Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

This week’s Borne the Battle podcast features Dr. Albert Weed, whose career has taken him from enlisted Green Beret Army medic to an Army medical officer to VA surgeon. Weed discussed his name, and how his family’s military background and medical experiences led him to, among other things, peacekeeping in Egypt, swimming in Saddam Hussein’s pool, and receiving four different DD-214s.


Weed traces his journey’s beginnings from high school and later to Special Forces training, where he volunteered to work as a medic. The future doctor realized during training that he wanted to stay in the medical field. He was inspired to become an Army medical doctor while doing his clinical. He had just finished a late shift helping labor and deliveries and was planning to take a nap when he was called to the operating room to help. After the operation, Weed went out for a run instead of taking his nap. In that moment, he realized he wanted to pursue a medical career.

Peacekeeping with the MFO in the Sinai 1987 – 1 of 7

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This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the fighting vehicle Aussies use to ride into combat

When the Australian Army was looking for a new infantry fighting vehicle in the early 1990s, they were looking to address a few specific needs. One of them was that the new vehicle be able to handle the unique conditions of Australia. After looking, the Australians turned to a rugged vehicle that the United States Marine Corps had proven in combat in Desert Storm, the LAV-25.

Well, to be precise, it was the MOWAG Piranha — it’s the vehicle that was lightly modified to become the LAV-25. The Canadians also operate this vehicle as the Coyote. So, in 1995, Australia began to buy what they called the Australian Light Armored Vehicle, or ASLAV.


Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

A look at the rear compartment of the ASLAV-25, which holds six troops. The vehicle also carries 720 rounds of ammo for the 25mm chain gun.

(Photo by Nick-D)

The baseline ASLAV packs a 25mm Bushmaster chain gun and a 7.62mm machine gun. It has a crew of three — a driver, a gunner, and a vehicle commander — and holds six grunts. The vehicle has a top speed of 75 miles per hour and can go 410 miles on a single tank of gas. In short, the ASLAV moves fast and can take out enemy armored personnel carriers, trucks, and troops, and then hold ground with the help of the embarked troops.

As was the case with the Marine Corps LAV-25s, there’s a whole family of ASLAV vehicles, each specially tuned for specific missions. Variants include an armored personnel carrier with a .50-caliber machine gun that has a crew of two and holds seven troops, an ambulance, a “battlefield surveillance” vehicle, a command vehicle, an armored recovery vehicle, and a “maintenance support” vehicle.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

An Australian ASLAV-25 taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom. Its 25mm cannon is the primary armament, and the vehicle has 720 rounds.

(US Army photo by Spc. Edward A. Garibay)

The ASLAV has seen its share of combat in East Timor, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. A total of 257 vehicles of the ASLAV family were built. The vehicles will see service through 2021, by which point they’ll be replaced by the Boxer family of armored vehicles.

Learn more about this fighting vehicle from down under in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzGru6cpCCE

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MIGHTY TRENDING

England makes case for a 3rd Russian agent in spy poisoning

A third Russian intelligence agent went to England to plan the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in early 2018, The Telegraph has reported, casting further doubt on the Kremlin’s claims that it had no knowledge of the attack.

The UK in early September 2018 accused two Russian men, who traveled under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of the attempted assassination.

British officials say they were members of the GRU, Russia’s intelligence service. President Vladimir Putin claimed the two men were civilians, and the two men even appeared on Russian TV to say they were visiting Salisbury as tourists.


UK counter terrorism police and the security services identified the third agent, and say the person visited Salisbury to prepare for the attack on Sergei Skripal before two of his colleagues arrived, The Telegraph reported on Sept. 27, 2018.

Authorities believe the third agent visited Salisbury ahead of the attack, and reported the layout of Skripal’s neighborhood and property to the two agents who later carried out the attack, the newspaper said.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in March 2018 after being exposed to novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, which was smeared on his front door.

A British couple who lived nearby were also exposed to the same batch of nerve agent in July 2018, which led to the death of one woman.

The investigative-journalism site Bellingcat this week identified Boshirov as Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU, Russia’s intelligence service.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

Surveillance camera footage of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two suspects in the Skripal attack, at Salisbury train station the day before Skripal’s collapse.

