Man, you cut yourself off from the outside world for one extended weekend and you miss everything. Apparently, lettuce is now dangerous and, supposedly, generals carrying “assault” weapons in Afghanistan are dangerous, and some tribe in the Indian Ocean that’s capable of firing a metric f*ckload of arrows into moving airplanes is dangerous, too.
So, if you’ve managed to not die from tainted lettuce or North Sentinelese archers this week, congratulations! You’ve earned yourself some memes.
Abraham Wald, a Jewish mathematician, was driven out of Romania and Europe by the Nazi advance and emigrated to the U.S. where he would serve in the Statistical Research Group, a bunch of egg heads who used math to make the military better at everything from firing rockets to shooting down enemy fighters. And Wald was the one who convinced the Navy that they were about to armor the completely wrong parts of their planes, saving hundreds of flight crews in the process.
To understand how Wald, sitting in New York for most of the war, saved so many lives, it’s important to understand what role academics and subject matter experts had in the war. The U.S. and Britain especially, but really all the great wartime powers, put some stock in the ability of their academics to solve tricky problems and make warfighters more efficient, more lethal, or more safe.
But Wald was a statistician, and his job was to look at wartime processes and figure out how they could be improved. Wald was still, technically, an enemy alien, so he had an odd setup at the Statistical Research Group.
As Jordan Ellenberg wrote in How Not To Be Wrong, there was a running joke in the SRG that Wald’s secretaries had to rip notepaper out of his hands as soon as he finished writing on it because he didn’t have the clearance to read his own work.
But Wald was an amazing mathematician, and it’s not like he was the type of Hungarian who might harbor sympathies for Hitler. Remember, he had fled Austria because Hitler would have had him killed, same as Albert Einstein and plenty of others. So, Wald used math to try to help the Allies kill the Axis, and he was in the SRG when the Navy came to them with a seemingly straightforward problem.
The Navy, and the Army Air Corps, was losing a lot of planes and crews to enemy fire. So, the Navy modeled where its planes showed the most bullet holes per square foot. Its officers reasoned that adding armor to these places would stop more bullets with the limited amount of armor they could add to each plane. They wanted the SRG to figure out the best balance of armor in each often-hit location.
(Adding armor adds weight, and planes can only takeoff with a certain amount of weight that needs to be balanced between plane and crew, ammo, fuel, and armor. Add too much armor, and you have a super safe bomber that can’t carry any bombs.)
But Wald picked out a flaw in their dataset that had eluded most others, a flaw that’s now known as “survivor bias.” The Navy and, really anyone else in the war, could typically only study the aircraft, vehicles, and men who survived a battle. After all, if a plane is shot down over the target, it lands on or near the target in territory the enemy controls. If it goes down while headed back to a carrier or island base, it will be lost at sea.
So the only planes the Navy was looking at were the ones that had landed back at ship or base. So, these weren’t examples of where planes were most commonly hit; they were examples of where planes could be hit and keep flying, because the crew and vital components had survived the bullet strikes.
What he found was that the Navy wanted to armor the least vulnerable parts of the plane. Basically, the Navy wasn’t seeing many hits to the engine and fuel supply, so the Navy officers decided those areas didn’t need as much protection. But Wald’s work found that those were the most vulnerable areas.
And that makes sense. After all, if you start leaking gas while still far from home, you likely won’t make it home. Have an engine destroyed even a few miles from home, and you likely won’t make it home. So the military took Wald’s work and applied armor to the areas he had defined as most vulnerable, primarily the engines, instead of putting armor on the areas with the most observed hits. And, guess what? Planes started surviving more hits.
Now, it didn’t win the war on its own, of course. Just like giving the Navy proximity fuses to make gunners more effective against enemy planes didn’t stop every Japanese dive bomber or Kamikaze attack, the armor didn’t save every plane and crew.
But winning a war isn’t about winning every engagement. It’s about paying less than you are willing to pay for victory and suffering less than you’re willing to suffer for each defeat. If you can do that, you’ll eventually win.
So check out five reasons why military personnel hate on civilians (we still love you guys, though):
5. They don’t get our humor
We have dark freakin’ humor, and we can’t hide it — nor do we want to. We go through some rough experiences and manage to joke about them as a coping mechanism.
What we think is funny, most civilians consider f*cked up absurd, but we’re not going to change, so get used to it!
This guy gets it. (Image via GIPHY)
4. Most civilians lolly gaggle and fiddle f*ck around
The military teaches us to get sh*t done — oftentimes under great stress or over long hours. Sure, everyone has to sleep at the end of the day, but breaks aren’t guaranteed, there’s no overtime, and we don’t get reimbursed for weekend duty. We can spend all day at work and not see an extra dime.
