US Army official tests out smart combat glasses - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

The U.S. Army’s new boss recently got a chance do shoot-house training with the latest Microsoft-based, smart soldier glasses.

Ryan McCarthy, who is now serving as acting secretary of the Army, and incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville traveled to Fort Pickett, Virginia earlier this spring to try out early prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS.

The Army awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft in November 2018 to develop IVAS — a high-tech device that relies on augmented reality to create a synthetic training environment for soldiers. The experience is reportedly similar to first-person shooter video games. The system is being designed to also be worn in combat, projecting the operator’s weapon sight reticle into the glasses.


“He and I literally put them on, and we went through a shoot house together,” McCarthy told Military.com on a flight to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“Here’s the thing — they are empty rooms, because we had the synthetic feed.”

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

The Army’s new Integrated Visual Augmentation system is a single platform that uses augmented reality where soldiers and Marines can fight, rehearse, and train.

McCarthy then described how the IVAS device presented targets that resembled enemy fighters from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“I literally came in a room … and they looked like Taliban targets and ISIS guys with black turbans,” he said. “They had one where they had a guy holding a civilian. It looked like a very good video game.”

IVAS is part of the Army’s effort to create a synthetic training world so soldiers can run through many repetitions of combat scenarios, such as clearing urban areas and engaging enemy forces, without having to leave home station and travel to training facilities.

Leaders can view the data compiled by IVAS during the training to show soldiers where they need improvement.

McCarthy and McConville were joined by Army and Marine Corps sergeants who also took a turn with IVAS.

“We had a bunch of NCOs from the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 1st Marine Division, and they did the shoot house and reminded me that I have been out for a while,” McCarthy chuckled, referring to the days when he served in the Ranger Regiment. McCarthy served in the Army from 1997-2002.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.

McCarthy acknowledged that these were early prototypes of IVAS that need further development.

“You would do it for a little bit, and they would go out and [engineers] had to make a tweak and they would get the screen back up,” McCarthy said.

Rangers and Marines liked the technology, he said.

“The one thing that they all really liked about it was the greater depth perception,” he said.

“It was like a pair of glasses … and literally when you are walking through a room and seeing the target, I had depth perception to my left and right, so I could see down the hallway.”

IVAS replaces the service’s Heads-Up Display 3.0 effort to develop a sophisticated situational awareness tool soldiers can use to view key tactical information before their eyes.

Officials hope to complete the prototyping phase on IVAS by 2020; when the system might be fielded to soldiers is still unclear.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Airman returns from humanitarian mission with new dog

When Air Force Staff Sgt. John Cox, an air transportation specialist assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing, deployed to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Oct. 9, he assumed he would be helping Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria; he did not expect to bring home a four-legged addition to his family.


Cox said he had just returned from a six-month deployment in Kuwait when he volunteered to go to Puerto Rico, where he worked with heavy machinery loading and unloading cargo from aircraft.

“We were placed close to the airport in tents in an open field so we could hear the aircraft when they landed,” he said.

Their main job was helping Defense Department personnel transfer water and Meals Ready to Eat from large aircraft onto vehicles and small aircraft for distribution to the people hard-hit by the hurricane, Cox said.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
The destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo)

Beef Jerky Wins Hearts

While he was performing a security check of the area, Cox said he came across an abandoned building. Inside, he discovered a scared, emaciated, light-brown dog.

“I brought the dog some beef jerky from an MRE and some water every day, and pretty soon she started following me back to my tent and waiting outside,” Cox said.

When the dog started following him to work every day Cox worried he would get into trouble and decided he should talk to the officer in charge.

Once he introduced the dog, which he’d named Maria, to his leaders, he was given a thumbs-up to having her by his side.

“That’s when I realized I couldn’t leave this dog in Puerto Rico when my deployment ended,” Cox said.

Also Read: This veteran is being forced to give up his support dog

“I drove over an hour to a veterinary clinic and had the dog completely checked and vaccinated, which was a condition I was given to keep her with me,” he said.

Rescue

Cox said the next hurdle was to find a way to get Maria home — a task that would not prove to be easy because he couldn’t just put her on an aircraft without authorization.

“I researched all the regulations I could find and felt like I hit a wall until I found a local adoption agency that specialized in rescuing pit bulls,” Cox said. “They were able to get her home.”

“I not only made a positive impact on the people of Puerto Rico, but I was able to save an animal,” he said. “I saw her go from near-death to super healthy in a matter of months.”

Cox said he is looking forward to hiking the high peaks with his new hiking buddy once the weather is better.

