The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can't hit the broad side of a barn. - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is now a master photographer, cartoonist, and storyteller.

Being the unit’s cartoonist is an incredible responsibility. For one, you have to decide what will live on in the annals of history and two, you have to find stories that are funny. A gift that has come to me throughout my life. Yes but a gift… or a curse?

I was approached on so, so many occasions by a chuckling brother to the effect: “Geo! ha ha ha, hey listen, ha ha ha, how ’bout you do a cartoon of Bob spilling his juice in the chow hall and all the guys are saying, like: ‘awww man… you spilled your juice!” ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”

The inherent humor in Bob spilling his juice is debatable at best, but let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s there. The narrative of the man’s snappy comeback… not so funny. I had two choices in the matter strictly from my perspective:


1. Let the man down gently: “Man, I’m really sorry, but that scenario just doesn’t pass the acid test, my brother. Look, it has nothing to do with you personally; it’s really just a business decision, a very difficult business decision. I got mad love for you my brother, but I have a reputation to maintain here in the Unit. I’m sorry, but my hands are tied.”

2. Freakish exaggerations are the very core of the power of the cartoon. I can take the pallid tale of Bob spilling of his juice coupled with the vapid remarks from the men and wildly exaggerate the whole scenario to make it so ridiculous as to be funny.

I can show a dozen men being washed out of the chow hall door by a flood of red liquid (Bob’s juice), with men donned in various levels of gear associated with waterborne operations and perhaps one man yelling: “Hey, do we get paid dive credit this month for this?!?

Not really funny? I feel you, dawg. There isn’t a set “formula” for hilarity, but two variables that help are mistakes and commanding officers. The poor Commanding Officer of our squadron had been out on the flat range one day with a new assault rifle in an effort to adjust his gun sites for accuracy. In some cases, new gun sites can be wildly off the bull’s eye.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

(Outdoor shooting flat range where the distance to the target is Known Distance, or KD)

His first mistake, well… his ONLY mistake, was to guest himself onto a range where the boys were already conducting *Blaze Ops. There are always those occasional line-walkers that feel the urge to stroll the target line to see how those around them fair in accuracy. Well, a brother noted that the boss’ cupboard was bare; he had slick paper with no bullet impacts on it. The launch sequence was initiated; the man couldn’t get to me fast enough to tell me all about how the boss himself had flown all of his rounds off his target:

“Ha, ha ha… Geo, you could show — ha, ha, ha, — the boss with a clean target — ha, ha, ha, — and the guys could all be saying, like, ‘Hey there boss… it looks like you missed your target!’ — ha, ha, ha!”

“Yeah, man… that’s a total riot — I’ll get right to work on that.”

Hence the morass (morass is what you use when you don’t have enough ass). I didn’t think it was necessarily funny that the boss had rounds off paper, but if anyone else had done that his chops would have been busted. I couldn’t let the boss off the hook so easily. I ginned up ideas that came to mind.

What is generally said to a person who launches with poor accuracy whether it a gun or a rock or a baseball? One of my more obscure phrases is: “He couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle,” said during WWII of the inaccurate pilot of a dive bomber.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

(American SBD Dauntless dive bomber. It was this same bomber that sank all fourJapanese aircraft carriers during the pivotal battle of Midway.)

Ok then: “He couldn’t hit the side of a barn.” That nicely anchored the theme: Everyone’s target is the usual half man-sized cardboard target on a plank, with the boss’ target being an entire barn facing sideways… silo and hay loft… the nine yards. Then I added a Range Safety Officer in the parapet calling out the disposition of the bullet strikes to the men at the firing line.

It was a done deal. All that was left was to jones over that future moment when the boss and I would inevitably pass each other in the hall, just he and I… awkward!

Articles

This is what happens when the world’s best fighter jets face off against each other

Next-generation fighter jets, simulated aerial combat, and some of the best pilots from the US, British, and French air forces – no, this isn’t a scene from the next Hollywood blockbuster. It’s the latest combined exercise testing pilots’ ability to operate, communicate and dominate in a combat environment.


Called “Atlantic Trident,” this month-long exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, focused on anti-access and aerial-denial missions, which were meant to place the US, British, and French pilots in situations that tested their limits and capabilities.

“This exercise is great because it brings our best and some of our allies best fighters together to train and learn from each other in a very challenging environment,” said Col. Pete Fesler, 1st Fighter Wing commander. “It’s also a great way to test the capabilities of these advanced aircraft.”

The advanced aircraft participating included the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Dassault Rafale – all of which bring a lot of capabilities to the fight. The aircraft were supported by USAF Air Combat Command E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft and Air Mobility Command KC-10 Extender refueling aircraft.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard

According to Lockheed Martin, the Raptor’s unique combination of advanced stealth, supercruise, advanced maneuverability, and integrated avionics allow it to “kick down the door,” and then follow up with 24-hour stealth operations and freedom of movement for all follow-on forces – fully leveraging the Raptor’s technological advantages.

The F-35, meanwhile, is no slouch, either. The F-35 combines fifth generation fighter aircraft characteristics — advanced stealth, integrated avionics, sensor fusion and superior logistics support — with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history. This means the Lightning II can collect and share battlespace data with other friendly aircraft and commanders on the ground and at sea.

“The F-35 brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability, and adaptability to joint and combined operations,” said Maj. Mike Krestyn, an F-35 pilot with the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Pilots of both the F-22 and F-35 refer to their jets as aerial “quarterbacks,” capable of controlling an airspace by locating, identifying and sharing the location of enemy threats within a battlespace.

Then, allied aircraft like the Typhoon and Rafale can use their advanced weaponry to eliminate these threats.

All of these advanced aircraft provide lethality never before seen in aerial combat, and their pilots training and flying together enhances tactics, ensures coalition teams are on the same page and strengthens relationships.

“The Air Force and our partners must seek opportunities to develop, expand and sustain relationships wherever possible,” said Heidi Grant, deputy under secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. “This enables us to amplify our collective strengths and improves our ability to confront shared challenges.”

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

 

From the pilots’ viewpoint, this is also a matter of “training like we fight.”

“We won’t go to war without our allies,” said Capt. Nichole Stilwell, a T-38 pilot with the 71st Fighter Training Squadron. “So we have to train together to make sure we get the most out of our capabilities.”

The Human Element

But, none of these capabilities mean anything without one crucial component.

“People,” Fesler said. “It doesn’t matter how advanced an aircraft is if we don’t have quality people flying and fixing them.”