3. We do more before 0500 than they will do all day
Our command can tell us to be ready for work whenever they want us to without advanced notice. Typically we PT hardcore first thing in the morning or draw weapons before hiking miles out to the field — then eat a cold breakfast.
Why are we awake if there’s no sun? (Image via GIPHY)
2. Most civies don’t know the meaning of a “hard days work.”
Many military jobs require the service member to be in constant danger, and we rarely hear them complain about it — since they did volunteer, afterall. Nowadays, we hear people say how stressful their office job is even though they have breezy air conditioning and hot chow when they want it.
Following construction and acceptance trials earlier this year at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Giffords sailed to Galveston, Texas, where she was commissioned June 10.
“Our Sailors are honored to represent the ship namesake, its homeport in San Diego, and the U.S. Navy,” said Cmdr. Keith Woodley, Giffords’ commanding officer. “Every Sailor will continue, through USS Gabrielle Gifford’s service to her nation, to fulfill the ship’s motto, ‘I Am Ready.'”
During her sail around transit from Mobile, Giffords Sailors conducted Combat Ship Systems Qualification Trials events, various crew certification training events, and regularly scheduled equipment and systems checks and transited through the Panama Canal.
Giffords is the ninth littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the fifth Independence-variant LCS. She joins other LCS, including USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Jackson (LCS 6), and USS Montgomery (LCS 8), who are also homeported in San Diego.
Giffords Sailors are excited for the future of their ship but also for their own return to San Diego.
“We have put in a lot of hard work over the past nine months,” said Operations Specialist 1st Class Lee Tran. “It is going to be nice to have a little down time with friends and family before continuing to work the ship toward its next milestone.”
Family and friends were similarly eager for some quality time with their returning Sailors. Many said they were also grateful for the support and friendships they forged with other families while their Sailors were away.
“Knowing I was not in this alone and that there were more families out there going through it too made me at peace knowing our Sailors had each other,” said Morgan Witherspoon, friend of a Giffords Sailor.
LCS 10 is named after former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus selected the LCS 10 namesake and said it is appropriate that the ship is named for Giffords, whose name is “synonymous with courage when she inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit.”
LCS is a high-speed, agile, shallow draft, mission-focused surface combatant designed for operations in the littoral environment, yet fully capable of open ocean operations. As part of the surface fleet, LCS has the ability to counter and outpace evolving threats independently or within a network of surface combatants. Paired with advanced sonar and mine hunting capabilities, LCS provides a major contribution, as well as a more diverse set of options to commanders, across the spectrum of operations.
Established in 1979 through a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter, National POW/MIA Recognition Day is an annual event held on the third Friday of September. This event is usually held at the Pentagon and is often observed at military installations around the country.
Generally somber events, the observances at installations around the country mark the fact that the American military does not forget about our Prisoners of War or those Missing in Action. Here’s everything you need to know about this important day.
The first POW/MIA Recognition Day included a ceremony held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The 1st Tactical Squadron from Langley Air Force Base flew the Missing Man formation.
The Missing Man Formation
This formation is an aerial salute performed as part of a fly-past of aircraft at funerals and memorial events. There are several variations of this formation, but the most common is based on the “finger-four” aircraft combat formation, which includes two pairs of aircraft.
Aircraft fly in a V-shape with the flight leader at a point and his wingman on his left. The second set of aircraft replicates the shape, with a wingman on the right. The formation flies over the event low enough to be seen. Once seen, their airman leading the second set pulls out of formation, and the remaining three aircraft continue in level flight until all are out of sight.
You Are Not Forgotten
This is the central phrase belonging to all POW/MIA remembrances to remind family members that America still concerns itself with those who are missing in action or who are suffering as prisoners of war.
POW/MIA Recognition Day aims to ensure that every American remembers to support those who serve in the military and risk their lives for our freedoms.
POW/MIA by the numbers
A Congressional research service report on POWs showed that 37 service members had been imprisoned during conflicts since 1991. This includes both Gulf Wars. At the time of writing, none of the POWs are still in captivity. However, during WWII, 130,201 service members were captured and imprisoned, and 14,072 died.
During the Korean War, 7,140 service members were imprisoned; 2,701 of them died. Of the 725 service members imprisoned during the Vietnam War, 64 died.
Of all the service personnel who participated in these wars, there are still 83,114 missing Americans. This includes six from conflicts from 1991, 126 from the Cold War, 1,626 from the Vietnam War, 7,841 from the Korean War, and approximately 73,515 from WWII.