Bellingcat’s findings suggest that Putin was in fact aware of the suspect’s legal identity, which would seem to disprove the Russian president’s claim that he didn’t know who Boshirov and Petrov were, that they were civilians, and that the Kremlin had no knowledge of the Skripal attack.

The findings are also in line with the British government’s claim, citing security and intelligence agencies’ investigations, that Boshirov and Petrov were officers from Russia’s intelligence services.

Prime Minister Theresa May in early September 2018 also said that authorization for the attack “almost certainly” came from senior members of the Russian government.

The Skripal poisoning caused a large diplomatic rift between the UK and Russia. London accused Moscow of being behind the attack, which the Kremlin repeatedly denied. More than 20 countries also joined the UK in expelling Russian diplomats as punishment.

The British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on Sept. 27, 2018, suggested that Russia was not expecting such a large international response to the attempted assassination.

Hunt told Sky News:

“They can’t have been expecting Theresa May to put together a coalition that saw 153 Russian spies expelled from capitals in 28 countries across the world.
“So they paid a very high diplomatic price — but they need to understand that it will not be a comfortable place for Russia in the world if this is the way they behave.”

Business Insider has contacted the Russian Embassy in the UK for comment.

The London Metropolitan Police, who is leading the investigation into the attack, declined to comment on The Telegraph’s report.

The force told Business Insider in a statement on Sept. 27, 2018, that international arrest warrants for Petrov and Boshirov remain active. However, Russia does not extradite its own citizens.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-35 is getting a long-range missile that can blind enemy air defenses

As rival powers develop increasingly capable air-defense networks, the US military is working with defense firms to arm the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter with a missile able to destroy these systems at long range.

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $34.7 million contract to modify the stealth jet’s internal weapons bay to carry “aft heavy weaponry,” the Department of Defense announced July 2019.

The “aft heavy weaponry” referenced in the announcement is the Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile — Extended Range (AARGM-ER), a standoff weapon designed to target enemy radar systems from outside the range of enemy air-defense assets, a source close to the project told Aviation Week.


Northrop Grumman, which is responsible for the development of the AARGM-ER, has said that this long-range weapon can be deployed from a “sanctuary,” a protected area presumably beyond the reach of Chinese and Russian anti-access area-denial capabilities.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

The exact range of the weapon is classified, although there are reports that it could be in excess of 120 miles, significantly farther than the 60 to 80 miles of the AGM-88E AARGM.

The US Navy began developing the AARGM-ER, officially designated the AGM-88G, nearly two years ago with reported plans to field this weapon on nonstealthy fourth-generation fighters like the carrier-based F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and the electronic attack EA-18G Growlers sometime in the early 2020s.

The service is expected to later integrate the missile into the weapons bay of the fifth-generation F-35Cs, which only recently achieved initial operating capability.

The Air Force, also a part of the project, is expected to field the AGM-88G on its F-35As around 2025. The Marine Corps F-35Bs, because of the presence of the lift fan, has very limited space in its internal weapons bay.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter in-flight missile launch.

(F-35 Program Office)

The F-35 modifications, which will involve changes to the Station 425 bulkhead in the weapons bay, will also allow the advanced fighters to carry more air-to-air missiles internally, Aviation Week reported. The “Sidekick” modification, as the program is called, will allow the F-35 to carry six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles, instead of four, internally.

The ability to store more firepower in the weapons bay rather than externally allows the F-35 to maintain its all-aspect stealth in combat. Storing the weapons on the outside in the “beast-mode” configuration allows the aircraft to carry more weapons overall, but it increases the size of the jet’s radar signature, making it easier to detect.

The modifications will be made at a facility in Fort Worth, Texas, and completed in 2022.

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

Articles

Bombs for bases — Russia establishes permanent naval port in Syria

With Russia’s announcement of a new permanent naval base in Tartus, Syria – long a port used by Russian (and prior to 1991, Soviet) forces, Moscow’s expansion into that war torn country continues even as the Assad regime is wracked by civil war.


