Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

Snipers are masters of disguise who are able to hide in plain sight, providing overwatch, scouting enemy positions, and, when necessary, taking out threats.

“No one knows you’re there. I’m here. I’m watching you, I see everything that you are doing, and someone is about to come mess up your day,” First Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a Texas native and experienced US Army sniper, said during a recent interview.

“We are capable of hurting you in many ways … We’re not going to tell you how we’re coming. But, we’re coming for you.”

Business Insider asked a handful of trained Army snipers, elite sharpshooters who have served across multiple combat deployments in multiple countries, how they disappear in any and all environments. Here’s what they had to say.


Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

An Army Green beret sniper, assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), takes aim at a long-range target for a timed shooting event during advanced skills sniper training at Fort Carson, Colorado, Dec. 12, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)

Concealment is about putting anything you can between yourself and the watchful eyes of the enemy.

“A sniper is not limited to any one method,” Sipes, a veteran sniper with more than a decade of service, explained. “We are extremely free. You are limited only by however you limit yourself.”

Snipers use a mixture of natural and artificial materials to achieve concealment and camouflage to avoid enemy detection, as the sniper must remain unseen by the enemy to collect intelligence or take a shot if needed. The aim is to effectively blend into the negative space, areas the eye naturally overlooks.

Concealing oneself from an adversary’s gaze is about putting “anything you can between you and whatever might be observing you,” Staff Sgt. David Smith, a sniper instructor at Fort Benning, told BI, explaining that this could be natural vegetation, face paints, false screens, a sniper’s ghillie suits, or the hides they construct.

A ghillie suit is designed with loose strips designed to resemble natural backgrounds like twigs or long grasses, and can make snipers nearly undetectable by visual. Ghillie suits typically do not shield the wearer from detection via thermal imaging, a technology that advanced militaries are likely to use; however, the Army is developing an improved ghillie suit which is expected to offer enhanced protection.

With the tools they bring with them and materials found in the field, snipers can break up and distort their outline, making them significantly harder to spot.

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

Pfc. William Snyder, 1-173rd Infantry, practices sniper camouflage techniques at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, April 7, 2018.

(Photo by Army Staff Sgt. William Frye)

In many ways, it’s about knowing your environment.

“The best tool snipers can use to disguise and conceal themselves from the enemy is a solid understanding of their surroundings,” Capt. Greg Elgort, the company commander, told BI.

Snipers need to know the lay of the land, they need to plan their route, and they need to take advantage of whatever nature gives.

“I want to look at the terrain. What can I put between myself and the target,” Sipes, who runs the marksmanship training company alongside Elgort, said.” It’s not just about the face paint or what I attach to my body, it’s the natural environment around me that I can utilize to keep them from seeing me.”

For example, the winners of the International Sniper Competition, two non-commissioned officers from the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, hid themselves from view with nothing more than a ghillie suit hood and various materials they found in the field.

In particular, they focused on hiding their face.

“Just by being able to disfigure and break up the outline of their face — you know, a human face stands out very vividly in a woodland area — by concealing the outline of their face, they were able to win,” Elgort explained. “It really comes down to an understanding of that and knowing what you’re presenting and adjusting accordingly.”

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

Sgt. Chayne Walsh, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, prepares to execute his concealment exercise during sniper training at Fort Benning.

(Patrick A. Albright/MCoE PAO Photographer)

There are a lot of small things that if overlooked could be fatal.

Snipers have to manage their tracks, scent, shadow, glare and countless other things to remain hidden from enemies. “There are a million things that go into being a sniper, and you have to be good at all of them,” Sipes explained.

Here’s just a few of the many things snipers have to think about.

“If you are facing east in the morning, the sun is going to be coming at you, so you need to do something with your scope to prevent glare,” Elgort told BI. To combat this problem, snipers build cat eyes.

“We use natural vegetation, we use wraps, netting, whatever to block the optics from any observation but allow us to see through it,” Sipes said, noting that other considerations include whether or not he is silhouetting himself against something else. A shadow could give away his position, exposing him to the enemy.

As for scents, he said that snipers avoid scented soaps, smoking, any type of cologne, deodorant, etc.

In colder climates, a sniper can eat snow to hide their breath, but it only works for a short time. “You would have to continuously eat snow, and then you have to pee,” Smith said, bringing up another potential consideration.

Snipers also have to think about bodily excretions. Sometimes when nature calls, a sniper will use bags with sponges to soak up their business. They can also bury it in the earth. Other times, they just have to hold it.

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

US Army Sgt. John Stewart, a Sniper assigned to NATO’s Battle Group Poland, improves his fighting position during react to contact drills at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Nov. 8, 2018.

(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Sarah Kirby)

Some environments are easier than others.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Jones, another sniper instructor, identified two decidedly difficult environments for concealment — fresh snow and the urban environments.

“You can disappear into the snow. It takes a little more thought. It’s a little harder to play with the blending in,” he told BI. “And, in the urban environment, there’s just so many eyes on you from the onset that it makes it pretty tough for you to get into your setup without someone knowing that you’re already there.”

Places like cities and suburbs are also the hardest areas to shoot in.

“I can say that the most difficult place to shoot is in an urban environment,” Sipes said, calling attention to the some of the angles and structures obstructing visibility, among other problems.

“The targets are generally moving. They have civilians around them. They’re using the patterns of life on the ground to conceal themselves. And they’re never in one location,” he added.

As for the easiest environments to blend into, that is definitely your standard woodland or jungle, Jones explained.

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

Hidden beneath twigs and weeds, a sniper’s stomach is flat on the ground, dirt and grime on his face. All that can be seen in the bundles of cheatgrass is a pair of steady, intense eyes.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

One of the greatest dangers is that new technologies are making it harder for snipers to hide.

The US is once again in a time of rivalry with other military powers, and that means they must learn to counter more advanced threats from adversaries like China and Russia.

“Defeating a thermal signature is probably the hardest thing that a sniper has to do, especially with emerging technology by our near-peer enemies,” Smith told BI. Snipers can hide in the visible spectrum, but combating high-end sensors is a challenge.

US rivals are starting to “creep into the thermal arena, and that in itself is dangerous to a sniper because then you can’t hide from that,” Smith said. Thermal imagers can easily detect a human body’s heat against the ambient temperature of the environment around it.

Smith called this a “large challenge” that the Army is “working to defeat that as well.”

Sometimes that means getting back to the basics. Snipers often use laser range finders to get a more accurate read on a target, but that’s not always an option.

“When going against a near-peer threat or an adversary that has the capability to identify that, we have to rely solely on the reticle that’s in our scope,” Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance, a sniper instructor team sergeant from Colorado, explained.

There are also new camouflage systems, such as the Fibrotex’s Ultra-Light Camouflage Netting System capable of providing more persistent infrared, thermal, and counter-radar performance, that are in development to help the Army’s snipers, as well as other soldiers, hide from the more advanced threats.