Roughly 75 percent of all missing American personnel are thought to be somewhere in the Asia-Pacific region. More than 41,000 have been presumed lost at sea.
There’s a little bit of hope
Efforts to find these service members, identify them correctly and bring them home are constant. In 2019, 41 MIA service members from the Korean War were accounted for, and of them, ten were previously buried as unknowns. Remains turned over by North Korean authorities helped identify 26, one was a recovery operation and four were combinations of recovery operations and the return of remains.
Fly the POW/MIA Flag
WWII pilot Newt Heisley designed the very famous POW/MIA flag, which features a black background and white lettering. The black and white color scheme was selected by Heisley to represent the sorrow and anxiety that accompanies POW and MIA service members. The hope that we all must have is represented by the image of a gaunt man featured on the flag.
Since 1982, for every POW/MIA Recognition Day, the flag has flown just below the National Colors at the White House, and it’s the only flag ever to do so. The flag is also flown on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.
Flying a flag at home helps remind us never to forget our POWs and those missing in action. No matter if you fly the colors or choose to wear a bracelet or piece of clothing to show your support, it’s important to remember the sacrifices that POWs and MIAs have made for our country and how we have to live up to our end of the bargain to help them make it back home.
Let’s face it – some planes are tough to fly. The F4U Corsair that served in World War II and Korea was called the “Ensign Eliminator.” The F-104 Starfighter and AV-8B+ Harrier have both been called the “Widow Maker.”
So. too, was the Martin B-26 Marauder.
The B-26 Marauder was a medium bomber with two engines. According to MilitaryFactory.com, it had a crew of seven, a top speed of 282 miles per hour, a range of 675 miles, and the ability to carry up to 5,200 pounds of bombs.
It also had a bad reputation early in World War II for crashing and killing its crews. In fact, according to aviation historian Joe Baugher, the B-26 was nearly cancelled because of all the crashes. But experienced crews went to bat for it, convincing Sen. Harry Truman to relent.
The bomber ultimately flew over 110,000 sorties, and dropped over 150,000 tons of bombs on the Axis.
One of those who helped prove the B-26 wasn’t a killer was Jimmy Doolittle, fresh from leading the Tokyo raid. He soon realized that many of the instructors were almost as inexperienced as the pilots they were training. Worse, the mechanics were not experienced, and weren’t maintaining the engines properly.
To top it off, a switch in the type of gasoline used had been causing damaged to the carburetors.
Doolittle soon took the plane up – in the type of lead-from-the-front leadership that would later get him in hot water with Gen. Eisenhower on more than one occasion. He would fly the plane with one engine shut down on takeoff, then he would make inverted passes at low level. But the Army also began to work harder on training the crews properly, and the manufacturer sent crews out to train the mechanics.
The Army also made a training film for prospective pilots of the Marauder, which you can watch below.
On Sunday, February 21st, at approximately 1:19 PM CST, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 2292 was added to the ranks of those who have had an encounter with an unidentified flying object, or as they tend to be known today, an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP).
The pilot, nearing the end of a flight from Cincinnati to Phoenix, witnessed a “cylindrical object” fly over his Airbus A320 near Clayton, New Mexico. He radioed air traffic control in Albuquerque with this message:
“Do you have any targets up here? We just had something go right over the top of us – I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing – moving really fast right over the top of us.”
The transmission was recorded by Steve Douglass, an investigative journalist, photographer and “self-avowed Stealth Chaser,” as his blog, Deep Black Horizon describes. Douglass has a room full of monitoring equipment that would be the envy of most small airports, as can be seen in his interview with KVII out of Amarillo. Douglass actually found the 20-second transmission while searching for audio of a mayday call from a Denver flight that had an engine catch on fire.
“It was a pure coincidence,” Douglass told The Arizona Republic. “I was just as surprised as everybody else was.”
He said a bit of excitement and elevation in the pilot’s voice caught his attention. Listen to the audio here:
American Airlines was initially dismissive of the claims about the intercepted message after an inquiry by Tyler Rogoway of The War Zone, but then confirmed the incident about 48 hours later with a brief statement:
“Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21. For any additional questions on this, we encourage you to reach out to the FBI.“
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed that up on Wednesday:
“A pilot reported seeing an object over New Mexico shortly after noon local time on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.“
While the parties involved are predictably tight-lipped after such a dangerous event at 36,000 feet, these statements do tell us a couple of things, as noted by Rogoway. The FAA’s statement indicates that this isn’t simply a mishap where two aircraft ended up in the same airspace, and American Airlines referring questions to the FBI adds quite a bit of intrigue, suggesting the need for an investigation beyond the resources of the FAA.
