Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever - We Are The Mighty
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Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever

Designed by a former toy maker, the Black Hornet UAV fits in a human palm and weighs the same as three pieces of paper. But don’t be fooled by its size. It has impressive capabilities as a reconnaissance drone, which is why Special Forces and U.S. infantry have begun testing it.


The tiny drone feeds surprisingly clear video to the pilot from as far as kilometer away and can bear different sensors including thermal cameras for night assaults. The video is stored on the small user station on the operator’s belt, so enemies lucky enough to catch the Hornet will not be able to see what video the pilot has captured.

See this amazing little drone in action in this video:

To learn more, check out this article at Defense One.

NOW: DARPA is building a drone that can tell what color shirt you’re wearing from 17,500 feet

OR: The 9 weirdest projects DARPA is working on

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8 gadgets that make life in the field more bearable

Roughing it in the field can be tough. The first few days might seem kind of fun and cool, but after a week of limited internet and electricity, no showers, and sleeping in the dirt, everyone starts itching for a few creature comforts.


But, there are a few gadgets and tools that can make life easier (without weighing down your ruck). Here are 8 of them:

1. Portable solar chargers

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
(Photo: Mcjones2003 CC BY-SA 4.0)

One of the best things for keeping a modern, connected life going in the field is solar power. Grunts at a small base or outpost aren’t going to get much access to generator power, but small solar panels can let them power a couple of devices.

The big concern on these is balancing weight to power. No one is willing to add too many pounds on just for a chance to play Pokemon Go in the field.

2. Rugged cell phones

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
(Photo: OutdoorMen CC BY-SA 4.0)

Some manufacturers make special “military grade” phones, but troops can usually get away with a solid, mainstream phone in a great case.

The phone should have a solid state hard drive and either be waterproof or have a waterproof case. In a pinch, a standard case and an MRE beverage pouch make all phones waterproof.

3. E-readers

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
The Navy created their own e-reader and named it the NeRD. Photo: US Navy Ensign Sandra Niedzwiecki

A quality e-reader is standard kit for avid bibliophiles in the field and can keep a soldier or Marine in the field occupied during whatever off-duty time he or she is afforded. The best models are rugged, have low power requirements, and can hold plenty of books.

Avoid anything that is more tablet than e-reader. With only a limited amount of solar power, fancy readers with color graphics and other power hungry features can end up spending most of their time in a line for a charger.

4. Pop up bed net

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Yes, she is in a pop-up shelter inside of a larger tent. She was also in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic and didn’t want to catch malaria which was the more common threat. (Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. V. Michelle Woods)

These quick shelters keep out all the annoying bugs that bite and crawl over troops in the field. In areas at high risk for West Nile and other diseases, the military branches sometimes issue them. Everyone else has to buy them with personal funds.

Like everything else on this list, keep a firm eye on weight and make sure to pick a camouflaged or subdued color. The first sergeant won’t let you use a bright orange shelter in a tactical situation.

5. Chemical heating pads

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
It doesn’t take a big warmer to take the edge off in the field. Little things will do the trick. (Photo: Public Domain)

Look, it gets cold in the field and hour six on overnight guard in a hasty machine gun position is much more comfortable with a small heating pad in your pockets or taped to your chest. The problem is most of them can only be used once.

That’s all right, though. Pick a small, long-lasting version rather than a big back pad or something that’ll give a short burst of heat. A single hand warmer on a patch of skin with high blood flow—try the hands, near the armpits, or anywhere with a major artery—can take the edge off the cold and last for an entire guard shift. It’ll usually even have enough juice left to help you get to sleep when you rack out afterward.

6. Small flashlights and headlamps

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
An Army EOD technician attempts to remove a simulated explosive device from a hostage during a training exercise. When you’re removing bombs from hostages, you want your hands free. (Photo: US Army Sgt. Ashley Marble)

Headlamps with red lenses are a necessity for the field. No one wants to wear that big, D-battery flashlight the military often includes on packing lists. Opt for a smaller LED flashlight that can be carried in the pocket for directional lighting, and get a headlamp for map reading, walking around and general use.

7. Field stool

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Yes, it’s a boring photo. Camp stools are boring objects until you have to ruck out to the field, set up tents and build defensive positions and then look for somewhere to finally sit. (Photo: Amazon.com)

This isn’t complicated. There’s not always a hill or fallen log to sit on, so a nice field chair is a great asset. The best of these are small stools that only weigh a few ounces.

8. Steel spoon

Trying to cut through a beef patty with an MRE spoon can get dicey at times. You can hedge against broken utensils by always carrying an extra plastic spoon from an old MRE, or you can purchase a steel spoon like your grandfather carried and cut with confidence.

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Finding beauty in the ‘Boneyard’

Commonly referred to as the “Boneyard,” the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., contains about 5,000 retired military aircraft throughout 2,600 acres.


Crews at the Boneyard preserve aircraft for possible future use, pull aircraft parts to supply to the field, and perform depot-level maintenance and aircraft regeneration in support of Air Force operations. | U.S. Air Force video/Andrew Breese

An F-86 Sabre sits forlorn in the field, in the shadow of its former glory. The old plane is in parts now, its wings detached and lying beside it. The canopy is missing, along with most of the interior parts of the cockpit, and the windshield is shattered – now bits of broken glass hang precariously from a spider web of cracks.

To retired Col. Bill Hosmer, it’s still beautiful. He walks around the old fighter and stares in admiration. He slides a hand over the warped metal fuselage and a flood of memories rush over him.

“I haven’t been this close to one of these in years,” he says. “Of course, that one was in a lot better shape.”

So was Hosmer. Time has weathered and aged them both, the plane’s faded paint and creased body match Hosmer’s own worn and wrinkled skin. Even the plane’s discarded wings stand as a metaphor for Hosmer’s own life now – a fighter pilot who can’t fly, standing next to a fighter jet with no wings.