Warfare is always evolving, which means that US snipers have to be ready for anything.

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

Articles

The 5 military laws that nearly everyone breaks

The military has a lot of rules and some of them are hard to follow every day in every instance. We’re not saying that everyone should be prosecuted under any of these articles, we’re just saying that a lot of people technically break these rules.


1. DISRESPECT TOWARD SUPERIOR COMMISSIONED OFFICER (ART. 89)

“Any person subject to this chapter who behaves with disrespect toward his superior commissioned officer shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

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Creating this meme would be an Article 89 violation for enlisted personnel.

“Can’t spell lost without the LT!” called in cadence in the presence of an officer is technically a violation of Article 89.

Interestingly, this is one of the few times where the word, “toward,” in an article doesn’t require that the victim be present. Service members can be prosecuted under Article 89 for disrespecting an officer even if that officer didn’t hear or see anything. For the NCO equivalent listed below, the NCO or warrant officer must be present and hear or witness the disrespect.

2. INSUBORDINATE CONDUCT TOWARD WARRANT OFFICER, NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER, OR PETTY OFFICER (ART. 91)

“Any warrant officer or enlisted member who–

(1) strikes or assaults a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer, while that officer is in the execution of his office;

(2) willfully disobeys the lawful order of a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer; or

(3) treats with contempt or is disrespectful in language or deportment toward a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer while that officer is in the execution of his office;

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Anyone who has mouthed off to a superior NCO or warrant officer is guilty, provided they knew that the person was an NCO or warrant officer at the time. Talking back to a squad leader could trigger Article 91. This also covers assaulting or disobeying a lawful order from a superior NCO or warrant officer.

3. MILITARY PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES-LOSS, DAMAGE, DESTRUCTION, OR WRONGFUL DISPOSITION (ART. 108)

“Any person subject to this chapter who, without proper authority–

(1) sells or otherwise disposes of;

(2) willfully or through neglect damages, destroys, or loses; or

(3) willfully or through neglect suffers to be lost, damaged, sold, or wrongfully disposed of;

any military property of the United States, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

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Getting the corpsman or medic to give an unnecessary I.V. or walking off with a couple of MREs falls under Article 108. Even painting hilarious graffiti on a bunker counts.

Side note: Some people like to claim that this article forbids troops from getting sunburn because that’s damage to “government property.” The Stars and Stripes Rumor Doctor investigated this and experts in military law told him this isn’t true for two reasons. First, service members are not military property. Second, the government has to quantify the damage done to the property which is nearly impossible when referring to a human being.

4. PROPERTY OTHER THAN MILITARY PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES – WASTE, SPOILAGE, OR DESTRUCTION (ART. 109)

“Any person subject to this chapter who willfully or recklessly wastes, spoils, or otherwise willfully and wrongfully destroys or damages any property other than military property of the United States shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

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IRAQ. Baghdad. 2006. Graffiti written by soldiers on the walls of bathroom stalls.

This article is pretty broad, referring to any willful or reckless destruction of someone else’s personal property. So service members who vandalize a porta-potty rented from a vendor are technically guilty. In practice of course, the damage needs to be worth investigating and the government has to prove a certain person committed the act at a specified place and time.

5. GENERAL ARTICLE (ART. 134)

“Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.”

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There are many ways to fall foul of Article 134, but the most common is probably using indecent language. Any indecent language, especially if it causes “lustful thoughts,” can trigger the article.

Other commons ways of triggering the “General Article” are drunkenness and straggling.

NOW: 6 weird laws unique to the US military

OR: 8 reasons the new guy always gets caught when he screws up

MIGHTY CULTURE

Strange days in the Green Berets: of pipes and dogs

The 1st Special Forces Group was a great place to be when they activated in 1984 in Ft. Lewis, Washington state. I made a mad dash to get out of Ft. Bragg and into the First. We were the only Green Beret unit on the post so it was like being “away from the flag pole” as we used to say, or away from the stressful prying eyes of the higher headquarters. That coupled with the novelty of new digs in a new hood just made it a pleasant place to be.

We weren’t even on the main post: We were in a little gouge of a satellite cantonment area across the freeway from the main post. It was very low-visibility and even, shall I say it, cozy there in our outskirt haven.


There the boys were being boys in their own Green Beret fashion and pipes suddenly became vogue on the premises. It seemed that you just might not be cool… unless you were smoking a pipe.

It wasn’t a “stoner-esque” sort of pipe smoking; it was like your grandpa sort of pipe smoking — ol’ geezer pipes that should have been the last thing that made you look cool, and yet somehow they did. It was kinda nice taking a break outside the team room in the middle of the day to go outside and… do a bowl. Except we weren’t doing bowls, we were… smoking pipes. Just, smoking pipes. Then a few taps of the pipe against the concrete steps and back to work.

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(left) My own pipe from back in my Green Berets days as it sits on my desk today. One of my favorite pipes carried by a teammate was this Zeus head pipe. (SOFREP/George E. Hand IV)

Conversations took on a vastly different character and demeanor when were were smoking pipes. We could be talking quantum physics while descending the stairs to the porch, but once those pipes were torched:

“Big of a scorcher out today, eh?”

“Oh, yaaah…”

“Looks to be a bit of weather coming in from the nor-east tho…”

“Yeeeeah, seems…”

“Might be in for a coolin’ off — that’d be nice for a spell…”

“Oh, yaaah…”

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

The way we felt we looked smoking our pipes notwithstanding, this is rather more in keeping with the way people actually saw us.

Three of my team brothers and I had made a rare excursion to the main post for some harassment and all-around hateful time. Our Company Commander admonished us to “just stay the hell away from that place unless absolutely necessary,” knowing Green Berets over there would always draw attention and scrutiny.

We grabbed lunch at main Post Exchange (PX) and sat outside on a patio.

After lunch we instinctively pulled out the burners for some pleasing pipe puffing and discussion about the weather. It didn’t take long for a grumpy Master Sergeant to interrupt us: “Excuse me… you men are out of uniform,” meaning smoking pipes. That was most certainly not the case but he was grumpy and decided to call our bluff knowing that Green Berets were not heavy into drill and ceremony, pomp and circumstance. My Team Sergeant, a Master Sergeant himself replied:

“We’re not out of uniform, Sarge, we’re just smoking pipes!”

“And that’s out of uniform!” he huffed.

“Horse shit, Sarge… you know there’s nothing in AR670-5 that prohibits smoking a pipe while in uniform.”

Just knowing the title of the manual that governed the wear of the military uniform was enough of a counter-bluff and the grumpy Sergeant snorted off.

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AR (Army Regulation) 670-5 governs the configuration and wear of the military uniform.