It’s easy to get distracted by the sleek aircraft and their state-of-the-art capabilities, but this shouldn’t take away from how important the human element still is to air operations, he added.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

“There is so much more to this than simply flying an advanced jet and shooting stuff,” Fesler said. “There are people on the ground making sure these planes fly, people in support functions making sure missions happen and go smoothly, and there are people making sure pilots receive the training they need to be effective.”

So, exercises like this are really all about people – training them, developing them, testing them – and relationship building, he added.

Throughout the exercise, US, British and French pilots planned, flew and evaluated missions together, working side-by-side to develop tactics and talk about lessons learned from each day’s flights.

“This type of training is invaluable,” said Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Chris Hoyle, 1 (Fighter) Squadron. “It really places a premium on people and relationships, which both are very important to our success as allies.”

These bonds and friendships made at Atlantic Trident can also carry over into other operations.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

“This is a great foundation for us to build on,” Hoyle said. “Some of the US or French people I’ve met, or some my guys have met, can really create great opportunities in the future. If I need something, I can pick up the phone and call … and then the relationships we started here can really pay off down the road.”

Still, as pilots of each aircraft are quick to point out, a conversation about people can’t happen without talking about maintainers.

“We simply borrow the jets for a little while, the maintainers own them,” said Krestyn. “They fix them and care for them and then they let us use them.” This sentiment is echoed by Hoyle.

“As pilots, we have the easy part,” he said. “We fly the plane, but it’s the maintainers and support personnel who make everything happen. It doesn’t matter how advanced a jet is, if no one fixes it or makes sure it’s able to take off and accomplish the mission, then it’s a useless piece of equipment.”

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

Sharpening the Sword

Once these advanced fighters do get in the air, testing them and their pilots is still important. This is where the adversary squadrons come in.

Made up of T-38s from Langley and F-15E Strike Eagles from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, these “adversaries” acted as enemy combatants during the exercise to test friendly force’s air-to-air abilities.

Flying outdated, past-their-prime trainer jets against the most technologically superior fighters in the world may seem futile, but the adversary pilots have a different outlook.

“I think of it as our sword is very sharp, we just help make it sharper,” Stilwell said. “We make pilots adapt their tactics, we make them think and we try to test them as much as possible.”

At the end of the day, though, exercises like Atlantic Trident do more than give pilots time behind the stick. These exercises are providing relevant, realistic training so that when pilots do experience stressful combat situations for the first time, they are prepared.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

“Air superiority is not an American birthright,” said Gen. David Goldfien, Air Force Chief of Staff. “It’s actually something you have to fight for and maintain.”

Air superiority doesn’t just mean having the most technologically sophisticated aircraft in the world. It also means having highly trained and experienced pilots to fly them.

Working together also helps each of the players learn to speak the same language – that of winning.

“Really, the goal of exercises like this is to train and learn together so that on day one of a future conflict, we dominate,” Fesler said.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why no one really cares about the FNG’s basic training stories

Once you’ve completed your branch’s initial entry training, you’re officially entered into the ranks of one of the most prestigious fighting forces the world has ever seen. Congratulations. You’ve done something difficult that your civilian peers couldn’t even imagine. The day you graduate should be a moment of pride. You’ve earned the right to call other troops and veterans family.

With all of that being said — good job: You’ve done the exact same thing that literally every single troop has done before you. Unless you’ve got some grand story that doesn’t center around being yelled at, your story isn’t interesting to rest of us.

Why?


The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Oh? Your DS had a wicked sense of humor? Hate to break it to you, kid, but they all need one to handle years of idiot recruits.

We’ve heard it all before

Quick: Describe your entire time at basic training using just a few words. Chances are, it sounds a lot like, “we got yelled at, told to do push-ups, and were given a brief moment of levity when the drill sergeant showed compassion for a half a second before snapping at anyone who tried to take advantage of that moment of humanity.” Sound about right?

The details may differ slightly and the set-up to a joke the drill sergeant played on a recruit may change, but that’s about it.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

They’re more like “freedom baseballs” in the hands of grunts.

We do way more interesting things in the unit

You may have done some pretty cool sh*t back at Sand Hill. You got to go to the range and, if you’re old school, you got to toss a grenade. Out of the entire nine weeks you spent in training, there are roughly 3-ish days of cool sh*t happening.

At the unit, those kind of days are always on the training calendar and, just a heads up, no one tosses grenades like a shot put in the real world.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

The M203 is one of the greatest things the Army ever adapted. Someone must have just been like, “I know bayonets are awesome and all, but what if we had one that shot grenades.” A true American legend.

(Meme by We Are The Mighty)

We have all of the cooler toys at the unit

Riding in the back of an LMTV with the entire platoon packed in like sardines is fun and all, but it’s nothing compared to the fun of actually driving one of those bad boys in the training area of Fort Irwin — doing doughnuts in the desert and whatnot.

Sure, grenades are always going to be cool, but hearing the PATHUNK of a M203 being fired into a plywood structure is the kind of moment that makes you question leaving the service.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Sure you do, buddy. Sure you do.

Recruits often miss the bigger point of training

FNGs often come out of basic with the grandiose idea that they’re now some hardened badass who can take on the world because they shot “sharpshooter” and took combatives level one. That’s cool and all, but you probably missed the things you were actually supposed to learn, like customs, courtesies, how to set up a uniform, how to march, and how chains of command work.

It’s just the way things are. Regardless of when or where you went to basic, the Army needs its soldiers to know how to properly put on their uniform and address their superiors before they can move on to being badasses.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

If you were honestly duped into falling for the “Emotional Support Drill Sergeant” meme, I heard the training room needs you to refill out a new ID 10-Tango form.

(Meme via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Says)

Admittedly, each cycle of basic is slightly less intense than the cycle before it, but…

Don’t tell me, let me guess: Your cycle was the “last of the good ones before everything got soft.” That exact phrase has been used for as long as recruits have been graduating basic. In its own weird, paradoxical way, no one is lying but everyone is full of sh*t.

The needs of the Army shift so basic may encompass more tasks suited for a garrison lifestyle, but it should never be implied that the Army got soft. Your cycle wasn’t given stress cards, cell phones, or desserts, sure — but that’s probably because no cycle gets those, no matter how much your buddy’s friend’s cousin swore they’re real.