Age has grounded them both, but they share something else time can’t take away: A love of flight.

“Retiring from flying is not an easy thing,” Hosmer said. “Flying is a bug you just can’t shake.”

Hosmer has done his share of flying, too. He spent more than 20 years in the Air Force, where he flew the F-86, the F-100 Super Sabre and the A-7 Corsair II. He even served a stint with the USAF Thunderbirds, the service’s air demonstration team that chooses only the best pilots.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever

The Sabre has always had a special place in his heart, though. It was the first plane he flew and his favorite.

“We’ve shared a lot of time together, me and this plane,” he said, patting the plane’s weathered hulk.

Ironically, Hosmer’s favorite plane is also the one that almost made him give up flying. He was in pilot training, learning how to fly the F-86, when he crashed one. The physical injuries weren’t all that bad – a busted mouth, some fractured bones and multiple bruises – and he healed from them without issue.

The damage to his psyche, though, that was a different story.

“I was scared to fly for a while after that crash,” he said. “It took me a long time to get the courage to get back in the cockpit.”

Eventually, his love to fly overtook his desire not to and he hopped back in the cockpit and rekindled his love affair with flight.

So, looking at the old F-86, Hosmer doesn’t see a broken, battered and discarded jet; he sees past glories, feels loving memories and is saying hello to an old friend.

“I made a living flying this plane,” he said. “It seems like just yesterday I was in the cockpit. But, it was really a long time ago.”

Like Hosmer’s memories, the Sabre is also a thing of the past. The plane is replaced with newer, sleeker and more technologically advanced airplanes, and those few that do remain are typically found in museums and airshows.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever

The one Hosmer is standing next to is different. This one now sits as part of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Commonly referred to as “the Boneyard,” the AMARG is basically a 2,600-acre parking lot and storage facility for about 5,000 retired military aircraft.

The planes range from older ones, like the F-86 and B-52 Stratofortress, to newer ones, like the C-5 Galaxy. Though retired from active duty, each aircraft still performs a vital mission.

“Parts,” said Bill Amparano, an aircraft mechanic with the 309th AMARG. “These planes offer parts to the fleet. If a unit can’t find a replacement part for one of their aircraft, they’ll send us a request and we’ll take the part off one of our planes and send it to them.”

In other words, the AMARG is like a giant “pick-and-pull” for the Air Force, offering hard-to-find parts to units around the world. And, while it’s said the Boneyard is where planes go to die, it’s the opposite that’s true.

“They don’t come here to die, they’re just taking a break,” Amparano said.

When a plane arrives at the AMARG, it goes through an in-depth preservation process. Guns are removed, as are any ejection seat charges, classified equipment and anything easily stolen. Workers then drain the fuel system and pump in lightweight oil, which is drained again, leaving an oil coating that protects the fuel system.

A preservation service team then covers all the engine intakes, exhaust areas and any gaps or cracks in the aircraft with tape and paper and plastic. This job can take about 150 hours per aircraft.

Larger openings, such as bomb outlets and large vents, are then covered with a fiberglass mesh to keep out birds.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever

“If you don’t catch them in time, they can really do some damage,” said Jim Blyda, also an aircraft mechanic with the group.

This preservation process doesn’t just prepare the planes for storage; it also keeps them ready. The fully preserved planes can be called back into military service, be used as firefighting planes or even be sold to customers.

“Although some of them look like they are sitting here dead, if we reverse the process, in a couple of days, they are ready to roll,” Amparano said.

The AMARG also performs depot-level maintenance and aircraft regeneration in support of Air Force operations. Each year, the Boneyard receives and teams preserve nearly 400 aircraft, dispose of nearly another 400 aircraft and pull and ship some 18,000 parts.

Even the AMARG’s location serves a purpose. Because of Tucson’s low rainfall, low humidity and high-alkaline soil, corrosion and deterioration are kept to a minimum.

“The weather here is really perfect for storing all these planes,” said Col. Robert Lepper, 309th AMARG commander. “So if we need them, they’re ready. Some have been sitting here for decades.”

For Hosmer, this is a good thing. Without the AMARG and its preservation of the thousands of planes confined within its fences, he would not be able to stand in a field, rubbing his weathered hands over the warped, aged fuselage of an old F-86.

Neither he nor the jet fly anymore, but just the sight of the old fighter brings back memories Hosmer had long since forgotten.

Remembering them now, the memories are brought back to life – just like many of the planes within the AMARG are waiting silently, patiently, to do.

Watch this video from Airman Magazine to take a tour of the Boneyard:

Articles

Russia pimps out its new Su-35S Flanker in latest video

Russia is busy trying to drum up sales for its newest high-tech weapons, and one of those is the Su-35S Flanker – a heavily upgraded version of the Su-27, also called the Flanker.


According to the London Daily Mail, Russia has released a brief video of the Su-35 being taken for a test flight.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Su-35’s biggest change is the use of thrust-vectoring engines. This only enhances the maneuverability inherent in the Su-27 design. The Su-27 is famous for being able to do the Pugachev Cobra, a maneuver that allows it to fly tail-first for a period of time.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
The Pugachev Cobra illustrated. (Graphic from Wikimedia Commons)

The Daily Mail noted that the Su-35S has a top speed of Mach 2.25, the ability to fire a variety of missiles and drop up to 17,000 pounds of bombs from 12 hardpoints, and is equipped with a 30mm cannon for close-in dogfighting. Some Su-35s were sent to Syria by the Russian government, which backs that country’s dictator, Bashir al-Assad.

Russia also did a video of its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The video, though, omitted relevant details, like the carrier’s poor operating condition. There were also at least two splash landings  during the Kuznetsov’s deployment off Syria.

The video is below: Watch, and enjoy!