So what was it? For what it’s worth, the spokespeople for all military bases in the area (White Sands Missile Range, Holloman AFB, and Kirtland AFB) have no explanation for what happened. No missile tests and no military flights were in the area according to the military, and Douglass has a log of all activity on Deep Black Horizon that confirms this. The FAA also having nothing on radar pushes this into UFO territory. The Southwest United States is obviously no stranger to bizarre occurrences and unexplained aircraft. A very similar unsolved air mystery was witnessed by multiple pilots over the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona almost three years ago to the day.
Go back a few more years, to five Navy F/A-18 pilots who told the New York Times about mysterious objects that had “no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds,” as reported in the 2019 article. One encounter nearly resulted in a collision and prompted an after-action report from an unnamed pilot.
“These things would be out there all day,” Lt. Ryan Graves, one of the Super Hornet pilots, told the Times. “Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”
The videos above were released by the Pentagon last year to “clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real,” but that seems to have only whetted the appetite of UFO enthusiasts more. Fortunately, a bill that was introduced by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the Intelligence Authorization Act, was passed last July and includes provisions for the Department of Defense to reveal what they know to Congress about unidentified flying objects by this summer. It is anyone’s guess how much might be revealed, but it definitely bears watching.
While the American Airlines pilot’s description of what he saw is very brief, it is plausible that the “long, cylindrical object” he saw was the same as these “Tic-Tac-shaped” vehicle that these other pilots have described. That said, more details are definitely needed, and there still may be a much more reasonable explanation for the incursion. Let the debate begin as to whether this is extra-terrestrial life, a military smokescreen, or a completely separate scientific phenomenon. Regardless, it is another fascinating event that’s added to the catalogue of the unexplained, and another potential piece of the UFO puzzle that might be closer to being solved soon.
Anyone who drives up to a military base’s front gates trying to gain access can expect some kind of inspection. The process can be as simple as getting your ID checked, but other times you’ll be instructed to drive into the vehicle examination lane, where MPs, or military police, bust out the undercarriage mirror and drug-sniffing dogs.
Most people don’t care because they have nothing to hide, but on some occasions, MPs make some interesting discoveries.
Some servicemembers have to work as duty drivers, and they log several hours in government vehicles. They, too, are subject to inspections. If the servicemember is under time constraints and making a pit stop isn’t on the schedule, an empty bottle of Gatorade works just as well.
An ISIS militant teaching a class on how to behead captured prisoners was nailed in the head by a British sniper attached to the elite Special Air Service from 1,000 meters away.
The International Business Times says the 20-person execution class scrambled as the instructor’s head was taken “clean off” by the round from an Israeli-made .338 caliber DAN rifle. The bullet is designed to “tumble” as it moves through a target’s body, inflicting massive damage.
“One minute he was standing there and the next his head had exploded,” a British military source told Express UK. “The commander remained standing upright for a couple of seconds before collapsing and that’s when panic set in. We later heard most of the recruits deserted. We got rid of 21 terrorists with one bullet.”
Express also reported that British SAS units are deployed in small numbers to combat Daesh terrorists to avoid an all-out ground war. The militants will either swarm to a location, making an airstrike a better defense or retreat using tunnels.
One tactic the SAS uses is setting “desert death traps” for jihadis by laying out dummies dressed as officers. The terrorist fighters are alerted by scouts and locals, take the bait, and are then gunned down by SAS snipers.
Netflix dropped its latest British TV series on March 29, a spy thriller set at the end of World World II.
“Traitors” is streaming globally exclusively on Netflix outside of the UK and Ireland, and airs on the UK’s Channel 4 network. It stars “Call Me by Your Name” actor Michael Stuhlbarg, Emma Appleton, and Keeley Hawes.
Netflix describes the series like this: “As World War II ends, a young English woman agrees to help an enigmatic American agent root out Russian infiltration of the British government.”
Netflix has built a library of British shows in its effort to draw worldwide audiences, many of which are co-productions with UK networks. The strategy benefits both Netflix and British TV networks like the BBC, as the shows reach a wider audience and can reel in potential subscribers.
Other British shows Netflix has acquired include “The Last Kingdom,” which wasn’t a hit in the UK but found a worldwide audience; “The End of the F—ing World,” which Netflix renewed for a second season; and “Bodyguard,” which was nominated for the best drama series Golden Globe this year and won the Globe for best actor in a drama series for star Richard Madden.
From left to right: Luke Treadaway, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emma Appleton, Keeley Hawes, Brandon P. Bell.