MIGHTY FIT

5 ways to work out with a trainer without paying for it

It’s no secret that enlisted troops don’t make a lot of cash (especially when you think about what’s asked of them). The military has mandatory fitness requirements for active troops, but even so, PT sessions concentrate on limited exercises geared toward passing the PT test. Many servicemembers also have families who want a healthy lifestyle, but who can’t afford a gym membership.

Most military base gyms are pretty exceptional but, like all tools, these workout faculties don’t mean sh*t unless you know how to use them. Hiring a personal trainer to put you through a series of workouts can get super pricey and most troops can’t afford someone’s expert advice on how to get leaned out.

So we came up with a few ways to help you learn from those expensive trainers without paying a freakin’ cent.


Learn workout tips from trainers as they work with their other clients

In many of the non-exclusive gyms, once you enter the facility you’ll notice many of the trainers are putting their clients through their paid workouts out in the open. This is a great time to be at the gym.

Now, without looking like a complete stalker, it’s okay to take mental notes of what exercises they’re conducting and how they are performing them.

You can use that visual information and put it in your bag of workout routines for later. If you just happen to overhear the trainer’s personal critique of a specific exercise, then that’s a huge plus.

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We don’t care what it is — it’s free!

Search for free personal training vouchers online with no commitments

One of the best ways for physical trainers to build their fitness empires up is by online marketing and their clients’ word of mouth. The hardest part for any trainer is to get you through their door and meet with them face-to-face. To get you into their gyms, many will offer you free training sessions to prove they can bring value to your lifestyle.

If you go through with the free sessions, make sure you read all the fine print on the voucher so you’re not falling into a more significant commitment than you thought. Free personal training vouchers could be your golden ticket to a healthier lifestyle.

Casually talk to trainer and have them pitch you why they should train you

Trainers are always looking for new clients; this makes them super approachable. In fact, they will try and make eye contact with you so they can start a casual conversation with you that will hopefully lead to you setting up an appointment with them. If you want to outsmart them and get some free training, you can tell them your fitness goals and they might recommend a workout program you’ve never heard of.

Take that information to the internet and research what the hell they were talking just about. You can save money by watching free video streaming services — let ad revenue pay for your work-out!

www.youtube.com

Watch one of several thousands free training videos on YouTube

The fitness market is flooded with ripped men and women trying to teach you their way of training using YouTube as their distribution system. All you have to do is type what workout you’re looking for and at the touch of a button, you’ll have thousands of training videos to choose from at no cost.

Everyone wins in this scenario. The YouTube trainer expands their personal following and you get great advice without shelling out boatloads of cash.

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We said “discreetly!”

Discreetly watch the other fit people

Ripped people at the gym have put in the time to build that muscle mass.

If you have no idea what exercises do what, discreetly take a look at what the ripped gym-goers are doing and how they are doing it.

Like they say, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Learn the movements and attempt to mimic what you just saw — with a manageable weight. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than spending your hard earned cash on a trainer.

FYI: Sorry to all the fitness trainers out there for this article c*ck block. But we’re telling the truth.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump says there’s no plan to withdraw from Iraq

During a surprise trip to Iraq, his first such visit with US troops in a combat zone, President Donald Trump says he has “no plans at all” to withdraw US forces from the country, where they’ve been present since the 2003 invasion.

Trump had not previously said he would pull US troops from Iraq, but the trip comes after he abruptly announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 US troops from Syria — a decision that reportedly prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation — and reports emerged of plans to remove about half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.


Mattis, who will leave office at the end of 2018, signed an order to withdraw troops from Syria on Dec. 24, 2018.

Trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night, flying to Al Asad air base in western Iraq and delivering a holiday message to more than 5,000 US troops stationed in the country. He is expected to make two stops on the trip, according to The New York Times.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

President Trump and the First Lady visit troops at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

The trip was kept secret, with Air Force One reportedly making the 11-hour flight with lights off and window shades drawn. Trump said he had never seen anything like it and that he was more concerned with the safety of those with him than he was for himself, according to the Associated Press.

The president said that because of gains made against ISIS in Syria, US forces there were able to return home. US officials have said the militant group holds about 1% of the territory it once occupied, though several thousand fighters remain in pockets in western Syria and others have blended back into local populations.

Trump said the mission in Syria was to remove ISIS from its strongholds and not to be a nation-builder, which he said was a job for other wealthy countries. He praised Saudi Arabia this week for committing money to rebuild the war-torn country. The US presence there was never meant to be “open-ended,” he added.

Trump told reporters traveling with him that he wanted to remove US forces from Syria but that Iraq could still be used as a base to launch attacks on ISIS militants.

If needed, the US can attack ISIS “so fast and so hard” that they “won’t know what the hell happened,” Trump said.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is how GPS actually works – and why some devices might stop working

Developed over the course of decades, GPS has become far more ubiquitous than most people realize. Not just for navigation, its extreme accuracy in time keeping (+/- 10 billionths of a second) has been used by countless businesses the world over for everything from aiding in power grid management to helping manage stock market and other banking transactions. The GPS system essentially allows for companies to have near atomic clock level precision in their systems, including easy time synchronization across the globe, without actually needing to have an atomic clock or come up with their own systems for global synchronization. The problem is that, owing to a quirk of the original specifications, on April 6, 2019 many GPS receivers are about to stop working correctly unless the firmware for them is updated promptly. So what’s going on here, how exactly does the GPS system work, and who first got the idea for such a system?


On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. As you might imagine, this tiny satellite, along with subsequent satellites in the line, were closely monitored by scientists the world over. Most pertinent to the topic at hand today were two physicists at Johns Hopkins University named William Guier and George Weiffenbach.

As they studied the orbits and signals coming from the Sputnik satellites the pair realized that, thanks to how fast the satellites were going and the nature of their broadcasts, they could use the Doppler shift of the signal to very accurately determine the satellite’s position.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

A replica of Sputnik 1.

(NASA)

Not long after, one Frank McClure, also of Johns Hopkins University, asked the pair to study whether it would be possible to do this the other way around. They soon found that, indeed, using the satellite’s known orbit and studying the signal from it as it moved, the observer on the ground could in a relatively short time span determine their own location.

This got the wheels turning.

Various systems were proposed and, in some cases, developed. Most notable to the eventual evolution of GPS was the Navy’s Navigation Satellite System (also known as the Navy Transit Program), which was up and running fully by 1964. This system could, in theory, tell a submarine or ship crew where they were within about 25 meters, though location could only be updated about once per hour and took about 10-15 minutes to acquire. Further, if the ship was moving, the precision would be off by about one nautical mile per 5 knots of speed.