Articles

This Chinese guy got busted for making a fake US Army unit

Last month, the FBI arrested a Chinese man for creating a fake U.S. Army unit and recruiting immigrants with a promise of US citizenship, highlighting the danger of disinformation.

According to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Yupeng Deng provided his recruits with ACU digital camouflage uniforms—supposedly, he didn’t offer Multicam fatigues because the unit was a Reserves outfit—toured them in the USS Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that serves as a museum in the San Diego harbor, and even had them parade in a Los Angeles suburb.

Deng called his unit the “U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve Unit (MSFR),” and for himself, he took the grand title of “Supreme Commander.”

The Chinese national was quite effective, persuading more than 100 Chinese citizens to join his fake Army unit, charging between $300 and $450 for each “recruitment.”

Deng has been charged with Theft by False Pretenses, Manufacturing Deceptive Government Documents, and Counterfeit of an Official Government Seal. If convicted, the Chinese national is facing eight years behind bars.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Yupeng Deng and his “recruits” pose in the front of the unit’s fake barracks. Whether state sponsored or not, Chinese disinformation is a real danger (FBI).

In its recently published annual threat assessment, the Intelligence Community assessed that Beijing will remain the top threat to US technological competitiveness as the Chinese Communist Party continues to target critical technology sectors and proprietary commercial and military technology. China doesn’t target just the US but also goes after other Western, and non-Western, companies and research institutions that specialize in the defense, energy, finance, cyber domains, among other fields. To achieve its end, China employs a variety of overt and covert methods, including public investment, espionage, theft, and cyberwarfare.

The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) recently stood up a joint special operations task force with the aim of countering Chinese information operations and influence in the key region of the Indo-Pacific.

But Chinese and Russian disinformation and influence operations aren’t limited in their neighborhoods but indeed extend to that of the U.S. Only recently, Admiral Craig Faller, the commander of US Southern Command, which is responsible for Central and South America, rung the bell about the activities of the U.S.’ near-peer competitors in its backyard.

More specifically, Beijing and Moscow have been trying to shift local perspectives against the US, even claiming that the Coronavirus pandemic was created and spread by the U.S. military. They do this in an attempt to delegitimatize America in the face of the world.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Everything you need to know about the 155mm Howitzer of WWI

WWI was an interesting time for the military. Our force was still new to being centralized, and converting state-led militias into one cohesive force took time and money. At the start of WWI, the Army had a scant 127,000 soldiers with 181,000 National Guard service members. What we needed were millions of soldiers to help the forces in France and England defeat Germany. In addition to needing qualified troops for ground movements, the US needed to find a way to offset its paltry military artillery units with the latest and greatest fighting technology.


But what is a howitzer, anyway?

If you don’t have a Red Leg in your family, you might not know the difference between artillery equipment. Never fear! We’re here to help. Here’s a quick primer on the difference between a howitzer compared with cannons.

Let’s take it way back to the early 1830s when the Army realized they needed a smaller, lighter, and more versatile cannon that could still have almost the same range as a regular cannon. Their answer to this problem was to shorten the barrel and change the shape to be more funnel-shaped instead of cylindrical.

The result was what we now know as a howitzer, a name taken from the Prussian word Haubitze, which means sling or basket.

Cannons can be direct fires weapons or indirect fires weapons, whereas a howitzer is strictly used for indirect fire – incredibly useful when the terrain of a battlefield is challenging to navigate. Howitzers can hit targets by arching rounds over objects, whereas cannons are directly aimed at a target and fired.

In full swing production since the 1830s, howitzers in all their forms have proved to be incredibly useful as part of the war effort … when they’re available.

There weren’t enough regiments

Before the US involvement in WWI, the Army only had nine authorized artillery regiments. By comparison, the Army currently has 27 active duty artillery regiments and 42 Reserve components. To say that we needed to grow our force quickly at the onset of WWI. But in lieu of a well-trained and combat-ready force, military leaders looked to other types of ways to bridge the gap. This is the story of the 155mm Howitzer of WWI and how it helped win the war.

Shortly after entering the war, the US formed 12 additional artillery units, bringing the total up to a rounding 21 regiments. These units helped supplement the National Guard and organized reserve artillery regiments, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stand up to German forces.

Regiments are great, but they weren’t enough

Sure, 21 units were better than nine, but it wasn’t enough since we didn’t have experienced personnel to arm the guns. In addition to needing soldiers, the Army also didn’t have enough guns or ammunition. The simplest solution for the WWI Army was to supply our forces with guns from France since there were plenty of qualified French artillery instructors and more than enough guns and ammunition.

Light artillery wasn’t the best choice

As the US entered the war, we only had a handful of 3-inch guns and 6-inch howitzers. The French forces replaced those with 75mm guns, 155mm, and 240mm howitzers. However, Army leaders held onto the idea that light artillery was more suitable for the current conditions. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

The changing face of battle

In fact, WWI’s trench warfare increased the need for heavy artillery like the 155mm howitzer and decreased the need for light field guns, like those in our arsenal. Howitzers have a greater range and are far more powerful, better suited for destroying fortified enemy targets, and reaching rear areas of the battlefield.

Without the use of the 155m howitzer, it’s possible that the conclusion of WWI would have looked very different. And, if it weren’t for the French, who were willing to share their artillery, ammunition, and knowledge with us, the US involvement in the war might have been incredibly altered, as well.

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This is why a US Army brigade just blasted 1 million rounds of ammo in Europe

Fort Carson soldiers have put up a series of startling statistics during six months of heavy training in Europe.


In the 180 days deployed, the soldiers have put in 153 days of training with allies and community engagements across a swath of the continent from the Baltic to the Black Sea. To supply the brigade’s more than 4,000 troops, the unit’s truckers have logged more than 100,000 highway miles.

After taking part in the biggest European training exercise for US troops since the Cold War, which wrapped up in Germany last week, the brigade’s troops had fired more than 1 million rounds from their pistols, rifles, machine guns, tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and artillery pieces.