Another shenanigan the seemed to catch on with the A-Teams was bringing dogs to work. All types of dogs. Huntin’ dogs, coon dawgs, guard dogs. Take a break, smoke your pipe, pet yer dawg — Basic Dude Stuff! That concept, the dogs, never had a chance of getting off the ground. It was like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs: just too much there to go wrong.

Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Douglas J. Turner was an affidavit-sworn baddass. West Point had voice recordings of him from Vietnam calling in an artillery barrage on his own position because he was being overrun by Viet Cong. His voice was as calm as if he were reading from the day’s weather report. I had been assigned to his Battalion before he left the 7th Special Forces Group in Ft. Bragg. We bought him a really nice pistol as a going-away gift when he left. And now we were both in the same unit again.

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Herstal Belgium Fabrique Nationale’s (FN), Browning Hi-Power, 9 x 19mm

CSM Turner stepped squarely into a pile of dog crap outside our team room building one day as he headed up to our room. He walked just inside the door of our room and — SPLOOSH — stepped into a puddle of fresh dog p00. He cocked his head down to observe the puddle of crap that he had just stepped in. Raising his head he spied a dog curled up next to one of the men’s desks.

Slowly trending over he reached down to pet the dog, which suddenly snapped its jaw up and bit the CSM on the hand. Douglas J. Turner stood back up, looked at his bleeding hand, and glared at the dog. The room of men became a petrified forest. D. J. Turner sucked the bite wound on his hand as he stepped out the door.

“Wha… what will become of us now?” Pondered one of the men, and we were all sorely afraid.

The next morning we gathered for our usual morning Physical Training (PT) formation. Outside our building the same dog that bit the CSM the day prior was leashed off to the stair rail. The CSM came by and, pointing to an exercise apparatus at the edge of the formation field, directed a man to “Chain that dog to the pull-up bars!” The man did so.

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Forming up and not really taking note of the dog fasted at the bars, we were brought to attention as CSM Turner received the morning report. He then addressed the entire battalion:

“YOU MEN HAVE BEEN BRINGING YOUR DOGS TO WORK LATELY. I HAVE BEEN SEEING DOG SHIT AROUND MY COMPOUND AND EVEN STEPPED IN SOME DOG SHIT. YESTERDAY ONE OF THEM EVEN BIT ME!”

“FROM NOW ON THE NEXT TIME I SEE ANOTHER DOG IN MY BATTALION AREA, IT WILL BE SHOT!”

A measured chuckle emanated from the formation. D. J. walked over and stood by the dog. Another chuckle arose. With that CSM Douglas J. Turner reached to his lumbar and pulled out the pistol we got him when he left 7th Special Forces Group. He snatched back the slide, pointed the gun at the dog’s head and fired. The dog froze momentarily in a sort of seizure, then flopped over dead.

The distraught dog’s owner cried out and broke formation sprinting toward the CSM. Several men grabbed and restrained the man, carrying him up to their team room where they placed a guard on him to prevent him from getting out. The CSM returned to his office where he sat and quietly waited for the Military Police to arrive and take him away; which they did. Some say that it was just CSM Turner’s way of telling the world that he had had enough and was ready to retire from it all.

That is the extent of what happened to him. He was retired from the U.S. Army.

Later that day we broke from the team room to head downstairs for a peace pipe ceremony:

“Shame about Ingram’s dog there.”

“Oh, yaaah…”

“Shouldn’t oughtta be bringin’ a bitin’ dog to work that’s not potty trained tho.”

“Seems…”

“Course, don’t make much sense a-shootin’ a dog over any of it neither.”

“Oh, naaah…”

“Yep, nuther scorcher out today.”

By Almighty God and with honor,
geo sends

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Christopher Plummer from The Sound of Music and Battle of Britain dies at 91

Legendary Canadian actor Christopher Plummer was arguably one of the greatest actors post-WWII. Beginning his career in 1946, Plummer remained an active thespian throughout his life. He is best known for his role as Captain George von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Plummer was also a go-to actor to play historical figures like Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in Waterloo, Emperor Commodus in The Fall of the Roman Empire, and Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception. On February 5, 2021, Plummer died at the age of 91.

Born in Toronto, Ontario on December 13, 1929, Plummer was a direct descendant of Sir John Abbott, Canada’s third Prime Minister. He was inspired to take up acting after watching Laurence Olivier’s Henry V and became an apprentice at the Montreal Repertory Theatre where William Shatner also acted. In 1946, Plummer performed his first role as Mr. Darcy in a school production of Pride and Prejudice.

In 1953, he appeared on television, both Canadian and American, and Broadway. Plummer acted mainly on stage and did not appear on screen for six years after 1958. His return to film was as Emperor Commodus in 1964’s The Fall of the Roman Empire. The next year, Plummer would see his film career soar to new heights with The Sound of Music.

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Plummer and Andrews in The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox)

Despite it being his best-known role, Plummer once described The Sound of Music as “so awful and sentimental and gooey.” Aside from working with Julie Andrews, Plummer recounted that he found all aspects of making the film to be unpleasant, going so far as to nickname it “The Sound of Mucus.” Still, he acknowledged the film’s importance in retrospect. “But it was a very well-made movie,” he said in a 2009 interview , “and it’s a family movie and we haven’t seen a family movie, I don’t think, on that scale for ages.”

Classic military film enthusiasts will be most familiar with Plummer for his roles in the war epics Battle of Britain from 1969 and Waterloo the following year. In Battle of Britain, Plummer plays Canadian pilot Squadron Leader Colin Harvey, one of the first allied characters audiences are introduced to. In Waterloo, he takes on the role of the legendary British hero, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley who ended the Napoleonic Wars by defeating the French Emperor in the titular battle.

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Plummer acted across from fellow legend Michael Caine in Battle of Britain (United Artists)

Christopher Plummer went on to act through the century and right up to his death. One of his last on-screen appearances was in a 2020 episode of Jeopardy! as a clue presenter. His final movie role is as a voice actor in the yet-to-be-released animated film Heroes of the Golden Masks.

Plummer died peacefully in his home with his wife by his side from complications following a fall. “The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend,” said The Sound of Music costar Julie Andrews. “I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared through the years.” Plummer’s legacy is immortalized on screen in over 100 films and in the hearts and minds of his fans around the world.

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Christopher Plummer and Andrews on the set of The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

X-20 Dyna-Soar: America’s hypersonic space bomber

Decades before America’s Space Shuttle would roar into the sky, the United States already had plans to field a reusable spaceplane. Born out of Germany’s World War II efforts to create a bomber that could attack New York and continue on to the Pacific, Boeing’s X-20 Dyna-Soar was to be a single-seat craft boosted into the sky atop American rockets.

