets of veterans, why he continues to serve veterans, the courage involved in talking about post-traumatic stress and his painting history.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    President Bush painting.

    (Photo courtesy of the Bush Center)

    Alongside the video is a quote from the president on why he painted these veterans.

    “I painted these men and women as a way to honor their service to the country and to show my respect for their sacrifice and courage.”

    Nearly all the warriors featured participated in one of the two wounded warrior sporting events hosted by the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The W100K is a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride on the president’s ranch near Crawford, Texas. The Warrior Open is a competitive golf tournament in Dallas.

    The portraits are on loan from the Ambassador and Mrs. George L. Argyros Collection of Presidential Art at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, a non-profit organization whose Military Service Initiative is focused on helping post-9/11 veterans and their families.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

    Portraits of Courage at The Kennedy Center.

    For more information

    The paintings are on display until Nov. 15, 2019, at The Kennedy Center. More information is at https://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/ZURRA. The exhibit then moves to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, Dec. 21 through Jan. 20, 2020.

    A Portraits of Courage app is also available at the Apple store and Google Play.

    More information about the Military Service Initiative is available at https://www.bushcenter.org/explore-our-work/issues/military-service-initiative.html.

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

    Intel

    This is how secure the US Bullion Depository really is

    This inconspicuous building just off the Dixie Highway may not seem too tough — until you realize it’s one of the most secure locations in the world. There’s a reason why “Fort Knox” is synonymous with high-end security.

    The U.S. Army post around the U.S. Bullion Depository, Fort Knox, isn’t that much different from any other military installation. To gain entry, a civilian can sign onto post at the visitor’s center. But even troops stationed there can’t just casually swing by the depository.

    Not much is truly known about the inner-workings of the depository; there certainly are no photographs or schematics available. What is public knowledge is only what’s visible from the outside, interviews resulting from the 1974 tour, and first-hand accounts from the former, extremely-select handful who’ve set foot inside.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    The greatest Bond film of all time, ‘Goldfinger,’ had to make everything up for the movie. But it does serve as the basis for how most people perceive the depository.
    (United Artists and Eon Productions)

    From the outside, you can see the many fences that lay between the building and the highway. Several of them are said to be electrified. Each corner of the building has a guard tower manned by an unspecified amount of security guards who watch over each sector. The land between the fences is also said to be mined.


    Construction on the building itself was completed in December, 1936, and the known building materials include 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforced steel, and 670 tons of structural steel. All of this for a 2-story-tall building with a 1-story basement — sounds pretty secure, right?

    In addition thousands of pounds of steel and stone, there’s an entire battalion of U.S. Mint Police that cover the place.

    The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai
    One can also assume you wouldn’t be able to just dig right into it either.
    (Warner Bros.)

    The politicians and journalists who were granted access to the building in 1974 entered through the 20-ton steel door and got to look into one of the many compartments. That compartment held 36,236 gold bars, stacked from floor to ceiling. At the time, the gold was valued at $42,222 per Troy oz., which meant they got to see $499.8 million of gold.

    The rest of the security measures are up for speculation. The Fort is rumored to be outfitted with laser wire and seismographic sensors to ensure no one approached undetected. The corridors can, apparently, be flooded at a moment’s notice. And security measures are constantly re-worked to improve and re-improve before anyone knows better.

    There’s one thing we know for sure about the inside: There really is gold in there and it gets audited yearly.