“It has been absolutely tremendous,” said the brigade’s boss, Col. Christopher Norrie.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Col. Christopher Norrie (right) US Army photo by Sgt. William Tanner

The colonel spoke to The Gazette by phone last week as his soldiers packed up their gear for yet another mock war, this time in Hungary. His soldiers had just fought mock battles alongside a full team of American allies, including the usual suspects from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and newer partners including Ukrainian tankers and Albanian infantry.

“We fired 7,000 rounds of artillery,” Norrie said of the 10-day exercise. The unit also drilled with allied Air Forces and coordinated with a French command team.

“I think the dynamic here that was most interesting was the international environment.”

With tensions on the rise across Europe fueled by an increasingly aggressive Russia led by president Vladimir Putin, the training has sent a clear message: Don’t mess with the US or its friends.

The brigade headed to the continent from Colorado Springs in January, bringing more than 2,000 tanks, trucks, and artillery pieces across the Atlantic by ship. The goal was to demonstrate how quickly a US-based unit could be ready to fight overseas.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke

After gathering in Poland, the unit spread out from Estonia to Bulgaria.

Moving the unit across the vast expanse of Europe showed how quickly its soldiers could show up for battle. The training exercises that followed have shown how they can win the fight, Norrie said.

“We view deterrence as presence plus lethality,” Norrie said.

At a German training area, the brigade’s M-1 tanks proved dominant in a simulated war that included traditional combat and modern-day threats including a cyber attack.

“We seized seven objectives in 48 hours,” Norrie said.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
An M1A2 Abrams Tank belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division prepares to fire during tank gunnery qualification at Presidential Range in Swietoszow, Poland, January 27, 2017. The arrival of 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div., marks the start of back-to-back rotations of armored brigades in Europe as part of Atlantic Resolve. This rotation will enhance deterrence capabilities in the region, improve the U.S. ability to respond to potential crises and defend allies and partners in the European community. U.S. forces will focus on strengthening capabilities and sustaining readiness through bilateral and multinational training and exercises. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke)

Large-scale tank training has been a rarity for the Army and 3rd Brigade in recent years. Since 2001, the unit has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but its tanks and other heavily-armored rigs were parked as its soldiers fought as infantry against insurgent groups.

Now, the Army is focused on its ability to take on “near-peer” enemies, like Russia and China.

That explains the abundance of training rounds fired by the brigade — numbers unheard of in recent years as the Pentagon tightened its belt to deal with budget cuts.

Having the unit overseas also allowed 3rd brigade to practice working with allies.

“There are things we need to improve, things our allies need to improve, and things we are very good at,” he said.

Norrie said his unit was successful in bridging language and cultural barriers thanks to liaison teams. The unit put its troops in the headquarters of allied forces and the other nations reciprocated, creating an instant solution for problems as they arose.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke

He said cooperation was also fueled by having a clear common goal.

“That shared interest of expressing the will of the alliance, it’s a very powerful motivator,” he said.

The training for the brigade is also proceeding at a pace unseen outside wartime.

After wrapping up the training in Germany, tank crews were busy washing mud off their tracks and heading out for training in Hungary.

The brigade, which will head back to Fort Carson in about three months, has become expert at shipping gear across the continent.

“We have done 180 different rail movements throughout Europe,” Norrie said.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke

The pounding pace of the unit’s work would be enough to grind down even the most veteran of soldiers.

But Norrie said it has actually had the opposite effect.

Instead of dragging, 3rd Brigade soldiers are walking taller, he said. The platoons, companies, and battalions have become close knit families during weeks of intense work.

Mechanics have set records for the number of vehicles available for war despite their heavy use. Gunnery scores have gone sky-high as soldiers hone their skills, he said.

Norrie said the brigade has the swagger of an undefeated team.

“If you see our soldiers they are so proud of what they have done,” he said.

Articles

GoRuck: Inside the seriously grueling challenge run by Special Forces soldiers

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton/Released)


After he parked and got out of his car, he didn’t introduce himself or offer any welcome. The unnamed instructor just said, “okay everybody get over here and sign your death waivers.”

This was my first introduction to a GoRuck Challenge, a team endurance event run by former U.S. military special operators. It was the 83rd challenge to take place in Dec. 2011 — running around Tampa, Fla. with 24 people. Since then, it’s grown to more than 2,500 events that now comprise various skill levels.

GoRuck Challenges usually attract a certain demographic of people: Former military personnel, law enforcement, and fitness enthusiasts. Especially with the ominous intro from our instructor, a former Green Beret, anyone taking part in a GoRuck event knows it will be rough, to say the least.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Members of the 97th Air Mobility Wing carry a telephone pole across the base in a GORUCK Light challenge, Oct. 18, 2014. The team carried the pole from the south end of the flight line to the track. The Airmen completed the challenges as a team while carrying weighted rucksacks or backpacks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class J. Zuriel Lee/Released)

“We want to promote the sport of rucking,” Kit Klein, partnership manager for GoRuck based in Jacksonville, Fla., told The Tampa Bay Times. “We’re trying to put it on the map.”

The “sport of rucking” that GoRuck promotes now consists of “GoRuck Light,” a four to five hour challenge that covers seven to 10 miles, “GoRuck Tough,” a 10 to 12-hour challenge covering 15 to 20 miles, and “GoRuck Heavy,” a much more demanding 24-hour-plus challenge that can cover more than 40 miles.

But those times and distances can vary, as one of the company’s mottos is to “under-promise, over-deliver.” (For the GoRuck Tough challenge I was on in Tampa, we did roughly 23 miles over 15 hours).

“Your class is led from start to finish by a Special Operations Cadre whose job is to build a team by pushing you to overcome, together,” reads the description of the challenges on the GoRuck website. “You stay with your class the entire time aka a true team event, never in any way confused with a road race or a mud run. And no, your Cadre is not a drill sergeant and no, this is not bootcamp. That stuff belongs to the military, this is simply an event about your team.”