But Russia has had a long history in the Med.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon
The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. (Photo from Wikimedia)

Tartus Naval Base has been used by the Russians since 1971. In those 45 years, it served as a forward operating location for the Fifth Eskadra (5th Operational Squadron). This unit was intended to counter the presence of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Med. The base had not been able to permanently support major vessels like the Kuznetov-class carrier; the Kirov-class battlecruisers; the Slava-class cruisers; or even modern destroyers and frigates in Russian service. The new construction at the base is intended to make it a permanent base for carriers and larger vessels as opposed to just a place to park.

The Fifth Eskadra was formed in 1967 after the Egypt-Israel Six Day War. The Soviets had been unable to find a way to inflict damage on the Sixth Fleet in the event of a war with the United States. This was not a solid strategic position from its perspective, and Russian naval legend Sergei Gorshkov pestered his superiors until the unit was formed.

The unit usually consisted of as many as 80 vessels, including two guided-missile cruisers and a number of smaller escorts like the Mod Kashin-class destroyer or Krivak-class frigate, ten diesel-electric submarines, and a host of auxiliary vessels. The Sixth Fleet usually had half that total, but much of its strength would be concentrated in a carrier battle group which could make life exciting (not to mention short) for the Soviet vessels.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians disbanded the Fifth Eskadra at the end of 1992 — a little over 25 years after the squadron was formed. Two decades later, in 2013, the Russians re-formed the squadron as the Syrian civil war heated up.

Now with about 10 vessels, it is a shadow of the force that faced off with the Sixth Fleet. Still, it is a sign that Russia is reasserting itself in the region.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Old Hickory vets celebrate 75th anniversary of liberation

North Carolina National Guard soldiers escorted four WWII veterans and their families to 75th-anniversary liberation celebrations Sept. 11-17, 2019.

The veterans served in the 30th Infantry Division, known as Old Hickory, and helped to liberate Belgium and the Netherlands from German occupation in September 1944.

Throughout the week, the Old Hickory veterans were honored with ceremonies, dinners, hugs, and a parade through Maastricht in the Limburg Province.

The soldiers and WWII veterans enjoyed the festivities, as well as the smaller, more personal moments.


“The most emotional part for me was when George Ham visited the spot where his battle buddy was killed,” said Maj. Kevin Hinton, deputy commander for the NCNG’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “George served in Charlie Company, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, and that’s who I served with in Iraq in 2004.”

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

WWII Veterans who served in the 30th Infantry Division, and North Carolina National Guard soldiers visit the graves of 30th Inf. Div. soldiers buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands on Sept. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell)

Hinton, vice president of the 30th Infantry Division Association, said he felt a connection to what the WWII veteran was going through.

“Part of George’s emotion is that he was supposed to be that guy, but he switched positions,” Hinton said. “There’s probably some survivor’s guilt on his part, and I’ve been there. I understand that feeling.”

The N.C. Guard soldiers were all veterans of the same unit, having served in Iraq with the now reorganized 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, and acted as representatives of the Guard and the 30th Infantry Division Association, a membership group for veterans of the unit.

The trip affected not only the 30th Infantry Division veterans but also currently serving soldiers who were part of the liberation celebrations.

“It gives value to my own sense of service and what I’m doing now by serving,” said Col. Wes Morrison, the North Carolina Army National Guard chief of staff. “I see that folks appreciate, across the world, what the United States Army has done for the world at different times. Your service means something and it means something to not just Americans, but people across the world.”

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

WWII Veterans who served with the 30th Infantry Division were honored with a ceremony and parade through the City of Maastricht in the Limburg Province of the Netherlands that ended in a festival on Sept. 14, 2019, in celebration of 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Limburg Provence by 30th Inf. Div. soldiers in September of 1944.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell)

The group was able to visit the same places where the 30th Infantry Division fought back the German occupation and other places where they were able to rest after almost 90 days of being on the front lines.

One of those places was the Rolduc Abbey in Kerkrade, a rest center for soldiers after the liberation. While there, some of the current Soldiers took a photo in the same courtyard where a formation of Old Hickory soldiers took a photo 75 years ago.

Hinton hoped this trip would help build a bond between the new generation of Old Hickory veterans and the people of the Limburg province to continue the tradition.

