Why Marines replaced the SAW with the beloved M27 - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why Marines replaced the SAW with the beloved M27

The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon has been on the front lines for the United States for over 30 years. It’s easy to see why when you look at the specs: It fires the 5.56x45mm NATO round and can use a box with 200 rounds in a belt, or it can use the same 30-round magazines from M16 rifles and M4 carbines.


So, why would the Marines drop it from their front-line fire teams? Well, the specs have an answer for that, too. All weapons have compromises built in, and the firepower that the M249 brings to the front has a price: the SAW weighs in at 17 pounds. Compare that to the M16 rifle’s weight of just under eight pounds, four ounces and the difference is clear.

A US Marine fires an M249 light machine gun. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)

Despite the heft, Marines still want to have an automatic rifle in their fire teams. M16s and M4s have settings for single-shot and three-round bursts. They don’t allow for full-auto fire to avoid excessive wear and tear and wasted ammo.

Heckler and Koch have offered a solution in the form of a variant of the HK416. The HK416 is a 5.56x45mm NATO assault rifle that has a 30-round magazine. Importantly, it weighs under eight pounds. Just like the M249, it can use the same magazines as the M16 and M4 and offers full-auto fire. It’s harder to distinguish at a distance from other rifles than the M249, meaning enemy snipers will have a harder time singling out machine gunners.

Lance Cpl. Corey A. Ridgway, a Marine with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle from the kneeling position at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales/ Released)

 

The Marines have designated their modified HK416 as the M27 Individual Automatic Rifle, and they’ve fallen hard for it. In fact, Yahoo News reported that the Marines are thinking about buying more, so that every grunt has an Infantry Automatic Rifle. That’s a lot of firepower. Learn more about this light-weight, automatic rifle in the video below:

Articles

6 awesome Army jobs that no longer exist

Go to an Army career counselor or recruiter and he has all sorts of cool jobs you can sign up for. Soldiers network satellites, engage in hacking wars, and shoot awesome weapons at targets and enemies.


It’s like your childhood video games, fireworks, and backyard games all got awesome upgrades and now you can get paid for it.

But some of the Army’s best jobs are actually in the past, like those that allowed people to get intimately acquainted with tactical nuclear weapons or fire awesome Gatling guns. So here are six of those badass jobs Pvt. Skippy can’t do in the Army anymore:

1. Nuclear weapons basic maintenance specialist

(Screenshot: Navy historical documents)

Yeah, the Army used to have a nuclear weapons program and it employed a group of men with a whole three weeks of training to disassemble and repair those weapons.

Not a typo. Three weeks. And the first week was weapons familiarization “taught at the high school level” (not sure what the high school level of nuclear weapons training is).

2. Aeroscout observer

(Photo: U.S. Army)

Back in Vietnam, the Army had people whose sole job was to ride in scout helicopters and help spot targets on the ground while assigned directly to the maneuver forces they were supporting. Aeroscout observers worked with — who else — aeroscout pilots who were also assigned to the ground unit. Eventually, this gave way to pilot/co-pilot teams on OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopters.

Now, even that is falling to the history books. The Army’s active component has retired the last of its dedicated scout helicopters to the boneyards and National Guard in favor of attack helicopters with direct drone control.

3. Army motorcycle riders

U.S. Army Cpl. Gordon C. Powell poses with British Dispatch Rider Baltins Dougoughs on Aug. 27, 1944. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Riding a motorcycle in combat sounds exciting no matter what the job is, from carrying messages to scouting enemy forces. But in World War I, the tank corps included a group of “motorcycle men” whose primary gig was delivering repair parts and replacement crewmembers to tanks under fire.

For obvious reasons, tank-delivery motorcycle riders were re-classed after the Army figured out how to use tanks to recover one another. (If it’s not obvious, it because repair personnel protected by literal tons of armor are safer than those riding motorcycles and protected by only their uniforms).

4. Heavy Anti-Armor Infantryman

(Photo: U.S. Army)

While the Marine Corps still fields Antitank Missile Gunners under the military occupational specialty 0352, the Army got rid of its 11H Heavy Anti-Armor Weapons Infantrymen. These guys did exactly what their title says; They used heavy weapons to hunt down enemy armor. Nowadays, this capability is handled by general infantrymen assigned to the weapons company.

5. Morse Interceptor

(Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

Full disclosure, there are a few different signal intelligence jobs that could have been included in this list. Most of them have been folded into other specialties or been quietly terminated as their own job because the march of technology has made them unnecessary. After all, how much Morse intelligence is there to collect anymore?

The reason that Morse interceptor was selected for the list is that it’s the only one of these lost signal intelligence jobs that was once held by Johnny Cash. Cash did the job in the Air Force, not the Army, but still.

6. Chapparal/Vulcan Crewmember

The Chapparal and Vulcan were M113 armored vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft weapons. The Vulcan packed a six-barrel Gatling gun that could be deployed separately from the M113 when necessary, while the Chapparal carried AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. While the Chapparal role was largely replaced with the Army Avenger program, no direct descendant of the Vulcan exists.

While the Vulcan was largely outdated for anti-aircraft operations, the Army gave up a great ground weapon when it lost the Gatling gun. Vulcan crewmembers could fire 20mm rounds at up to 6,600 rounds per minute, targeting low-flying aircraft or enemy infantry and vehicles.

MIGHTY SPORTS

ROTC cadet sets burpee world record

An Army cadet from Michigan State University recently set a Guinness World Record for the most chest-to-ground burpees completed in 12 hours, an effort that helped him raise more than $7,800 for his nonprofit group for wounded veterans.

