This new Army Stryker vehicle is America's latest plane killer - We Are The Mighty
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This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer

Remember how the Stryker was supposed to be a family of fighting vehicles? Well, now, a new member of the family has emerged… and it’s a plane killer.


According to a report by BreakingDefense.com, Boeing and General Dynamics have teamed up to create the Stryker Maneuver SHORAD (SHOrt Range Air-Defense) Launcher. Plain and simple, this variant will be murder for enemy planes – and it can be mounted with a wide variety of munitions that can make this new Stryker an effective distributor of surplus MiG, Sukhoi, Mil, and Kamov parts.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
The Stryker Mobile SHORAD Launcher. SHORAD stands for short-range air defense. The four Hellfires can also ruin any tank’s day. (Photo from General Dynamics Land Systems)

While one configuration displayed at a Huntsville, Alabama, expo was armed with a pair of AIM-9X Sidewinders (technically MIM-9X, since they are vehicle-launched) with four Hellfire missiles, a display at the show listed numerous options. These included the FIM-92 Stinger, the Mk 44 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun, 70mm Hydra rockets, multiple machine guns (bringing back the Meat Chopper?) and lasers.

How this was done was shockingly simple. A Stryker chassis was modified to operate the turret from the Avenger, a HMMWV-based air defense system. The Avenger has eight FIM-92 Stingers and a single M3P .50-caliber machine gun, and was intended to replace the Chapparal and M163/M167 Vulcan Air Defense System.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
MIM-72 Chapparal (US Army photo)

Most of the Army’s land-based surface-to-air missile systems have been focused on the missile-defense mission. The MIM-104 Patriot, for instance, was initially designed to kill aircraft and provide area air defense, but it has since become a specialist in killing shorter-range ballistic missiles like the SS-1 Scud.

The Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense system has capabilities against a wider variety of missiles.

The Navy has a wider array of surface-to-air missiles for tactical purposes against aircraft. The RIM-66 Standard SM-2 and RIM-162 surface-to-air missile scored kills against anti-ship missiles this fired at the destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) in October 2016.

The SM-2 was also used by the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG 49) to shoot down an Iranian airliner misidentified as a hostile fighter during a July 1988 incident in the Strait of Hormuz.

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After 50 years, a heroic Huey pilot will receive the Medal of Honor

In the early morning of May 15th, 1967, U.S. Army soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division were ambushed near Song Tra Cau riverbed Duc Pho in the Republic of Vietnam. Outnumbered and outgunned, they faced an entire battalion of North Vietnamese soldiers with heavy machine guns and recoilless rifles. The 101st couldn’t hit their attackers and quickly took casualties.


This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Maj. Kettles deployed in Vietnam

Charles Kettles was a UH-1 Huey pilot on his first of two tours in Vietnam. When he learned soldiers on the ground were taking intense fire and many were wounded, he didn’t hesitate. Then-Maj. Kettles volunteered to lead a flight of six Hueys (including his own)into the firefight to drop off reinforcements and pick up the wounded.

“There wasn’t any decision to be made,” Kettles was quoted as saying in a recent Army Times piece. “We simply were going to go and pick them up.”

When the helicopters approached the landing zone, they came under the same intense fire. Kettles stayed in the fight until all the wounded were loaded and the 101st received their supplies. He then went to pick up more reinforcements.  After dropping off the second wave, his gunner was injured and the small arms fire caused a ruptured fuel line. He got his bird back to Duc Pho but later that same day, the last 40 U.S. troops, with eight members of Kettles’ own unit (their helicopter was shot down) requested an emergency extraction. Maj. Kettles volunteered to go back with five other Hueys.

“The mission was simple,” Kettles said. “The situation was anything but simple.”

Kettles had what he thought was everyone, and so he departed the area. Once airborne, however, he learned that eight troops were pinned down due to the intense fire and didn’t make it to the helicopters. Kettles immediately broke off from the main group, turned his bird around, and went back for the missing eight men on his own. With no gunship or artillery support, Kettles flew what was now a giant, lurking target into the ambush area. A mortar immediately his tail boom, rotor blade, and shattered his front windshield. His Huey was raked by small arms fire. Despite the constant attack and severe damage to his helicopter, he held firm until the eight men were aboard and flew everyone to safety. When he landed, he was “unrattled and hungry.”

“I just walked away from the helicopter believing that’s what war is,” Kettles told USA Today. “It probably matched some of the movies I’d seen as a youngster. So be it. Let’s go have dinner.”

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Kettles receiving the Distinguished Service Cross.

He did another tour in Vietnam, then retired in 1978 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He started a car dealership with his brother after his retirement, happy to receive the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism in Vietnam. He had no expectations of receiving the Medal of Honor. That came about from the work of amateur historian William Vollano. Vollano, in the course of interviewing veterans for the Veterans History Project, heard Kettles’ story. With written accounts of men from the 101st who were there that day, Vollano was able to push the Army to reexamine Kettles. They determined that Kettles’ actions merited the nation’s highest honor.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer

“Kettles, by himself, without any guns and any crew, went back by himself,” said Roland Scheck, a crew member who had been injured on Kettles’ first trip to the landing zone that day. “I don’t know if there’s anyone who’s gotten a Medal of Honor who deserved it more.”

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Coast Guard commandos guarding Trump, deployed to Med

A little-known group of specially-trained Coast Guardsmen are playing a key role in securing a presidential retreat in Florida and guarding against the smuggling of doomsday weapons out of war-torn Syria.


