MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out United’s new ‘Star Wars’-themed Boeing 737 plane

Luke Skywalker may have claimed the Millennium Falcon was a “piece of junk” when he first saw it (even though it could, you know, make point-five past lightspeed) — but he probably wouldn’t be saying that about United Airlines’ shiny new Boeing 737-800.

To celebrate the December 2019 theatrical release of “The Rise of Skywalker,” billed as the last film in the nine-film Skywalker saga, the airline has launched a special “Star Wars”-themed plane — and though it can’t travel at lightspeed, it does look pretty spiffy, or at least nothing at all like the heavily modified ship of a certain scruffy-looking nerf herder (sorry, Han Solo).

The plane made its first flight earlier this month, from Houston to Orlando, Florida. Though there were plenty of evil First Order stormtroopers on hand, thankfully no one was taken away for questioning by Kylo Ren.

Here’s what the plane is like inside.


The “Dark Side” portion of United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

The “Light Side” portion of United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

Exterior detail on United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

Exterior details on United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

Headrests with the symbol of the Resistance on United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

Headrests with the logo of the First Order on United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

Amenity kits on United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

First Order stormtroopers aboard United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

A First Order stormtrooper confronting a passenger, presumably asking to see some identification.

(United)

First Order stormtroopers in the terminal.

(United)

First Order stormtroopers at the airport in Orlando, Florida.

(United)

The droid BB-8 at the maiden launch of United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

The United Airlines “Star Wars”-themed plane as seen on Flight Aware.

(United)

United Airlines’ “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

Rear detailing on United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

The tail of United Airlines’ new “Star Wars”-themed plane.

(United)

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

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MIGHTY HISTORY

Why WWI was once called ‘The War to End All Wars’

Hindsight is a cruel mistress. After Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, nearly every corner of the globe was drawn into a conflict — and the enormous loss of life that ensued was tragic. There were so many participants in the brawl that you couldn’t just name the war after its location or its combatants — after all, the “French-British-German-Austrian-Hungarian-Russian-American-Ottoman-Bulgarian-Serbian War” doesn’t really roll off the tongue (nor is it a complete list). So, the people of the time called it, simply, “The Great War.”

In some rare instances, the war was referred to as the “First World War,” even before the advent of the second. Ernst Haeckel, a columnist for the Indianapolis Star, called it that because it escalated beyond the scope of a “European War” — it was truly international.

Others, however, took a more optimistic approach by calling it, “The War to End All Wars.” As history has shown, this was certainly not the case — but some plucky, upbeat civilians genuinely believed it would be rainbows and sunshine after the dust from the global conflict settled.


You wouldn’t think the guy that wrote about aliens destroying humanity would be such an optimist…

(Illustration by Alvim Corréa, from the 1906 French edition of H.G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds.’)

English author H.G. Wells — the genius behind The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds — wrote in an articles to local newspapers that this global struggle, this Great War, would be “The War That Will End Wars” as we know them (full versions of his articles were later transcribed into a book entitled The War That Will End War).

In his articles, Wells argued that the Central Powers were entirely to blame for the war and that it was German militarism that sparked everything. He believed that once the Germans were defeated, the world would have no reason to fight ever again.

We know today that these statements were far from true, but for the people who were living in constant fear mere miles away from the front line, it was the optimism that they needed to keep going. By 1918, the term “The War to End All Wars” had spread all across Europe like a catchphrase and was synonymous with hope for a better future.

He was a eloquent speech writer, but he was a few years too late to come up with the phrase.

(National Archives)

Despite the fact that the phrase had been used in Europe for years, it’s most often attributed to President Woodrow Wilson. This is particularly strange because the President only once used the term — and never did so in any congressional address. Wilson did once refer to the end of the war as the “final triumph of justice,” but he seldom used the phrase for which he later became known.

If there was a single human being who knew war best, it was, without a shadow of a doubt, General of the Armies Eisenhower.

(National Archives)

David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor and British statesman, was a loud opponent to the phrase. Mockingly, he said that The Great “War, like the next war, is a war to end war” — and, of course, he was right. To the shock of absolutely nobody, conflicts persisted around the world after the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.

Wells, who originally coined the phrase, later backtracked on his statements, insisting that he, too, was being ironic. He joined in with everyone else in making fun of his statements — and later claimed it was the “war that could end war.”

In 1950, General Dwight D. Eisenhower put it plainly and finally.

“No one has yet explained how war prevents war. Nor has anyone been able to explain away the fact that war begets conditions that beget further war.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Army is training to fight in Megacities

In one city block, future soldiers could find themselves in an intense gunfight with enemy militants. In another, soldiers might crawl through debris to rescue trapped residents or deliver needed supplies. At the city’s opposite end, U.S. troops could be attempting to quell a civilian riot.

As urban populations worldwide continue to rise, the probability of these scenarios increases.


From the metropolitan sprawl of Tokyo with its 36 million inhabitants, to the massive clutter of rush hour traffic in Seoul, mega cities present a jarringly daunting obstacle to the future of world combat operations, Army senior leaders said at the 2018 LANPAC conference.

“The complexities that go on in this scale almost are unimaginable,” said retired Lt. Gen. James Dubik, former commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq.