“My advice to someone who plans on adopting a dog is to prepare to have your hands and your heart full,” he said. “Having a dog is sometimes like having a child, but all the effort will be worth it when you see them waiting for you at the end of the day.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

3 crew members return to earth from International Space Station

Three crew members who have been living and working aboard the International Space Station returned to Earth on Dec. 14, landing in Kazakhstan after opening a new chapter in the scientific capability of humanity’s premier microgravity laboratory.


Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos landed at 3:37 a.m. EST (2:37 p.m. Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Also Read: Astronaut and retired Navy Captain Scott Kelly returns to Earth after a year in space

Together, the Expedition 53 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, as well as Earth and other physical sciences aboard the orbiting laboratory. Their time aboard marked the first long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment of the International Space Station from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the station.

Highlights from the research conducted while they were aboard include investigations of microgravity’s effect on the antibiotic resistance of E. coli, a bacterial pathogen responsible for urinary tract infection in humans and animals;  growing larger versions of an important protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease; and delivering a new instrument to address fundamental science questions on the origins and history of cosmic rays.

The trio also welcomed three cargo spacecraft delivering several tons of supplies and research experiments. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrived at station in November as the company’s eighth commercial resupply mission. One Russian ISS Progress cargo craft docked to the station in October. And a SpaceX Dragon completed its commercial resupply mission to station in August, the company’s twelfth resupply mission.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
The Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 53 crew members, Dec. 14, 2017. (NASA Photo by Bill Ingalls)

During his time on the orbital complex, Bresnik ventured outside the confines of the space station for three spacewalks. Along with NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, Bresnik lead a trio of spacewalks to replace one of two latching end effectors on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. They also spent time lubricating the newly replaced Canadarm2 end effector and replacing cameras on the left side of the station’s truss and the right side of the station’s U.S. Destiny laboratory.

Ryazanskiy conducted one spacewalk with fellow cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin in August to deploy several nanosatellites, collect research samples, and perform structural maintenance.

The Expedition 54 crew continues operating the station, with Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos in command. Along with crewmates Mark Vende Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), are scheduled to launch Sunday, Dec. 17 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. NASA Television will broadcast the launch and docking.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The world’s minute-by-minute response to the latest North Korean missile test

The international community has been set alight by North Korea’s latest missile test. All times are EST, Nov. 28.


2:04 p.m.

The Yonhap news agency reports that North Korea has launched a ballistic missile.

South Korea’s military says the missile was fired from an area north of Pyongyang, early Nov. 29 local time.

The news agency reported South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff saying that it and U.S. authorities are analyzing the trajectory.

The launch is the first since Sept. 15 when North Korea fired an intermediate ballistic missile.

2:21 p.m.

A U.S. official says North Korea has conducted its first missile launch in more than two months.

The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The Pentagon was more cautious, calling it a “probable” missile launch. Col. Rob Manning, a spokesman said, “We detected a probable missile launch from North Korea” at approximately 1:30 p.m. EST. He said the Pentagon is assessing the situation and has no further information to provide, including what kind of missile may have been launched.

It would be the first North Korean missile test since it launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sept. 15 that flew over northern Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile. (Photo from KCNA)

2:25 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on North Korea’s apparent ballistic missile launch.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders says in a tweet that Trump “was briefed, while missile was still in the air, on the situation in North Korea.”

At the time of the launch, Trump was in a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill.

A U.S. official says North Korea has conducted its first missile launch in more than two months.

Also Read: Here is what a war with North Korea could look like

3 p.m.

The Pentagon says it detected and tracked a single North Korean missile launch and believes it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Nov. 28 that the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

Manning says the Pentagon’s information is based on an initial assessment of the launch. He says a more detailed assessment was in the works.

3:15 p.m.

Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary says North Korea has fired a missile that might have landed inside the country’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan.

Yoshihide Suga says the missile appears to have been fired from North Korea’s western coast and the government is gathering information and analyzing the launch data.

Suga says repeated provocation by the North is unacceptable and Tokyo has lodged a strong protest.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho. (U.N. photo by Mark Garten)

3:30 p.m.

Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho says the government has told the North Koreans “that we criticize their behavior in the strongest terms possible” following a new missile launch.

He told reporters Nov. 28 at U.N. headquarters that “we are very concerned and we have condemned them publicly.”

U.N. Security Council President Sebastiano Cardi says he has been in contact with key U.N. members, but no request has been made yet for a meeting.

Cardi says he is scheduled to brief the Security Council on Nov. 29.

Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary says the missile might have landed inside the country’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan.

Cardi says if it fell in that zone, it would be an “even greater” danger.

3:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the United States will “take care of it” following North Korea’s latest missile launch.

Trump told reporters Nov. 28 that “it is a situation that we will handle.”

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gives the keynote address to kick off the 2017 annual meeting of the Association of the US Army (AUSA) at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, Oct. 9, 2017. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.)

4:15 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says North Korea is continuing to build missiles that can “threaten everywhere in the world.”