4,689. That’s the number of burpees Bryan Abell, a 23-year-old ROTC cadet, accomplished July 7, 2019, in his hometown of Milford, Michigan. His original goal was 4,500, the minimum number required by Guinness to set the record, but Abell kept going when there was time to spare.

Abell’s drive to push forward is rooted in the Army’s core values, he said. Before becoming an ROTC cadet his sophomore year, Abell originally enlisted as a National Guard infantryman in 2015, assigned to the 126th Infantry Regiment for the Michigan National Guard.


“If I wasn’t in the military, I wouldn’t have broken the record,” he said. The Army has taught me “to be proud of what you’re doing and to keep moving forward. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.”

Abell not only proved it to himself, he proved it to the world.

Cadet Bryan Abell, Michigan State University ROTC, rests during a work out Aug. 16, 2019, at Fort Knox, Ky.

(Photo by Reagan Zimmerman)

Guinness officially certified his record shortly before he started Cadet Summer Training-Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky, last month. CST is a must-pass field training program for cadets and a stepping stone in becoming an officer in the Army.

Training for a world record

No stranger to physical activity, Abell is a veteran of multiple ultra-marathons, often running more than 50 miles through the winding wooded trails of Michigan’s countryside.

At first, Abell planned to vie for the record of “most burpees in an hour,” but after seeing nobody had accomplished the 12-hour record, he changed his mind.

After planning his record setting goal, Abell started a training regimen in his parents’ backyard. He initiated training by doing more than 500 burpees a day and over time he increased his daily total to more than 1,500. During the six weeks he trained, Abell did nearly 33,000 total burpees.

A dirt hole, where Abell trained, formed in the grass of his parents’ backyard. As the hole became deeper, it served as a testament to his will to set the world record. Although Abell was stronger with each passing day, his dad “wasn’t very happy with the hole,” he joked.

Today, the yard is back in the pristine condition his dad generally maintains it at, and the once deep, dirt hole has become a faded memory.

Burpees for a purpose

Milford, a Detroit suburb with a population of more than 6,000, was handpicked by Abell as the location for the world record attempt. The reason was simple — Abell said “it was home,” and he “just wanted to see it in the record books.”

That said, the clerical tasks of setting a world record weren’t as simple. Breaking a record can be a tedious job, he admitted, “It became pretty stressful. I didn’t realize how much time would go into (filling out paperwork).”

In addition, with CST on the horizon, Abell needed to speed up the application and training process. Luckily, Guinness offered two options: 12-week review or a priority, five-day application review. Abell opted for the quicker option.

“I chose the priority option because I didn’t have much time,” Abell said. “I wanted to (attempt the record) before I came to advanced camp. The application came back within five days and basically from there, I had to set a date.”

After establishing the application process, the next step was his favorite part: gunning for the record books.

Cadet Bryan Abell, Michigan State University ROTC, shows off his Guinness World Record plaque at his home in Milford, Michigan.

“I just wanted to do the burpees,” Abell joked.

With hometown pride, the day finally came. From 7:05 a.m. to 7:05 p.m., and only resting periodically, Abell averaged at least six to seven chest-to-ground burpees a minute.

“I could only rest for 20-30 seconds,” said Abell, who also took short restroom breaks during the timed event.

In lieu of a witness from Guinness, Abell took a different route to provide proof of his record. He set up multiple cameras from different angles to watch his proper form, and he had six individuals working two-person, four-hour shifts while he contended for the world record at the Carls Family YMCA.

At least one of the witnesses, at any given time, was required to have a fitness-related certification.

The event was live streamed on social media from his nonprofit organization’s page, Stronger Warrior Foundation, where he also received donations.

A good cause

Stronger Warrior Foundation, officially incorporated in January, is a nonprofit Abell founded with his sister, Katelyn, during his sophomore year in college.

The siblings started “from the ground up”, he said, and their main purpose is to help servicemembers and veterans who have been wounded or have suffered disabilities from combat-related service.

The live streamed, half-day challenge raised more than id=”listicle-2639958942″,300, with more donations generated after he set the world record.

Abell doesn’t plan to give up his record anytime soon.

When asked what he’d do if someone does 5,000 chest-to-ground burpees and breaks it, he laughed and said, “Then I’d have to do 5,001.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy leader promises to fix Ford aircraft carrier

The acting Navy secretary is reportedly under a lot of pressure from President Donald Trump to get the USS Gerald R. Ford to work, something his predecessor failed to do.

The aircraft carrier is over budget, behind schedule, and still experiencing problems with certain key technologies, namely the advanced weapons elevators built to quickly deliver munitions to the flight deck.

“The Ford is something the president is very concerned about,” Thomas Modly, who very recently took over as acting secretary of the Navy after former secretary Richard Spencer resigned, said at the US Naval Institute Defense Forum this week, Military.com reports.


“I think his concerns are justified because the ship is very, very expensive and it needs to work,” he added, explaining that there is a “trail of tears as to why we are where we are, but we need to fix that ship and make sure that it works.”

Modly assured the audience that fixing the Ford would be a top priority. “There is nothing worse than a ship like this being out there … as a metaphor and a whipping boy for why the Navy can’t do anything right,” he said, according to the outlet.

The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford steams in the Atlantic Ocean, Oct. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Connor Loessin)

Spencer, Modly’s predecessor, had previously staked his job on getting the Ford working properly, promising President Trump that he would get the elevators working by the end of the post-shakedown availability or the president could fire him.