It would soar in the sky in the blurred line between earth’s atmosphere and the vacuum of space, bouncing along the heavens before releasing its payload over Soviet targets miles below. The X-20 was a 1950s science fiction fever dream born of the nuclear age and the earliest days of the Cold War… And according to some experts, it very likely would have worked.

Operation Paperclip and the burgeoning Cold War

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Kurt H. Debus, a former V-2 rocket scientist who became a NASA director, sitting between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. WikiMedia Commons)

As World War II came to a close, the United States and Soviet Union’s relationship with one another was already beginning to sour. Nazi Germany’s war machine had torn through the continent, often on the backs of Germany’s state-of-the-art military technology, but geopolitics is a game of theater and pragmatism in equal measure. While the world ached for justice, defense officials in both America and the Soviet Union already saw the Cold War looming large on the horizon. Justice mattered in the minds of these leaders, but not quite as much as surviving the next great conflict to come.

Nazi technology had given Germany an advantage on multiple military fronts, and both America and the Soviet Union knew the scientists responsible for these technological leaps would soon be looking for a means to escape prosecution for their roles in the conflict. Both nations, recognizing the strategic advantage their knowledge could offer, quickly set about capturing as many Nazi scientists and researchers as they could. In the United States, this effort to leverage Germany’s scientists came to be known as Operation Paperclip.

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V-2 rocket launching, Peenemünde, on the north-east Baltic German coast. (1943)

In all, Operation Paperclip, which was organized by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and largely executed by the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps, brought some 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians to the United States following the war, where they were given roles in America’s ongoing military and technological efforts. NASA’s famed Wernher von Braun, the man who developed the Saturn V rocket that brought America to the moon, was perhaps the most high profile German scientist to come through Paperclip, but among the others were Walter Dornberger and Krafft Ehricke.

In their newfound roles at Bell Aircraft, an American aircraft manufacturing firm, Dornberger and Ehricke first proposed the concept of a sort of vertical-launched bomber and missile in one. In Germany, they had called this theoretical platform the Silbervogel, or Silver Fish. Today, the plan seems quite logical: The vehicle would be sent aloft atop a rocket booster and propelled all the way into a sub-orbital but exoatmospheric altitude where it would briefly enter space, before gliding down toward the atmosphere and being “bounced” back up thanks to the vehicle’s wings.

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Diagram of the planned X-20 Dyna-Soar (WikiMedia Commons)

Today, the idea of launching a reusable spaceplane into a suborbital altitude practically sounds run of the mill, thanks to similar concepts being leveraged by everything from nuclear ICBMs to the most advanced, cutting-edge hypersonic weapons, but Dornberger and Ehricke’s proposal was submitted in 1952 — five years before the Soviet Union would launch the world’s first man-made satellite into orbit. Operation Paperclip was devised specifically to leverage Germany’s scientists to help kick-start America’s own exotic military programs, and in hindsight, it’s hard to argue that the effort wasn’t a success, regardless of the ethical implications.

Working in the shadow of Sputnik

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Replica of Sputnik 1 (NASA)

On October 1, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first man-made satellite. It was a small, metal sphere, measuring only about 23 inches in diameter, with four external radio antennas trailing behind it broadcasting signal pulses back to Soviet scientists, as well as the rest of the world. What followed has come to be known as the “Sputnik Crisis” in the Western world.

America had been the de facto world leader in terms of both military and economic might following the end of the Second World War, but the success of Sputnik placed America’s supremacy into question. The Soviets had matched America’s nuclear weapons with a test of their own in 1949, and again with the hydrogen bomb in 1953. Now, instead of matching America’s success, the Soviets were starting to take an intimidating lead.

The United States had taken to developing Dornberger and Ehricke’s concept in three separate programs: a rocket bomber (RoBo), a long-range reconnaissance vehicle (Brass Bell), and hypersonic weapons research. Just days after Sputnik 1 launched, the U.S. re-organized their efforts, combing all three programs into the new single Weapons System 464L program, also known as Dyna-Soar.

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Artist’s rendering of the X-20 Dyna-Soar (NASA)

The new Dyna-Soar effort was to mature in three stages. Dyna-Soar 1 would be a research vehicle. Dyan-Soar 2 would add reconnaissance, and Dyna-Soar 3 would incorporate bombing capabilities. America intended to work fast, planning to test the first iteration by 1963 in glide trials, with powered trials to follow the next year. By then, the Dyna-Soar 2 was expected to exceed Mach 18 in powered flight. A missile based on the Dyna-Soar program was expected to enter service by 1968, with the spaceplane itself operational by 1974.

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(U.S. Air Force image)

In order to meet these deadlines, proposals were fielded by both Bell Aircraft and Boeing. Despite Bell’s head start, Boeing ultimately secured the contract and set about work on developing what was to be the X-20 Dyna-Soar.

Building a Dyna-Soar

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(Boeing photo)

By 1960, the spaceplanes overall design was largely settled, leveraging a delta-shape and small winglets for control in place of a traditional tail. In order to manage the incredible heat of reentry, the X-20 would use super alloys like the heat-resistant René 41 in its frame, and molybdenum, graphite, and zirconia rods all used for heat shielding on the underside of the craft.

“It was a hot-temperature structure using a nickel super alloy,” said Dr. Richard Hallion, former Air Force chief historian.

“The leading edges of the wing would be made of an even more exotic alloy. There was provision for active cooling.”

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(Air Force artist rendering of the X-20 Dyna-Soar)

That same year, astronauts were chosen to fly America’s new space bomber. Among them was a thirty-year-old Navy test pilot and aeronautical engineer named Neil Armstrong, who would go on to leave the program in 1962.

By the end of that same year, the program was given the designation X-20 and it was unveiled to the public in a ceremony held in Las Vegas. America’s mighty B-52 Stratofortress was chosen to air-drop the X-20 for in-atmosphere flight tests, and the first firing of the rocket booster intended for higher altitude drop-tests was also a success. The project was incredibly ahead of its time, while somehow also being entirely feasible with the technology of the day. In the early 1960s, it seemed all but assured that America would soon be flying space bombers.

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(U.S. Air Force photo)

Once built, the X-20 Dyna-Soar’s first mock-up measured 35 and a half feet long with a 20.4-foot wingspan. It used three retractable struts for landing. Although it would have its own A-4 or A-9 rocket engine to help it reach an exoatmospheric trajectory, it would effectively glide throughout most of its mission, dipping down into the atmosphere just far enough to create lift, which it would use to bounce back up, skipping across the air enveloping the earth like a stone over a pond. It would continue to skip until it had lost enough velocity to prevent another bounce back up, at which point the pilot would glide the craft back down to earth just like the Space Shuttle.

The X-20 Dyna-Soar goes extinct

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(U.S. Air Force)

Although the X-20 concept was quite literally out of this world, it was still technically feasible, and early tests suggested that the Dyna-Soar may indeed work as advertised. However, the program was also incredibly expensive, and with the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration moving forward with its Gemini program, America’s civilian leaders were becoming more interested in fielding an actual spacecraft they could use to compete with the Soviets, rather than a weapon that offered little in the way of international prestige.