Mattis says a missile that North Korea launched early Nov. 29 local time flew higher than its previous projectiles. He says South Korea has fired pinpoint missiles into surrounding waters to make certain that North Korea understands it can be “taken under fire” by the South.

He says North Korea is endangering world peace, regional peace, and “certainly the United States.”

North Korea ended a 10-week pause in its weapons testing and threatened to heighten regional tensions by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan.

Mattis spoke Nov. 28 during a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and the top Republican congressional leaders.

Related: North Korea’s emerging free market threatens to topple the regime

5:10 p.m.

The U.N. Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting on North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch.

Italy chairs the council and its spokesman says the Nov. 29 afternoon meeting was requested by Japan, the U.S., and South Korea.

The Security Council has already imposed its toughest-ever sanctions on Kim Jong Un’s government in response to its escalating nuclear and ballistic missile programs and the U.S. and Japan are likely to seek even stronger measures.

The launch was possibly North Korea’s longest. It is certain to raise tensions in the U.N.’s most powerful body.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Photo from official South Korea Flickr.)

5:40 p.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called North Korea’s latest missile test a “serious threat” to global peace and stressed the need for stronger sanctions and pressure against Pyongyang to discourage its nuclear ambitions.

Moon said Nov. 29 at a National Security Council meeting that the South will not “sit and watch” North Korea’s provocations and will work with the United States to strengthen its security.

Moon says South Korea anticipated the latest North Korean launch and prepared for it.

South Korea’s military conducted its own missile drills that started just minutes after North Korea’s launch was detected.

6:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after North Korea launched what the Pentagon said was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

White House social media director Dan Scavino Jr. tweeted a photo of Trump on Nov. 28 in his office. He says Trump was “speaking with @JPN_PMO @AbeShinzo, regarding North Korea’s launch of a intercontinental ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan…”

Abe says Japan will not back down against any provocation and would maximize pressure on the North in its alliance with the U.S.

6:25 p.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has raised concerns that North Korea’s perfection of an intercontinental ballistic missile would let regional security “spiral out of control” and make the United States consider a pre-emptive strike against the North.

Seoul’s presidential office said Nov. 29 that Moon said during a National Security Council meeting that it would be important to prevent a situation where North Korea miscalculates and threatens the South with nuclear weapons or the U.S. considers a pre-emptive strike to eliminate the threat.

Moon has called for his military to take further steps to strengthen its capabilities following a recent agreement between Seoul and Washington to lift the warhead payload limits on South Korean missiles.

6:45 p.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has told government officials to “closely review” whether the latest North Korean missile launch will affect South Korean efforts to successfully host next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Seoul’s presidential office reported Nov. 29 that Moon said during a National Security Council meeting that it would be important to find ways to “stably manage” the situation.

South Korean preparations for the February games have been overshadowed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests this year. France has said its Olympic team won’t travel to South Korea if its safety cannot be guaranteed.

South Korea has been hoping North Korea takes part in the games to ease concerns, but it’s unclear whether the North will.

North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and has ignored the South’s proposals for dialogue in recent months.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
President Donald J. Trump and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea at the United Nations General Assembly (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

7:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has spoken with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss the countries’ response to North Korea’s latest missile launch.

The White House says both leaders “underscored the grave threat that North Korea’s latest provocation poses” not only to U.S. and South Korea, “but to the entire world.”

The two presidents also “reaffirmed their strong condemnation of North Korea’s reckless campaign to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, noting that these weapons only serve to undermine North Korea’s security and deepen its diplomatic and economic isolation.”

Trump and Moon spoke at length about the threat posed by North Korea during Trump’s trip to Asia earlier this month.

Up Next: This is why the Pentagon just dispatched its top general to Korea

8:30 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is warning North Korea not to test President Donald Trump’s resolve.

Pence says in remarks at a Hudson Institute award dinner in New York that the administration is considering “additional measures” following the intercontinental ballistic missile test.

Pence says Pyongyang would do well “not to test the resolve of this president or the capabilities of the armed forces of the United States of America.”

He adds that “all options” remain on the table.

Pence was introduced at the event by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who called Pence a “positive” and “calming influence” at the White House.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Vice President Mike Pence and Georgian and American troops at Exercise Noble Partner, August 1, 2017 (Official White House photo by Myles D. Cullen)

9:53 p.m.

North Korea will make an “important” announcement through television and radio at noon local time hours after it tested an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile.

The report on state radio Nov. 29 did not elaborate on the topic of the announcement.

The missile test-launched from near Pyongyang appeared to be North Korea’s most powerful weapon yet and could put Washington and the entire eastern U.S. seaboard within range.

10:30 p.m.

North Korea says it successfully tested a new, nuclear-capable intercontinental-ballistic missile that could target the entire U.S. mainland.