Few know about the Coast Guard’s cadre of special operations units but that doesn’t mean they’re sitting idle, says the service’s top commander.

“This is a team that’s not sand lot ball. These are the pros that have very unique weapons skills and training and not everyone makes this team,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft during a breakfast meeting with reporters April 12. “These teams are if anything probably over employed right now in terms of their optempo — both on the anti-terrorism front and on the counter-terrorism front as well.”

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
The official patch of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Established in the years after 9/11 to provide another layer of special operations capability both in the United States and worldwide, the Coast Guard previously housed these various specialized teams under one command, dubbed the “Deployable Operations Group.” Comprised of highly-trained boat teams, crisis response forces and counter proliferation experts, the DOG was disbanded in 2012 and its units dispersed to separate commands.

Despite its troubled past, the Coast Guard’s special operators are front and center in some of America’s most high profile missions. Zukunft said his teams are providing maritime security for President Donald Trump when he visits his golf resort at Mar a Lago in Florida, working closely with the U.S. Secret Service to protect world leaders from potential attack.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Security Zones in vicinity of Mar A Lago, Florida are established during VIP visits to the Miami area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Seventh Coast Guard District)

“I had three teams providing force protection for presidents of the two largest nations in the world — China and the United States — at Mar a Lago. That’s what these teams do, Zukunft said. “We’re seeing more and more of these nationally significant security events in the maritime domain.”

The service’s capability also includes Coast Guardsmen trained to locate and secure chemical and nuclear weapons — operators that are part of the Maritime Security Response Teams. Similar to SEALs, the MSRT Coast Guardsmen can take down ships, oil platforms and other vehicles used to smuggle WMD material over water.

It’s members of these MSRT units that are currently deployed to help the U.S. military guard against doomsday weapons leaking out of Syria and other regional hotspots.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) from Virginia participates in a training evolution in Hyannis, Mass., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. The highly trained and specialized team, using a real-world underway ferry, practiced tactical boardings-at-sea, active shooter scenarios, and detection of radiological material. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

“We have a full-up [counter terrorism team] deployed right now in the Mediterranean in support of CENTCOM. It’s an advanced interdiction team in case there is any movement of a weapon of mass destruction,” Zukunft said. “This is a team that if necessary, forces itself onboard a ship … and they have all of the weapons skills of special forces, but they have law enforcement authority.”

Despite the rocky road in the unit’s formation, Zukunft is confident the Coast Guard’s special operations units are here to stay.

“To turn the lights out and then decide ‘whoa we have this threat’ — it’s going to take [a while] to reconstitute that, and in doing so the assumption would be that we will never have a terrorist attack directed agains the United States ever again,” he said. “I am not willing to make that assumption. I am all in.”

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The 13 best examples of technology civilians got from the military

The U.S. spends a lot of money on military research, but a lot of things civilians use everyday were designed or commissioned for military projects. Here are 13 of the best.


1. Portable fire extinguisher

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rachel McMarr

The portable fire extinguisher was invented by a captain in the Cambridgeshire Militia. Capt. George W. Manby was obsessed with safety, inventing at least five safety devices. He invented the “extincteur” in 1819, a copper container filled with three gallons of pearl ash and some compressed air. Modern extinguishers are based on his design, though different metals and chemical compounds are used.

2. Epipens

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: flickr.com/Greg Friese

The Epipen, used to quickly administer adrenaline in patients experiencing anaphylactic shock, was invented in the 1970s by Dr. Sheldon Kaplan who based the design upon Cold War-era auto-injectors. The auto-injectors allowed troops to quickly and precisely administer antidotes if they were struck with nerve agents. Before auto-injectors, troops had to carry kits with syringes, rubber bands, and vials of medicine that could kill when used incorrectly and were tricky to administer in the field.

3. Blood banks

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: US Mission Uganda

Though they are now generally associated with aid organizations like the Red Cross, blood banks were originally designed for military field hospitals. Then-Capt. Oswald Robertson suggested the use of preserved blood at casualty clearing stations at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917. He had proven preserved blood would work in transfusions and knew that the battle would create too many casualties for doctors to transfuse directly from a donor to the patient, a method popular before blood banks.

4. Drones

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: US Army

Now used by civilians for everything from surveying fires to paintball to filming weddings, drones were originally attempted by the U.S. military in World War I as remote-controlled dive bombers — sort of like a long-range missile.

Of course, actual missiles and rockets were developed in World War II that made this unnecessary, so drones sat on a shelf until the 1980s when they began a limited surveillance role. After drone technology became cheaper and more accessible, they made the jump to the civilian world.

5. Vehicle navigation

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: flickr.com/mroach

The military famously led the way in GPS, developing positioning satellites for the U.S. Navy in 1960. The program was opened up to civilian use by President Reagan after a Korean jet was shot down by a Russian fighter when it accidentally wandered into Russian air space. Today, GPS is everywhere, especially in cars.

GPS wasn’t the first in-car navigation system though. That was an inertial guidance system from Honda that descended from World War II navigational aids for aviators.

6. The Space Program

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: NASA Kim Shiflett

The first American satellite was created by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and included instruments designed by a professor at the State University of Iowa. But, that equipment was riding on the Jupiter-C, a missile created by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency headed by Dr. Wernher Von Braun. Von Braun also designed the V-2 which put the first manmade object in space.

In 1958, NASA was created and became the primary American body for exploring space. Now, civilian corporations like SpaceX are moving into the market as well.