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Benjamin Evers, Air Force Personnel Center Outdoor Recreation operations specialist, hold the United States flag July 12, 2014, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Evers held the flag for participants while they performed challenges and obstacles during the GORUCK Light/Team Cohesion Challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton/Released)

Founding GoRuck

All of the challenges require participants to carry around weights or bricks in a backpack, which is why these events exist in the first place.

In 2008, GoRuck was a new company making rugged backpacks designed to withstand the rigors of military combat. Founded by former Special Forces soldier Jason McCarthy, he sent his bags to friends in the field to test out and he quickly realized selling backpacks may not be his only business.

From Men’s Journal:

McCarthy spent two years developing the bags that make up most of GoRuck’s product line (four styles, starting at $195). Early on, he battle-tested his prototypes, literally – sending them to Green Beret buddies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then he grew concerned about sending unproven gear to men in danger, so he established another proving ground: the GoRuck Challenge. In these team-oriented endurance runs, which are led by combat veterans and incorporate Special Forces training, participants carry a GoRuck sack loaded with rocks or bricks.

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Part of the class from GoRuck Tough Challenge 083 in the water in Tampa, Fla on Dec. 10, 2011. (Photo: Paul Szoldra/WATM)

“The original intent was very nearsighted,” McCarthy told The Cincinnatti Enquirer of starting his first challenges. “I had a bunch of inventory and wanted people to know about our bags.”

People did learn of GoRuck, and more: “People kept describing this as a life-changing event,” McCarthy told the Enquirer. “I got more and more and more requests to host events.”

An Iraq war veteran, McCarthy began the events in 2010 while attending business school at Georgetown University, according to The Washington Post. Beyond marketing his bags, he told The Post, his goal is “to build better Americans” with his challenges. He does this by promoting leadership, teamwork, and honoring the sacrifices of military service members.

“It’s spiritual, emotional experience they take away,” Derek Zahler, a GoRuck cadre and former Special Forces soldier, told News4Jax. “They get to learn a lot more about themselves. Especially their goals and what they perceive their ability to achieve those goals are.”

The company has moved beyond backpacks and challenging events, however. It now sells apparel, fitness items, and even firearms gear, which it developed in 2014. In that year, the company had $10.8 million in revenue — nearly 30 percent more than the previous year’s figures.

Check out more on GoRuck at its website here.

OR READ: The definitive guide to US Special Ops

Intel

Watch Creed from ‘The Office’ get back to his musical and military roots

Creed Bratton is mostly known for playing a fictional version of himself on NBC’s “The Office,” but more recently he’s been getting back to his roots: Music. Bratton, whose father died during World War II, showcased his guitar playing and singing chops recently before a live veteran audience in Hollywood, California.


The private concert was a “thank you” treat for veterans who worked on public service announcements highlighting the benefits of hiring former troops — resulting in short videos covering “What to Wear,” “Morning Routine,” and “The Bank” — comprised almost entirely of veterans in the entertainment industry. These productions gained nationwide attention and were made possible by CKD and The Easter Seals in partnership with Veterans in Film and Television.

To support the concert, meals were donated by Roaming Hunger and Greenz on Wheels food trucks, and drinks were supplied by Leinenkugel Brewing Company and Miller Coors.

Watch:

NOW: Military experience helped this Navy veteran become a Hollywood advisor and Motocross racer

OR: Aaron Rodgers surprises four kids whose dads died while serving in the military

Articles

From 1860-1916 the uniform regulations for the British Army required every soldier to have a mustache

Special Forces are testing the tiniest drone ever
Photo: Wikipedia


Today I found out that uniform regulation in the British Army between the years 1860 and 1916 stipulated that every soldier should have a moustache.

Command No. 1,695 of the King’s Regulations read:

The hair of the head will be kept short. The chin and the under lip will be shaved, but not the upper lip…

Although the act of shaving one’s upper lip was trivial in itself, it was considered a breach of discipline. If a soldier were to do this, he faced disciplinary action by his commanding officer which could include imprisonment, an especially unsavory prospect in the Victorian era.

Interestingly, it is during the imperial history of Britain that this seemingly odd uniform requirement emerged.  Initially adopted at the tail end of the 1700s from the French, who also required their soldiers to have facial hair which varied depending on the type of soldier (sappers, infantry, etc.),  this follicular fashion statement was all about virility and aggression. Beard and moustache growth was rampant, especially in India where bare faces were scorned as being juvenile and un-manly, as well as in Arab countries where moustaches and beards were likewise associated with power. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the moustache though; back home British citizens were looking on it as a sign of their boys ‘going native’ and it was nearly stamped out completely.

However, in 1854, after significant campaigning, moustaches became compulsory for the troops of the East India Company’s Bombay Army.  While not in the rules for everyone else yet, they were still widely taken up across the Armed Forces and during the Crimean War there were a wide variety of permissible (and over the top) styles. By the 1860s, moustaches were finally compulsory for all the Armed Forces and they became as much an emblem for the Armed Forces as the Army uniform.

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Lt. Gen Frederick Browning sported this epic moustache in 1942. Photo: Wikipedia

In 1916, the regulation was dropped and troops were allowed to be clean-shaven again. This was largely because such a superficial requirement was getting ignored in the trenches of WWI, especially as they could sometimes get in the way of a good gas mask seal.  The order to abolish the moustache requirement was signed on October 6, 1916 by General Sir Nevil Macready, who himself hated moustaches and was glad to finally get to shave his off. While no longer in force today, there are still regulations governing moustaches and, if worn, they can grow no further than the upper lip.  It is also still extremely common for British soldiers in Afghanistan to wear beards, as facial hair is still associated with power and authority in many Islamic regions.