Additionally, if current trends continue, two thirds of the world’s population will reside in large, metropolitan areas, according to United Nations projections. Threats to megacities take increased importance in the Asia-Pacific, where a majority of the world’s megacities are concentrated.

Making matters worse, many of the cities sit inside the Ring of Fire, a 25,000-mile chain in the Pacific basin rampant with volcanic eruptions and unpredictable seismic activity. Some nations, such as Japan, sit on one of the most active tectonic plates in the world. Densely populated cities that include Bangkok and urban centers in Bangladesh are prone to natural disasters.

Paratroopers assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment provides security on a hallway during a nighttime air assault of a simulated enemy compound during urban warfare training at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
(Photo by Spc. John Lytle)


U.S. forces scarcely encountered operations in megacities in World War II, or the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

“The challenge of megacities is unlike (anything) we’ve had to deal with in history,” said Dr. Russell Glenn, G-2 director of plans and policy at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.


With so much of a nation’s population contained in a compact, urban space, megacities pose a vastly different challenge from the deserts of the Middle East soldiers have grown accustomed to.

“Every act you do in a city reverberates,” said Gen. Stephen Townsend, TRADOC commander, who spoke via video teleconference at LANPAC.

Military units in rural areas, deserts and small villages can contain the aftereffects of combat. In a large urban environment, skyscrapers, large structures and traffic can cause a domino effect that spread throughout a city.

Glenn added that smaller subsystems comprise a megacity that in turn is part of a much larger system that can extend worldwide.

A new kind of war

To prepare for the complexities of urban warfare, TRADOC has created simulations for soldiers to prepare for urban terrain. Weeks of coordination and planning must be implemented for a few hours of training, but Army leaders believe it will prepare soldiers for future conflicts. Townsend said the Army has considered increasing the scale and size of their urban-simulated training centers. He added facilities can never match the scale needed to truly simulate warfighting in a megacity environment.

“Our simulations have not kept up with changes in our formations — changes in warfare,” Townsend said. “So we’ve got to advance our simulations.”

Lt. Gen. Michael Bills, 8th Army commanding general, discusses warfighting in a large city environment during the 2018 AUSA Conference.
(Photo by Joe Lacdan)


In March 2018, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division spent close to a month training for combat in underground tunnels and structures at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. They simulated chemical attacks. Soldiers learned to spontaneously alter current operating procedures to adapt to a city environment.

The Army has been working on a synthetic training environment to bolster its capabilities, while also incorporating space and cyber capabilities more than before. Multi-domain operations will be crucial, commanders said.

Urban ‘flow’

No amount of planning, study or preparation can prepare a military unit for the unique rhythm of a major city or what Townsend labeled the “flow.” The city’s flow can’t be clearly defined but its impact can never be understated, the general said. It can be felt during rush hour traffic or by careful observation over time. A city’s social infrastructure carries more importance than its physical infrastructure, noted Glenn. But understanding how a megacity’s population moves and lives can provide valuable insight for learning a city’s unique intricacies.

To better understand a city’s flow, Townsend said the Army must consult with a city’s police force, fire department and its citizens. In April 2018, the Army held a panel discussion in New York City to discuss logistics and how through interagency cooperation a force might handle the environment’s unique challenges. Gen. Robert Brown, U.S. Army Pacific commanding general, Townsend and New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill joined the panel.

“The point that came through … more clearly emphasized more than any other was the need to understand our partnership,” Glenn said. “Take advantage of those military and civilian (relationships), only then can we fully understand the environment that we’re working in.”

Glenn said that if wartime conditions necessitate it, a military unit can impose or alter flow, so long as it benefits the friendly population and minimizes friction.

Mosul opened the door

The July 2017 re-capture of Mosul from ISIS forces presented perhaps a blueprint for the future of urban warfare.

As the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force in Iraq, Townsend said he observed firsthand strategies deployed by the Iraqi army to regain control of the city.

Townsend believes potential adversaries noticed too.

“I think the enemy has watched Mosul,” the general said. “I think they will deliberately go to the cities and dig in there to fight because they know it takes away a lot of our technological advantages … the range of our weapons is degraded — the effects of our weapons are degraded.

(Photo by Joe Lacdan)



“So I think we’re going to see battle in megacities and there’s little way to avoid it.”

Townsend saw the difficulties of urban warfare in the northern Iraqi city which has a population of less than one million. His unit’s command control systems lagged and struggled to keep pace with the conflict. He said digital maps and imagery were impacted.

“The urban landscape changes so rapidly,” Townsend said. “Our C2 systems, our targeting systems … became outdated quickly because the urban landscape was changing faster than we could update our imagery.”

Growing threat

By 2030, the UN predicts the world’s 30 mega cities will also double to 60. Large-scale cities will increase from 45 to 88. America’s potential enemies, China, Russia and North Korea will take advantage of this trend.

“Wars are basically won or lost where the people are — where the population is,” Townsend said.

The Army’s solution: better training, preparation and greater trust. At TRADOC, more soldiers are receiving training in an urban environment. Soldiers must also learn to trust, not only first-responding agencies but accepting greater responsibility, Townsend said.

“As powerful as our mission command systems are, they are all challenged by the environment — the complex terrain that is a city … modern city,” Townsend said.