7. Hemostatic bandages

Hemostatic bandages quickly control severe bleeding. They can work through a few different mechanisms depending on the hemostatic agent that is used. Some pull water from a wound and leave clotting agents behind in a higher concentration, some form a sticky substance atop a wound and reduce bleeding that way, and others are a protein-covered lattice that a clot can quickly form on.

All the major types were created for controlling extreme trauma on the battlefield. While most of the hemostatic bandages making their way to the civilian world are coming from recent breakthroughs, military doctors have been working on hemostatic bandages since 1909.

8. Duct/Duck tape

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: US Navy Safety Center

The Permacell company developed Duck Tape for the military in World War II as a way to quickly repair cracked windows, seal ammo cans and other cases, and repair trucks. When the war ended, it was quickly realized that the tap also worked well for air ducts and the tape changed from green to the iconic gray most people associate with it.

9. Computers

The first true electronic computers were invented by British and American scientists for use in World War II. The British Colossus was used to crack German codes during World War II. The American ENIAC wasn’t completed until just after the war, but it was the first programmable computer and would go on to aid in the creation of the hydrogen bomb.

10. One-handed tourniquets

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Photo: US Army Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger

While civilian medical services have typically been wary of tourniquets, they’ve been coming back around after seeing the outstanding performance of tourniquets in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, important groups of doctors have begun advocating for tourniquets as required equipment in ambulances. Predictably, the best designs have been those catered to the military needs.

The popular Combat Action Tourniquet and Special Operations Forces Tourniquet were some of the first designs that allowed one-handed application. A new tourniquet designed for the Department of Defense is gaining attention for being easier to apply while still effectively controlling bleeding.

11. Microwave

Microwave ovens were a byproduct of World War II radar research. The original radars in England told the general direction enemy aircraft were coming in from, but it wasn’t detailed or mobile. Britain wanted radars that could pinpoint attackers and that could be installed on fighters. They got their wish with the invention of the cavity magnetron.

The microwaves from the magnetron could also excite particles and cook food, as discovered by Perry Spencer, a Raytheon employee. He invented the microwave oven after a magnetron melted a chocolate bar in his pocket.

12. PTSD treatments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlbh5fJ00sc

Civilians get post-traumatic stress disorder too, and military breakthroughs in treatment will be used to help non-military patients. The VA lists the current therapies they offer in their facilities, but they also use video games and dogs to treat service members and veterans.

13. The Internet

The ARPANET was created in 1969 as a decentralized communications network, meaning a bomb attack at one node would do minimal damage to the network as a while. It was formally shut down in 1989 since the growing civilian internet was already making it redundant.

So next time you’re watching that funny cat video on YouTube, be sure to go ahead and thank the troops.

NOW: 8 things civilians should know before dating someone in the military

OR: 8 new projects that will revolutionize military medicine

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This World War II vet may receive the Medal of Honor for holding off hundreds of Germans and six tanks

The true story of Garlin Murl Conner’s heroism in the face of a Nazi onslaught might have gone to the grave with the soft-spoken Kentucky farmer if not for a chance phone call from another military man trying to piece together the last days of his uncle’s life.


This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Conner’s close friends say he never talked about the war, but a box full of medals and old records brought his story back to life. Photo: Courtesy Conner family

That call — and the heartbreaking developments that followed — left Richard Chilton with no answers, but gave the tenacious former Green Beret a cause: Seeing that Conner, who on one day in 1945 killed 50 German soldiers and saved his storied battalion on the front lines in France, is recognized with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

“This man may have been the greatest soldier of our time,” said Chilton, whose bid to get Conner the Medal of Honor began in 1998, wended its way through a series of military panels and federal courts, and now stands closer than ever to fruition. “I owe it to him to fight like hell to make damn sure the Army gives him what he earned.”

After a series of denials that led Chilton and advocates including retired Air Force Col. Dennis Shepherd, an attorney for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, to turn to the federal courts for help, the effort took a leap forward last week. The Army Board for Correction of Military Records bucked its own staff and ignored a federal judge’s ruling that the statute of limitations barred consideration and recommended Conner for the award, which can only be bestowed by the president.

The bravery of Conner, who died in 1998 at the age of 79, is well-documented. The first lieutenant, who was wounded seven times, earned an incredible four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, seven Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross for his World War II heroism. But it was what he did on Jan. 24, 1945, near Houssen, France, that elevated his courage to mythical status.

And the story would have remained in obscurity, alive only in Conner’s mind and packed away in a cardboard box near his Albany, Ky., home, were it not for Chilton.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Lt. General Alexander M. Patch awards Garlin Murl Conner the Distinguished Service Cross, Feb. 10, 1945 for extraordinary heroism in action.

Chilton, a veteran of the Korean War who later trained Israeli fighters during the Gulf War, wanted to learn more about his uncle, Army Pfc. Gordon Wesley Roberts. All he knew was that the brave man he remembered from his boyhood had served in the 3rdInfantry Division and had never made it home from World War II. It was 1995, and Chilton, now 82, started tracking down men from the division, which included movie star Audie Murphy – himself a Medal of Honor recipient – and which lost more men than any other in the war.

“I’d called about 200 men, and no one really was able to tell me much about my uncle,” Chilton recalled. “I was ready to give up but I tried one more. I left a message with Garlin Murl Conner.”

A few days later, Chilton got a cryptic message on his answering machine.

“I knew your uncle,” Conner said. “I was with him the night he died. He died from small arms fire. More to follow.”