The PSA ended in October with only a handful of elevators operational. The Ford is currently going through post-delivery tests and trials, with plans for the elevator issues to be sorted over this 18-month period.

As Spencer was questioned about accountability, the former Navy secretary sharply criticized the Navy’s primary shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), accusing the company of having “no idea” what it was doing with the Ford.

Gerald R. Ford under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.

(U.S. Navy photo by Ricky Thompson)

Now, the Ford’s challenges have fallen in Modly’s lap.

“Everything that the Ford should be able to do is going to be a game-changer for us,” the acting Navy secretary said, according to Military.com. “We just have to make sure that it can do it because we’ve got several more coming behind it.”

The USS John F. Kennedy, the second Ford-class carrier, was slated to be christened Saturday. The Navy has two more of the new supercarriers on the way after that.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Tesla’s new Cybertruck morphs into a ‘Cybercamper’

Tesla Cybertruck’s controversial style and decked out armor-like exterior and towing capability seem like overkill for everyday driving, but they could be perfect for camping just about anywhere.

During the presentation, Tesla emphasized that the Cybertruck is “completely adaptable for your needs.” The company is marketing the truck as the best of a truck and a sports car, but information on its website hints at other future possibilities.


(Tesla)

The most expensive edition of the Cybertruck has 100 cubic feet of storage space, which would be useful for camping gear.

Tesla’s renderings at least show that the company is thinking about the possibility of a camper conversion, with one image showing a tent attached over the truck bed and what appears to be cooking attachments on the tailgate.

(Tesla)

Tesla fans have shown an interest in converting their electric vehicles into more comfortable places to sleep in the past. Dreamcase sells mattresses designed for specific car models, designed to “transform your car into a luxury double bed.” It already sells mattresses for three current Tesla models.

(Tesla)

Regardless of whether Tesla releases more information about possible camper conversions, the Cybertruck design already has the ability to tow an RV. The Cybertruck has a towing capacity of up to 14,000 lbs, which is more than enough to tow even the heaviest Airstream on the market.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps looking at new artillery round that can successfully hit moving targets

Raytheon Co. just announced that its new laser-guided Excalibur S 155mm artillery round scored direct hits on a moving target in a secret, live-fire test for the Marine Corps last spring.


The Excalibur is a combat-proven, precision artillery round capable of hitting within a few feet of a target at ranges out to 40 kilometers, the company said.

The new Excalibur S uses the same GPS technology as the Excalibur 1B variant but adds a semi-active laser seeker to engage both moving land and maritime targets.

“The seeker technology will recognize that the target is no longer there, and it will pick up the laser energy from where the target is and redirect itself to that,” Trevor Dunwell, director of Raytheon’s Excalibur Portfolio, told Military.com.

In a U.S. Navy test, Raytheon fired two projectiles from an M777 155mm Howitzer at a moving target at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, and scored two direct hits, he said.

“This happened in April of last year; we had to keep it close-hold working with the Navy … more specifically for the Marines,” Dunwell said. “We set the round for a specific location, we fired it off and, as soon as the round got fired, then the target started moving. It realized the target wasn’t there and realized that it had moved somewhere else and … it switched from GPS to laser designation and then engaged the target.”

The Marine Corps is interested in the Excalibur S round but “has not currently placed an order,” he said.

The next step is to conduct more tests this year. Dunwell would not reveal when they will occur, nor would he divulge which service will sponsor the next test.

The soldiers of 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, conduct dry-fire exercises, Dec. 5, at Oro Grand Range Complex, N.M., before firing the previous version of the Excalibur. This mission was the first time that a FORSCOM unit has fired the Excalibur outside of the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif. and combat.

(U.S. Army photograph by Sgt. Sean Harriman, 2nd BCT, 1st AD, Public Affairs)

If the Marine Corps or the Army decides to purchase the new Excalibur S round, Dunwell said it would not be priced dramatically higher than the current Excalibur 1B, which costs roughly ,000 per round.

The new technology would be effective for use in counter-fire artillery missions, he said.

“If you think about it, it is critically important because you are going to have to engage moving targets … especially if you are doing counter-fires,” Dunwell said. So, if it’s a fire-and-move, now on the counter fire you should be able to engage that moving target.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Medal of Honor recipient who fought in a bare-handed berserker rage

Sergeant David Bleak was set to go out on a normal patrol. It was 1952 and the young medic was accompanying a U.S. Army recon patrol with the mission of probing Chinese defenses and capturing an enemy soldier for intel and interrogation. What he didn’t know, however, was that by the patrol’s end, he would kill four enemies with his bare hands while saving his comrades.

He would have decades to think about that night after the war.


Bleak rolled out with 20 soldiers in an American-occupied area of North Korea near the front lines. By 1952, the Chinese were fully committed to North Korea, which resulted in what would be, more or less, considered a stalemate for the duration of the war.

“WE HAVE AN ARMY”

The hill they were traversing, Hill 499, was bare. It lacked significant vegetation after all the weeks of fighting in the area and offered little in the way of concealment, but the enemy was out there and the Army needed more information about their positions. The 21-man unit set off at 0430 to see what they could learn while another company distracted the Chinese on the other side of the hill with a frontal attack (where another soldier was earning the Medal of Honor, strangely enough).

Unfortunately, that didn’t prove to be enough of a distraction. Bleak’s formation was spotted as soon as they began to hike their way up. Quickly, the unit came under Chinese small arms fire. A few soldiers were injured immediately. Sgt. Bleak ran up from the rear to treat them just as fast as they were hit.