The North’s state television said Nov. 29 the new ICBM was “significantly more” powerful than the previous long-range weapon the North tested.

The report called the weapon a Hwasong 15. The launch was detected after it was fired early Nov. 29 morning from a site near Pyongyang.

 

MIGHTY HISTORY

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

During more than five decades of operational service, the Boeing B-52 heavy bomber has been the backbone of the strike capability of the U.S. Air Force. Its long range, ability to operate at high altitudes and capability to carry nuclear or precision-guided conventional ordnance to any point on the globe, has made it a key component of nuclear deterrence and U.S. National Security Strategy.


Development and design

Born of specifications for a new heavy bomber presented by Air Materiel Command in 1945, the first iteration of what would become the B-522, was the Boeing 464-40 created in 1946. This airframe was powered by turboprop engines, as jet engines were not yet seen as reliable or fuel efficient enough for long-range missions.

As development continued through the end of the decade, the project became the keystone for the fledgling U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command under the direction of Gen. Curtis LeMay. At his insistence, the XB-52 and YB-52, which had more operational equipment, featured 35-degree swept wings with eight Westinghouse turbojet engines.

The YB-52 first took flight in April 1952 and subsequent ground and flight testing lead the Air Force to order 282 of the new heavy bombers, beginning with the delivery of three B-52As and 10 B-52Bs by 1954.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Boeing YB-52 bomber in flight, with a bubble canopy, similar to that of the B-47.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

During the rollout ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining described the B-52 as “the long-rifle of the air age.”

The B-52 has since received many upgrades to communications, electronics, computing and avionics on the flight deck, as well as engines, fuel capacity and the weapons bay. These upgrades enable the B-52H to integrate into the new digital battlefield and precisely deliver a large array of weapons, from conventional, nuclear and smart bombs to conventional or nuclear cruise missiles, on targets anywhere in the world.The use of aerial refueling gives the B-52 a range limited only by crew endurance.

Further development included a reconnaissance variant, as well as a model used as a launch platform for 93 NASA X-15 missions to explore the boundaries of space. A B-52H is currently used for launching other research vehicles by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
B-52 Stratofortress aircrew depart the flightline after returning from an Operation Arc Light mission over Southeast Asia. Just as in earlier wars, the bombs painted on the fuselage showed the number of missions flown.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Operational history

In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air, and maritime operations.

Throughout the Cold War, B-52s were a cornerstone of the Nuclear Triad, which was comprised of nuclear missile submarines, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and bombers capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
(U.S. Air Force graphic by Maureen Stewart)

Throughout the Cold War B-52s were continuously airborne on alert patrols armed with nuclear weapons should hostilities erupt with the Soviet Union. These missions ended in 1991.

During the Vietnam War, beginning with Operations Arc Light and Rolling Thunder in 1965 and concluding with Operations Linebacker and Linebacker II in 1972, B-52s carried out various bombing campaigns.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers strike Viet Cong and North Vietnamese targets during operation Arc Light.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, B-52s flew over 1500 sorties and delivered 40 percent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces. They struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and decimated the morale of Iraq’s Republican Guard.

They also bombed targets in Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force in 1999 and Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraqi Freedom in 2003, providing close air support through the use of precision guided munitions. They have most recently engaged in missions against ISIL targets in Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

All B-52s can be equipped with electro-optical viewing sensors, a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and advanced targeting pods to augment targeting, battle assessment, and flight safety, further improving its combat ability, day or night and in varying weather conditions utilizing a variety of standoff weapons, such as laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs, and GPS-guided weapons.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
A B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., takes fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, Sept. 18, 2015, in the skies near Spain. The refueling was part of exercise Immediate Response, which included a three-ship formation o
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Austin M. May)

Did you know?

  • The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory, including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions.
  • Current engineering analyses show the B-52’s life span to extend beyond the year 2040.
  • B-52s also assist the Navy in ocean surveillance.
  • The lower deck crew of the B-52, the navigator and radar navigator, eject downward.
  • In 1972, a B-52 tail-gunner, Albert Moore, shot down a MiG-21 over Vietnam. It was the last recorded bomber-gunner to shoot down an enemy aircraft.
  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, 365 B-52s were destroyed under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The aircraft were stripped of usable parts, chopped into five pieces with a 13,000 pound steel blade and sold for scrap at 12 cents per pound.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Capt. Lance Adsit, the 20th Bomb Squadron aircraft commander, and Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, the 340th Weapons Squadron commander, fly a B-52 Stratofortress above the Gulf of Mexico, Oct. 13, 2016. Two B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-1 Lancers from Dyess AFB, Texas, flew together and
(Photo by Senior Airman Curt Beach)

General characteristics – (source: AF.MIL)