“You can’t go more than one floor deep without losing (communication) with everybody who’s up on the surface.

“So this whole notion of conveying commanders’ intent, and empowering subordinates … to achieve that commanders’ intent, and trusting them to do that is exactly how we’ll have to fight in even small cities.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why Mattis was obsessed with a certain day in history

Everyone who is a fan of veteran Marine Corps General and onetime Secretary of Defense James Mattis knows of his affinity for reading, for consuming as much knowledge on a subject as he can before giving his opinion. His lifestyle of eschewing a family in favor of a lifetime of learning and dedication to duty even earned him the moniker “The Warrior Monk.” This well-known devotion to knowledge makes it all the more interesting to discover Mattis was “obsessed” with the date August 1914.


From the Iraq War to the Trump Administration, Mattis is always the man for the job.

In journalist Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear: Trump in the White House” one Trump Administration official who spoke highly of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Woodward that the former general was “obsessed with August 1914… the idea that you take actions, military actions, that are seen as prudent planning and the unintended consequences are that you can’t get off the war train.”

Specifically, Mattis was “obsessed” with historian Barbara Tuchman’s World War I history book, “The Guns of August,” which has a spot on every reading list he ever published for the troops.

In June 1914, as we should all know by now, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot by an assassin in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary issues an ultimatum to Serbia as European allies began to muster their troops throughout the continent during July of 1914. At the end of July, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declares war on Serbia, shelling Belgrade just days later. As July turns to August, Serbia’s ally Russia begins to mobilize for war. That’s when Germany demanded Russia stop preparing for war, which Russia ignored.

On Aug. 1, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. Russia’s allies began preparing for war in response to their mutual defense treaties. Germany then declared war on France and invaded neutral Belgium, forcing Great Britain and its Empire to declare war on Germany. Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia. By Aug. 7, 1914, much of the world was at war. By the end of August, the fighting had spread to Africa and the Chinese mainland. What started as a regional dispute that could have been mediated led to millions of lives lost in a brutal, industrialized war machine.

German defenders of Tsingtao, China, who were fighting against the Japanese invaders because a Serbian shot an Austrian archduke in Bosnia.

In this context, Mattis was trying to keep the United States and NATO out of a war with Russia, which (according to Woodward’s book) seemed like a real possibility if the Trump Administration had enacted some of its more sweeping changes to American defense policy. Mattis was also trying to convince Trump that the U.S. needed to be in NATO, and if NATO didn’t already exist, it should be created – because Russia could not win a war against NATO, in Mattis’ opinion.

Russia had privately warned Mattis that if a war broke out in the Baltics, the Russians would use tactical nuclear weapons against NATO forces. Mattis and Gen. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, began to think Russia as an existential threat to the United States. Even so, Mattis was determined to keep Russia and NATO from sliding into a similar war via a web of alliances.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

6 uses for the beloved woobie that aren’t lining a poncho

The single most cherished item that Uncle Sam has given its fighting men and women since the Vietnam War has got to be the poncho liner or, as it’s affectionately known within the military community as, the “woobie.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the one piece of military gear that was designed with a troop’s comfort in mind has a huge fan base.

It’s more often than not called the “woobie” because, in practice, very few people use it for its intended purpose: lining a poncho. Obviously, there’s no hole for your head to go through, so you’re not actually wearing the woobie with the poncho at the same time. The designers want you to use the little holes on the side that correspond with poncho straps to tie it together, but show of hands: How many people have actually taken those steps each and every time instead of just using the woobie as its own individual item? Thought so.

Here’s how the woobie is actually being used by troops:


It’s funny. Just one one piece of fabric can make 48-hour patrols suck a little less.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

1. Blanket… obviously

The sleeping bag system that the military offers is nice, but it’s not enough. It’s missing a nice, homey touch that you can only get with a warm and cozy woobie.

And this doesn’t end when troops go on their last field exercise. It’s not uncommon for vets to snag a poncho liner (or two) and keep them laying around the house or in an emergency kit — or on their bed, just like it used to be.

When this is your life for 12 months, you might be willing to bite that bullet to get a bit of privacy.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)

2. Tent divider

While deployed, troops aren’t typically given enough room for personal space. Your “personal space,” at best, is usually just a single bunk that everyone can walk past.

If you need some alone time and you’re willing to part with your precious poncho liner, you can string it across the tent to mark off your side.

Now, the real question is, are you willing to destroy your woobie to make it into something else?

(Photo via Reddit user Hellsniperr)

3. Clothing

Cutting a hole in the poncho liner to actually line a poncho is ridiculous — but walking around the barracks wrapped in a poncho liner like it’s a cape is some how… not?

Troops and vets have been known to step their woobie game up by having it made into a wide assortment of apparel — like a bathrobe or a smoker’s jacket. Fashion and function!

This is basically the one thing every troop wishes they could have done with their woobie while in the field.

(Screengrab via YouTube: PrepareToPaddle)

4. Hammock insulator

The mesh pattern and all-weather durability of a poncho liner means it’s perfectly suited to surviving outside for long periods of time. This quality is best exemplified by the fact that you’ll find it in the backyard of nearly every veteran who owns a hammock. You’ll probably find their old woobie inside it.

How can you say no to that face? You can’t.