The mission soon continued, as did Sgt. Bleak.

“We have an Army!”

Once more they took surprise small arms fire, but this time, Bleak bum-rushed the enemy trench and dove in head-first. He snapped the neck of the first soldier he could get his hands on and then crushed the windpipe of another. As a third Chinese soldier attacked him, Bleak drew his knife and killed him with a stab to the chest.

The medic returned to his unit and began treating the soldiers wounded by the second surprise attack. As he worked, a Chinese grenade bounced off the helmet of a man standing over him. Bleak zipped into action, throwing his body over his fellow GI to shield him from the shrapnel. Luckily, no one was injured.

“We have a Bleak.”

After succeeding in its mission, Bleak’s patrol was returning to United Nations lines as they were again ambushed — this time, wounding three. Bleak was shot in the leg as he tried to get to those who needed aid. After treating everyone (including Bleak himself), the group went to leave, but one man was so injured that he couldn’t stand. So, Bleak picked him up and carried him out of there. On his way back to base, Sgt. Bleak ran into two Chinese soldiers who tried to assault him with fixed bayonets.

Not one to be easily intimidated, Bleak rushed back at them. Deftly avoiding being bayoneted, he smashed the two Chinese men’s heads together so hard that he broke their skulls. He picked up his patient and returned to friendly lines. Because of Sgt. Bleak, every man of the 20-man patrol that was ambushed multiple times that night came home. Their mission was completed, with captured enemy soldiers and all, and only sustained a few wounds in exchange.

Later the next year, President Eisenhower presented Bleak with a well-earned Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. Bleak would live on until age 74, dying on the same day as fellow Army medic and Medal of Honor recipient, Desmond Doss.

Warning: Do not confuse Desmond Doss with David Bleak. David Bleak will f*cking kill you.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This statistical analysis determined the 10 best generals of all time

Someone went and moneyball-ed military history. Ethan Arsht applied the principles of baseball sabermetrics to the performances of history’s greatest generals’ ability to win battles. It starts with comparing the number of wins from that general to a replacement general in the same circumstances.

The math is tricky but the list is definitive. There are just a few caveats.


First, where is all this information coming from? Although an imperfect source, Arsht complied Wikipedia data from 3,580 battles and 6,619 generals. He then compiled lists of key commanders, total forces, and of course, the outcome. The general’s forces were categorized and his numerical advantage or disadvantage weighted to reflect tactical ability. The real power is ranking the general’s WAR score, the aforementioned Wins Above Replacement.

For each battle, the general receives a weighted WAR score, a negative score for a loss. For example, at the Battle of Borodino that pitted Napoleon against Russian General Mikhail Kutuzov, the French had a slight numerical advantage against the Russians. So, the model devised by Arsht gave Bonaparte a WAR score of .49, which means a replacement general had a 50 percent chance of still winning the battle. Kutuzov gets a -.49 for Borodino, meaning a replacement for him had a 51 percent chance of losing anyway.

The more battles a commander fights and wins, the more opportunities to raise their scores. Fighting fewer battles doesn’t help, either. There were some surprises in the model, like the apparent failures of generals like Robert E. Lee and more modern generals. For the more modern generals like Patton, that can be attributed to the relatively small number of battles commanded.

For more about Arsht’s results, responses to criticism, and his findings, visit his post on Medium’s Towards Data Science. To see every general’s data point and where they sit in the analysis, check out the Bokeh Plot, an interactive data visualization. Remember, this has nothing to do with overall strategy and it’s all in good fun. Arsht does acknowledge his shortcomings, so check those out, too.

Ancient Macedonians didn’t have sideburn regulations, apparently.

10. Alexander the Great

As previously mentioned, Alexander was a great strategist, but since his life was cut short and he had only nine battles from which to draw data, it leaves the model very little to work with. Still, the conqueror of the known world is ranked much higher than other leaders with similar numbers, including the Japanese Shogun Tokugawa, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart.

It should be noted that Alexander’s per-battle WAR average is higher than anyone else’s on the list.

Soviet General and Stalin survivor Georgy Zhukov.

9. Georgy Zhukov

Zhukov has only one more battle than Alexander and his overall score barely squeaks by the Macedonian. Interestingly enough, his score is far, far above that of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Confederate Generals Jubal Early and John Bell Hood. That’s what overcoming the odds does for your WAR score.

But he places first for “coolest portrait.”

8. Frederick the Great

Ruling for more than 40 years and commanding troops in some 14 battles across Europe earned the enlightened Prussian ruler the number 8 spot on this list. His per-battle average was also lower than Alexander’s but, on the whole, he was just a better tactician.

Grant’s face says, “Do you see any Confederate generals on this top ten list? No? You’re welcome.”

7. Ulysses S. Grant

Grant’s performance commanding Union troops in 16 battles earned him the seventh spot on the list – and the U.S. presidency. Although his performance on the battlefield is clearly much better than those of his contemporaries, it should be noted that his Civil War arch-rival, Robert E. Lee, is so far below him on the list that he actually has a negative score.

Hannibal will very patiently kill you with elephants.

6. Hannibal Barca

Hannibal, once captured by Scipio Africanus, is believed to have given his own ranking system to Scipio, once the two started talking. His personal assessment wasn’t far off from the truth. He listed Alexander the Great and himself. Both of whom are in the top ten, even centuries later.