  • Primary function: Heavy bomber
  • Contractor: Boeing Military Airplane Co.
  • Power plant: Eight Pratt & Whitney engines TF33-P-3/103 turbofan
  • Thrust: Each engine up to 17,000 pounds
  • Wingspan: 185 feet (56.4 meters)
  • Length: 159 feet, 4 inches (48.5 meters)
  • Height: 40 feet, 8 inches (12.4 meters)
  • Weight: Approximately 185,000 pounds (83,250 kilograms)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 488,000 pounds (219,600 kilograms)
  • Fuel capacity: 312,197 pounds (141,610 kilograms)
  • Payload: 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms)
  • Speed: 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.84)
  • Range: 8,800 miles (7,652 nautical miles)
  • Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters)
  • Armament: Approximately 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms) mixed ordnance: bombs, mines and missiles. (Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles)
  • Crew: five (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)
  • Unit cost: $84 million (fiscal 2012 constant dollars)
  • Initial operating capability: April 1952
  • Inventory: Active force, 58; ANG, 0; Reserve, 18
MIGHTY TRENDING

The VA finally approved benefits for this WW2 human test subject

Arla Harrell, a 90-year-old Missouri veteran who was intentionally exposed to mustard gas during World War II, has been awarded his backdated benefits from the VA, following a decades-long fight and legislation from US Senator Claire McCaskill on behalf of Mr. Harrell and his fellow service members.


The VA’s decision cited McCaskill’s legislation, and her testimony on the family’s behalf, in the awarding of Mr. Harrell’s benefits.

McCaskill testified in July at Mr. Harrell’s Veterans Affairs claim appeals hearing after the VA’s repeated denial of his benefits-asking the judge to take a careful look at his case and grant him the right to hear that his government believes him.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled for Arla and his family, that after so many decades being told ‘no’, so many claims denied, so many bureaucrats refusing to believe he had been mistreated by his own government-the VA is finally saying ‘yes'” said McCaskill, herself the daughter of a World War II veteran, and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. “This law, that so many folks put party aside to pass, is already getting results: long-overdue justice and the simple recognition of what Arla and so many of his fellow soldiers, sacrificed for their country. And three simple words that the government should have said to Arla decades ago, ‘we believe you.'”

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey greets Senator Claire McCaskill (right). Photo from SecDef Flickr.

In August, President Trump signed McCaskill’s Arla Harrell Act into law after it was approved by the Senate, capping a two-year battle and paving the way for decades-overdue relief to veterans intentionally exposed to mustard gas.

As the document granting Mr. Harrell’s claim states, the reversal comes after McCaskill, who is listed as a witness for Mr. Harrell, passed her legislation. “During the pendency of the Veteran’s appeal, the President of the United States… signed legislation [the Arla Harrell Act] that directs the VA to reconsider previously denied claims for disability compensation for veterans who allege full-body exposure to nitrogen mustard gas, sulfur mustard gas, or Lewisite during World War II… [ Arla Harrell’s claims] will be reconsidered in light of this new legislation.”

During World War II, thousands of US servicemen were exposed to mustard agents through secret US military experiments. By the end of the war, 60,000 servicemen had been human subjects in the military’s chemical defense research program, with an estimated 4,000 of them receiving high levels of exposure to mustard agents.

For decades, these servicemen were under explicit orders not to discuss their toxic exposure with their doctors or even their families. The US military did not fully acknowledge its role in the testing program until the last of the experiments was declassified in 1975. The military did not lift the oath of secrecy until the early 1990s.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Alra Harrell. Photo from the Harrell family via St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Following her investigative report, McCaskill battled what she called a “decades-long record of ineptitude and failure” at the VA, and enlisted the support of Republican and Democratic colleagues, including Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana, who introduced companion legislation in the US House.

McCaskill also rallied veterans service organizations in support of her bill, and successfully pressured President Trump’s Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin in support of the legislation.

The law required a re-examination of Arla Harrell’s claim for VA benefits, and the inclusion of Camp Crowder on the list of sites where full body testing took place. It also mandates a quick review of previously denied claims, places the burden on the VA (instead of the veteran) to prove or disprove exposure, revamps the VA’s application and adjudication process in the future, and mandates an investigation by both agencies to determine what went wrong with this process and officially acknowledge the horror these servicemen endured.

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What life was actually like for a viking berserker

Many myths and legends surround the Vikings. Known for being fierce raiders, courageous explorers, and competent traders, the Viking Age lasted from roughly 793 AD until 1066 AD. It should be noted, however, that much of their history wasn’t written from their perspective and is therefore skewed. Only two literary works, the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, and some sagas were known to have survived the ages. Historians are now looking at Vikings in a different light because of recent evidence surfacing that disproves many of the myths about the “heathen savages” to the North.