Another critical system to the ultimate development of GPS was known as Timation, which initially used quartz clocks synchronized on the ground and on the satellites as a key component of how the system determined where the ground observer was located. However, with such relatively imprecise clocks, the first tests resulted in an accuracy of only about 0.3 nautical miles and took about 15 minutes of receiving data to nail down that location. Subsequent advancements in Timation improved things, even testing using an atomic clock for increased accuracy. But Timation was about to go the way of the Dodo.

By the early 1970s, the Navigation System Using Timing and Ranging (Navstar, eventually Navstar-GPS) was proposed, essentially combining elements from systems like Transit, Timation, and a few other similar systems in an attempt to make a better system from what was learned in those projects.

Fast-forward to 1983 and while the U.S. didn’t yet have a fully operational GPS system, the first prototype satellites were up and the system was being slowly tested and implemented. It was at this point that Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which originally departed from New York, refueled and took off from Anchorage, Alaska, bound for Seoul, South Korea.

What does this have to do with ubiquitous GPS as we know it today?

On its way, the pilots had an unnoticed autopilot issue, resulting in them unknowingly straying into Soviet airspace.

Convinced the passenger plane was actually a spy plane, the Soviets launched Su-15 jets to intercept the (apparently) most poorly crafted spy plane in history — the old “It’s so overt, it’s covert” approach to spying.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

A Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor.

Warning shots were fired, though the pilot who did it stated in a later interview, “I fired four bursts, more than 200 rounds. For all the good it did. After all, I was loaded with armor piercing shells, not incendiary shells. It’s doubtful whether anyone could see them.”

Not long after, the pilots of Korean Air 007 called Tokyo Area Control Center, requesting to climb to Flight Level 350 (35,000 feet) from Flight Level 330 (33,000 feet). This resulted in the aircraft slowing below the speed the tracking high speed interceptors normally operated at, and thus, them blowing right by the plane. This was interpreted as an evasive maneuver, even though it was actually just done for fuel economy reasons.

A heated debate among the Soviet brass ensued over whether more time should be taken to identify the plane in case it was simply a passenger airliner as it appeared. But as it was about to fly into international waters, and may in fact already have been at that point, the decision was made to shoot first and ask questions later.

The attacking pilot described what happened next:

“Destroy the target…!” That was easy to say. But how? With shells? I had already expended 243 rounds. Ram it? I had always thought of that as poor taste. Ramming is the last resort. Just in case, I had already completed my turn and was coming down on top of him. Then, I had an idea. I dropped below him about two thousand metres… afterburners. Switched on the missiles and brought the nose up sharply. Success! I have a lock on.

Two missiles were fired and exploded near the Boeing plane causing significant damage, though in a testament to how safe commercial airplanes typically are, the pilots were able to regain control over the aircraft, even for a time able to maintain level and stable flight. However, they eventually found themselves in a slow spiral which ended in a crash killing all 269 aboard.

As a direct result of this tragedy, President Ronald Reagan announced on Sept. 16, 1983, that the GPS system that had previously been intended for U.S. military use only would now be made available for everyone to use, with the initial idea being the numerous safety benefits such a system would have in civil aviation over using then available navigation tools.

This brings us to how exactly the GPS system works in the first place. Amazingly complex on some levels, the actual nuts and bolts of the system are relatively straightforward to understand.

To begin with, consider what happens if you’re standing in an unknown location and you ask someone where you are. They reply simply — “You are 212 miles from Seattle, Washington.”

You now can draw a circle on a map with radius 212 miles from Seattle. Assuming the person giving you that information is correct, you know you’re somewhere along that circular line.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Not super helpful at this point by itself, you then ask someone else, and they say, “You are 150 miles from Vancouver BC.” Now you’re getting somewhere. When you draw that circle on the map, you’ll see it intersects at two points. You are standing on one of those two points. Noticing that you are not, in fact, floating in the ocean, you could at this point deduce which point you are on, but work with us here people.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Instead of making such an assumption, you decide your senses are never to be trusted and, after all, Jesus stood on water, so why not you? Thus, you ask a third person — they say, “You are 500 miles from Boise, Idaho.” That circle drawn, you now know exactly where you are in two dimensional space. Near Kamloops, Canada, as it turns out.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

This is more or less what’s happening with GPS, except in the case of GPS you need to think in terms of 3D spheres instead of 2D circles. Further, how the system tells you your exact distance from a reference point, in this case each of the satellites, is via transmitting the satellites’ exact locations in orbit and a timestamp of the exact time when said transmission was sent. This time is synchronized across the various satellites in the GPS constellation.

The receiver then subtracts the current known time upon receiving the data from that transmission time to determine the time it took for that signal to be transmitted from the satellites to its location.

Combining that with the known satellite locations and the known speed of light with which the radio signal was propagated, it can then crunch the numbers to determine with remarkable accuracy its location, with margins of error owing to things like the ionosphere interfering with the propagation of the signal, and various other real world factors such as this potentially throwing things off a little.

Even with these potential issues, however, the latest generation of the GPS system can, in theory, pinpoint your location within about a foot or about 30 centimeters.

You may have spotted a problem here, however. While the GPS satellites are using extremely precise and synchronized atomic clocks, the GPS system in your car, for example, has no such synchronized atomic clock. So how does it accurately determine how long it took for the signal to get from the satellite to itself?

It simply uses at least four, instead of three, satellites, giving it the extra data point it needs to solve the necessary equations to get the appropriate missing time variable. In a nutshell, there is only one point in time that will match the edge of all four spheres intersecting in one point in space on Earth. Thus, once the variables are solved for, the receiver can adjust its own time keeping appropriately to be almost perfectly synchronized, at least momentarily, with the much more precise GPS atomic clocks. In some sense, this makes GPS something of a 4D system, in that, with it, you can know your precise point in not only space, but time.

By continually updating its own internal clock in this way, the receiver on the ground ends up being nearly as accurate as an atomic clock and is a time keeping device that is then almost perfectly synchronized with other such receivers across the globe, all for almost no cost at all to the end users because the U.S. government is footing the bill for all the expensive bits of the system and maintaining it.

Speaking of that maintanence, another problem you may have spotted is that various factors can, and do, continually move the GPS satellites off their original orbits. So how is this accounted for?

Tracking stations on Earth continually monitor the exact orbits of the various GPS satellites, with this information, along with any needed time corrections to account for things like Relatively, frequently updated in the GPS almanac and ephemeris. These two data sets are used for holding satellite status and positional information and are regularly broadcast to receivers, which is how said receivers know exact positions of the satellites in the first place.