“It’s a part of the history of the 30th and the North Carolina National Guard,” Hinton said. “We need to educate our young soldiers on the history of what the 30th has done. When the WWII veterans are long gone, the U.S. and the Netherlands will still exist, and we have to maintain this and remember what they did. Like someone said in one of the speeches, the beginnings of the European Union started with the liberation and the desire for Europe to never go through that again.”

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

WWII Veterans who served with the 30th Infantry Division, visit the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium on Sept. 15, 2019, where more than 300 Old Hickory soldiers who died during WWII are buried.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell)

As the soldiers, veterans, and their families prepared to travel home, many were heard to say “see you in five years,” anticipating the 80th anniversary of the liberation.

Even though the WWII veterans may no longer be able to make the trip, Morrison thought it was important the tradition continues.

“If we honor the veterans of the past, we bring more value to the service that we have today,” Morrison said. “You wear the uniform in the current unit, you’re wearing Old Hickory. You now have the responsibility of that lineage and history of that unit on your back. We can’t let them down. The history they created here, the high bar, high standard for performance of duty and what they did here, 75 years ago is something we have to keep in the back of our minds all the time.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This top-ranking Pentagon general wants to stick with the Iran nuke deal

The top U.S. military commander has warned against pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying doing so would complicate U.S. efforts to reach agreements with other nations.


General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the comments September 26 in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

His remarks come as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to criticize Tehran, and the landmark 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama in conjunction with other world powers.

The agreement curtailed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting punishing Western sanctions. Trump has called the deal “an embarrassment.”

Dunford told senators that Iran was complying with the deal.

But he also warned that Iran continued to destabilize countries and conflicts across the Middle East, and supported “terrorist organizations in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.”

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon
A mock U.S. aircraft carrier is destroyed by missiles launched by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps missiles during the IRGC Navy’s massive Payambar-e Azam 9 drills in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

Asked what would happen if the Trump administration walked away from the 2015 deal, Dunford said it would make it harder to strike other agreements.

“It makes sense to me that our holding up agreements that we have signed, unless there is a material breech, would have an impact on others’ willingness to sign agreements,” Dunford said.

Trump has until October 16 to certify to Congress that Iran is complying.

Then Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The legacy of Andy Marckesano: A Green Beret with a giant heart

Editor’s note: This article discusses veteran suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, suicidal ideation or are in crisis, please ask for and get the help you deserve. The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support for veterans in crisis and their families and friends. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or text 838255.

Andrew “Andy” Marckesano was a Green Beret and Silver Star Recipient. He was also a father, husband and deeply complex man struggling to come to grips with his service and life.

His wife of several months, Erin Marckesano, didn’t want to date him initially. An active duty soldier herself, she said the reputation of Special Operations Forces made her nervous. “He convinced me to let him take me out on a date and that was it. Andy was it,” she said with a smile. After nine months of dating they were married. 

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

Erin shared that people who saw Andy on the street were probably terrified of him. Big, burly and tattooed, he could make people nervous pretty easily. “Once you had a conversation with him though, you’d realize he was a big teddy bear. He was so concerned about everyone else. He was loyal to a fault, to the point where he didn’t pay attention to himself,” Erin explained. 

Andy loved his family and friends. He had an infectious personality and was always messing with his guys. Despite his big personality and loving nature, Erin noticed that his big blue eyes were sad. It’s something she told him on their first date. “People saw this change in him over the last couple of years,” she said.

In 2009, Andy was a part of the 82nd Airborne and 75th Ranger Regiment when he was deployed to Afghanistan in the Arghandab Valley to replace a unit that had sustained heavy losses. At the time, it was the most dangerous region of the war. Friends of Andy’s reported that it was a deployment he never truly got over. 

Andy deployed to Afghanistan again in 2013 and after returning home, attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection at Fort Bragg. He was chosen to attend the coveted “Q” course and graduated as a Green Beret in 2015. A Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Andy deployed again to Afghanistan in 2017. 