“If we had pursued it as a black-world program like the U-2, it might have gone ahead,” explained Hallion. “I never saw any technical issue that would have been a show stopper.”

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Artist’s rendering of an X-20 during a glide (WikiMedia Commons)

On December 10, 1963, the X-20 program was canceled. The United States had invested $410 million in its development, or more than $3.5 billion in 2021 dollars, but the Dyna-Soar was still a long way off from being the space bomber it was intended to become. Even per Hallion’s positive recollection of the effort, the X-20 was still at least two-and-a-half years away from working and would have required at least another $370 million to complete. A space bomber would indeed offer global range, but in 1957, the U.S. Air Force had demonstrated that the B-52, the same bomber tasked with helping test the X-20, could circle the globe all on its own, without any need for pricey rockets.

Upon canceling the X-20 program, the U.S. government diverted its remaining funding to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory effort that used Gemini spacecraft to demonstrate the value of a crewed military presence in Earth’s orbit.

But the X-20 was not completely swallowed up by history. Elements of the program could be found in NASA’s Space Shuttle, and of course, the Space Force’s secretive X-37B bears more than a passing resemblance to the X-20. The X-37B is not touted as a space bomber and almost certainly isn’t, but the reusable spaceplane may, in fact, be one of America’s most capable reconnaissance assets.

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A Navy pilot on how to use your car to feel what it’s like to land on a carrier

There are some things only people in the military will ever get to do. Then, there’s a smaller subsection of things only certain people in the military have the opportunity to do. And even within that subgroup lies a VIP section of people who are able to do things everyone else can’t do.

Naval aviators are in one of those VIP sections, roped off and probably getting bottle service.


Lots of people join the Navy. Some of those will be pilots. Most of those will not be able to land on an aircraft carrier. For those of us who will never do any of that, we can only imagine how it must be.

 

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The real, actual Navy (for all you really know).

 

Luckily, Quora user Scott Altorfer, a former Navy Radar Intercept Officer from 1991 to 1998, was able to put the feeling into words, actions, and feelings we all can understand — because it involves our cars.

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Cheater!

Altorfer’s analogy begins with the idea that you must park your car in a garage in a very specific way. Then, take the following steps:

  1. Drive down your street at 43 miles per hour.
  2. When the front bumper of your car passes your mail box, shift into neutral and apply your brakes, slowing to 31 MPH. Press your garage door opener.
  3. When your front bumper crosses your sidewalk, turn your wheel to your right and head for the corner of your driveway. When you reach the corner, you should be at 22 MPH.
  4. Continue your turn up the driveway, confirm the door is going up, and aim between the car in the other stall and the side of the garage. You have 5″ to spare on each side. When your bumper crosses the garage threshold, you should be at 13 MPH, and the door must be at least as high as your rear-view mirror.
  5. Apply brakes to stop within 12″ of the back wall.

The former RIO goes on to explain how to not just land on a carrier, but also become proficient at it.

If you practiced this in a simulator hundreds of times, and then practiced in a parking lot with the obstacles painted on the ground hundreds of times, and then finally tried it on a nice day, you would be able to do it. It would always be dangerous and challenging, but if you are very skilled and practiced, it might even seem like fun. This is a good weather, day carrier landing.

Lastly, Altorfer goes on to explain the different kinds of landings naval aviators face on a carrier, and how you can simulate those kinds of landings in your personal vehicle.

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  • Now, do it in a heavy rain and fog. That is a bad weather day carrier landing.
  • Now, do it at night, with only a light tied to the mail box, a light at the sidewalk, lights on the sides of the garage and the garage door, and a light at the back of the garage. All the speeds must be the same. All the distances are the same. This is a good weather, night carrier landing.
  • Now, do it at night, in the rain and fog. That is a bad weather, night carrier landing.
  • Oh, by the way, sometimes the sea makes the deck move — a lot. So, add a sloppy steering wheel, an occasionally surging engine, and unpredictably spongy brakes to the car analogy.

We really don’t recommend this. And our lawyers make us tell you we aren’t responsible for any damages if you do try it. We’re just reporting things.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

All it takes to fool facial recognition at airports and border crossings is a printed mask, researchers found

Facial recognition is being widely embraced as a security tool — law enforcement and corporations alike are rolling it out to keep tabs on who’s accessing airports, stores, and smartphones.


As it turns out, the technology is fallible. Researchers with the artificial-intelligence firm Kneron announced that they were able to fool some facial-recognition systems using a printed mask depicting a different person’s face.

The researchers, who tested systems across three continents, said they fooled payment tablets run by the Chinese companies Alipay and WeChat, as well as a system at a border checkpoint in China. In Amsterdam, a printed mask fooled facial recognition at a passport-control gate at Schiphol Airport, they said.

The researchers said their findings suggested that a person who prints a lifelike mask resembling someone else could bypass security checkpoints to fly or shop on their behalf.

“Technology providers should be held accountable if they do not safeguard users to the highest standards,” Kneron CEO Albert Liu said in a statement. “There are so many companies involved that it highlights an industry-wide issue with substandard facial recognition tech.”

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live.staticflickr.com

Some facial-recognition software proved impervious to the printed-mask test, however. The researchers said Apple’s Face ID and Huawei’s system passed; both use more sophisticated technology known as structured light imaging. Kneron said its own facial recognition software also passes the test.

Researchers said that tests at security checkpoints were carried out with the permission of security guards supervising them — suggesting that as long as humans are present to notice the mask, facial-recognition checkpoints aren’t entirely unsecured.

In the month after its mask study went viral, Kneron announced that it raised million from investors including Alibaba, Qualcomm, and Horizons Ventures.

“We are excited to continue our journey with partners like Horizons Ventures who share our passion and dedication towards our mission to enable AI on any device [and] democratize AI,” Liu told Business Insider after the fundraising was announced.

Here’s the pitch deck Kneron used to raise million.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Army veteran Craig Morgan releases new album, includes a song he wrote with 2 Army Rangers before deployment

Country music star and Army veteran Craig Morgan is releasing his newest album — God, Family, Country on May 22. “God, Family, Country” pays tribute to his past and his future both in the music industry and in his amazing life story.

He will also be part of the Grand Ole Opry’s Memorial Day Special. The venerable show that made country music famous will salute the United States Military with its annual Memorial Day Salute the Troops Opry performance on Saturday, May 23.


Joining Craig are Steven Curtis Chapman and Kellie Pickler. This year, the Opry will also honor essential workers who are on the frontline against the war on COVID-19. You can watch it live on Circle and Gray TV stations, DISH Studio Channel 102, Sling TV and other TV affiliates in addition to live streams on Circle All Access Facebook and YouTube channels.