The satellites themselves can also have their orbits adjusted if necessary, with this process simply being to mark the satellite as “unhealthy” so receivers will ignore it, then move it to its new position, track that orbit, and once that is accurately known, update the almanac and ephemeris and mark the satellite as “healthy” again.

So that’s more or less how GPS came to be and how it works at a high level. What about the part where we said many GPS devices may potentially stop working very soon if not updated?

Near the turn of the century something happened that had never happened before in the GPS world — dubbed a “dress rehearsal for the Y2K bug”. You see, as a part of the time stamp sent by the GPS satellites, there is something known as the Week Number — literally just the number of weeks that have passed since an epoch, originally set to Jan. 6, 1980. Along with this Week Number the number of seconds since midnight on the previous Saturday evening is sent, thus allowing the GPS receiver to calculate the exact date.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Artist’s conception of GPS Block II-F satellite in Earth orbit.

So what’s the problem with this? It turns out every 1024 weeks (about every 19 years and 8 months) from the epoch, the number rolls back to 0 owing to this integer information being in 10 bit format.

Thus, when this happens, any GPS receiver that doesn’t account for the Week Number Rollover, will likely stop functioning correctly, though the nature of the malfunction varies from vendor to vendor and device, depending on how said vendor implemented their system.

For some, the bug might manifest as a simple benign date reporting error. For others, such a date reporting error might mean everything from incorrect positioning to even a full system crash.

If you’ve done the math, you’ve probably deduced that this issue first popped up in August of 1999, only about four years after the GPS system itself was fully operational.

At this point, of course, GPS wasn’t something that was so ubiquitously depended on as it is today, with only 10-15 million GPS receivers in use worldwide in 1999 according to a 1999 report by the the United States Department of Commerce’s Office of Telecommunications. Today, of course, that number is in the billions of devices.

Thankfully, when the next Week Number Rollover event happens on April 6, 2019, it would seem most companies that rely on GPS for critical systems, like airlines, banking institutions, cell networks, power grids, etc., have already taken the necessary steps to account for the problem.

The more realistic problems with this second Week Number Rollover event will probably mostly occur at the consumer level, as most people simply are not aware of the issue at all.

Thankfully, if you’ve updated your firmware on your GPS device recently or simply own a GPS device purchased in the last few years, you’re probably going to be fine here.

However, should you own a GPS device that is several years old, that may not be the case and you’ll most definitely want to go to the manufacturer’s website and download any relevant updates before the second GPS epoch.

That public service announcement out of the way, if you’re now wondering why somebody doesn’t just change the specification altogether to stop using a 10 bit Week Number, well, you’re not the first to think of this. Under the latest GPS interface specifications, a 13 bit Week Number is now used, meaning in newer devices that support this, the issue won’t come up again for about a century and a half. As the machines are bound to rise up and enslave humanity long before that occurs, that’s really their issue to solve at that point.

Bonus Facts:

  • Ever notice that your cell phone tends to lock on to your GPS position extremely quickly, even after having been powered off for a long time? How does it do this when other GPS devices must wait to potentially receive a fresh copy of the almanac and ephemeris? It turns out cell phones tend to use something called Assisted GPS, where rather than wait to receive that data from the currently orbiting GPS satellites, they will instead get it from a central server somewhere. The phone may also simply use its position in the cell phone network (using signals from towers around) to get an approximate location to start while it waits to acquire the signal from the GPS satellites, partially masking further delay there. Of course, assisted GPS doesn’t work if you don’t have a cell signal, and if you try to use your GPS on your phone in such a scenario you’ll find that if you turn off the GPS for a while and then later turn it back on, it will take a while to acquire a signal like any other GPS device.
  • Starting just before the first Gulf War, the military degraded the GPS signal for civilian use in order to keep the full accuracy of the system as a U.S. military advantage. However, in May of 2000, this policy was reversed by President Bill Clinton and civilian GPS got approximately ten times more accurate basically overnight.
  • The military also created the ability to selectively stop others from using GPS at all, as India discovered thanks to the Kargil conflict with Pakistan in 1999. During the conflict, the U.S. blocked access to the GPS system from India owing to, at the time, better longstanding relations between the U.S. and Pakistan than the U.S. had with India. Thus, the U.S. didn’t want to seem like it was helping India in the war.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

A sharp-eyed aviation photographer caught a photo of a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet two-seat variant transiting through the Star Wars canyon, one of the most popular western U.S. low-flying areas, earlier this month during what appears to be filming of in-cockpit sequences for the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” movie.

The photo, posted to Instagram by Christopher Lohff (@lohffingfoto), shows the pilot/front-seater wearing the same HGU-68/P lightweight flight helmet with custom graphics as seen in previously leaked photos from the production of “Top Gun: Maverick”. The upcoming film, slated for release on June 26, 2020 in the U.S., is likely entering the final stages of its production phase before going to post-production and editing.


[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BvdEMuyAKOK/ expand=1]Christopher Lohff on Instagram: “Someone’s excited for the Top Gun sequel! This VFA-122 Flying Eagles F/A-18F pilot was sporting what I can only recognize as Maverick’s…”

www.instagram.com

Another interesting detail in the photo is the appearance of an array of what appears to be four of the new Sony VENICE CineAlta video cameras on the coaming of the rear cockpit. The new Sony VENICE CineAlta is a full-frame, 36x24mm digital video camera that shoots at a maximum resolution of 6048×4032 and can be modified to shoot at even higher quality resolution. The cameras cost about ,000 USD each without lenses or upgrades for higher resolution.

The Sony VENICE CineAlta array seen in the F/A-18 appears includes four rearward-facing cameras in the aft cockpit of the F/A-18 with various focal length lenses including at least two very wide-angle lenses. The camera array is fitted to the top of the rear cockpit coaming at the top of the instrument panel with a custom machined mount.

These photos give a clue about what some of the in-cockpit sequences may look like when the film debuts next year.