But that was the last Chilton heard from Conner. When he finally mailed a letter to him, Conner’s wife, Pauline, wrote back to say her husband had had a stroke days later and could no longer speak. Chilton, who lives in Genoa City, Wis., drove more than 500 miles to Conner’s home in the desperate hope that a face-to-face meeting might yield information.

But it did not. As a dejected Chilton was walking out the door of the Conner home, Pauline suggested he look through her husband’s records. Maybe there would be a clue about his uncle there, she said. She emerged from a back room with a box full of medals, commendations, yellowed newspaper clippings and faded photographs.

Chilton found nothing on his uncle, but his amazement grew as he spent the next few hours digging through the box.

“I discovered the most decorated soldier I’d ever heard of,” Chilton said. “I was blown away. I’ve never seen a man with four Silver Stars.”

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Chilton, a Green Beret who served in the Korean War, knew a brave soldier when he saw one. Photo: Courtesy Richard Chilton

Through the pictures, medals and testimony of Conner’s superior officers, including legendary Maj. Gen. Lloyd Ramsey, the story of Conner’s heroic actions more than 50 years earlier in France came back to life. Earlier that day, Conner, who had been badly wounded in the hip, sneaked away from a field hospital and made his way back to his unit’s camp. His commanding officer was seeking a volunteer for a suicide mission: Run 400 yards directly toward the enemy while unreeling telephone wire all the way to trenches on the front line. From that point, the volunteer would be able to call in targeting coordinates for mortar fire.

Conner grabbed the spool of wire and took off amid intense enemy fire. He made it to the ditch, where he stayed in contact with his unit for three hours in near-zero-degree weather as a ferocious onslaught of German tanks and infantry bore down on him.

“My God, he held off 600 Germans and six tanks coming right at him,” Chilton marveled. “When they got too close, his commander told him to vacate and instead, he says, ‘Blanket my position.'”

The request meant Conner was calling for artillery strikes as he was being overrun, risking his life in order to draw friendly fire that would take out the enemy, too.

Circumstances conspired to thwart Chilton’s initial effort to have Conner awarded the Medal of Honor, which 471 men received for their efforts in World War II. His commander did not fill out necessary paperwork, an oversight he later apologized for. Records, which included testimony from fellow soldiers, were lost with millions of others in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. But perhaps most of all, Conner never told his story.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Conner’s story was revealed when Chilton, shown here as a boy with his uncle, Army Pfc. Gordon Wesley Roberts, sought to find out what happened to his relative. Photo Courtesy Richard Chilton

Chilton’s application in 1997 on behalf of Conner was rejected. An appeal supported by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs three years later was similarly nixed. But Shepherd and his team, with the help of Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., managed to find duplicate documents in which soldiers attested to Conner’s exploits in the National Archives.

Shepherd’s team took those papers and the recommendation of Ramsey, now 96, to federal court in 2009, seeking to have the Army re-examine the application. District Judge Thomas Russell rejected the motion, noting the seven-year Statute of Limitations had passed since the last appeal. But his reluctance was clear in his decision, in which he said a technicality should not diminish Conner’s “extraordinary courage and patriotic service.” Shepherd said Russell’s words helped set the table for an appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a dramatic proceeding in the Cincinnati court, the three-judge panel heard all the testimony about Conner’s actions, and the courtroom was stunned when Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Hill told the judges her own father served with Conner.

For Shepherd and Chilton, the difficult part is getting someone to listen to the evidence.

“Anytime I’ve been able to put the facts regarding Garlin Conner in front of someone, we get results,” said Shepherd. “As soon as these judges saw what he had done that day, they didn’t care about the statute of limitations.”

The 6th Circuit ordered both parties into mediation, which led to last week’s ruling by the Army Board for Correction of Military Records. That recommendation will likely carry weight with the Senior Army Decorations Board, though it could take “several months” for a decision.

If the decorations board recommends the award, the Senate Armed Services Committee takes up the case and makes its own recommendation to the president.

If the words written by Ramsey, who went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam, where he commanded the Americal Division, when Conner’s bravery was fresh in his mind, hold sway, Conner’s ailing wife and numerous supporters could yet help repay an American hero.

“I just sent one of my officers home,” Ramsey, then a lieutenant colonel, wrote to a colleague in Kentucky in 1945, when Conner was discharged. “I’m really proud of Lt. Conner. He probably will call you and, if he does, he may not sound like a soldier, will sound like any good old country boy, but, to my way of seeing, he’s one of the outstanding soldiers of this war, if not THE outstanding.”

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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.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
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.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
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!

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A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”

As of 2015 the Berlin Wall has been down almost as long as it stood separating the German people. The wall built by the Communist German Democratic Republic (GDR – better known as East Germany) around the Western sectors of Berlin became a longstanding symbol of the divide between Western Capitalism and Eastern Communism during the Cold War. In the 28 years it stood, no place on Earth was so central to world events as Berlin and the reason for that is the Berlin Wall. Twenty-six years after its fall, it’s worth a look to see the how Cold War history played out surrounding such a central, divisive symbol.


After World War II, West Germany was occupied by France, England, and the United States, East Germany was occupied by the Soviet Union. Berlin, despite being deep in Soviet-occupied territory, was also partitioned in a similar way. After the Berlin Airlift ended a Soviet blockade — really an attempt to push the West out of Berlin through economic strangulation — fears of further drifts toward a full Communist state in the East prompted many to emigrate to West Germany in exponential numbers. These were mostly young, well-educated Germans whose flight became known as a “Brain Drain” of East German intelligentsia and workers. Only 61% of the East’s working age population remained. Something had to be done and what better way to make people want to stay in your country than by walling them in and threatening them with constant torture and execution?