In 2020, Andy got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take an impressive job at the Pentagon; it was something he couldn’t turn down. But the job came at a cost. Andy’s ex-wife would get primary custody of his three children in a different state and it was the first time a deployment wasn’t responsible for keeping them apart.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

“Going to a new job, leaving his family and kids. It was during COVID and you could see the stress,” Erin said. But, “You could ask his friends and family, he was the happiest they’d ever seen him. There was no downward shift or spiral. That’s the hardest part for all of us,” Erin shared. But there was a change.

Three days after arriving in DC, Andy took his life.

Later, Erin went through Andy’s things and read his personal writings. The struggle of a man trying to reconcile his faith with the things he did in the war appeared to weigh heavily on Andy. “You see this internal conflict. He was trying to fit all of this into a puzzle and it doesn’t go neatly. He was very smart and very complex,” Erin said. “It’s okay to not be okay. No one has this puzzle put together. I think that’s what he was struggling with, all of these complexities. I know he felt loved… I just don’t know that it’s enough.”

It’s with that thought in mind that the Green Beret Foundation established The MSG Andrew Marckesano Suicide Prevention Fund. Executive Director Brent Cooper shared that Andy’s suicide in particular appeared to hit the Special Forces community especially hard. He was someone that outwardly had it all squared away, but now, we know, he didn’t.

“The matter of military and veteran suicide is a deeply nuanced, sensitive and constantly evolving issue,” Cooper explained. “At the Green Beret Foundation, our objective is to ensure that every Green Beret and Green Beret family member suffering from mental health challenges has access to all necessary avenues of treatment and care.”

Statistics show that many troops returning home from combat turn to alcohol as a means and method of coping, rather than addressing the root of their stressors. It’s something that Erin saw firsthand. “If he would have just paused for a millisecond, it never would have happened. If he could have for one second taken a deep breath, it wouldn’t have happened. If he could, I imagine him after, thinking, ‘What did I just do?’” she shared through tears. 

One of the hardest things for Erin is seeing the continuous emails and messages from other soldiers still coming to Andy’s phone, even after his death. “They are saying things like, ‘I understand and I know why you did it, I get it.’ But no one knows their pain, they are telling Andy … That’s why I think it’s so important, what the Green Beret Foundation is doing. Andy wasn’t the only one. He was just the only one that day,” Erin explained. 

For Cooper, this mission is personal. “Our goal is to leave no Green Beret or Green Beret family member behind, affording them the necessary care to enjoy meaningful and fulfilling lives free from the shadow of suicide,” he said. “We approach this matter from a holistic perspective, considering mental health care and suicide prevention to include treatments and therapies which may address other underlying concerns, such as substance abuse, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain and additional issues which may contribute to suicidal ideation.”

Andy’s life is one of courage, deep sacrifice and love. Although his suicide doesn’t define his entire story, it’s a page that has created a wave of devastating impact. He leaves behind a wife, three young children, a close-knit family and an entire Special Forces community, all deeply hurting from his absence. 

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

Despite his larger than life personality, supportive and loving family – Andy lost an internal battle. Through the MSG Andrew Marckesano Suicide Prevention Fund, Erin hopes Andy’s legacy and story give other Green Berets and their families a reason to pause and breathe. Then, keep fighting. 

To learn more about the Green Beret Foundation and their commitment in Andy’s honor, click here.  

MIGHTY TRENDING

As unemployment surges, Department of Veterans Affairs goes on hiring spree

Backed by a record $240 billion budget, the Department of Veterans Affairs has gone on a hiring spree to fill long-vacant spots as it battles coronavirus, pulling from the ranks of the retired and those furloughed or laid off by other health care systems.

From March 29 to April 11, VA hired 3,183 new staff, including 981 registered nurses, a 37.7% increase from the prior two-week period, VA said in an April 24 release.

In the next several weeks, the VA plans to add 4,500 more staff members, department secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.


“Many of VA’s new hires come from health care systems that have seen temporary layoffs due to COVID-19,” VA officials said in the release.

As the number of coronavirus cases surged, the VA began a national campaign to hire more registered nurses, respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists, housekeepers, supply technicians and other medical medical personnel to work in its 170 hospitals and more than 1,200 clinics nationwide.