5. Khalid Ibn al-Walid

Khalid was a companion of the Prophet Mohammed, and one of the Islamic Empire’s most capable military leaders. In 14 battles, he remained undefeated against the Byzantine Empire, the Sassanid Persians, and helped spread Islam to the greater Middle East. Compared to others who fought similar numbers of battles, his score eclipses even Frederick the Great.

4. Takeda Shingen

Being one of the best military minds in feudal Japan is a really big deal, because almost everyone seemed to be a military mind and being better than someone else might mean you get challenged to a duel. After 18 battles, the Tiger of Kai reigned supreme – in Japan, anyway.

3. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

It’s a pretty big deal to be the guy who delivered a solid defeat to the man they called “Master of Europe.” Napoleon’s old nemesis, the Duke of Wellington, also saw command of 18 battles, but his WAR score is considerably higher than that of Takeda Shingen, his nearest challenger.

2. Julius Caesar

Caesar didn’t have command in as many battles as Shingen or the Duke of Wellington, but his WAR score reflects a lot more risk and shrewdness in his battlefield tactics. But Caesar also couldn’t top Alexander’s per-battle WAR average.

“Guys, move over there. Trust me, I’m really good at this stuff.”

1. Napoleon Bonaparte

Yes, you might have guessed by now, but the number one spot belongs to l’Empereur. Napoleon is so far ahead of the normal distribution curve created by the data for these 6,000-plus generals, it’s not even close. After 43 battles, he has a WAR score of more than 16, which blows the competition away. There can be no question: Napoleon is the greatest tactical general of all time, and the math proves it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The legal argument for Willie Pete as a weapon

White phosphorous, often known by the nickname “Willie Pete,” is possibly one of the oddest and most controversial weapons on military frontlines, including in American units. Its use as a chemical weapon is banned, but its use as an incendiary weapon is simply limited, and use as a signaling device is fine.


Recent use of phosphorous weapons in Israel has brought this weird dynamic back to the forefront. And the U.S. came under fire for using phosphorous rounds in Iraq. So, what’s going on? And is everyone involved now a war criminal?

U.S. Air Force drops a white phosphorous bomb on a Viet Cong position in 1966.

(U.S. Air Force)

First, let’s look at why some weapons are illegal, especially chemical weapons. Chemical weapons work by interrupting human processes, some via very gruesome means. Mustard gas causes extreme respiratory irritation, sometimes to the point that those hit by it will develop fatal lung infections. Sarin gas can cause muscle convulsions, paralysis, and respiratory arrest. Both can permanently disfigure people.

In other words, gruesome ways to be wounded or killed.

As a chemical weapon, phosphorous can be released as a gas that is breathed in by the enemy, burning the insides of their lungs and killing them by cooking them from the inside out. Or, it can be introduced into enemy water supplies to poison them. It’s illegal to use phosphorous in either of these ways.

But phosphorous is a peculiar beast because, while there are no legally accepted military uses for sarin or mustard gas, there are accepted uses of white phosphorous, because it can also burn people externally or its white smoke can be used to screen troop movements or mark battlefield locations.

The chemical burns at about 86 degrees Fahrenheit. And, when burning, phosphorous emits 5,000 degrees of heat. So, it can spontaneously combust on a warm day, and it can easily sustain its own reaction once it gets going. If it’s cold outside, then even a small charge in an artillery shell can ignite the reaction.

Once it’s burning, phosphorous emits clouds of thick smoke. For infantry and other maneuver troops attacking an enemy position, that means phosphorous smoke can block the view of defenders trying to kill them. This use of phosphorous is completely legal. It can also be used to mark enemy positions which, again, is completely legal.

(In fact, the 1980 treaty limiting incendiary weapon use specifically does not include weapons used predominantly for marking targets or screening movement.)

Shells from M777A2 155mm Howitzer cannons rain white phosphorous on a target during a four-day, live-fire exercise following the conclusion of Talisman Saber 13 in Australia on Aug 3, 2013.

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Paul Robbins Jr.)

But if you release still-burning phosphorous into the air and get that onto people, then it’s extremely dangerous. Phosphorous, again, will continue burning as long as it’s exposed to oxygen and above 86 degrees. So, if a chunk lands on a person’s shoulder, it will stay above 86 degrees and will keep releasing 5,000 degrees of heat until it runs out of fuel or is drowned in water or mud.

But even drowning phosphorous won’t work long-term in human skin, because it will re-ignite from the body heat the moment the water stops flowing. So, in Vietnam, American troops learned to cut the chunks of phosphorous out with knives if any friendlies were hit.

This use of phosphorous is legal, as long as the shooter takes “care” to prevent exposing civilians to the weapon.

And this is the thing that some groups will point to as insane. If it’s illegal to use it as a chemical weapon, how can you use the chemical as a weapon without it being a chemical weapon?

Well, first, everything is a chemical, and pretty much all weapons that aren’t iron or stone rely on chemical reactions of some kind. Bombs are explosive chemical reactions. Napalm and other incendiary weapons rely on chemical reactions that release a lot of heat, burning the flesh of enemy troops. It’s not a chemical reaction that is banned, or the release of heat. Chemical weapon laws really only apply to those weapons which directly interact with the target’s cells.

But heating the cells up, as you would with napalm, is legal.

And that’s how white phosphorous, as an incendiary weapon, works. It’s stored safely encased, then fired against an enemy, exposing it to the air and igniting it in the process. Once the burning phosphorous hits enemy troops, it sears them. A World War II test of phosphorous smoke screens found that, when fired against mock German defenders, the smoke screen would kill or seriously wound 40 percent of the defenders before the U.S. infantry arrived to fight them.