(Image via Northwest Firearms Blog)

5. Dog bed

Even animals aren’t immune to the draw of a good poncho liner. A folded-up woobie is the perfect comforter for the bottom of a dog’s kennel.

Maybe it’s the texture or maybe it’s the fact that it almost always smells like the animal’s veteran parent — whatever the case, expect your dog to fight you for woobie ownership.

Sleep well, future soldier. Sleep well.

(HighSpeed Daddy)

6. Family heirloom

The overly silly name that troops and vets gave a woobie makes a bit more sense when it’s given to their kids. Yeah, it’s kind of small for a full-grown warfighter, but it’s the perfect size for their kid.

When vets pass down a woobie to their kid or grandkid, it typically comes with a long, drawn-out origin story — but it’s so comfortable that the recipient probably doesn’t mind curling up and listening to the same story for the tenth time.

Articles

Russia just deployed the ‘Terminator’ to Syria, and you’ll be shocked to see what it can do

We just heard how the U.S. Army’s top general wants to put lasers, rail guns and all kinds of high-tech wizbangery on the service’s next-generation tank.


Sure, that sounds awesome. But let’s face it, those types of technologies built tough enough to be soldier-proof and deployed on a ground vehicle are still years off.

But what would happen if you slapped on a crap ton of totally badass weaponry that’s available today, wrapped it in some truly tough armor and gave it some go-anywhere treads?

Well, that’s what those mad scientists in Chelyabinsk (Russia’s main weapons development lab) did with the BMP-T “Terminator.” And by the looks of it, what trooper wouldn’t want this Mecha-esque death dealer backing him up during a ground assault.

You don’t want to be at the other end of those 30 mike-mikes. (GIF created from Military & Space Archive YouTube)

This machine is festooned with about everything a ground-pounder could ask for, aside from a 125mm main gun. With two — count ’em — two side-by-side 30mm 2A42 autocannons, the Terminator can throw down up to 800 rounds of hate per minute out to 4,000 yards.

Take that Mr. Puny Bradley with your itty bitty 25mm chain gun…

Those 30 mike-mikes will take care of most ground threats for sure, but the Russians didn’t stop there. To blow up tanks and take down buildings and bunkers, the BMP-T is equipped with four launch tubes loaded with 130mm 9M120 “Ataka-T” anti-tank missiles. These missiles are capable of penetrating over two-feet of tank armor.

Anti-tank missile? Da. (GIF created from Military & Space Archive YouTube)

Enough badassery for one vic? No sir. The Terminator is also loaded with a secondary 7.62mm PKTM machine gun peeking out between the two 30mm cannons, and it’s got a pair of secondary, secondary 30mm grenade launchers just to add a little close in bang bang.

The Russians reportedly developed the BMP-T after its experience in Afghanistan and more recently in Chechnya, were the armor of a tank was needed in an urban fight, but with more maneuverability and better close-range armament than a tank gun.

Reports indicate the Terminator has been deployed to the anti-ISIS fight in Syria for field trials, but it’s unclear how many of these wheeled arsenals Moscow actually has in its inventory.

That said, the video below shows just how freaking full-on this infantry fighting vehicle is and the devastating punch it packs for bad guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdOtHUp20Pk
MIGHTY CULTURE

11 valuable tax tips and benefits for military families

The holidays are over, and we are now in the year 2020. It’s a good time to start working on our 2019 taxes, because April 15 will be here before we know it. Taxes are overwhelming and complex, but there are numerous tax benefits for military families, so it is important to understand the basics.


Income

Servicemembers receive different types of pay and allowances. It is important to know which are considered as income and which are not. For servicemembers, income typically includes basic pay, special pay, bonus pay, and incentive pay.

Exclusions

Items normally excluded from income include combat pay, living allowances, moving allowances, travel allowances, and family allowances, such as family separation pay.

Combat pay exclusions are a substantial benefit to servicemembers and spouses. Combat pay is that compensation for active military service for any month while serving in a designated combat zone. This may also include a reenlistment bonus if the voluntary reenlistment occurs in a month while the servicemember is serving in the combat zone. Note that for commissioned officers, there is a limit to the amount of combat pay you may exclude.

The most common living allowances are Basic Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Subsistence. Moving allowances are those reasonable, unreimbursed expenses beyond what the military pays for a permanent change of station.

Sale of Homes

Servicemembers and spouses often decide to purchase homes when moving to new duty stations. Often, we then turnaround and sell the homes a few years later before moving again.

What happens if you make a profit from the sale of this home? If you are fortunate enough to profit, you may qualify to exclude up to 0,000 of the gain from your income, or up to 0,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse. This is referred to as the Sale of Primary Home Capital Gain exclusion. Normally, this exclusion requires that you owned the home for at least two years and lived in it for at least two of the last five years. There is an exception, however, for servicemembers. If you were required to move as the result of a permanent change of station before meeting these requirements, you still may qualify for a reduced exclusion.

Claim for Tax Forgiveness

If a servicemember dies while on active duty, there are circumstances where the taxes owed will be forgiven by the IRS. Contact your closest Legal Assistance Office immediately for assistance using the website provided later in the article.