Just before the photos from the western low-flying areas appeared on Instagram, the Internet was filled with “spy” photos of an F-14 Tomcat being used in filming for the upcoming movie. The appearance of the Tomcat suggests a retrospective sequence, some kind of “flashback” to the original “Top Gun” in this upcoming release.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BvkSnlkl6uJ/ expand=1]Skid Voodoo on Instagram: “Our Hero Tomcat should be returning to the San Diego Air & Space Museum Annex soon. Its service to the new film is coming to a close after…”

www.instagram.com

The F-14 Tomcat that was sighted around Coronado Island and North Island NAS also showed up on the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) for some filming sequences. One sequence included the aircraft being stopped in the large net/arresting barrier used for emergency recoveries onboard ship. The F-14 used in the filming is likely Grumman F-14A Tomcat #159638, an aircraft previously on display at the San Diego Air Space Museum’s Gillespie Annex in El Cajon, California.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

Articles

High school teacher made honorary Army recruiter

Kings Mountain High School teacher Hailey Spearman was made an honorary recruiter for the Shelby Army Recruiting Center at a ceremony on Fort Jackson, S.C. on April 22.


Spearman attended a Future Soldier event with her local Shelby recruiter, Staff Sgt. Casey Raza, and some of her students who have joined the U.S. Army this school year. They received first-hand experience of what Army basic training entails.

Spearman teaches English Language Arts and coaches the women’s track and field team at KMHS.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
Back row left to right: Army Future Soldier Malachi Wingate, Shelby Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Casey Raza, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas McEwen and Asheville Company. Commander Capt. William Rivers. Front row left to right: Shelby Army Recruiting Center Leader Sgt. First Class David Lee, Army Future Soldier Tatiana Phillips, Ja’Myiah Pressley, who is interested in joining the Army, Army Future Soldier Alleya Roberts, Kings Mountain teacher Hailey Spearman and U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Lt. Col. Robert Garbarino. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Westfall)

Lt. Col. Robert Garbarino, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Columbia Commander, said both teacher and recruiter work together to help students find their options for life after high school.

“Ms. Spearman is a model for what a community advocate does for our recruiting efforts,” Garbarino said.

He deputized her by giving her his Army Recruiting Badge in front of over 250 Future Soldiers and their guests. He also presented her with a plaque to thank her for her efforts to promote awareness on Army opportunities. Garbarino said he was pleased to recognize Spearman after hearing how she goes the extra mile for her students.

Raza said that Spearman has been instrumental to the process.

“I wanted to reach as many students as possible to show them all of their options,” Raza said. “She allowed me to give presentations during her English classes and to students who are on her track team.”

Spearman said Raza puts the needs of each student first.

“She has a way of building positive relationships with students and therefore, our students look up to her and respect her opinions concerning the Army,” Spearman said.

Articles

The 5 biggest stories in the military world right now (July 1)

It’s Hump Day, and here is what you need to know around the national security space this morning:


  • The death toll from the Indonesian Air Force C-130 mishap yesterday has risen to 142, according to Yahoo News.
  • WATM’s bud and Washington Post military correspondent Dan Lamothe reports on evidence that Russia has a secret base in Ukraine.
  • New images show the Chinese are building military facilities on reclaimed land in the South China Sea. WaPo has the full report here.
  • WATM’s other bud (yes, we have two), Leo Shane III of Military Times, writes that Congress is approving military nominations while sitting on civilian ones.
  • Man accused of taking bribes and paying kickbacks to obtain military contracts in Iraq is being sentenced today in Ohio. The Associated Press has coverage here.

Now read this: Russia has a ‘troll farm’ of people posting crazy internet comments all day long

MIGHTY TRENDING

Israel retaliates after 150 rockets are fired from Gaza strip

Palestinian militants on the Gaza Strip launched at least 150 rockets at Israel overnight, and Israel retaliated by pounding the region with deadly airstrikes.

The Israel Defense Forces said mounting violence began Aug. 8 after militants shot at an IDF vehicle in the Gaza Strip. In response, Israel responded with tank fire.


In the hours following the exchange, sirens sounded across southern Israel in communities that surround the Gaza Strip, including Sderot. Israel deployed its Iron Dome system and intercepted 25 launches, though several civilians were injured by shrapnel.

Israel’s rescue service Magen David Adom said three Israelis, including two men ages 34 and 20, were taken to a hospital for treatment.

In another round of escalation, Israel responded to rocket fire by striking what it said were Hamas militant targets in Gaza. By early Aug. 9, the IDF said it struck more than 140 targets.

A 30-year-old Hamas affiliate was killed in the strikes, the Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said. A 23-year-old pregnant woman and her 18-month old child were also killed in the strikes, according to the ministry. At least eight other civilians in Gaza were also injured, the ministry said.

The IDF said it fired at a vehicle used to launch rockets at Israeli territory.

Israel and militants in Gaza have exchanged frequent fire in recent months. In May, more than 100 rockets were launched from Gaza in the worst escalation since 2014, when Israeli troops invaded Gaza.

Following May’s rocket attacks, Israel and Gaza reached an uneasy cease-fire mediated by Egypt, though rocket launches and airstrike retaliation has continued.

Both sides have said they are working toward a cease-fire agreement, though continued rocket fire may dampen efforts. As of Aug. 9, sirens continued to sound in Israeli border communities.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a trip to Colombia to meet with security officials for cease-fire negotiations. Israel, however, appears to be learning more toward a quid pro quo agreement with Hamas instead of a comprehensive cease-fire, as past resolutions have often crumbled.

According to Haaretz, an Israeli official source said last week that cease-fire talks would not succeed unless the bodies of slain Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians being held captive in Gaza were returned.

A Hamas official told the Turkish news agency Anadolu on Aug. 7 that the two sides were expected to sign an agreement by late August that would reportedly lift restrictions on the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip in exchange for a five-year cease-fire and the return of the Israeli captives.

Israel’s defense chief said last month that Gaza’s only commercial border crossing, Keren Shalom, would reopen if calm persisted. The border had been closed in response to damage caused by incendiary balloons launched into Israeli territory.

The Hamas deputy chief Khalil Al-Hayya told Al Jazeera TV on Aug. 8 that talks mediated by the UN and Egypt to bring calm to the region were in “advanced stages.” according to Reuters.

“We can say that actions led by the United Nations and Egypt are in advanced stages and we hope it could yield some good from them,” he said. “What is required is for calm to be restored along the border between us and the Zionist enemy.”

Neither the UN nor Egypt has publicly discussed its plans for a renewed Gaza cease-fire, but they said it would bring economic relief to Gaza’s 2 million residents experiencing shortages under crippling blockades.

Jason Greenblatt, a US envoy who has been involved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, pointed a finger squarely at Hamas for the escalation of violence.