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Memorial crosses of those killed by East Germany while trying to cross to West Germany

The borders around West Berlin were closed on August 13, 1961 as the Soviets tore up the streets, erected fences, and placed barbed wire. Families were suddenly split, jobs were lost and the United States had no official response. The U.S. didn’t actually think there was valid reason for its permanent erection. Then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “The Wall certainly ought not to be a permanent feature of the European landscape. I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is—it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to Communist failure.”

Erected in 1961, it was called the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” by the GDR, who placed rows of barbed wire a guard towers along the wall. It would soon become a symbol for the corruption and lack of freedom for those living in the Soviet Union-dominated Eastern Bloc, as the world recognized it as a true “Iron Curtain,” a means to keep East Germans from getting to West German freedom, instead of keeping West Germans out of the East Germany. It would be upgraded three times after its construction.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Robert Kennedy and Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt at the Berlin Wall

President Kennedy denounced its construction and appointed retired Army General Lucius D. Clay as Ambassador. Clay was the mastermind of the Berlin Airlift, former military governor of American-controlled Germany, nicknamed “the Kaiser” and was wildly popular with Berliners. Following Kennedy’s order to reinforce the Allied defenders of West Berlin, Clay ordered 1,500 men with vehicles and trailers from West Germany, through East Germany to West Berlin, where they were met by Clay and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson as a show of strength and a reassertion of the Allies’ access to Berlin.

In June, 1963, President Kennedy visited the Berlin for the first time with General Clay to reaffirm the U.S. dedication of support for West Germany and to remind the Soviet Union of that support.

Hundreds of East German died trying to get to freedom on the other side of the wall, thousands were successful in defecting across the wall. They would dig tunnels below the wall, flying hot air balloons, through the sewers, or just driving cars at max speed through weaker sections. One East German guard even drove his tank through the wall to defect. Western guards were not able to help defectors until they were on the Western side of the wall.

In 1988, the year before the Berlin Wall fell, Bruce Springsteen played the Berlin Wall in a concert organized by East German Communist authorities in an attempt to pacify East German youth. Communist authorities saw rock music as a “nefarious cultural weapon” (and for much of the music of the 1980’s, that assertion isn’t far off), so the concert was a surprising shockk to much of the world, most of all East Germans. Springsteen didn’t miss the importance of the event. After playing Born in the U.S.A. in front of 300,000 East Germans, he delivered a short speech in German:

“I’m not here for any government,” he began. “I’ve come to play rock and roll for you in the hope that one day, all the barriers will be torn down.”

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Springsteen in East Germany (wikimedia commons)

The crowd went wild. Sixteen months later, on November 9, 1989, the government of the German Democratic Republic, better known as East Germany, announced Germans living in the East would then be free to visit West Germany and West Berlin. That day, East and West Germans crowded the Berlin Wall, and systematically chipped away and demolished it.

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This is why the North Vietnamese were so deadly in jungle combat

Ground combat in the Vietnam War was a lot more than random ambushes in heavy jungle and the Air Force bombing the hell out of jungle canopies. At places like Ben Het, the North Vietnamese Army even attacked in force with tanks and armored personnel carriers. 

After getting into a conventional battle with the United States Army at Ia Drang, the NVA learned to stick to the tactics it knew best: infiltrations, hit-and-runs, ambushes and surprise attacks. Even major offensives relied on surprises in timing and troop strength after that. 

By the time the United States got involved in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese had been fighting against colonial-style rule from outsiders since the end of World War II, an astonishing 20 years or so. They were a battle-hardened army with veteran leadership, fighting on their home turf. They knew the jungle like the American troops could not. To top it all off, Communist supporters and sympathizers were all over the “democratic” south – the Viet Cong.

The United States wasn’t just fighting a uniformed, trained force along a united front, it was also fighting the Viet Cong and its brutal campaign of intimidation and violence throughout the south VC fighters could hit South Vietnam and civilian targets in the south, then blend into the crowd of civilians.

That ability to blend into their surroundings and hide in plain sight was also apparent in the jungle fighting outside of Vietnam’s major cities. 

Soldiers in the jungle of Vietnam
Soldiers in the dense jungle of Vietnam.

Small units operating in the jungles had problems fighting that only those who are familiar with that kind of terrain would know. The dense jungles and triple canopies made seeing the enemy next to impossible, from either the ground or the air. 

The Viet Cong also employed complex tunnel systems in areas throughout the country that allowed them to move and hide underground. On those kinds of battlefield, the VC could decide when and where the shooting starts and ends. 

One advantage the U.S. had was in terms of firepower from air support and artillery. North Vietnamese forces had to negate that advantage on the battlefields. The primary way they did that was to hit American infantry units when it was most advantageous for them. Often, the communist forces would wait until the Americans were mere yards away in the least visible sections of jungle territory before opening up on them. Well-hidden and disciplined, the NVA could cause maximum damage and before withdrawing, often using only small arms and mortars, and often at night.

During nighttime raids and ambushes, communist ambushes were extremely difficult to fight against because they were extremely difficult to see. The NVA and VC were both well-versed in cover and concealment, despite what Americans see in movies. The dense jungle made it even easier for them. At night, the Americans could only return fire at vague muzzle flashes and maybe tracer rounds. 