Extensions

If April 15 is quickly approaching and you are running out of time, remember, there are several different extension requests that military families may make. If the servicemember is in a combat zone, an automatic extension covers the time period the servicemember is in the combat zone plus 180 days after the last day in the combat zone.

Avoid Tax Scams

In November 2019, I wrote an article on common scams during the holidays. Unfortunately, scams are not limited to the holidays. There are numerous tax scams that have stolen personal information and millions of dollars. Scammers use the mail, telephone and email to initiate contact. Please remember that the IRS never initiates contact by email, text messages or on social media pages to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contact through the regular U. S. Postal Service mail. Finally, the IRS never uses threats or bullying to demand payments.

If you have any questions, contact the IRS with a telephone number you find on its website (www.irs.gov) and verify what you received is legitimate before doing anything. To protect yourself, only use an IRS telephone number from its website. Do not use a telephone number you received that you suspect may be part of a tax scam from an email, text message or social media page.

Signing Tax Returns

Normally, both the servicemember and spouse must sign jointly filed tax returns. If one spouse will be absent during tax season, it is advisable to have an IRS special power of attorney, IRS Form 2848 (Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative). You may access this form on the IRS website.

Military Tax Centers

Annually, many Legal Assistance Offices worldwide help servicemembers and spouses file their federal and state income tax returns starting in early February. Last year, for example, Army Legal Assistance personnel and volunteers prepared and filed over one hundred thousand Federal and over sixty-four thousand State income tax returns saving servicemembers and their families more than million in tax preparation and filing fees.

If you don’t live near a military installation, visit the Department of Defense Military One Source website at https://www.militaryonesource.mil for additional information on accessing free online tax assistance.

Legal Assistance Offices

If you have specific tax questions or receive correspondence from the IRS, contact the closest legal assistance office to schedule an appointment. Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website (https://legalassistance.law.af.mil) that I provided in the October 2019 blog to locate your nearest legal assistance office. The quicker you address your issues, the better likelihood that you will successfully resolve them.

Valuable Tax Tip for 2020

Finally, here is a valuable tip for next year’s taxes. Does it seem like every year you are scrambling to find tax documents and receipts from throughout the tax year? Relieve this stress by getting a folder and writing “Tax Year 2020” on the front of it. Keep it in an easy-to-find place, and every time you receive a document or receipt that may impact your taxes place it in the folder. That way, at the end of this year, you will have most of the supporting documents you need already together.

Future Blogs

Be on the lookout for future blogs that will continue to discuss specific legal issues often encountered by servicemembers and military spouses. As always, this blog series will help to protect your family and you!

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US Navy’s last F/A-18C Hornet just took its final flight

The last Navy F/A-18C Hornet, aircraft number 300, made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana on Oct. 2, 2019.

Assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Cecil Field, Florida, aircraft number 300 completed its first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. Lt. Andrew Jalali, who piloted the Hornet for its final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana, was also born in 1988.

“Today marked the final United States Navy F/A-18C Operational Hornet flight,” said the Commodore, Command Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, Capt. Brian Becker.


Navy Lt. Andrew Jalali prepares for the official final active-duty flight of the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana, Oct. 2, 2019.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)

The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31-years of service. The aircraft took off from NAS Oceana accompanied by three F/A-18F Super Hornets for a one-and-a-half hour flight and return to Oceana where it will be officially stricken from the inventory, stripped of all its usable parts and be scrapped.

Becker said the F/A-18C aircraft has served admirably for over 30 years and highlighted its history in naval aviation.

Navy Lt. Andrew Jalali prepares for the official final active-duty flight of the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana, Oct. 2, 2019.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)

Navy Lt. Andrew Jalali prepares for the official final active-duty flight of the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana, Oct. 2, 2019.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)

During the last year, VFA-106 has transferred over 50 F/A-18 Hornets to various Navy Reserve and US Marine aviation commands, as well as being placed in preservation for future use if needed.

Both the F/A-18A and F/A-18C Hornet variants have been replaced by the updated F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. VFA-106 is the Navy’s East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, which trains naval aviators to fly the F/A-18 Super Hornets.

This article originally appeared on United States Navy. Follow @USNAVY on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A woman made it through SEAL officer test for the first time

The Navy marked a first earlier this year when a woman completed Navy SEAL officer assessment and selection, Military.com has learned.

At the quarterly meeting of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services in December, a Navy official disclosed that the woman had reached the end of the physically and mentally demanding two-week SOAS process in September. Ultimately, however, she was not selected for a SEAL contract, officials said.

While the military formally opened SEAL billets — and all other previously closed jobs — to women in 2016, no woman has yet made it to the infamous 24-week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training to date. If the woman had been selected for a SEAL contract at the end of SOAS, she would have been the first to reach BUD/S.


Capt. Tamara Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Naval Special Warfare, said the candidate had not listed the SEALs as her top-choice warfighting community. She was awarded placement in her top choice, Lawrence said.

US Navy SEAL candidates during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt)

“We do not discuss details of a candidate’s non-selection so it does not interfere with their successful service in other warfighter communities,” she said.

Candidates for SOAS are taken from college Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, service academies, and the Navy’s Officer Candidate School, all prior to getting their first Navy contract. Lawrence declined to specify which pathway the recent female candidate had taken out of concern that doing so would reveal her identity.