The hires boosted the VA’s workforce to a record 390,000, or “nearly 55,000 more than we had five years ago,” the VA spokeswoman said.

However, the 390,000 figure for the total VA workforce was only 4,000 above the 386,000 number reported at a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee in September 2019.

VA Inspector General Michael Missal testified at the hearing that staffing shortages were “a root cause for many of the problems in veterans care.”

In his statement to the committee last Sept. 18, Missal said his office had reported on staffing shortages at the VA for the previous four years.

He noted that the Veterans Health Administration had made significant progress on hiring but said it continues to face challenges, including the higher pay offered by private health care systems.

As of Monday, the VA had reported a total of 434 coronavirus deaths of patients in the VA health care system, and a total of 7,001 veterans in VA medical care who had tested positive for the virus.

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

Articles

You’d better get used to the M4 carbine because it’s here to stay

When Eugene Stoner first introduced his aluminum and plastic Armalite rifle that would later become the basis for the M16 and M4, he scarcely could have imagined his little black rifle would still be in the hands of infantrymen more than 50 years later. Yet, after dozens of conflicts, Stoner’s lightweight automatic rifle persists — though it’s been modernized along the way.


The M16 evolved into the M16A1 all the way through M16A4 before being retired to non-frontline units. But along the way a shorter, handier carbine version was introduced. The earliest version of the M4 that featured most of the telltale aspects of the design was the CAR-15 SMG. Despite being labeled a submachine gun, the CAR-15 SMG still used the 5.56mm cartridge.

The SMG featured an overly-complex (yet functional) collapsible stock, shortened barrel and fixed carry handle. The biggest difference between early versions of the M16 and modern variations is modularity. Older models needed either modification, or special components to attach accessories like tac lights, lasers or optics. Yet underneath the anodized aluminum shell of every M4, lies the original M16.

Why does this matter? Because it shows that the M4 (in one form or another) is here to stay. It may evolve and grow, but the rifle itself will likely only leave U.S. service when something truly revolutionary emerges. Not a different rifle, nor a different caliber, but a different method of launching projectiles than smokeless powder altogether.

Imagine the cost and logistical nightmare of replacing all M4 rifles in service with all branches of the military. The price would be staggering. And that’s largely why the Army balked at replacing the M4 several years ago — too expensive, and not enough of a “leap” in technology to justify the cost.

The only way Congress would green light a true replacement weapon system is if something arrived that instantly made all modern firearms obsolete.

What would that weapon be? It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what that might look like, but it’s reasonably simple to determine what it wouldn’t do – launch solid projectiles.

First on the chopping block – solid or liquid-fueled rockets. Sounds obvious, but inventor Robert Mainhardt successfully built a series guns that fired small rockets known as microjets back in the late 1950s. While the rifles (really launchers) had many issues, the core problem that could never be solved is the lack of velocity close to the muzzle.

Whereas gunpowder-propelled bullets are at their peak velocity at the muzzle of the barrel, rockets accelerate much more slowly. So at close range the rounds would be ineffective. Add to this the complex nature of the round’s construction and the limited magazine capacity due to projectile size, and any weapon utilizing these rounds is objectively inferior to the M4.

What about magnets? The concept of a railgun isn’t new and has been around since the World War I, and the German air force even designed anti-aircraft batteries of railguns in WWII – but these never even reached prototype status. The biggest issue has been power supply, the large magnets required to launch projectiles at hypersonic speeds consume insane amounts of energy.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon
One of two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3) in port at Naval Base San Diego. The railguns are being displayed in San Diego as part of the Electromagnetic Launch Symposium, which brought together representatives from the U.S. and allied navies, industry and academia to discuss directed energy technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop/Released)

Modern physicists and engineers have successfully developed methods of magnetic propulsion that don’t require as much power, and have made railguns feasible. So feasible that railguns are currently being developed by the US Navy with one slated to deploy on a vessel this year.

For the uninitiated, the advantage of these guns over traditional cannons or guided missiles has to do with the incredible velocities of the projectiles themselves. When the Army worked alongside the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Electromagnetics, they found that railguns could fire a 4-pound tungsten rod at nearly two miles per second, or 6,840 mph. At this velocity, the round not only defeats the armor of a main battle tank like the M1 Abrams, it passes clean through both sides.