Bonus Moustache Facts:

  • As alluded to, during the Napoleonic era, French soldiers were required to wear facial hair of various sorts.  Sappers were required to have full beards.  Grenadiers and other elite level troops had to maintain large busy moustaches.  Infantry Chasseurs were required to wear goatees with their moustache.  This requirement has long since died out excepting the case of sappers in the Foreign Legion, who still are strongly encouraged to maintain a full, robust beard.
  • Russian non-officer soldiers were required to wear moustaches under Peter the Great’s reign.  On the flipside, while previously it was extremely common for Russian soldiers to wear beards, Peter the Great didn’t find beards so great and not only banned them from the military, but also for civilians, with the lone exception being that members of the clergy could wear them.
  •  Moustache, mustache, and mustachio are all technically correct spellings to describe hair on the upper lip.  Mustachio has relatively recently fallen out of favor for generically describing all moustaches, now more typically referring to particularly elaborate moustaches.  Moustache is the most common spelling today in the English speaking world, though North Americans usually prefer mustache.
  • The English word “moustache” comes from the French word of the same spelling, “moustache”, and popped up in English around the 16th century.  The French word in turn comes from the Italian word “mostaccio”, from the Medieval Latin “mustacium” and in turn the Medieval Greek “moustakion”.  We now finally get to the earliest known origin which was from the Hellenistic Greek “mustax”, meaning “upper lip”, which may or may not have come from the Hellenistic Greek “mullon”, meaning “lip”.  It is theorized that this in turn came from the Proto-Indo-European root “*mendh-“, meaning “to chew” (which is also where we get the word “mandible”).
  • Western Women tend to wax or shave their moustaches, those that can grow them anyways, but Mexican artist Frida Kahlo actually celebrated not only her ‘stache, but also her unibrow, including putting them in her very famous self portrait seen to your right.
  • The oldest known depiction of a man with a moustache goes all the way back to 300 BC.  The depiction was of an Ancient Iranian horseman.
  • “De befborstel” is the Dutch slang for a moustache grown for the specific purpose of stimulating a woman’s clitoris.
  • The longest moustache ever recorded was in Italy on March 4, 2010, and measured in at 14 ft. long (4.29 m).  The proud owner of that magnificent ‘stache was Indian Ram Singh Chauhan.
  • Names of the Various Styles of Moustache:
    • Hungarian: Extremely bushy, with the hairs pulled to the side and with the hairs extending past the upper lip by as much as 1.5 cm.
    • Dali: Named after artist Salvador Dali (who incidentally once published a book, with Philippe Halsman, dedicated to Dali’s moustache, titled: Dali’s Mustache), styled such that the hair past the corner of the mouth is shaved, but the non-shaved hair is allowed to grow such that it can be shaped to point upward dramatically.
    • English Moustache: Thin moustache with the hair on a line in the middle of the upper lip sideways, with the hair at the corner of the mouth slightly shaped upwards.
    • Imperial: Includes not only hair from above the upper lip, but also extends beyond into cheek hair, all of which is curled upward.
    • Fu Manchu: moustache where the ends are styled downwards, sometimes even beyond the bottom of the chin.
    • Handlebar Moustache: a somewhat bushy version of the Dali, but without the strict regulation of having the hair shaved past the side of the lips.
    • Horseshoe: Similar to the Handlebar, but with vertical extensions coming off the sides that extend downwards sharply to the jaw, looking something like an upside down horseshoe (think Hulk Hogan)
    • Chevron: thick moustache covering the whole of the upper lip (think Jeff Foxworthy)
    • Toothbrush: The moustache made popular by Charlie Chaplin, but  whose popularity hit a sharp decline thanks to one Adolph Hitler.
    • Walrus: very similar to the Hungarian, except without the strict length limit on the hair overhanging the upper lip.

Contrary to a myth you may hear sometimes, there is no evidence whatsoever that Adolph Hitler decided to grow a toothbrush moustache to mimic Charlie Chaplin.  Chaplin did parody Hitler in The Great Dictator and sported the now infamous moustache in that film.  The toothbrush moustache was popularized in Germany by Americans and began to become extremely popular by the end of WWI.  Hitler originally went with the previous most popular ‘stache in Germany, the Kaiser Moustache, which was turned up at the ends, often with scented oil.  He continued to wear this ‘stache at least up to and during WWI.  A soldier who served with Hitler during WWI, Alexander Moritz Frey, stated that Hitler was ordered to trim his moustache during WWI while in the trenches to facilitate wearing a gas mask; so shaved the sides off and went with the toothbrush moustache instead.

Chaplin stated that he used the toothbrush moustache as it looked funny and also allowed him to show his expressions more fully than an alternatively comical moustache that covered more of his face would have.

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The Lightning makes its Paris debut

When you make it in Paris, it’s big news.


While many eyes are on Paris Fashion Week, where many of the A-list stars are picking out their awards season wardrobe, the Paris Air Show is also a big deal. In fact, in 2011, over 350,000 people were at the event! By contrast, Paris’s Fashion Week has all of 5,000 attendees.

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An F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is displayed in the U.S. corral at the Paris Air Show June 20, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

The Paris Air Show is where many planes make their big debut onto the world stage. In 1989, the Soviets not only introduced the Buran spaceplane at the Paris Air Show, but the Su-27 Flanker shocked the world with a demonstration of the Pugachev Cobra.

Paris has also seen tragedy, including a MiG-29 crash in 1989, as well as the 1973 crash of the Tu-144 “Concordeski.” B-58 Hustler strategic bombers also crashed there in 1961 and 1965.

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An F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, lands after performing a flight demonstration at the Paris Air Show June 20, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. This is the first time the F-35 has performed aerial demonstrations at an international air show. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

The Paris Air Show is held every other year in an odd year. For this year, the F-35 made its flight demonstration debut. According to a European Command release, the American delegation to the 2017 Paris Air Show also included two F-16 Fighting Falcons, a CH-47 Chinook, a P-8 Poseidon, a V-22 Osprey, an AH-64 Apache, a C-130J Hercules, and a KC-135 Stratotanker.