(‘Traitors’ on Netflix)
Critics are mixed on “Traitors” but leaning positive. “Traitors” has a 71% Rotten Tomatoes critic score. Den of Geek called it a “satisfyingly grown-up spy thriller,” but others criticized how it takes historical liberties.
“I don’t usually mind this kind of revisionism; can appreciate, revel in its freshness, its new eyes, but this is in mild danger of being slathered on with a trowel,” Observer’s Euan Ferguson wrote. “It’s always heartily good to keep an open mind. Maybe not so open that your brains fall out.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Former President Jimmy Carter has offered to travel to North Korea to meet Kim Jong Un in a bid to break the diplomatic stalemate between Washington and Pyongyang over the denuclearization of the rogue state.
Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, told Politico that the former president had expressed his willingness to travel to North Korea in a conversation on March 7, 2019.
“I think President Carter can help (President Trump) for the sake of the country,” Khanna later told CNN.
Carter was the first US president to travel to North Korea, visiting the country in 1994 to meet Kim’s grandfather, former leader Kim Il Sung. Carter’s visit helped to defuse the first North Korean nuclear crisis, paving the way for the Agreed Framework, in which North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear program in exchange for aid.
He returned to the country in 2010, where he helped secure the release of American captive Aijalon Gomes.
In the interview with CNN, Khanna said that Carter’s experience negotiating with Kim’s grandfather would be an asset for the Trump administration, following the collapse of negotiations between Kim Jong Un and President Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“I think it would be so profound because he could talk to Kim Jong Un about his grandfather and the framework he established,” Khanna said.
Khanna said that he and Carter had on March 7, 2019, been discussing plans to revive the denuclearization plans the former president brokered with Kim Il Sung, to develop a new joint framework for peace.
The Carter Centre and White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carter seems to hold no great respect for Trump, and in an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s show in March 2018 agreed when the host said Trump’s election showed Americans were willing to elect a “jerk” as president. Trump meanwhile has derided Carter’s leadership and “everyman” image while in the White House.
President Jimmy Carter Is Still Praying For Donald Trump
However, Carter has previously made efforts to broker a relationship with the administration, and was critical of hostile press coverage of Trump in October 2017, when he first offered to help Trump negotiate with Kim.
“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
“I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”
Then remarks were welcomed by Trump, who tweeted: “Just read the nice remarks by President Jimmy Carter about me and how badly I am treated by the press (Fake News).”
“Thank you Mr. President!”
The nuclear summit between Trump and Kim came unstuck when Kim demanded an end to US sanctions.
Analysts earlier in the week said that satellite imagery showed North Korea had started rebuilding a long-range missile launch site in the wake of the collapse of the negotiations.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
After a 60 year battle, Air Force Veteran Helen Grace James is finally given her long awaited — and well-deserved — honorable discharge.
In 1955, America was in the depths of the Lavender Scare — a time when homosexuals were fired in the United States Government — and Airman Second Class Helen Grace James was taken into custody for suspicion of being gay. She was one of thousands targeted during the nation’s witch hunt.
After hours of interrogation, she was told that if she did not sign the documents initiating her discharge, OSI (the Office of Special Investigations — kind of like the FBI for the Air Force) would “out her” to her family and friends. She told The Washington Post, “When they threatened to go to my parents, I just said that was it,” and so, under that duress, she signed the documents and ultimately ended her military career.
In the 1960s she managed to change her status as “undesirable” to “general discharge under horrible conditions.” Despite the upgrade, her status still caused her difficulties. “I tried to get USAA coverage for insurance, and they said ‘No, you can’t be a member, because you don’t have an honorable discharge. I [couldn’t] be buried in a national cemetery either,” she recalled to NBC.
And so, at the age of 90, she finally decided to apply for the “honorable” discharge upgrade with the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records. After a series of delays, James filed a lawsuit and on Jan. 24, 2018, was finally granted her honorable discharge.
For more than six decades, James has been discriminated against by the military for who she is and at long last can rest, vindicated.
“I’m still trying to process it. It was both joy and shock. It was really true. It was really going to be an ‘honorable discharge.'”
The number of military personnel who have been hospitalized has jumped from four to 26 in the past week, doubling from 12 on Friday. Hospitalizations among civilian employees, dependents, and contractors have also increased.
Among US troops, 34 service members have recovered. Across DoD, a total of 42 people have recovered from the virus. There have been no deaths among military or civilian personnel, but the coronavirus has killed a dependent and a contractor.
While the Department of Defense is releasing daily coronavirus figures, Military Times reported that it has opted not to further disclose granular details that the department says could potentially give adversaries an advantage.