We Are The Mighty talked to Craig about his album and what influenced some of the songs on it. Craig talked to us about his faith, family and love of our country. His faith is a big part of his life and Craig shared how it carried him through personal tragedy. That was the cornerstone of this album and Morgan does what a lot of great musical artists do. He takes his life and puts them into words that everyone else can relate to.

Before his long career in country music, Craig served in the United States Army. He took part in Operation Just Cause, during which the United States removed General Manuel Noriega from power in 1989. He later deployed with the 82nd Airborne as part of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After service on both active duty and the reserves, Craig left the military in 2004.

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He then began a career as a chart-topping country music singer, songwriter and live performer. Craig returns now with his first new music in nearly four years.

“God, Family, Country”, however, is a little different. It combines five new songs with some of the most powerful tracks he recorded previously in his career including, “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” “Almost Home,” and “God, Family, Country”.

Craig came onto the country-radio scene with hits like, “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” “International Harvester” and “Little Bit of Life.” These songs showed off his unquenchable spirit and joy for life and resonated with fans of all walks of life.

But, he and his family have also known great loss: particularly the death of their son Jerry in 2016. Needless to say, the tragic death of Jerry had a great impact on Craig. Being the artist he is, he took that emotion and that unimaginable tragedy led to him writing his most stunning song to date, “The Father, My Son and the Holy Ghost.” The achingly personal ballad is an emotional journey for the listener and is the centerpiece of both God, Family, Country and of Craig’s story itself.

“We’ve never had a song like this. If you put ‘Almost Home,’ ‘What I Love About Sunday’ and ‘Tough’ all together, they didn’t have the emotional impact that this song is having,” Craig says. “It’s a very tough song to sing, and sometimes I can’t even look at people when I perform it, but it’s amazing to know what God has done, and how He has used something so traumatic in my life for good.”

When asked about the song and the process he went through to write it, Craig said, “Overall, it took four hours to write. But it was a painful four hours. Writing the song didn’t take away the pain of losing my son. But it’s going to help others.” And it has. Since the song’s release, people from all walks of life have reached out with messages telling him how it really helped them emotionally. “It’s given people hope. We all have a cross we have to bear, but if my pain brings comfort then that’s what I am supposed to do.”

The story of other songs on the album is absolutely epic. For “Sippin’ on the Simple Life,” he teamed with a pair of active duty Army Airborne Rangers who were about to deploy to Afghanistan for an impromptu writing session. Craig was speaking at a USO event when two soldiers came up to him.

“These two guys came up to me after a show in Washington, D.C., and said, ‘We want to write a song with you tonight.’ I joked with them and told them it doesn’t work that way!” Craig recalls.

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But after realizing they weren’t kidding, he sat down with the servicemen, ordered drinks and started putting pen to paper. just before they deployed to Afghanistan. “I thought, ‘This is a tailgate drinking song,’ and I fell in love with it. I called them and told them I’m putting it on the record. They lost their minds.”

Morgan also features a cover of the Gavin DeGraw song, “Soldier.” “I loved the lyrics but the melody is what got me,” Craig said, “As a dude, we almost always listen to the melody first and that’s what caught me.” Listening to the song, it really resonates with anyone who served. Morgan said, “It truly exemplifies the personality and the character of a soldier and I just had to record it.”

“Whiskey” is another great track on the album. A song that talks about the pain people go through and how they try to find ways to ease that pain was something that really resonated with Morgan. After the death of his son, he was tempted to find outlets to mask the pain, but his faith was able to carry him through. However, many others don’t and turn to vices like drugs or alcohol and Morgan said the emotion of the song led him to record it.

“God, Family, Country” is an incredible album that features Craig taking us on an emotional journey that most veterans (and Americans for that matter) can relate to. We have dealt with loss, pain, challenges, uncertainty, and despair. But we have also relied on things important to us, like faith, family, and our patriotism to guide us through dark times.

The album comes out on May 22 on Broken Bow Records.

Articles

Report: Navy’s plan to dump blue camo will cost $180 million

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Male recruits try on the navy working uniform at Recruit Training Command. | U. S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom


The Navy is getting rid of its controversial “blueberries” uniform–but the move comes with a price tag.

The service’s transition to the more practical and expeditionary woodland-green camouflage Navy Working Uniform Type III as the primary shore working uniform for sailors will cost about $180 million over a five-year period, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Jessica Anderson told CNN.

Navy plans call for making the blue-and-grey NWU Type I optional for sailors beginning October 1 and eliminating its use entirely by the fall of 2019. New recruits will be issued the green camouflage uniform beginning Oct. 1, 2017.

The cost of transition revealed by the Navy means the short-lived blue camouflage will cost almost as much to kill as it did to create. Introduced in 2009, the uniform cost $229 million to develop, Navy Times reported.

But the uniform came under fire for its pointless camouflage pattern — which only worked if sailors fell overboard, critics said — and for its nylon material, which was found to melt when exposed to fire and posed a potential hazard to the sailors who wore it.

The high cost of developing the many camouflage patterns has drawn censure from lawmakers and watchdogs. This year the Senate included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would prevent the Defense Department from developing any new camo without notifying Congress a year in advance.

Articles

The snowball fight with snipers I’ll never forget

It was a typical winter morning in northern Afghanistan. The sky was clear, and the blinding sun slowly climbed into it. The sun was bright, but it didn’t do much to fight the biting cold that pumped down the turret opening in our Humvee and chilled us all.


I was in a light infantry reconnaissance platoon, made up of an almost even split of snipers and recon guys. We were on our way to a large forward operating base just south of Kabul. Our specific skill set had been requested by the commander there so we crammed into our cold Humvees and headed into the unknown.

Related: 19 pictures of troops braving the cold that will make you thankful to be indoors

We pulled into the base later that morning and were shown to the tent that we’d call home for at least a day or two. After unloading all of our gear and equipment, me and the other lower enlisted guys made ourselves at home while our senior leaders went to work out the specifics of the mission we’d be supporting.

We hadn’t been there long before sudden pounding winds seemed to threaten the integrity of our tent. One soldier leapt up from his cot and ripped open the door flap of our tent. The clear sunbathed sky had faded behind a thick sheet of dark clouds and snow was collecting quickly on the ground outside.

The soldier fastened the door flap shut as we all looked at each other in amazement. “This mission has got to be scrapped” quipped one soldier. “There’s no way we’re going out in this” added another. Assuming the mission was a no-go, we settled back into our cots and pulled out our books, iPods, magazines and other essentials needed to ride out the storm.

Just as we were all getting comfortable and cozy in our sleeping bags, a red-faced and snow covered staff sergeant barreled into our tent. “Get your cold-weather gear on and get outside”. The staff sergeant stormed out of the tent just as rapidly as he’d come in.