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F-35A Lighting II pilots from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, pose for a photo in the U.S. corral at the Paris Air Show June 20, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

The star, of course, was the F-35, which was the only fifth-generation fighter at Paris.

The plane made its first aerial demonstration there. You can see it in the video below, from takeoff to landing. It’s about six minutes and 40 seconds, but well worth is to see the F-35 make its mark over Paris.

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Paul Rieckhoff wants vets to help America ‘bring the temperature down’

 


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Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and founder, advocating for vets at the DNC in Philadelphia. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — If the 13 years of running Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has taken an emotional and physical toll on founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff, he doesn’t show it. Watching him in action at the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia is a study in determination and attention to detail. No bypassing staffer is too junior to be engaged, and no veterans issue is too trivial to be addressed.

“If you had asked me 13 years ago that if this far in the future it would still be this hard, I would have said you were full of it,” Rieckhoff says. “Everything is still too hard, from getting candidates to say the right thing to reforming the VA.”

He’s also concerned that philanthropic organizations haven’t responded to a national health problem that he compares to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

“This is like going to the convention in 1982 and people are kind of peripherally talking about AIDS when their friends are dying,” he says. “So if we accept that 20 vets are dying a day as a base point, we’re going to walk out of these conventions and the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and these other billionaire philanthropic leaders are not going to be focused on veterans issues.”

Rieckhoff spreads the blame for the lack of progress on veterans’ issues — heath care and beyond — across several camps, starting with the commander-in-chief.

“President Obama has failed to provide the country a national strategy, and as a response, you’ve gotten fragmentation,” he says. And, by his reckoning, that fragmentation has taken myriad forms, including divisions among the veteran community itself.

“Too often VSO are having tribal fights when we really should recognize that we’re all really in deep shit because our demographics are our destiny and our demographics are bad,” Rieckhoff warns.

He goes on to explain that the veteran community is about to experience a “tectonic shift” numbers-wise because the World War II generation is all but gone and the Vietnam War generation is dying fast.

“We’re going to go from 12 percent in the population to, at some point, under five percent,” he explains.

In the face of this reality, Rieckhoff says that veteran service organizations and, more broadly, veterans themselves need to unify.

“My big takeaway in the wake of these two conventions is we have to find ways to be united and focused and we have to find ways to multiply our impact,” he says. “If veterans alone are carrying water for veterans’ issues we will lose.  We’re just too small. There aren’t enough of us.”

That’s not to say that he doesn’t think veterans have individual impact potential; in fact, Rieckhoff is quick to point out that vets are in a unique position nationwide right now.

“If you’re a veteran and you walk into a Starbucks or a classroom and announce your status you’re going to get 2 minutes of ‘rock star’ respect where people will listen to you for a little while before they jump into their corners for Bernie or Trump or whoever,” he says. “But you have that opening that opportunity to try and be a leader and bring people together. That’s what veterans need to be doing right now. We can bring the temperature down. We can do it through credibility and patriotism and through our example.”

At the same time, Rieckhoff warns vets against being used as props.

“As a community, we have to be really wary about being used. If they want to throw you up on stage with someone, make sure that you’re getting out of it what you need because they’re going to get what they need,” he says. “It’s kind of like when you join the military, right? Uncle Sam’s going to get what he needs out of you. Make sure you get what you need out of Uncle Sam.”

The discussion pivots to the political sphere, and Rieckhoff is at once unflinching and bipartisan in his take on what’s in play for the military community.

“The conventions have been fascinating to watch,” he says. “I think what’s happened in the last four years is both parties realize that veterans make good populism. Last week you had Joni Ernst and a wall of veterans, this week you’ll have Seth Moulton and a wall of veterans. They know – Trump especially – that there is a huge populist undertone to everything veterans.”

But Rieckhoff fears the community may be squandering its time in the spotlight.

“We have lacked a real sharp edge of activism,” he says. “If this was 1968, vet protestors would be in the convention.”

He introduces a broader theme, saying, “It’s a very complicated psycho-social situation we’re in where our community has been asked to sacrifice over and over again, but the public has reasoned that those in the military are self-selected as people who are willing to sacrifice over and over again. You can send us on 12 tours and we’re not going to make that much of a stink.

“The bigger issue is the lack of precedent for the lack of involvement in our country in a time of war. There’s no precedent in American history for this much war with this small group of people for this long.”

That societal reality has yielded some things of concern, not the least of which, according to Rieckhoff, is the fact that there are very few veterans in positions of real power.

“None of the candidates in either party is a veteran,” he points out. “Neither chairman of the VA on either the House or Senate side was a veteran. Jeff Miller and Bernie Sanders can’t run around talking about how wonderful they were when they presided over the largest VA scandal in American history.

“Bernie Sanders used the scandal to pass the omnibus and Jeff Miller is running around with Trump, using his time on HVAC for that. That’s politics, I get that. But At the end of the day veterans are still screwed.”

Rieckhoff likens the situation to “asking a plumber to fix your television.”

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IAVA founder Paul Rieckhoff at the DNC in Philadelphia. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

He uses what’s going on at the VA as an example, saying, “Bob McDonald is an army of one right now. He’s getting his legs cut out from under him by the Republican congress and Democratic leadership won’t touch him, so he’s almost out of time. He’s a good man who’s tried, but likely he’ll be out. The probability is we’ll get a new VA secretary who’ll get nominated in February or March, confirmed in March or April, and maybe he gets to work in June. So, six months into 2017, we’ll have the vision of a new VA secretary.”

Rieckhoff wants veteran leaders “who are still on the sidelines” to engage.