Some Veterans will tell you that they never saw the enemy – even if they were 30 feet away. 

dense jungle in Vietnam
The jungles were so thick, it was nearly impossible to see your enemy.

Conventional tactics were a loser for North Vietnamese forces. Americans won those battles through superior firepower and training. The same can’t be said for small-unit combat in the jungles. In the end, the drawn out war and the communists’ political strategy (along with supplies coming from other communist countries) became too much for the American public. 

American victories in Vietnam were overshadowed by the divisive nature of support for the war at home. Many of the social and societal rifts caused by the prolonged war can still be felt to this day. 

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Here’s why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren’t

Since its creation, the U.S. Marine Corps has been involved in some of the most epic military battles in history. From raising the flag at Iwo Jima to hunting terrorists in Iraq, it’s pretty much a guarantee that a Navy Corpsman was right next to his brothers during the action.


The unique bond between Marines and their “Doc” is nearly unbreakable.

Since the Marine Corps doesn’t have its own medical department and falls under the Department of the Navy, the majority of the medical treatment Marines receive comes directly from the Naval Hospital Corps.

Related: 9 things you should know before becoming a Marine infantry officer

So, why are some Corpsmen considered Marines when they’re in the Navy and never went through the Corps’ tough, 13-week boot camp? Well, we’re glad you asked.

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At first glance, it appears that a Marine is cuddling this adorable little puppy. But look closer and you’ll notice he’s actually a Doc. (Source: Pinterest)

It’s strictly an honorary title and not every Corpsman earns that honor. In fact, it’s hard as f*ck to earn the respect of a Marine when you’re in the Navy — it’s even harder getting them to say happy birthday to you every Nov. 10.

After a Corpsman graduates from the Field Medical Training Battalion, either at Camp Pendleton or Camp Lejeune, they typically move on to one of three sections under the Marine Air Ground Task Force, or MAGTF. Those three sections consist of Marine Air Wing (or MAW), Marine Logistics Group (or MLG), and Division (or the Marine Infantry).

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer

Not every Corpsman goes through the FMTB and, therefore, some won’t have the opportunity to serve with the Marines.

Once a Corpsman checks into his unit, however, he’ll eat, train, sleep, and sh*t with his squad, building that special bond.

This starts the journey of earning the honorary title of Marine.

Also Read: 6 reasons why you need a sense of humor in the infantry

Once the unit deploys, the squad’s Corpsman will fight alongside his Marines, facing the same dangers as brothers. That “Doc” will fire his weapon until one of the grunts gets hurt, then he’ll switch into doctor mode.

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Can you spot the “Doc” in this photo? It’s tough, right? I’m the tall drink of water in the middle.

After a spending time with the grunts, studying Marine culture, Corpsmen can take a difficult test and earn the designation of FMF, or Fleet Marine Force, and receive a specialized pin.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
Behold, the almighty FMF pin in all of it’s glory.

Notice the mighty eagle, globe, and anchor placed directly in the middle of the pin. Once a “Doc” gets this precious symbol pinned above his U.S. Navy name tape, he earns a measure of pride and the honorary title of Marine.

Semper fi, brothers! Rah!

MIGHTY TACTICAL

An indestructible beetle could inspire the next generation of military technology

When ironclad warships were introduced by the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War, they wreaked havoc on wooden Union warships. Even under heavy fire from an entire flotilla, shots bounced harmlessly off the sides of the armored ships. 

This is how one California beetle earned its name. The Ironclad Beetle’s exoskeleton is one of the most indestructible structures ever found in nature and there’s not one bird beak, lizard tooth or Dodge Charger that can crush the five-millimeter insect. 

It’s the beetle’s survival design that’s leading researchers to uncover ways to adapt it to serve mankind. 

The beetle can’t fly. It has no poison or stinking chemicals to deter predators. It’s not even that fast. But when under threat of attack, the beetle’s instinct is to play dead and depend on its heavy armor to keep it alive and unharmed. 

The armor’s secret is its impact-resistant and crush resistant exoskeleton, created by “complex and graded interfaces… multiscale architectural designs… and toughening mechanisms.” In a recent article published in the scientific journal “Nature” researchers found “interdigitated sutures, the ellipsoidal geometry and laminated microstructure of which provide mechanical interlocking and toughening at critical strains, while avoiding catastrophic failure.”

All that is to say, this is one tough bug and nature designed it that way. It’s able to withstand 39,000 times its body weight before squashing. That would be like putting  7.8 million pounds of crush weight on a 200-pound human.

Models of the structure based on microscopic observations show that the beetle’s armor is created not just through a superstrong material, but also through the use of well-placed, impact absorbing pieces. A series of connections from the top to bottom halves of the beetle have a series of connections that latch together. Plates on the front of the beetle interlock like a set of zipper teeth.

Luckily for humans, the beetle is a wood-boring fungivore and is not interested in the destruction of mankind at all. For those interested in the preservation of human life, the beetle is a wealth of information.

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The Texas Ironclad Beetle. mage courtesy of Judy Gallagher (Flickr)

Researchers at Purdue University have already 3D printed structures using the Ironclad Beetle’s structural design, making fiber-reinforced materials that could be used in many different ways. 

Aircraft have stress points in their structures, in areas where wings and other sections are traditionally riveted together. These stress points are prone to degrading over time. Using the beetle’s superstrong, armored structure could make aircraft stronger in these points by creating interlocking pieces that fasten together.