The Islamic militant group Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since Israel disengaged from the region in 2005. Since then, the group has fought three wars with Israel, most recently in 2014, resulting in deaths and injuries of thousands of civilians and leaving much of Gaza is ruin.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army boosts soldier battery power for greater lethality

Army Futures Command, or AFC, is helping to increase soldier lethality and survivability through the research and development of lighter batteries with more power and extended runtimes.

As the Army modernizes the current force and prepares for multi-domain operations, the quantity and capabilities of soldier-wearable technologies are expected to increase significantly, as will the need for power and energy sources to operate them.

Engineers and scientists at AFC’s subordinate command — the Combat Capabilities Development Command, or CCDC — are making investments to ensure future power and energy needs are met by exploring improvements in silicon anode technologies to support lightweight battery prototype development.


“This chemistry translates to double the performance and duration of currently fielded batteries for dismounted soldiers,” said Christopher Hurley, a lead electronics engineer in the Command, Power and Integration Directorate, or CPID, of CCDC’s center for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance — or C5ISR.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Sgt. 1st Class Edvar Chevalier demonstrates a prototype of the Conformal Wearable Battery that incorporates silicon-anode technology at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in June 2019.

(Army photo by Dan Lafontaine)

“The capabilities of these materials have been proven at the cell level to substantially increase energy capacity. We’re aiming to integrate those cells into smaller, lighter power sources for soldiers,” Hurley said. “Our goal is to make soldiers more agile and lethal while increasing their survivability.”

Soldiers currently carry an average of 20.8 pounds of batteries for a 72-hour mission. With the Army focused on modernization and the need to add new capabilities that require greater power, the battery weight will continue to increase and have a detrimental effect on soldiers’ performance during missions, Hurley said.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Sgt. 1st Class Edvar Chevalier demonstrates a prototype of the Conformal Wearable Battery that incorporates silicon-anode technology at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in June 2019.

(Army photo by Dan Lafontaine)

“The C5ISR Center is helping the Army get ahead of this problem by working on advanced materials like silicon anode,” said Hurley, who noted that incorporating silicon-based anodes into Army batteries will cut their battery weight in half.

The C5ISR Center is incorporating component-level RD of advanced battery technologies into the Army’s Conformal Wearable Battery, or CWB, which is a thin, flexible, lightweight battery that can be worn on a soldier’s vest to power electronics. Early prototypes of the updated silicon anode CWB delivered the same amount of energy with a 29 percent reduction in volume and weight.

The military partners with the commercial power sector to ensure manufacturers can design and produce batteries that meet Warfighters’ future needs. However, the needs of civilian consumers and Warfighters are different, said Dr. Ashley Ruth, a CPID chemical engineer.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Sgt. 1st Class Edvar Chevalier demonstrates a prototype of the Conformal Wearable Battery that incorporates silicon-anode technology at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in June 2019.

(Army photo by Dan Lafontaine)

The Army cannot rely on the commercial sector alone to meet its power demands because of soldiers’ requirements, such as the need to operate at extreme temperatures and withstand the rigors of combat conditions. For this reason, the electrochemical composition in battery components required for the military and consumer sector is different.

“An increase in silicon content can greatly help achieve the high energy needs of the soldier; however, a great deal of research is required to ensure a suitable product. These changes often require entirely new materials development, manufacturing processes and raw materials supply chains,” Ruth said.

“Follow-on improvements at the component level have improved capacity by two-fold. Soldiers want a CWB that will meet the added power consumption needs of the Army’s future advanced electronics.”

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Sgt. 1st Class Edvar Chevalier demonstrates a prototype of the Conformal Wearable Battery that incorporates silicon-anode technology at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in June 2019.

(Army photo by Dan Lafontaine)

As the Army’s primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the C5ISR Center is maturing and applying the technologies to support the power needs of the Army’s modernization priorities and to inform requirements for future networked Soldiers. This includes leading the development of the Power and Battery Integrated Requirements Strategy across AFC, said Beth Ferry, CPI’s Power Division chief.

As one of the command’s highest priorities, this strategy will heavily emphasize power requirements, specifications and standards that will showcase the importance of power and energy across the modernization priorities and look to leverage cross-center efforts to work on common high-priority gaps.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Sgt. 1st Class Edvar Chevalier demonstrates a prototype of the Conformal Wearable Battery that incorporates silicon-anode technology at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in June 2019.

(Army photo by Dan Lafontaine)

Power Division researchers are integrating the silicon anode CWB with the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, a high-priority augmented reality system with next-generation capabilities for solider planning and training. Because IVAS is a dismounted soldier system that will require large amounts of power, the Army is in need of an improved power solution.

To gain soldiers’ feedback on varying designs, the C5ISR Center team plans to take 200 silicon anode CWB prototypes to IVAS Soldier Touchpoint 3 Exercise in July 2020. This will be the first operational demonstration to showcase the silicon anode CWB.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Sgt. 1st Class Edvar Chevalier demonstrates a prototype of the Conformal Wearable Battery that incorporates silicon-anode technology at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in June 2019.

(Army photo by Dan Lafontaine)

The C5ISR Center is finalizing a cell-level design this year, safety testing this summer, and packaging and battery-level testing taking place from fall 2019 to spring 2020. Advances in chemistry research can be applied to all types of Army batteries, including the BB-2590, which is currently used in more than 80 pieces of Army equipment.

“A two-fold increase in capacity and runtime is achievable as a drop-in solution,” Ruth said. “Because of the widespread use of rechargeable batteries, silicon anode technology will become a significant power improvement for the Army.”

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

MIGHTY GAMING

6 reasons why it would suck to be a Stormtrooper in Star Wars

With release dates just around the corner for the new film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and game, Battlefront II, it’s time to fill that Game of Thrones-sized hole in our hearts.


Related: This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition.

Out of all of the troops in the Star Wars canon, no one has it worse than the Stormtrooper. The Clones of the prequel saga were beloved across the Galactic Republic despite having numbers around the same as Eritrea’s military (both at 200,000). And the rebels had somewhat stable living conditions and maintained some form of identity.

But it’s the Imperial Stormtroopers and the First Order Stormtroopers that truly embrace the suck. Still, First Order Stormtroopers have been training since they were born, which is terrible in and of itself. The Stormtroopers of the original trilogy enlisted like troops today and would then realize their Imperial recruiter lied to them.

1. Loss of comrades

With 1,179,293 deaths on the first Death Star and 2,471,647 deaths on the second Death Star, roughly 120 on-screen deaths, and god knows how many Imperials have died elsewhere in the series, it’s fair to say that if you’re a Stormtrooper, death is all around you.