War Dept Film Bulletin 55 White Phosphorus VS High Explosive 1943 (full)

www.youtube.com

War Dept Film Bulletin 55 White Phosphorus VS High Explosive 1943 (full)

And that’s why, as long as the weapon is legal in any context, there will be an incentive for commanders to use it. Without overhead cover, 40 percent of the defenders could be knocked out by the smoke screen. By the smoke screen. High explosive mortar rounds used in the same World War II test generated only 24 percent casualties.

Remember, the point of war is to force an enemy into submission to achieve some political goal. It’s gruesome, but it always includes humans killing humans, and explosions and burning are accepted methods of killing each other in war.

And so, the question that will confront investigators looking into Israel’s actions will be, “How was the weapon used? And did it cause undue damage to civilians?” Those are the same questions they would have to look at if a bomb was dropped on a church or hospital.

Was this a valid military act, or maybe a valid act that went awry? Or was a commander deliberately harming civilians?

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon officially releases UFO videos because these times aren’t strange enough

As if 2020 couldn’t get any more bizarre, earlier today the Pentagon officially released unclassified, previously leaked footage of “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs aka ALIENS.


In September of last year, the Navy acknowledged the validity of the videos, but are officially releasing them “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena. DOD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos. The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified.’

There are three videos showing separate incidents.

Gimbal: The First Official UAP Footage from the USG for Public Release

youtu.be

FLIR1: Official UAP Footage from the USG for Public Release

youtu.be

Go Fast: Official USG Footage of UAP for Public Release

youtu.be

If social distancing’s got you down, just remember: We’re not alone. Is that threatening to national security? Here’s what UFO expert and former special agent Luis Elizondo, said in an interview with WATM:

Do I think they’re a threat? They could be if they wanted to be.

Let me give you a very succinct analogy: Let’s say at night you go to lock your front door, you don’t expect any problems, but you lock it anyways just to be extra safe. You lock your windows, and you turn on your alarm system, and you go to bed. You do this every morning, and let’s say one morning after you wake up, you’re walking downstairs, and you find muddy footprints in your living room.

Nothing has been taken, no one is hurt, but despite you locking the front doors, the windows, and turning on the alarm system — there are muddy footprints in your living room.

The question is: is that a threat?

Well, I don’t know, but it could be if it wanted to be.
Humor

7 things you’ll never hear a Marine drill instructor say

Marine Corps boot camp is specially designed to mentally break down recruits before allowing them to earn the prestigious title of U.S. Marine.


When Marine hopefuls step on those famous yellow footprints during the receiving process, they need to be ready to have tons of information hurled at them.

Throughout their 13 weeks of training, recruits can expect to hear all manner of orders, insults, and jokes screamed at them.

Related: 9 things you’ll never hear your platoon sergeant say

However, it’s doubtful they will ever hear these words:

7. “Whenever you’re ready, gentlemen.”

Drill instructors aren’t patient or gentle with their recruits because they don’t have to be. In fact, if a recruit isn’t moving at “double-time” — they’re freakin’ wrong.

6. “If we are too mean, let us know and we’ll tone it down for you.”

That’s just not going to happen.

5. “If you can’t run three miles, it’s okay to quit after just one.”

Marines pride themselves on finishing every job. Instilling that no-fail mindset into young recruits is critical.

Lt. Col. David Bardorf and Sgt. Maj. Michael Rowan lead their battalion on a run during the annual battalion’s physical training session. (Photo from USMC)

4. “You are outstanding! I can’t wait to serve with you one day in a grunt unit.”

The U.S. Marine Corps is known for being the smallest branch. It’s rare that you’ll run into your senior drill instructor years down the line, but it happens. That being said, the recruit you are now isn’t the Marine they’ll want to serve beside later.

3. “I will never show you my knife-hand.”

You will see your DI’s knife-hand frequently and often.

This DI executes a perfect knife-hand at a recruit rocking a glow belt. (Photo from USMC)

2. “Slow down. The war will wait for you.”

The war doesn’t wait and you should never slow down. If that’s not common sense to you now, it will be.

Also Read: 5 heroic movie acts a military officer would never do

1. “Don’t worry about learning your general orders because they’re useless.”

General orders are a pain in the ass to memorize, but they’re burnt into your memory because they can save lives.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Rebollar, a drill instructor with Company D, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, corrects a recruit aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., June 20, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Erick J. ClarosVillalta)

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

China’s J-20 stealth fighter is gaining on America’s top jets

According to reports released through Chinese media, a modified version of their Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter, dubbed the J-20B, has just entered mass production. This new variant of their first fifth-generation fighter will continue to run dated Russian-built engines, but will utilize thrust vectoring control nozzles to grant the aircraft a significant boost in maneuverability.

“Mass production of the J-20B started on Wednesday. It has finally become a complete stealth fighter jet, with its agility meeting the original criteria,” the South China Morning Post credited to an unnamed source within the Government.

Chengdu J-20 (WikiMedia Commons)

“The most significant change to the fighter jet is that it is now equipped with thrust vector control.”

Thrust vectoring nozzle for a Eurojet EJ200 turbofan (WikiMedia Commons)

Thrust Vector Control

Thrust vector control, sometimes abbreviated to TVC, is a means of controlling a jet or rocket engine’s outward thrust. Thrust vectoring nozzles are used to literally move the outflow of exhaust in different directions to give an aircraft the ability to conduct acrobatics that a straight-forward nozzled jet simply couldn’t do.