In fact, anything that is fastened together with steel or plastic could conceivably be strengthened using the beetle’s interlocking design. This includes bridges, vehicles and even human-sized body armor.

The study of the Ironclad Beetle was part of an Air Force-funded study that was designed to look for designs in nature that could help inform the development of more impact resistant designs. 

If this sounds ridiculous, keep in mind there’s an entire field of study devoted to mimicking the animal kingdom (and other kingdoms) for the benefit of humanity, called biomimetics. It’s currently researching how the mantis shrimp can punch at 50mph with 1,500 newtons of force. Plant studies inspired the research that gave us velcro. 

For an entomologist to put an insect pin through an Ironclad Beetle being researched or put on display requires a drill with a special bit. Now Imagine wearing the human equivalent of such body armor on your way into combat.

It’s not a waste of money when you’re the one who’s gonna wear the armor.  

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 14 edition)

Here’s the stuff you need to know after morning PT but before quarters:


Now: 5 generals with some of the weirdest habits in military history 

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How Germany deployed the first weapon of mass destruction

In World War I, Germany invented and debuted the world’s first weapons of mass destruction — poison gas artillery shells and pressurized tanks that wafted the deadly toxins over the battlefield. They killed and wounded thousands.


The Germans first attempted two attacks in October 1914 and January 1915 that failed due to technical reasons. But the first successful attack came in April 1915.

That gas attack took place at Ypres, Belgium, where German troops released hundreds of tons of chlorine gas through buried pipes across a four-mile front. Over 1,000 Allied soldiers were killed and another 7,000 were injured.

And that was the opening of Pandora’s Box. The British military responded with its own chlorine attack in September 1915 at the Battle of Loos. The Germans introduced mustard gas into the fighting in 1917 and America joined the war — and chemical warfare — in 1918.

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U.S. Army Soldiers put their gas masks on for a simulated chemical attack during a training mission near Camp Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2007. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Andrew D. Pendracki)

The war ended with approximately 100,000 chemical weapons deaths and 1 million wounded. The use of chemical weapons was widely banned in 1925 in The Geneva Protocol.

But countries, including some who signed onto the treaty, have used the weapons since. It’s happened everywhere from World War II Italian attacks on North Africa to the modern day.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

10 tanks that changed the history of armored warfare

The tank was introduced in World War I when Britain unveiled the then-secret weapon against German forces and were able to run these rolling fortresses right over German barbed wire and trenches, firing cannons and machine guns into German fortifications. Now, armored columns are a commander’s fist, punching holes in enemy lines and then rushing through them to annihilate enemy formations.


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A Dutch Army Centurion Tank provides security while conducting a scouting exercise in Hohenfels, Germany, January 26, 2015.
(U.S. Army Spc. Tyler Kingsbury)

1. British Centurion

Originally designed to give British tankers and edge against German Panthers and Tigers, the Centurion arrived months after the end of World War II and ended up being the greatest Cold War tank instead. It had plate armor while cast armor was still the norm, and its 105mm gun was beefy for the time.

The British never used it in combat, but it earned lasting acclaim fighting for India and Israel. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel sent its customized Centurions to secure the Golan Heights, slaughtering Syrian tanks. Centurions converted into armored personnel carriers and engineering vehicles are still in Israeli service, 70 years after the tank’s debut.

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A German Panzer Mk. II sits in a tank museum. Tankers didn’t want to get caught in this small beast, but it split the job of gunner and commander, giving a tactical advantage and setting the standard for all tanks that came after.
(Paul Hermans, CC BY-SA 4.0)

2. Panzer Mark II

The Panzer Mark II was, to say the least, not a “Tanker’s tank.” It was a stopgap design to hold the line in the 1930s until the Panzer Mk. III and IV were ready. It was a light tank with limited range, an only 20mm gun, and thin armor.

But it made this list because it did perform well on the battlefield and changed future tank design for one reason: It had a dedicated gunner and a dedicated tank commander. Many tank designs, especially smaller ones with smaller crews, combined these two roles, forcing the commander to ignore the larger battlefield for crucial moments while firing. The Mark II broke from that tradition and essentially all modern tank designs have a commander and dedicated gunner.

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The British Whippet was a medium tank that could drive into gaps in German lines.

3. British Whippet Tank

Whippets were British medium tanks in World War I that had decent armor and speed and were designed to exploit gaps in German lines created by heavier tanks. It had either three of four machine guns but no cannon, meaning that today it would’ve been known as an armored vehicle.

But the Whippet was one of the fastest tanks of World War I with a blistering speed of 8 mph. One upgraded Whippet could hit a much more respectable 30 mph thanks to a V-12 Rolls Royce Eagle engine. This allowed them to fly through German gaps and break up enemy formations attempting to regroup.

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The Panzer Mk. IV was a heavy hitter early in the war and got upgrades throughout, keeping it pertinent and threatening against Shermans and T-34s, but Germany still needed the Panthers and Tigers to tackle heavy tanks.
(AlfvanBeem, CCO)

4. Panzer Mk. IV

The Panzer Mk. IV served for all of World War II, starting as a heavy hitter fighting next to Panzer IIIs and eventually giving way to the more powerful and better armed Panther. The base Panzer IV was adequate in the early months of the war, but required upgrades to armor and its main gun as Allied armor got stronger.