We tossed our creature comforts to the side and began tearing through our bags for heavy jackets, pants and beanies. Questions and confusion filled the frantic tent. Once suited up, we all funneled out of the tiny tent opening into the storm and lined up in front of the two stone-faced staff sergeants.

We stood there silently as they divided us up between them. Reading our confused expressions, the staff sergeants laughed and explained what was about to happen.

“You guys go with him” he said gesturing at the other staff sergeant and his group. “And you guys come with me. We’ll have 15 minutes to build up our arsenal of snowballs and then it’s on. If you get hit, you’re out. You can be revived by a teammate once, but if you’re hit again, you’re out until the next round”.

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Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar

Before our shock could fade, we were elbows deep in snow mounds, hastily and inefficiently shaping snowballs with our gloved hands. The 15 minutes were up and my group had established three separate caches of snowballs in case one were to be compromised. Our hodgepodge of recon and sniper guys made it difficult to establish a quick plan of attack. Me and the other recon guys suggested we move between tents to find a good ambush point. The snipers suggested we push to a small hill top and take advantage of the high ground. The infighting put us at a disadvantage.

When the other team started lobbing snowballs, strategy turned into self-preservation and it was every man for himself.

A number of my recon teammates had been taken out of the game so I retreated to the hill top where a few snipers were dug in. The high ground gave us the upper hand, and the continuing snowfall guaranteed we wouldn’t run out of ammo. We had the other team pinned down and just when we thought we had the game won, we were flanked and wiped out.

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage
Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher McCullough

The snowball fight went a few more rounds and the longer we were out in the storm the more exhausted we got. Our honed military training and tactics gradually devolved into a laughter filled display of “soldiers on ice” as we slipped and fell endlessly.

When the snowball fight was over, we sluggishly made our way back to our tent, shed our cold weather gear and collapsed onto our cots.

The mission we came for had officially been scrapped, so we quietly retrieved the creature comforts we had discarded earlier and tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags. The next morning the bright sun rose and melted most of the snow. We gathered all of our equipment crammed ourselves back into our cold Humvees, and headed to the next outpost.

That day was rarely talked about in the months that followed. It was as if we were all safeguarding a cherished memory and if we spoke about it, the day would somehow seem less special.

I’m sure the snowball fight meant something different for everyone on the battlefield that day. For me, its meaning has evolved over the years. What was once just another story from my time in Afghanistan has grown into a meaningful narrative about the human moments soldiers often experience while deployed but are rarely reported.

For me this day was important because it helps me show that not every war story is a tale of heroism or tragedy.

When the winter months creep by here at home, I look forward to an impromptu moment where I’ll look out on a large snow covered field, and I’ll tell whoever will listen, about my snowball fight with snipers.

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4 powerful weapons you didn’t know were built by Ford

The automobile company with the most American of origin stories is way more ‘Merica than you might think. Ford, as a brand, is so well-known for making cars and trucks that it might surprise you to know it also pumped out nuclear weapons and heat-seeking missiles at one point.


Ford Aerospace was established in 1956 and operated until sold in 1990. In that time, it designed and produced some of the Cold War’s most recognizable weapons, laser targeting pods, and even an attempt at a stealthy air-to-air missile.

Here’s what you didn’t know Ford built:

4. AIM-9 Sidewinder Missile

Sure, it was in Top Gun and Independence Day, but once a missile has been featured on The Simpsons, you know it’s made pop-culture history.

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The Sidewinder has more than 270 kills over its 60-plus year history and is scheduled to be in service until at least 2055. That’s built Ford tough. Not bad for a weapon that debuted in 1958!

3. LGM-30G Minuteman

First developed in 1962, the LGM-30G is the only land-based intercontinental ballistic missile still in service to the United States. It was the first multiple re-entry vehicle ICBM, which means it releases three warheads with one missile.

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Artists’ rendering.

The United States has just under 400 Minuteman III missiles in its arsenal and is a component of the U.S. “nuclear triad.”

2. Trident SLBM

The second component of the American nuclear triad is the submarine-launched Trident missile. Currently in its second life, the Trident missile was first developed in 1971 and is planned to serve until at least 2040.

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The launching of a Trident I C-4 missile from a submerged strategic missile submarine and its re-entry as they plunge into the earth’s atmosphere and into the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo)

1. LGM-118 Peacekeeper

The Peacekeeper earned its name because its mission was designed to be a major deterrent to a Soviet sneak attack. It was designed to target individual missile silos, to retarget in-flight, and to survive a first strike.

(jaglavaksoldier | YouTube)

 

Because the Peacekeeper could launch an astonishing 12 warheads on one ICBM, it was given up by the U.S. in the Start II Treaty and disappeared from service in 2005. It reappeared as the Minotaur IV rocket, sending satellites into orbit.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The British special operators who terrorized Japanese forces

In 1943 and 1944, specially chosen units of the British Empire were sent into the jungles of Burma on “Chindit” expeditions that went deep behind Japanese lines and assaulted railways, logistic hubs, and bridges to cripple Japanese forces and force them to redirect forces from other fronts. Most soldiers sent into the jungle were wounded, killed, or fell ill, but they made the Japanese pay.


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British officers Brig. Gen. Mike Calvert, Lt. Col. Shaw, and Maj James Lumley discuss tactics after the capture of Mogaung in Burma in June 1944 during the second Chindit expedition.

(Imperial War Museums)

The first Chindit expedition, Operation Longcloth, was effected by the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade when they marched into Japanese-occupied Burma in 1943. They attacked Japanese supply depots as well as rail and communication lines.

The unit was made up of multiple infantry regiments, a commando company, eight sections of the Royal Air Force, a signal section, and a mule transport company. Despite the large infantry elements the unit had on paper, they were predominantly a special operations force and they were trained that way, spending months in India working out how to move and live in the jungle with limited resupply or permanent structures.

The first expedition damaged critical infrastructure but saw less direct fighting with Japanese forces. This caused a shift in Japanese thinking, making them feel that they were too vulnerable with a defensive posture in Burma. The efforts of the 77th Brigade pushed the Japanese to go on the offensive, making them give up troops in ultimately failed attacks on Allied forces.

But the effort was costly. A third of the troops were lost in the jungle or too wounded or sick to march out. The British left them behind. Another 600 were too ill after their return to civilization to fight again, and were sent to hospital until released from service.

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Geurilla leaders, including British Maj. Gen. Orde Wingate at center, pose for a photo.

(Imperial War Museums)

Still, the efforts had proved that a single brigade of irregular forces, properly organized and trained, could shift the strategic balance in the jungle. The commander, British Gen. Orde Wingate, proposed a second, larger expedition for deployment in 1944. Prime Minister Winston Churchill readily agreed and assigned six brigades to the task and the American 1st Air Commando Group was assigned to support the operation.