When paired with an aircraft like Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, thrust vectoring control allows an aircraft to make sharper changes in direction, or even to continue traveling in one direction while pointing the nose, and weapons systems of the aircraft, down toward an enemy. Put simply, thrust vectoring nozzles let you point the engine one way, while the aircraft itself is pointed in another (to a certain extent).

In a jet like the F-22 (and soon in China’s J-20 stealth fighter), this technology gives fighter pilots a distinct advantage over non-thrust vectoring jets in a dogfight. You can see the thrust vector control surfaces on the F-22’s engine, which can direct the outflow of exhaust up to 20 degrees up or down, in this video clip:

F-22 thrust vectoring nozzles

www.youtube.com

Russia also employs thrust vector control technology in some of their more capable fighters, like the Sukhoi Su-35, which is widely considered to be among the most capable fourth generation fighters in service anywhere on the planet. While stealth and sensor fusion capabilities would give an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter the long range advantage against the non-stealth Su-35, the Russian jet would technically be capable of flying circles around America’s premier stealth fighter if stealth weren’t in the picture (luckily, however, it is).

Sukhoi Su-35S Extreme maneuverability

www.youtube.com

Of course, that’s not what the F-35 was built for, and in a real conflict, an F-35 would likely shoot down a Su-35 before the Russian pilot was even aware of an American presence in his airspace. China’s J-20 stealth fighter, however, would very likely be extremely difficult to detect on radar or by infrared signature as it closed with an opponent from head on, and the J-20B’s thrust vector control abilities combined with that inherent sneakiness could make this new J-20 a serious adversary for the F-35, and even a worthy opponent for the F-22.

(WikiMedia Commons)

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter versus China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter

While the F-35 tends to garner the lion’s share of attention, it truly was not built to serve in an air superiority role against near-peer or peer level adversaries. The F-35’s strengths don’t come from its speed or maneuverability, but rather from the extremely effective one-two punch it can deliver via stealth technologies, sensor fusion, and communications.

Many F-35 pilots, including Sandboxx News’ own Justin “Hasard” Lee, will tell you that the F-35’s role in many dogfights isn’t that of an up-close dog fighter, but rather more like a quarterback in the sky, accumulating and processing data into an easy-to-manage interface, and relaying that information to aircraft and other weapons systems in the battle space.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

When it is up to the F-35 to take down an airborne opponent, the F-35’s speed and maneuverability limitations are usually not a significant concern, as the jet is designed to engage enemy aircraft more like a sniper than a boxer. The F-35’s data fusion capabilities make it easy for the pilot to identify enemy aircraft in their heads up display, and the fighter can even engage multiple targets from distances too far to see with the naked eye.

J-20 (WikiMedia Commons)

However, the J-20 may be difficult to see for even the mighty F-35, which, when combined with the J-20B’s higher top end and superior mobility thanks to thrust vectoring nozzles, it could be a real threat to America’s top tier stealth fighter. The front canards on the J-20, however, are believed by some to compromise the aircraft’s stealth when approaching from angles other than head-on. Debate continues on this front, but it could give the F-35 the advantage it needs.

Of course, that is if the J-20B performs as China claims it will.

USAF F-22 Raptor (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm)

The F-22 Raptor vs China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter

This match up is a bit more appropriate, as the F-35 was built to be a jack of all stealthy trades and the F-22 was built specifically to dominate a sky full of enemy fighters. Unlike the F-35, which is largely limited to subsonic speeds in both the Navy and Marine Corps’ iterations, the F-22 is fast, mean, and acrobatic in addition to its stealth capabilities.

China’s stealth fighter, the J-20, was designed using stolen plans for Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, giving it a similar profile and potentially similar combat capabilities. However, it seems unlikely that China has managed to replicate the complex process of mass producing stealth aircraft to the same extent the United States has, as America’s stealth work dates back to the 1970s and the development of the “Hopeless Diamond” that would eventually become the F-117 Nighthawk.

As previously mentioned, the J-20’s front canards could potentially limit the aircraft’s stealth capabilities as well, making the plane difficult to detect from head on, but potentially easier from other angles.

Some content that these canards compromise some degree of the J-20’s stealth capabilities. (Chinese internet)

Although China has announced that their J-20B will come equipped with thrust vector controls, just how effective their system will be remains to be seen, meaning that, like China’s stealth capabilities, their execution may potentially fall behind their bluster.

Assuming, however, that the J-20B performs exactly as China says it will, the aircraft could likely be a worthy opponent for the F-22 in some circumstances, especially when flying in greater numbers than America’s top intercept fighter, which just may be a serious issue in the near future, as America simply can’t build any more F-22s.

Chinese J-20s flying in formation (Chinese internet)

China’s potential stealth fighter numbers advantage

While it remains to be seen if China’s J-20 stealth fighter and upgraded J-20B will be a real match for America’s F-35 or F-22 in a one-on-one fight, the truth is, very few fights actually shake out that way. Pilots spend tons of time planning their combat operations to limit their exposure to high risk situations and to maximize the effectiveness of their stealth profile.

Thus far, it’s believed that China has built fewer than 50 J-20s, though production may pick up as China now seems comfortable using dated Russian power plants in their new fighters, rather than waiting on their long troubled WS-15 engine that was designed specifically for this application. Using these engine platforms may limit the overall performance of the jet, but it will also allow for more rapid production–which may create China’s only actual advantage in an air-to-air conflict.