By 1945, this resulted in a Panzer IV with a longer 75mm gun, widened tracks, and thicker armor than most medium tanks. It even had armored skirts to protect against infantry anti-armored weapons. This allowed it to tackle the Allies most numerous tanks—such as the Sherman and the T-34—with relative ease. But larger tanks were able to shred it, hence Germany’s growing reliance on the late-arriving Panther as those made it to the front.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
A French Char B1 tank sits in a museum. The tanks were massively overpowered compared to their enemies in the open of World War II, but they didn’t receive many upgrades since, you know, France lost the war.
(The shadock, CC BY-SA 3.0)

5. Char B1

France’s tanks saw limited fighting in World War II since, you know, France fell so early in the war. But a couple of French tanks made a real impact, including the Char B1 with its sloped armor, two large guns, and decent speed. Its smaller, 47mm gun could kill many tanks while its 75mm could slaughter nearly anything available in 1939.

In one battle, a single French Char B1 rolled right into a German ambush in a French town, used the 47mm gun to kill the trail tank, the 75mm gun to kill the lead tank, and then started dismantling all the tanks trapped in the middle. It shrugged off 140 German rounds during the fight and killed an entire German Panzer company.

But, you know, France still fell, so that part sucked.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
The British Mark I tank created tank warfare, eclipsing the armored cars that had been used previously.
(British Government)

6. British Mk. I

Look, to be honest, we’re including this little fellow because, for a while, it was the only deployed tank in the world. The British Mk. I was the first tank, dreamed into existence by British Royal Navy engineers under the “Landship” concept that would see America’s new tractors developed into weapons of war.

The Mk. 1 and its French and British descendants allowed the Allies to break the Central Power’s lines and begin winning the bloody stalemate that World War I had descended into. But these tanks were far from perfect, requiring eight crew members to fight, and four to just get the massive engine started. But they carried up to two cannons and four machine guns and slowly, very slowly, 4 mph slowly, overwhelmed German forces nearly anywhere they fought.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
The German Tiger Tank was a legend of World War II. It was a logistical nightmare to keep the things fueled and running, but if you were caught in an armored battle in the war, this is the one you wanted to be in (but, preferably, without being a Nazi).
(German federal archives)

7. Tiger Tank

Ah, the legendary Tiger, the tank so powerful that it immediately became the focus of any battle in which it fought. Its thick armor could shrug off 75mm rounds from most guns at 50 yards. But its 88mm gun could open most Allied tanks like a can opener.

The tank was terrifying for enemy crews, but did suffer from horrible logistics issues as it required lots of maintenance and guzzled fuel. But in defensive warfare, the fuel problem was less of an issue, and single crews could destroy a dozen or more oncoming Allied machines and crews. One Tiger destroyed 18 Russian tanks on the Eastern Front, and one commander in Normandy lost six Tiger tanks while killing 25 British tanks and another 28 vehicles.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
The M4 Sherman Tank was a commander’s dream tank, with good speed, easy repairs, and lots of them reaching the battlefield everyday. But it did struggle against heavier German armor.
(U.S. Army)

8. M4 Sherman

The M4 Sherman was one of the most widely deployed weapons of the war, serving with British, Canadian, Free French, Russian, and U.S. forces. The plucky little tank was designed for speed and ease of maintenance, taking limited armor and using a low-velocity 75mm gun to cut down on weight. It, unfortunately, got a reputation after the war for being a death trap, but that wasn’t the reputation during the fighting.

Russian crews often preferred the Sherman to the T-34, and they had good reason. The tank was easy to maintain and spare parts were almost always available, leading to an 80 percent rate of damaged Shermans returning to combat. In fights, the Sherman was able to kill Mk. IIs and Mk. IVs, but could only attack Tigers in desperation and Panthers in strength. It was a “commander’s tank,” great strategically but few tankers wanted to face a heavy tank in one.

This new Army Stryker vehicle is America’s latest plane killer
A T-34 tank sits with open hatches during a battle re-enactment. It was the most produced tank of World War II and could kill any tank in the world at the time of its debut. Meanwhile, Germans had to press anti-aircraft guns into service to try and kill it.
(Cezary Piwowarski, CC BY-SA 4.0)

9. T-34

The T-34 was technically a medium tank, but its sloped armor was fairly thick and could deflect rounds like a heavy, and its powerful engine could propel it to 35 mph while its 76mm high-velocity gun could kill any other tank in the world at the time. Its combat debut came when Germany invaded Russia in Operation Barbarossa.

The Germans were forced to call on any weapon they thought could pierce the armor, deploying anti-aircraft guns and infantrymen carrying shaped charges to try and take the T-34 down. It was a leading factor in the Russian victory at the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history, and it eventually became the most-produced tank of the war.

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U.S. Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tank participates in a simulated security patrol in Storas, Norway, October 25, 2018.
(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Williams Quinteros)

10. M1 Abrams Tank

The legendary M1 Abrams main battle tank is a gas-guzzling, sabot-throwing, and armor decimating beast. Its turbine engines produce massive amounts of power that allow it to hurtle across the battlefield at over 40 mph despite its 68-ton weight. And while it started life with a 105-mm gun, it was quickly upgraded to a 120mm smoothbore capable of firing a lot of different rounds including its deadly depleted-uranium sabot rounds.

During Desert Storm, Abrams tanks faced off against Soviet-made T-72s and were overwhelmingly powerful. At the Battle of 73 Easting, future-National Security Advisor Capt. H.R. McMaster took a single armored cavalry company against an Iraqi division and cut a “five-kilometer wide swath of destruction” while suffering zero losses. It’s still in service with the U.S. and other forces, but America has started eyeing either a new light or main battle tank.

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