Modern historians characterize Vikings more as fur traders than the bloodthirsty savages they’re often depicted as. The most barbaric and over-the-top of these Viking stories were of the
Viking berserker. Berserkers were said to have been lone Viking warriors who donned nothing but a bearskin (or a “bear coat,” which, in Old Norse, is pronounced, “bjorn-serkr” — sound familiar?), took psychedelic drugs to block out pain, and destroyed anyone foolish enough to stand in the way of their ax. Though not entirely wrong, these are definitely exaggerations.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

Verdict is still out on if they fought dragons or wrote books on how to train them. (Bethesda Studios’ Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim)

First of all, there were three different
warrior cults who were often bunched into the same category. They are the well-known Berserkers (whose bear coats are often attributed to the worship of Thor, Tyr, or Odin), the Ulfhednar (who wore wolf coats for Odin), and the Svinflylking (who wore boar coats for Freya). Each devotedly fought for a different Norse god and each took on the aspect of the animal whose pelt they wore.

These tribal groupings contradict the “lone savage” stereotype. All berserkers — especially the wolf coats — were used in combat as a complement to other Vikings. Scandinavian kings would use the berserkers as shock troops to augment their forces. The pelt they wore was similar in function to modern-day unit insignias. You could tell who was a berserker on the battlefield because their “battle cry” was to bite down on their shield.

Secondly, their defining pelt wasn’t the only thing they wore, either. As intimidating as it would be to see a burly Viking wearing nothing but a bear coat, war paint, and the blood of their enemies, this kind of garb was nowhere near as common as the myth would have you believe. The
Volsung Saga corroborates the idea of a frenzied, mostly naked warrior, but logically speaking, the frozen tundras of Scandinavia would be too damn cold to spend weeks displaying what Odin gave them to their enemies. They may not have worn chainmail — which was very uncommon among Vikings since coastal raiding would rust the iron — but wood carvings showed them as at least wearing pants.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

Who knows? Maybe a few berserks did leave this world the same way they came in, you know, naked and covered in someone else’s blood. (Woodcarving via Antiqvitets Akademien)

Finally, we arrive at the myth about the hallucinogens. The first accounts of Vikings “going berserk” because they ate magic mushrooms was hypothesized in 1784 by a Christian priest named Odmann. He came to a conclusion that connected the berserkers to the
fly agaric mushroom because he read that Siberian shamans did the same when they were healing. There are two problems with this theory. First, the mushrooms are extremely toxic and would leave any warrior in no shape to fight. Second, these mushrooms were never mentioned anywhere until 1784 — long after the Viking age.

Now, that’s not to say that they didn’t take something for the pain in battle. Stinking Nightshade was discovered in a
berserker grave in 1977. Mostly used as medicine, the plant was also used in war paint. If the nightshade were crushed down and made into a paste, it could be applied to a warrior to slightly dull their senses.

The effects would be similar to someone running into battle after popping a bunch of Motrin.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The awesome way a Cuban defector rescued his family

In 1991, a lone Russian-built MiG-21 approached the Florida coast from Cuba. The plane began “wagging” its wings, a recognized signal for friendly intent. The pilot was Orestes Lorenzo, and he was bringing the MiG to the United States in an attempt to defect from Cuba. The only problem was his wife and kids were still in Cuba.

Not for long.


US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

If you want it done right…

That’s the thing about fighter pilots – no one will accuse them of being timid. Lorenzo was no different. He did fly a 40-year-old MiG straight at the coastline of the world’s lone superpower. In fact, Lorenzo was so daring, he wasn’t even in the Cuban Air Force when he took the jet. He told American officials he’d “borrowed” it to make the flight. Lorenzo didn’t even speak a word of English, he just yearned for freedom.

While he was in Cuba’s Air Force, he learned to fly in the Soviet Union and was deployed to fly air missions in Angola. After a second tour of duty in the Soviet Union, he and his family moved to an air base far from the Cuban capital of Havana. They found themselves unhappy with their situation, facing poverty, repression, and a government more concerned with itself than its people. Lorenzo and his wife hatched a plan to escape with their children, but it was only Lorenzo who landed at Naval Air Station Key West that day in 1991.

That’s where his daring comes in. Lorenzo was whisked away to Washington, where he was (presumably) debriefed, and received his asylum paperwork, as well as visas for his wife and two sons. All was almost set to go as planned, except now the Cuban government wouldn’t authorize his wife and children to leave the island nation. Orestes Lorenzo didn’t just accept his station in life like Castro wanted him to, and he sure as hell wasn’t about to accept this. Lorenzo launched a PR campaign that culminated in President George H.W. Bush giving a speech directed at Cuba, imploring Cuba to let his family go, all to no avail.

Castro refused, so the fighter pilot took matters into his own hands.