“There should be a coordinated and independent effort to recognize that these are trying times politically and we need to have a new call for these folks to serve,” he says. “You had the ‘Fighting Dems” in ’06 and I told Rahm Emanuel that ‘you have a political jump ball here,’ and he didn’t see it.

“The Fighting Dems wasn’t started by the party; it was started by that crew – Patrick Murphy and Tammy Duckworth and Joe Sestak. That was the first iteration. Four years later the Republicans had their own round, but there was never really a coordinated campaign by either party to recruit veterans. There was a coordinated campaign to push out veterans and to celebrate veterans, but there’s not actually a farm team.”

Rieckhoff goes further, actually recommending a ticket that a large percentage of veterans would support right out of the gate.

“If [former NYC mayor] Mike Bloomberg and [retired Admiral and former CJCS] Mike Mullen started their own party tomorrow, a third of our membership would go with them . . . probably a third of the country would go with them,” he opines.

Rieckhoff sums the landscape up as “crazier,” and, again, he believes that presents a unique opportunity for the military/veteran community.

“We’re some of the only people who can go to both conventions and understand both sides,” he says. “That’s the powerful position for us whether it’s gun control, immigration, Islamophobia, gay rights, marijuana, or whatever. We can be a unique bridge builder between both sides. The Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements are great examples. The veterans community is on both sides of those.”

For all of the impact potential veterans might have, Rieckhoff is also mindful of negative stereotypes that exist among the civilian populations, something he blames in large part to “media laziness.”

“The only description the media had of the Dallas shooter was that he was African-American, and he was a veteran,” he points out. “Why? Because they have to file a story quickly and those were the only two things they could verify. That accelerated media cycle perpetuates lazy reporting. And when you have a vet who fits the stereotype they run with it.”

Rieckhoff exhales and contemplates the requirement to constantly attend to the pubic’s perception of vets, and that reminds him of the accomplishments of the community and, specifically, the legacy of IAVA.

“When IAVA started in 2004 the veterans landscape was a desert,” he remembers. “Now it’s a metropolis. We are very proud of the fact that a lot of people who come through the IAVA team have gone on to do really cool stuff.”

A quick review of the current roles of IAVA alums bears this out. Vet leaders like Abdul Henderson (now on the Congressional Black Caucus), Bill Rausch (now at Got Your 6), Tom Taratino (Twitter), Matt Miller (Trump campaign), and Todd Bowers (Uber) all spent time on the IAVA staff.

“We built IAVA to be a launching pad,” Rieckhoff says. “I’d rather have Tom Taratino at Twitter changing the culture than have him at the House VA Committee talking to a bunch of other veterans for the ninetieth time.”

But in spite of the challenges, Rieckhoff is bullish on the future of the veteran community.

“In 10 years, disproportionally CEOs are going to be veterans, candidates are going to be veterans, entrepreneurs are going to be veterans,” he says. “And that’s going to be exciting to watch.”

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This is how the remains of a WWII hero made it home after 75 years

A New York military aviation researcher got more than she bargained for on a dream trip to a battle-scarred South Pacific island — the chance to help solve the mystery of an American soldier listed as missing in action from World War II.


Donna Esposito, who works at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in upstate Glenville, visited Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands this spring and was approached by a local man who knew of WWII dog tags and bones found along a nearby jungle trail. The man asked if Esposito could help find relatives of the man named on the tags: Pfc. Dale W. Ross.

After she returned home, Esposito found that Ross had nieces and nephews still living in Ashland, Oregon. A niece and a nephew accompanied Esposito on her late July return to Guadalcanal, where they were given his dog tags and a bag containing the skeletal remains.

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Marines rest in this field during the Guadalcanal campaign. (Photo under Public Domain.)

Although it’s not certain yet the remains are the missing soldier’s, the nephew who made the Guadalcanal trip is confident they will be a match.

“It’s Uncle Dale. I have no doubt,” said Dale W. Ross, who was named after his relative.

The elder Ross, a North Dakota native whose family moved to southern Oregon, was the third of four brothers who fought in WWII. Assigned to the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, he was listed as MIA in January 1943, during the final weeks of the Guadalcanal campaign. He was last seen in an area that saw heavy fighting around a Japanese-held hilltop.

When the Japanese evacuated Guadalcanal three weeks later, it was the first major land victory in the Allies’ island-hopping campaign in the Pacific.

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Members from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency transfer a case of unidentified remains believed to be military personnel onto a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane to be transferred to Oahu from the Solomon Islands, Aug. 9, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle.)

Ross’ relatives handed the remains — about four dozen bones, including rib bones — to a team from the Pentagon agency that identifies American MIAs found on foreign battlefields. On August 7, the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Guadalcanal, an American honor guard carried a flag-draped coffin containing the bones onto a US Coast Guard aircraft.

The Pentagon said the remains were taken to Hawaii for DNA testing.

“Until a complete and thorough analysis of the remains is done by our lab, we are unable to comment on the specific case associated to the turnover,” said Maj. Jessie Romero of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The other three Ross brothers made it back home, including the oldest, Charles, who served aboard a Navy PT boat in the Solomons and visited Guadalcanal in the vain attempt to learn about his brother Dale’s fate.

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Gen. Robert B. Neller lays a wreath during the 75th Anniversary of the Battle for Guadalcanal ceremony. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.)

Ross’ niece and nephew made their trip last month with Esposito and Justin Taylan, founder of Pacific Wrecks, a New York-based nonprofit involved in the search for American MIAs from WWII. They met the family whose 8-year-old son found the dog tags and remains. They also were taken to the spot on a slope in the jungle where the discovery was made.

“I never met this man, but I was a little emotional,” Ross, 71, said of the experience.

For Esposito, 45, finding evidence that could solve a lingering mystery in an American family’s military history is the most meaningful thing she’s ever done in her life.

“I can’t believe this has all happened,” she said. “It has been an amazing journey.”

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