Lt. Grace Olechowski, force integration officer with Naval Special Warfare Command, said five women had been invited to participate in SOAS since the pipeline was opened to women. Three had entered SOAS to date, but only one had completed assessment and selection.

Military.com broke the news in 2017 that a first female student had entered SOAS — an ROTC student at a U.S. college. She ultimately exited the process before reaching the selection panel, however.

Lawrence said the SEAL officer selection process is candidate-neutral, meaning the selection board does not know the gender or other personal information of the candidates.

U.S. Navy SEAL candidates participating in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Furey)

“Selection is based on the candidate’s scores during the two-week SOAS assessment,” she said. “This process ensures every candidate has a fair and equal chance based on Naval Special Warfare standards.”

It’s also possible that not listing the SEALs as a primary career choice would factor against a candidate in the selection process.

The selection panel is made up of senior SEAL officers, Lawrence said, who use SOAS assessment data along with resume information to select “the most competitive candidates.”

Roughly 180 candidates are selected every year to attend SEAL officer assessment and selection, she said; on average, the top 85 candidates are chosen to continue on to SEAL training. There are four two-week SOAS blocks held every year.

While SOAS precedes the award of a final SEAL contract, it is not for the faint of heart. It was previously called “mini-BUD/S” in a nod to its grueling and rigorous nature.

“Physical stress and sleep deprivation are applied to reveal authentic character traits,” the Navy says on its official Naval Special Warfare recruiting site. “Performance and interview data on every candidate is meticulously documented and presented to the NSW Selection Panel.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US military bases are still using Chinese surveillance cameras

US military bases continue to use surveillance cameras manufactured by the Chinese firm Hikvision, according to the Financial Times, despite security concerns that the cameras could give the Chinese government a way to spy on sensitive US military installations. Government agencies will be banned from purchasing the equipment starting in August 2019.

The Financial Times found that Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado spent $112,000 in 2016 on cameras manufactured by Hikvision.

The headquarters of Air Force Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are both located at Peterson. NORAD is charged with ensuring the sovereignty of American and Canadian airspace, and defending them from attack.


A Navy research base in Orlando, Florida purchased ,000 worth of Hikvision cameras after last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which bans the purchase of such equipment, passed.

A C-17 Globemaster III loads with cargo on June 6, 2019, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, one of the US military bases that purchased Chinese-made surveillance cameras before a ban took effect.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew J. Bertain)

Both bases told The Financial Times that the cameras were not connected to the internet. The Florida base said that the cameras were being used as part of a training system. A spokesperson from Peterson said that the cameras were “not associated with base security or classified areas” and that the systems would be replaced.

The Chinese government owns 42% of Hikvision. Hikvision and Zhjiang Dahua Technology Co., another company banned by the NDAA, control approximately a third of the global video surveillance market, according to Bloomberg.

The 2019 NDAA cites several concerns about companies connected to the Chinese state using technology like Hikvision’s cameras to exploit vulnerabilities and access sensitive government information. Hikvision responded to the legislation at the time, saying it “was not based on any evidence, review, or investigation of potential security risks.”

The ban extends to Huawei products and Hytera radios, too; the US State Department recently purchased ,000 worth of Hytera replacement parts for its Guatemalan embassy, and as of 2017, Army Special Forces used Hytera radios in training, according to The Financial Times.

Other bases, including Fort Drum in New York and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, purchased Hikvision cameras in 2018, but did not disclose to the Financial Times whether they were still in use. The Defense Logistics Agency purchased nearly 0,000 worth of Hikvision cameras since 2018 for bases in Korea and Florida, but did not confirm to The Financial Times whether the cameras were still being used.

Last year, five Hikvision cameras were removed from Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, although Col. Christopher Beck, a spokesperson for the base told the Wall Street Journal, “We never believed [the cameras] were a security risk. They were always on a closed network,” and that the cameras were removed to avoid “any negative perception.”

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

The 10 best at-home dumbbell exercises for building muscle

Lots of work and busy family schedules can be a major hindrance to getting yourself to the gym. Don’t fight it. Cancel your gym membership and buy a set of dumbbells. Bam! Your home is now all the gym you need. Really. Dumbbells are staples in all gyms for a reason. They’re versatile as hell and can build muscle fast, if you know how to use them. All you need is 30 minutes, two-to-three days a week.

Like any strength workout, you are best off performing this routine with at least one day between sessions to allow your muscles a chance to recover. Once you get the hang of the basic moves, try the advanced variation to work your body a little harder. In all cases, you want to focus on form above all else, since the correct body position maximizes the load on your muscles. In other words, you’ll get stronger and fitter doing fewer reps and simpler moves with the right form than you will doing complicated sequences incorrectly.


To get started, grab two medium-weight dumbbells, find yourself some clear floor in your living room, basement, or garage, and get ready to pump iron for the next 30 minutes. Note: Most exercises require two or three sets. You can rest as long as you need between sets, but ideally you’ll aim for around 30 seconds.

(Photo by Sergio Pedemonte)

1. The dumbbell move: Standing overhead press

How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your knees soft, bend elbows and lift weights to your chest, then straighten elbows and push weights skyward until your arms are straight, palms facing forward. This is your start position. Bend elbows out to the sides and lower weights to shoulder height. Straighten arms and raise weights to the ceiling again. 8 reps, 3 sets.