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Spoiler alert: fighter pilots are brave.

Lorenzo raised ,000 to purchase a 1961 Cessna 310, a small, simple civilian aircraft. He even took lessons to learn to fly the Cessna like an expert. He got word to his family that they should be in a certain spot they all knew well, wearing orange t-shirts. At 5:07 p.m. on Dec. 19, 1992, Lorenzo took off from the Florida Keys in his 30-year-old Cessna and flew just 100 feet above the ocean.

Flying up above a set of cliffs on Cuba’s coastline, some 160 miles from Havana, he pulled up and saw three bright orange t-shirts waiting for him by the side of a road. He landed the plane, got his family inside, and took off again, headed for Marathon in the Florida Keys. Two hours later he and his family were safe.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

The Lorenzo family lands in Marathon.

The U.S. returned the MiG to Cuba, and the Lorenzo family settled in Florida, starting a concrete business. Very few Cuban pilots were able to defect to the United States during the entire Cold War.

Articles

This is why deployed Marines don’t eat Charms candy

They don’t even put Charms in MREs anymore. Because if everyone is just going to chuck the candy out the Humvee window, that’s just a gross waste of high-fructose corn syrup.


US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
And that is candy corn’s job.

Those who aren’t new to the service and have ever deployed with Marines probably saw the same scene at some point. Hungry Marines pour into their MREs and take out their favorite parts and toss the rest into the MRE box (a process known as ratf*cking). Let’s face it, some MRE parts are definitely better than others.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Look, I like wheat snack bread, and I don’t need jalapeno cheese spread to eat it.

No matter what an individual’s tastes were, one item was always discarded: the Charms candy. The reason for that was a mixture of superstition and because the younger guys knew someone would slap the candy out of their hands or out of their mouths for the cardinal sin of even opening the wrapper.

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The look you get when the smell of Charms fills the humvee. (HBO)

The simplest answer is that Marines grow up in the Corps learning that Charms are just plain bad luck. Whether it was learned from saltier Marines or experienced firsthand, those things might as well be pure evil.

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Eating Charms is like begging for the world’s largest thunderstorm to rain down on you and your platoon – even in the desert. Or they might set off a roadside bomb. Some think you’ll get mortared just for opening an MRE with Charms in it – unless you bury it.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Some troops have been known to donate them to the more persistent local children – at high velocity. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Grant Okubo)

The luck varied as much as the flavors did. As Sgt. Kenneth Wilson told Agence France-Presse just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a lemon-flavored Charm could cause a vehicle breakdown. The green ones were the ones that brought the rain. Raspberry meant certain death.

You might as well be eating apricots.

Military Life

11 things screaming drill sergeants are actually thinking

In spite of their manner, most drill sergeants (and drill instructors, and training instructors, etc.) don’t actually hate troops.


It’s all part of teaching recruits how to survive in the military. So, if they’re not blacked out on hate when yelling at trainees, what are training NCOs actually thinking about?

11. The most ridiculous stuff they could make you do.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Army David Dismukes

10. How bad they smell.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Reece Lodder

9. …or how stupid they are much work they still need.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver

8. Maybe they’re thinking about doctrinal changes, like having to teach Coast Guardsmen the “Guardian’s Creed.”

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Coast Guard Tom Sperduto

7. Drill sergeants count down to the end of basic training too, but the countdowns go for years.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Army

6. It’s hard to deal with new seamen without a warm cup o’ joe.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Navy Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres

5. It’s even worse for instructors’ training officers.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: Minnesota National Guard

4. They may not be angry at recruits, but they’re still looking for excuses to yell. Nothing a recruit can do will save them.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Marine Corps

3. Sometimes, the instructor is getting over a hangover. Recruits shouldn’t yell their responses during this period.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Reece Lodder

2. Often, they’re just tired of seeing your despair.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Army Sgt. Javier Amador

1. They want to break up their boredom, maybe by giving the unit impossible or confusing drill commands.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
Original photo: US Air force Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

MIGHTY CULTURE

This his how Marines train with massive walls of real fire

Marines assigned to Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, conducted live-burn training Jan. 24, 2019, at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

The training allowed Marines to practice utilizing their gear and working under pressure in a controlled environment.


US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

U.S. Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting use a hand line to extinguish a fuel fire Jan. 25, 2019 during live-burn training on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge)

“This training specifically is supposed to simulate and fuel spill,” said Cpl. Riphlei Martinez, a P-19 vehicle handline operator with HHS, MCAS Futenma. “If an aircraft crashes or has a fuel spill and the fuel spill ignites, this is what we would do if that were to happen.”