Lockheed Martin produced only 186 total F-22 Raptors before the program was shut down, and today, far fewer are actually operational. In other words, America may have the world’s most capable air intercept fighter in the F-22, but it also has an extremely limited supply of them. The supply chain established for F-22 production has been largely cannibalized for the F-35, so there’s no hope in building any more either.

USAF F-22 Raptor (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Westin Warburton)

China’s J-20 stealth fighter, on the other hand, is still under production, and while Russian-sourced engines may make their fighter’s less capable than America’s stealth fighters, China may more than offset that disadvantage through sheer volume. Even if a J-20 doesn’t stand a chance in a scrap with an F-22, adding four or five more J-20s into the mix places the odds squarely in China’s favor.

Today, the United States maintains the largest fleet of stealth aircraft in service to any nation, but over time, that advantage could be eroded thanks to China’s massive industrial capabilities.

Two F-22 Raptors and a T-38 Talon from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, fly together during a 43rd Fighter Squadron Basic Course training mission Oct. 7, 2013 over Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. J. Wilcox)

America’s massive experience advantage in the skies

China’s J-20 stealth fighter may potentially end up a near competitor for America’s top stealth jets, and they may eventually overcome any advantage America’s fighters do have through volume, but there’s one integral place Chinese aviators still lag far behind American pilots: experience. America’s experience advantage manifests in two specific ways.

The first experiential advantage American pilots have on their side is practical flying time aboard their specific platforms. While the total number of required flight hours for pilots varies a bit from branch to branch, on average, a U.S. fighter pilot spends around 20 hours per month at the stick of their respective jets. That shakes out to around 240 flight hours per year devoted strictly to training for combat operations.

(U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

Chinese fighter pilots, on the other hand, average less than half of that per year, with most pilots logging between 100 and 120 hours flying their particular airframes. With more than double the annual flying experience to pull from, American fighter pilots across the board will be better prepared for the rigors of combat.

The second facet of America’s experience-advantage is in real combat operations. The United States has been embroiled in the Global War on Terror for nearly two straight decades, and while most of the flying American fighter pilots have done throughout has been for the purposes of ground attack or close air support missions, there’s no denying that American aviators have more experience flying in a combat zone than their Chinese competition.

A formation of F-35A Lightning IIs (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Although there have been very few dog fights in recent years, it’s worth noting that one of the world’s more recent fighter-to-fighter shoot-downs took place over Syria and involved a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet engaging a Syrian military Su-22 Fitter. American pilots, and just as importantly, America’s military leadership, are no strangers to war, and that offers a unique insight into future conflicts.

China’s massive military has undergone a significant overhaul in recent years that still continues to this day, but their relative inexperience and likely inferior stealth technology keeps China at a disadvantage in a notional conflict with the United States, especially in the air.

Chengdu J-20 (Chinese internet)

So do the J-20B’s upgrades even matter?

While China may still have a ways to go before they can claim the sort of stealth dominance the United States enjoys, the upgraded systems placed in China’s J-20B certainly do matter. As former Defense Secretary and famed Marine General James Mattis once said, America has no pre-ordained right to victory on the battlefield.

It’s absolutely essential that we take an objective look at China’s growing military threat and remember that they don’t need to match America’s broad capabilities to gain an advantage–they need only to counter them. Working to devise creative solutions that offset tactical advantages has been an integral part of warfare ever since humans first started sharpening sticks, and it remains essential today.

The J-20B doesn’t need to be a match for the F-22 Raptor if its leveraged properly and in sufficient numbers, and that alone warrants consideration.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


MIGHTY TACTICAL

Comparing the Soviet SKS rifle to the American M1 carbine

Whenever you compare the merits of two firearms against one another, there will be a huge row. Just ask fans of the M1911, designed by John Moses Browning — which served in the American military as the primary sidearm for seven decades — what they think of the M9 Beretta.

But let’s take a look at two semi-automatic carbines that were in service about 70 years ago: The Russian SKS and the American M1 carbine.


Both were in service in World War II (prototypes of the SKS saw action against the Nazis) and both saw action in Korea and Vietnam. However, they’re very different.

A Marine covers personnel during the first flag-raising on Mount Suribachi.

(USMC photo by Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery)

The M1 carbine, first introduced in 1942, fires a special .30-caliber round that’s about an inch-and-a-third long (as opposed to the roughly two-and-a-half-inch length of the .30-06 round). It’s semi-automatic and can use a 15 or 30-round detachable magazine. It weighs about five pounds unloaded. Today’s troops carrying a lot of stuff — that light weight can be a back-saver. The 110-grain .30 carbine round could go 1,990 feet per second.

Malian troops stand at attention with SKS rifles.

(US Army photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet)

The SKS rifle introduced the 7.62x39mm cartridge to the world. It uses an internal 10-round magazine that is reloaded using stripper clips. In a way, this is much like how just about every modern (post-1898) military rifle prior to the M1 Garand was reloaded. The 7.62x39mm round propels a 123-grain bullet at 1,653 feet per second. The SKS weighs in at roughly eight pounds.

So, which of these rifles is better? Let’s be honest: Both have passed the longevity test. The M1 Carbine is still in service with Israel and Nicaragua, among other countries, and the SKS still sees action in places like Mali. But assuming all other things, like training and competency, are equal, a soldier with the M1 carbine would have a slight edge — at least at close range —due to the increased magazine capacity and the rifle’s lighter weight.