Troopers who would survive would be damaged by survivor’s guilt. The deaths of their comrades, best friends, and squad mates may not mean anything on the scale of the Galactic Empire, but it would devastate the surviving trooper.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
(Image via Funnyjunk)

2. No identity

Every Stormtrooper dons the signature white armor. Only differences would be by rank and position.

All of this would be more apparent when officers over you keep their identity and maintain far more privileges than the average buckethead.

The lost of one’s identity can be detrimental to their mental health. Being forced to work until exhaustion, training constantly (they’d have to, right? They’re formations are impeccable), constant control by higher-ups and other rigors of being a soldier without the benefit of “off-time” would be disastrous.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
I refuse to believe that every one of these Troopers avoided locking their knees and passed out. (Film by 20th Century Fox)

3. Chain of command would be at their throat

Speaking of constant control by higher-ups, the expression “sh*t rolls down hill” would take on a whole new meaning for Stormtroopers.

While in the novels and comics, Darth Vader is seen personally earning the loyalty of his troops, the same could not be said of the rest of a Stormtrooper’s chain of command.

In the real-world military, a threat from a General officer to the next echelon down is taken seriously, even if the consequence is a stern talking to. That rolls into more dire consequences until Article 15’s are tossed around like candy. Now imagine how that would multiply if the General knew he would be force choked in a board meeting for a slight mistake.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
This meme is true… from a certain point of view. (Meme via Twitter)

4. Acclimatization to new planets

Being deployed to Afghanistan from Fort Campbell, Kentucky can take some time to adjust for a U.S. soldier.

Now imagine going from Tatooine to Hoth to Endor. The suit may help with the weather, but the changes in gravity, atmosphere, and day length would still take its toll on a trooper. Expect to go to a new planet many times within the span of a few weeks.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
Yeah. Iraq could totally be Tatooine… wait… those brown marks… OH GOD! Please don’t tell me they had burn pits too! (Film by 20th Century Fox)

5. All of the ways physics would screw you over

Neil deGrasse Tyson would probably have a field day with this.

The science of Star Wars is still fairly vague. The series is more about the adventure than the theoretical physics. Throwing E=MC^2 out the window for a bit, allows nothing with mass to reach the speed of light (if not faster) without a power supply with infinite energy output — let’s keep this going.

The Galactic Empire governs the entirety of the galaxy, all 14,670 light years across. Because even if they could travel faster than the speed of light, everything on the planets would stay the same.

Getting from the capital of Coruscant to the other end of the galaxy on Tatooine would mean hundreds of lifetimes passed while you blinked. An order given on Hoth would take eons to reach Bespin.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case in the Star Wars franchise, meaning everyone is traveling faster than scientifically possible. What would that do to a body? (The answer: nothing good.)

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
Good luck at the Imperial VA… (Image via Reddit)

6. Aiming

And the most commonly attributed trait among the Stormtroopers is their terrible aim.

The first moments we see them they can gun down the rebels on the cruiser with ease. Every battle shown with nameless rebel characters, they shoot perfectly fine. Even a former General in the Clone Army, Obi-wan Kenobi, says “These blast points… Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.”

You miss shooting a princess one time — a princess who is also your boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ daughter, who your orders are to capture alive, and needs to stay alive so the tracking device can lead your moon-sized planet destroyer over the entire enemy base — you’re forever labeled as having sh*tty aim. No respect for just doing your job.

Other than that moment, they have no problem shooting Princess Leia. Once with a stun laser at the beginning of New Hope and again at the Battle of Endor.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
Existence is pain to a Stormtrooper. (Image via Reddit)

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Today is ‘Gold Star Spouses Day.’ Here are 5 things to know.

Gold Star Spouses Day has its origins way back to World War I. The families of servicemen would fly banners and hang them in their windows. These banners had a blue star to represent a service member in uniform. But, if their loved one was killed in action, the color of the star was changed from blue to gold, thus notifying the community the ultimate price that family had paid for their country.

1. The Gold Star lapel pin was created in 1947

Following the popularity of the banners, in 1947, Congress approved the design for the official Gold Star lapel pin/button. This was introduced to represent service members who had died in combat. The pin takes the form of a gold star on a purple background.

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

2. The military bestows the Gold Star upon families 

During the funeral service of the fallen military member, senior officers present the Gold Star Pin in addition to the national colors to the spouse or next of kin as a mark of respect for their sacrifice.

3. Gold Star Wives/Spouses Day began in 2010

In 2010, the first Gold Star Wives Day was observed. Two years later the Senate passed a resolution that codified Gold Star Wives Day, which was set to be observed April 5th each year. To make it more inclusive this was changed later and renamed Gold Star Spouses Day.

4. Gold Star Spouses Day raises awareness

Gold Star Spouses Day brings awareness of the sacrifices and grief these spouses have faced in the name of their country. However, possibly more importantly, it brings awareness for the Gold Star survivors themselves of the large network of resources and assistance that is available to them. A few examples of the resources available to these spouses are: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), scholarship resources which include the Pat Tillman Scholarship and the Fisher House Foundation Scholarship for Military Children, in addition to the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services (SOS).

The art of a killer cartoon: The CO can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

5. Gold Star Spouses Day is observed in many ways

While Gold Star Spouses Day is not a national holiday, there are many installations that have their own programs to observe this day. Many of the installation observances focus on the military fitness and lifestyle. For instance, there are quite a few remembrance 5Ks which are run on April 5. There are also remembrance efforts seen online and on social media. One such effort is the Facebook campaign which urges Gold Star families to share photos and memories of their fallen loved ones.

While Gold Star Spouses Day is one day set aside each April to acknowledge the sacrifices of these military family members, their grief and loss is something that should be remembered each and every day. These special families have lost a loved one in the name of freedom, in the name of the United States. Their family member willingly fought, served and gave that ultimate sacrifice. This is something that should never be overlooked or forgotten, rather is something that should be acknowledged every day. Without these tragic losses, Americans would not have the freedoms they hold so dear, nor would America be the proud country that it has always been. It is only through the willingness to give everything that Americans have the ability to hold onto the patriotic pride that is so important.

This Gold Star Spouses Day, and every day, take the time to remember these families that have given so much. Never take for granted the freedoms America has been given and fought for. Keep these sacrifices in mind each day, and be grateful for the men and women who are so willing to pay that ultimate price for their country. Whether you take to social media or see one at your local military installation, thank a Gold Star Spouse today.

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