Make it harder: Instead of lifting weights straight up, diagonalize to a spot just forward of your head, forcing your body to engage your core and pecs for stabilization.

2. The dumbbell move: Lunges

How to: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand tall. Take a large step forward with your right leg, landing with a bent right knee. Lower yourself toward to floor until your right leg forms a right angle, knee over toe, and your left knee hovers above the ground. Push off your right foot and return to standing. Repeat on left side for one full rep. 10 reps, 2 sets.

Make it harder: Take these moves up two flights of stairs, stepping every-other-stair to maintain proper form.

3. The dumbbell move: Curls

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, arms straight by your side. Keeping elbows stationary at your side, bend arms and curl forearms in front of you until weights touch your chest. Release. 10 reps, 3 sets.

(Photo by Danielle Cerullo)

Make it harder: Perform curls while standing on one leg, the other leg bent in a right angle, knee flexed in front of you. Alternate legs with sets.

4. The dumbbell move: Lying chest press

How to: Lie on the floor, knees and elbows bent, dumbbell in each hand, and hands at your chest. Press dumbbells up into the air until arms are straight and weights are above your head. Bend elbows and release. 8 reps, 3 sets.

Make it harder: Straighten your legs as you lie on the floor. Lift your heels three inches off the ground. Keep them there as you perform the exercise.

5. The dumbbell move: Squats

How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bend knees and elbows as if you are about to sit down into a low chair. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are over your toes. Straighten back to standing. 10 reps, two sets.

Make it harder: When you reach the lowest point of the squat, push through your heels and jump vertically in the air. Land with soft knees and lower back into a squat again.

6. The dumbbell move: Dumbbell flye

How to: Lie on your back on the floor or on a bench. Lift dumbbells directly above your chest, arms straight, palms facing each other. Inhale and open arms wide out to the sides. Exhale and squeeze your chest muscles as you lift weights back up over your chest. 8 reps, 3 sets.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths)

Make it harder: Do one arm at a time. This challenges your body’s stability and engages your core and glute muscles for balance.

7. The dumbbell move: Reverse flye

How to: Standing with a dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-width apart, hinge forward at the waist so your chest faces the floor. Lower dumbbells to the floor below you, arms straight. Keeping your back flat, raise dumbbells out to the sides. Lower. 8 reps, 3 sets.

Make it harder: Perform a squat every time you raise your arms.

8. The dumbbell move: Corkscrew

How to: Interlace fingers around both dumbbells so you are holding them together with both hands. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Rotate your body to the right, swinging your arms to your right side. Shift weight to the left, twisting your body and raising dumbbells above your left shoulder, arms straight. Twist back to the right, lowering dumbbells down to your right hip. Perform 10 corkscrews to the left, then switch sides and perform 10 twists to the right.

Make it harder: As you twist to the left, raise your right leg off the floor so that your weight is entirely supported by your left side. Do the same as you twist to the right.

9. The dumbbell move: Row kickback

How to: Standing with a dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-width apart, hinge forward at the waist so your chest faces the floor. Keeping elbows tucked close to your sides, bend arms so weights come to your chest, then straighten them until weights are behind you. 10 reps, 2 sets.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths)

Make it harder: Once arms are fully extended behind you, lift weights an extra 2-3 inches higher (using your full arm) to engage your deltoids. Release.

10. The dumbbell move: Pushup row

How to: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, get into a modified pushup position (resting on your knees, body at an incline, arms straight). Keeping your torso stable, bend your right elbow out to the side and raise the dumbbell to your chest. Return to start. Bend left elbow and raise the left dumbbell to your chest. Return to start. This completes one rep. 8 reps, 2 sets.

Make it harder: Perform move in full pushup position (legs straight, balancing on toes).

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the Marine Corps’ first amphibious landing

In 1775, Captains Samuel Nicholas and Robert Mullan recruited men in a popular Philadelphia bar, promising them beer and adventure on the high seas. Just a few months after that November gathering at Tun Tavern, some five companies of the finest Marines landed on the island of Nassau and handed the stunned British a gleaming defeat.


Marines across the Corps maintain that the two newly-commissioned officers were in Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern that chilly November day to create a cadre of warriors who would serve aboard ships of the Continental Navy. Former Quaker and onetime pacifist Samuel Nicholas managed to raise two battalions of Marines out of Philadelphia. They would need all the help they could get because while the Army was fighting the British off at home, the Marines were going to take the fight to the enemy.

This 1803 map of Nassau is very similar to its 1776 defenses.

In the early days of the American Revolution, the colonial government of Virginia moved its stores of gunpowder to a “safer” location, to keep it out of the hands of rebel forces — who were desperately low. That location was in the Bahamas, supposedly safe from marauding rebel ships and fighters.

When word reached Congress about the large stores of gunpowder in the Crown Colony of the Bahamas, the body sent secret instructions to Commodore Esek Hopkins to lead a flotilla of eight ships and 220 Marines (led by Capt. Samuel Nicholas) to Nassau and capture the large gunpowder supply in March, 1776. Consisting of two forts, Nassau and Montagu, the island’s defenses were a wreck. Fort Nassau could not support firing its 46 cannons. Fort Montagu controlled the entrance to the harbor, but most of the gunpowder and ammunition on the island was held at Nassau.