Sounds great, but currently the technology isn’t capable of being scaled down for use by individual soldiers. Also, the amount of power required still isn’t man-portable with current battery technology. Though even if it were, railguns are currently single-shot weapons, making them inferior to the M4 in close combat or urban fighting.

So what is the likely replacement for the M4? As crazy as it sounds, a directed energy weapon. Think more Star Trek than Star Wars – weaponized lasers would offer an enormous advantages over solid projectile firearms and cannons.

One of the largest benefits of a laser weapon would be velocity. With your beam traveling at the speed of sound and being relatively unaffected by gravity. So hitting a distant target wouldn’t require adjusting for wind or drop. But that’s impossible, right?

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Actually, the United States and Israel have been developing and deploying a Tactical High Energy Laser for more than a decade. Israel’s IDF even used the THEL to shoot down 28 incoming Katyusha rockets in 2000. Like the railgun, the THEL is currently far too massive and consumes too much power to be man-portable. But, the same thing was said about computers only a few decades ago. Who knows, maybe the M5A2 laser carbine is only a decade away.

Until then, the US military is stuck with upgrading, tweaking and tuning the M4 carbine. It might not be bleeding edge tech, but the old warhorse still accurately slings lead further than most soldiers can see, and it doesn’t weigh a ton.

MIGHTY FUNNY

7 best memes from Super Bowl LIII

Super Bowl LIII was the stuff of… well, not legends, exactly — even though the Patriots did become only the second team in NFL history to win six Super Bowls. Whether you were rooting for Brady to cement his GOAT status or hoping the Rams could headbutt him into history, fans from both sides were a little disappointed by the early action in the game.

Here are some of the best memes to come out of the wait, the 4th-quarter fireworks, and the Super Bowl ads:


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They’re not exactly wrong:

For anyone who missed the game and hasn’t seen yet: The defenses played amazingly and the coaches did well, but there weren’t many Hail Mary passes or stunning breakouts by running backs.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

(NFL Memes)

So, yeah, if you were into offensive plays:

Defense wins championships — not hearts.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

(NFL Memes)

The unforced errors were also disappointing, to say the least.

If everyone could just play like conference champions, that would be great.

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But then the 4th quarter happened.

But then, finally, the Patriots got into the Red Zone. And then they scored. And Rams fans … Well, their world was crushed.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

(NFL Memes)

And the victory memes debuted basically immediately.

Good work, Patriots. Congrats on number six.

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There were some good ads, though.

On the ad side, Bud Light had a few great ones, Stella Artois had an awesome one with Jeff Bridges as The Dude, Harrison Ford and his dog taught everyone about failed Alexa prototypes, and Microsoft showed off their adaptive controllers.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

Kia’s ad debuted their swimming SUV, for some reason.

To be clear, no, Kia isn’t releasing a swimming SUV. But their ad about the Kia Telluride showed the small town in Georgia that makes the car and then showed someone driving the car into a river like they didn’t want it anymore (and, yes, it more likely be the Coast Guard than Navy).

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marine Corps denies using Bumble to recruit for the Corps

The US Marine Corps is denying it uses dating apps to recruit after a screenshot of an apparent Bumble conversation depicting such efforts turned up on Reddit.

The screenshot shows a message that says, “Hey! My name is Kaitlin Robertson and I am with the Marine Corps. I would love to have one of my recruiters sit down and talk with you about your options within the Marine Corps including education, financial stability, hundreds of job opportunities, and free health/dental insurance, just to name a few. I would love to make you part of our Marine Corps family!!”


An quick-witted, unnamed young man responded, “You’re not even going to bribe me with crayons?”

But Marine Corps Recruiting Command spokesman Gunnery Sgt. Justin Kronenberg told Stars and Stripes the Marine Corps is not employing popular dating apps to draw in young, able-bodied recruits. He also claimed the Bumble message was not written by a recruiter.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

Recruits from Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane)

“We don’t condone use of dating apps for business purposes and no, that Bumble post was not written by a recruiter,” Kronenberg said.