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

U.S. Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting use a hand line to extinguish a fuel fire Jan. 24, 2019 during live-burn training on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge)

Fuel spill fires can be unpredictable and becoming familiar with the procedures can make all the difference.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

U.S. Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting use a hand line to extinguish a fuel fire Jan. 25, 2019, during live-burn training at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge)

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

U.S. Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting use a hand line to extinguish a fuel fire Jan. 24, 2019 during live-burn training on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge)

“Here in Okinawa, training is important because we don’t get calls for very many emergency situations,” said Martinez. “We get new junior Marines every other month and for a lot of them this is their first fire or the first time they practice something that can actually happen.”

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

U.S. Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting use a hand line to extinguish a fuel fire Jan. 25, 2019 during live-burn training on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge)

This monthly training is part of the intense discipline it take to ensure ARFF Marines are ready for any situation that comes their way.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

Articles

Claims that North Korea can destroy the US could be based on a science fiction book

Tensions over a potential war between North Korea and the United States are mounting every day.


The “hermit kingdom” is boasting through its state propaganda that it could destroy America. Any claim by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to “create a balance of power with the U.S.” is considered laughable.

All of this chest thumping holds as much weight as the unicorn lair in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il’s first time golf record, his “totally original” invention in 2000 of the hamburger, and the CGI effects used in the their latest propaganda video.

But in an astounding claim, Pyongyang’s version of Pravda (fun fact: pravda means “truth” in Russian) says it can destroy the US in many different ways, but most notably with an electromagnetic pulse weapon.

Whether or not this claim is true, here’s a breakdown of what their military actually looks like. They have around a million active duty personnel using cheaper versions of an AK-47 (Type 88), 67 year old fighter aircraft, and dwindling allies.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses
This is the NK Type 88. Sh*t folding stock, automatic, and a helical magazine. Yep. Seems efficient.

An impressive claim, by 2017 military standards, is its two satellites in orbit. It’s debatable if they actually have an EMP device on them, but it is known that nuclear weapons also give off an an EMP blast on detonation.

The concerns of their nuclear capabilities, non-state allies, artillery and rocket launchers are real. Even if their nuclear warheads could theoretically reach the US, the devastation it would cause to our allies is the only reason they haven’t been obliterated and South Korea hasn’t become a island yet.

Former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) said during hearings before the 2008 Congressional EMP Commision that he believes that a electromagnetic pulse weapon detonated in Nebraska could kill 9 out of 10 people in the aftermath and ensuing chaos.

This lead former CIA director R. James Woolsey to say in an op-ed piece for The Hill that one of two North Korean satellites could deliver such a blast.

Problem with this is that Bartlett was directly quoting an early release of William R. Forstchen’s “One Second After” — a science fiction novel about the collapse of society. But as we all know, emotions beat facts in fear mongering.

Let’s hope for the diplomatic solution. But if not, well, it only took us five weeks to take on one of the largest, strongest, and most funded militaries in 1991.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These pistols are carried by NCOs at the Tomb of the Unknowns

Many military members are familiar with the sight of a shift change at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Only the U.S. Army’s finest can join the Old Guard and walk the carpet as a tomb sentinel, so the highlight of any visit to Arlington is catching the Changing of the Guard, where the guard’s M-14 rifle is famously inspected during the ceremony.

What you might not notice is the duty NCO’s sidearm, holstered but clearly ready for use. This weapon is as clean as the rifle the NCO inspects, with one important difference for the guards.


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Firepower.

The M-14 rifles used by the Tomb Sentinels are fully functional, the Old Guard says. While the unit would not discuss further security measures due to the sensitive nature of what they do, it’s clear the rifle isn’t loaded when it’s carried by the men walking the line in front of the Tomb. An M-14 with a magazine is distinctly different than one without. Furthermore, when the rifle is inspected during the Changing of the Guard, the inspection would eject a round from the rifle, were there a round in the chamber.

No one really knows if there are live rounds in the nearby tent or another means for the sentinels to defend themselves in case of an active shooter. But the NCOs are packing.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

Serious firepower.

When an NCO of the Old Guard attends to the Changing of the Guard, the NCO is equipped with a custom, U.S. Army-issued weapon, the Sig-Sauer M17. The weapon was built by the gunmaker specifically for the Tomb Sentinels and comes with a number of beautiful features. There are only four like them ever created, and all are carried exclusively by NCOs in the Old Guard.

The hardwood in the grip of these special pistols comes from the deck of the USS Olympia, a cruiser first laid in 1895 and seeing service in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Marble from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is superheated, converted into glass, and added to the weapon’s sights, making for one of the most unique weapons created for the military anywhere.

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

Since things are so tight at the Pentagon in terms of operational security, it’s not known whether the NCOs are carrying ammunition for the sidearms, but since there is a magazine in the weapon, they certainly could be. After the 2014 shootings at Canada’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and subsequent spree on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, they certainly should be.

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