After a brief council, Hopkins decided the landing party would land near Fort Nassau aboard three ships at first light. The invaders would capture the town of New Providence before the alarm was raised among the island’s defenders.

They were spotted by the British, who then fired guns from Fort Nassau to arouse the island’s defenses. The landing team was forced to withdraw back to the ships and the ships left to rejoin the rest of the flotilla to determine their next move. The aborted raid did have a positive effect for the nascent Americans however: The Governor of the Bahamas almost had the extra gunpowder moved aboard one ship for safekeeping, but that idea was abandoned. The gunpowder stayed put and Fort Montagu was reinforced with only 30 mostly unarmed militiamen.

Back aboard the rebel flotilla, a new plan was hatched. The Marines, bolstered by 50 Continental Sailors, would land on Nassau via three ships and backed by the USS Wasp for firepower. In two hours, the Americans landed their entire force east of Montagu unopposed. This was the first amphibious landing of the U.S. Marine Corps.

After landing, the Marines encountered a British reconnaissance force as Fort Montagu was reinforced with another 80 militiamen. Word soon got out that the invading force was sizably larger than the island’s defenses, Montagu fired only three shots before giving up, and the militiamen simply returned to their homes. The Marines occupied the fort that night. The next morning, they occupied Fort Nassau without a shot.

Unfortunately for the invaders, the governor managed to sneak 150 barrels of gunpowder out of the harbor that night because none of the American ships were guarding the harbor. They did take the remaining gunpowder stores and all the weapons and guns the flotilla could carry. These weapons were later used by the Army under Gen. George Washington.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s Navy plans on beating the US to an operational railgun

China looks set to beat the US to the punch on a naval railgun — which the US has spent more than $500 million and a decade on — by deploying the game-changing weapon on a navy ship.

But the complicated railgun doesn’t even have to work to succeed, as it looks as if Beijing’s doing this to embarrass Washington.

The US Navy started work on a railgun in 2005. For years, the Navy struggled to reign in the wild technology that allows a railgun to fire a projectile at such high velocity that it will make a devastating impact without an explosive charge.


Some grounded tests of the Navy’s railgun produced fantastic imagery, but it remains far from battle-ready and may never be fielded on a warship.

Earlier 2018, a Chinese navy ship appeared on the water with a railgun of its own. By actually putting the weapon on the ship, China succeeded where the US Navy had failed for over a decade.

Citing people with knowledge of a US intelligence report, CNBC reported in June 2018 that China had been working on its railgun for seven years and was just another seven from deploying a working model on a ship.

It’s “pretty obvious that China is working towards that goal, and probably faster than the US is,” Melodie Ha, who’s part of the Center for a New American Security’s Asia-Pacific Security Program, told Business Insider.

“It’s very possible that they will mount a working railgun on a ship” by 2025, Ha said. But everything is not always as it appears with the Chinese military.

A railgun doesn’t even really make sense

All this fire is caused purely by friction.
(U.S. Navy photo)

Instead of gunpowder, pure electricity powers the railgun’s projectiles. But despite the lack of explosives, railgun projectiles still cause fireballs, because the round travels so fast that the air and metal itself combust under the immense friction. This indicates the massive amount of electricity needed to fire the railgun — a big problem for China, or any warship.

The US has proposed putting a railgun on the new Zumwalt class of destroyer. The Chinese are likely to put a railgun on the Type 055 destroyer. The Zumwalt produces twice the electricity of the Type 055, according to Ha.

Additionally, the Chinese would have to clear the same engineering and operational hurdles that have kept the US from mounting the railgun on a ship. Railguns produce a lot of heat and have a short barrel life. After rapid-fire shots, the gun barrel might be susceptible to dangerous warping. And aiming a railgun that can fire at targets as far as 100 miles away — and from a warship that’s rocking in the seas — also poses serious challenges.

Strategically, it’s also unclear how the railgun fits into naval warfare. The US, China, and Russia all have hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile programs designed to thwart existing defenses, and they generally have higher accuracy and much greater range than the railgun.

And if the railgun’s barrel melts after a few shots, why bother?

“As long as the US can launch a second strike, if the Chinese can’t knock down the second missile, then what’s the point?” Ha said.

China’s railgun has a reported range of only 124 miles — so by the time the railgun could strike a target, the Chinese ship would already be in range of US missiles.

The real purpose behind the railgun

The Office of Naval Research Electromagnetic Railgun located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

A railgun doesn’t make sense in today’s warfighting environment, but it makes perfect sense for another mission of China’s navy: embarrassing the US.

“In terms of Chinese maritime grand strategy, it would fit in their entire plan,” Ha said, adding that railguns are “next-generation technology” and that China wants to “prove to the US and the entire world that they are technologically advancing.”

China’s opaque system has shrouded the new railgun prototype in mystery. If China were to place one of these mysterious, next-generation guns in the South China Sea, it would have beaten the US to the punch on a major technological advance and projected a unique kind of power unmatched by the West.

At a time when the US and China are battling to see whose vision of the future can win out, it makes sense that Beijing would try to shame Washington by winning this leg of the arms race.

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