While training the forces for the second Chindit expedition, Wingate took some time to help train America’s 5307th Composite Unit, which would earn fame under the name “Merrill’s Marauders” for operations similar to the Chindits’.

Operation Thursday began with two forces making their way into the country on the ground in the opening weeks of 1944 while four more brigades were to be inserted via glider. The initial glider landings on March 5 were unopposed but still faced major problems. Aerial reconnaissance had failed to spot ditches and trees on the dropzone and glider crashes killed 30 men and wounded 28.

Another 400 men landed safely and improved the runway enough for Dakota aircraft to start ferrying in supplies and additional men. 18,000 troops quickly arrived on the ground with everything they needed to move through the jungle and hunt Japanese soldiers, and more followed over the next few days.

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A column of Chindit troops crosses a river in Burma in 1943.

(Imperial War Museums, Public Domain)

Wingate’s orders could be broadly summarized in three points. He was to:

  1. Draw off and break up Japanese forces fighting in the Ledo Sector where Gen. Joe Stilwell was trying to create a road for U.S. resupply,
  2. Prepare the battlefield for the Chinese forces advancing from the east, and
  3. Absolutely destroy every Japanese target that presented itself.

Operation Thursday took place in the middle of Japan’s supply and logistics operations in Burma. Wingate said his force “had been inserted into the enemies’ guts.”

Unlike the 1943 operation, the second expedition relied on some static defenses and bases.

“White City” was constructed on a Japanese railway to control operations there, while a landing site named “Broadway,” one of the three original dropzones, was built into a large and powerful airbase. Other installations included “Aberdeen” and “Blackpool.” Except for the White City and Blackpool, both built on the railroad, Chindit installations were built into the jungle where they were less likely to stumble into Japanese forces.

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Chindits prepare a roadblock as a precaution against Japanese attacks.

(Imperial War Museums)

The men were deployed in columns of about 400 men at a time, fighting when they encountered an appropriate enemy force but melting into the jungle and re-forming when faced with a larger Japanese element.

Occasionally, an especially tough target needed to be brought down, and the columns would re-form into battalions or brigades.

All of this would prove disastrous for a Japanese force already heavily committed to a fight with Allied forces under Gen. Joe Stilwell while suffering guerrilla attacks from other irregular forces, like the Kachin Rangers under U.S. Army Col. Carl Eifler of the OSS.

The mission achieved its main objectives by the end of March, supporting the efforts of their allies across Burma, but the force stayed in position and continued to hamper Japanese elements.

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British Maj. Gen. Orde Wingate died in a plane crash in 1944, causing his force to later fall under direct command of American Gen. Joseph Stilwell who was unpopular for sending the guerrilla force on conventional infantry missions without proper support.

(Imperial War Museums, Public Domain)

On March 24, the mission suffered a major setback when Wingate died in a plane crash. His successor, Brig. Gen. Joseph Lentaigne maintained the Chindits’ mission until ordered in May 1944 to fall in under Stilwell. Stilwell deployed the force like a typical infantry unit for a number of attacks, but failed to provide it with sufficient artillery and air support in some cases.

Estimates for casualties under Stilwell’s direction range as high as 90 percent of all casualties suffered by the six brigades. The 77th Brigade suffered 50 percent losses in a single battle when ordered against Moguang.

Stilwell later ordered the 77th to take Myitkyina despite being at only 10 percent strength. The commander turned off his radios and marched out instead.

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Chindits prepare tea during a halt in Burma.

(Imperial War Museums)

Eventually, the Japanese forces in Burma began to find and conduct serious assaults on Chindit strongholds, especially White City and Blackpool on the rail networks. White City held out for its entire existence, suffering some penetrations past the wire, but always repelling the enemy force eventually.

Blackpool was not so lucky. Close to Japanese lines, it was eventually isolated thanks to Japanese anti-aircraft guns that prevented aerial resupply. The men were finally forced to fight their way out — 2,000 starving and sick men cutting past the jungle and the Japanese.

The rest of the Chindits, meanwhile, were suffering from the intense fighting, jungle heat and humidity, and disease. By late July, Lentaigne made the decision that the 111th Brigade was no longer fit to fight and withdrew them on his own authority. The rest of the Chindits followed over the next month and the last emerged from the jungle in late August 1944.

A survivor of the expedition estimated that they had killed 25 Japanese troops for every Chindit they lost.

The Japanese forces in Burma were falling as were many of the Japanese positions across the Pacific, but the Chindits had once again paid dearly for their success. Over 1,000 men were killed, 2,400 wounded, and 450 missing. Meanwhile, over half of the survivors who made it out had some illness that required hospitalization or special diet.

Maladies like malaria, dysentery, and jungle sores were most common, and many soldiers had two or three of the conditions at once.

The 77th Brigade was the only one to fight in both expeditions. It was later disbanded but has been re-activated as a cyber warfare force focused on unconventional warfare in the digital domain.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why ‘Doing the ‘Deid’ is about to get a whole lot better

Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah announced during a visit to Washington, DC on Jan. 28 that his country will expand the American Al Udeid Air Base.


The expansion will add more than 200 new housing units for officers and their families.

“It will very soon become a family-oriented place for our American friends there. We want more of the families to be stable and feel more comfortable in their stay,” al-Attiyah said at an event at the Heritage Foundation.

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The sun sets over Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

Al-Attiyah praised the U.S.-Qatar relationship, saying that the Qatari Military has learned much from their American partners. He also said that Qatar is interested in making the Al Udeid base permanent.

“Colleagues in the U.S. Department of Defense are reluctant to mention the word permanent, but we are working from our side to make it permanent,” Al-Attiyah said.

The Qatari defense minister repeated the plans to make Al Udeid a permanent U.S. base during a meeting on Jan. 30 with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

The base currently houses around 10,000 US military personnel and has been essential for air operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Qatar and the U.S. signed a military cooperation agreement after Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The Al Udeid Air Base was built in 1996, and the U.S. military moved its operations there in 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq.

The base is now the home of the U.S. Air Force Central Command and has proven essential for American air operations in the region.

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“Qatar is strategically placed. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria — these are all hotspots in the region. I am not exaggerating when I say 80% of aerial refueling in the region is from Udeid,” al-Attiyah said. “We’re the ones that keep your birds flying.”

Military personnel from the U.K. and other allies are also stationed at Al Udeid.

The expansion comes at a diplomatically tough time for Qatar. Last June, Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia instituted an economic and political embargo on Qatar, cutting off all diplomatic relations. The countries claim that Qatar supports terrorism and is destabilizing the region.

The embargo has not had the desired effect so far. Qatar has managed to deepen ties with the U.S. as well as other countries like Turkey, Oman, and Iran, allowing it to circumvent the blockade in certain ways.

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