The US military has struggled to recruit in recent years, and all of the branches have sought to find innovative ways to bolster their ranks. The US Army, for example, is on the hunt for a new slogan and is scrapping “Army Strong” in an apparent effort to increase its appeal to young folks.

But it seems that dating apps, however effective they might be, are not going to be included in the military’s recruitment efforts anytime in the near future.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force is studying ways to help airmen sleep

The Air Force has begun a formal study to analyze the sleep habits of airmen in an effort to prevent mistakes and mishaps caused by exhaustion.

The service said its 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will examine sleep, fatigue and overall performance by tracking sleep habits “while also evaluating sleep-monitoring technology to ensure its accuracy and ability to work in an operational setting,” officials said in a recent release.

“It’s a multi-pronged approach to studying sleep and fatigue,” said Dr. Glenn Gunzelmann, 711th HPW Airman Systems Directorate training core technical competency lead, in the release.


“Providing airmen with information on their sleep patterns and history helps airmen understand how sleep affects their operational effectiveness,” Gunzelmann added. “Giving leadership this data also helps inform policy and how to account for sleep needs in their planning.”

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

Tech. Sgt. Ray Decker, 320th Special Tactics Squadron special operations weather team, takes a nap on an MC-130P Combat Shadow bound for Sendai Airport.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

The service said it will develop ideas to reduce exhaustion, with some already being workshopped in a NATO aircrew fatigue management working group. The group also includes Army and Navy researchers, according to the release.

The working group is constructing a “sleep toolbox,” which officials say will “have educational resources on fatigue risk assessment with ways for mitigation.”

“It will also have information on insomnia, including cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and other sleep disorders,” the release states.

“Our current operations cross over multiple time zones, resulting in circadian rhythm issues, sleep deprivation or insufficient sleep,” Lt. Col. Dara Regn, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine internal medicine branch chief, said in the release. Both Regn and Gunzelmann participate in the group.

“As partner nations, we all deal with similar challenges, like increased mission tempo, long-range missions and pilot shortages. We are working together to optimize our pilots and bring back the importance of sleep,” Regn said.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

A patient falls asleep during overnight sleep study.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher R. Morales)

The pooled resources will be made available through an open-source NATO website as well as a “secure offline application,” the officials said.

The overall goal is to reduce detrimental sleep habits that lead to fatigue or exhaustion, especially in the pilot community.

“About 80% of aviation accidents are due to human error, and pilot fatigue accounts for about 15 to 20%of that,” Regn said.

It’s not the first time the Air Force has looked for better sleep habit solutions.

For the last few years, Air Force Maj. Alexander Criss has researched ways to get more rest for pilots and crew heading out for operations across the globe.

Through his study, Criss, who has flown as a C-21, KC-10 and C-5 pilot, found that more than half of mobility pilots — 53% — were flying “during this window when their body thinks they should be sleeping,” he said during a recent interview with Military.com.

Criss, now assigned to U.S. Transportation Command in Illinois, said his research helped with the development of a smartwatch app and system that aims to help pilots and crew understand their bodies’ rhythms and when they’re most drowsy.

Borne the Battle: Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret medic to VA surgeon

(Photo by Kamil S)

The project, known as the Better Effectiveness Through Tracking Yourself, or BETTY, “helps fill a gap in our current fatigue risk management system,” Criss said.

While BETTY is a multi-pronged process, the data-gathering system includes a wristwatch that measures a pilot’s circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates a person’s sleep-wake cycle.

“Circadian rhythm disruption … is when our bodies are out of sync with our sleep and wake cycles,” Criss said. After flying, many people feel jet lag because the body and mind interpret differently when they should be asleep or awake, he explained.

A proposed software app would monitor data from the watch, in addition to comparing and contrasting it through some of the sleep models that are already out there, he said.

The combined data can act as a sleep assistant.

Criss’ efforts have been worthwhile: In May, David Shahady, director of the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Program, offered Criss and his team a id=”listicle-2643764162″.5 million commitment for a Small Business Innovation Research program.

Air Force-led organizations “put some money behind it to say, ‘We want to solve this problem,’ which is awesome,” Criss said.

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