This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

At the heart of Arlington National Cemetery lies one of our nation’s most magnificent displays of honor and respect to our fallen troops. Three unnamed graves are tended to by some of the most disciplined soldiers the military has to offer. The soldiers tirelessly guard the monument. Every hour (or half hour, during the spring and summer months), the guard is changed with an impressive, precise ceremony.

Each year, these three fallen soldiers receive up to four million visitors — but it’s not about honoring the specific individuals contained within the tomb. In death, these three fallen soldiers have became a symbol, representing each and every troop who gave their last breath in service of this great nation. Every step taken by the sentinels, every bouquet of flowers offered, every wreath laid, and every flag placed is for every American troop who has fallen.

This is exactly what was intended when the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated almost one hundred years ago, on November 11, 1921.


This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

The King of England is also the head of the Church of England, so he chose to place the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, where all future kings and queens would be crowned, married, and buried.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The tradition of honoring a fallen but unknown troop actually originated as a joint effort between France and the UK.

In 1916, David Railton was a chaplain in the English Army serving on the Western Front of World War I. Near Armentières, France, he discovered a rough, wooden cross planted in the middle of a battlefield. It read, simply, “an unknown British soldier, of the Black Watch.”

David Railton would go on to join the clergy after the war, but the image of that cross never left his mind. It took years, but after many attempts, he finally got the ear of Bishop Herbert Ryle, the Dean of Westminster. Railton wanted to repatriate the remains of this fallen soldier and give him proper honors, despite not knowing his identity. Bishop Ryle was moved by Rev. Railton’s passionate words and went directly to King George V with his proposal.

Reverend Railton would later say,

“How that grave caused me to think!… But, who was he, and who were they [his folk]?… Was he just a laddie… . There was no answer to those questions, nor has there ever been yet. So I thought and thought and wrestled in thought. What can I do to ease the pain of father, mother, brother, sister, sweetheart, wife and friend? Quietly and gradually there came out of the mist of thought this answer clear and strong, “Let this body – this symbol of him – be carried reverently over the sea to his native land.” And I was happy for about five or ten minutes.”

The soldier was buried at Westminster Abbey, London on November 11, 1920, thus creating what’s now known as The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior.

This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

It’s fitting that the Arch built in honor of the French victory in WWI would also be the final resting site for her unknown soldier.

(Photo by Jorge Lascar)

Meanwhile, across the English Channel, in France, a young officer in the Le Souvenir Français, an association responsible for maintaining war memorials, had better luck. He argued for bringing an unidentified fallen soldier into the Pantheon in Paris to honor of all fallen French soldiers from the Great War — and his proposal garnered support.

Both England and France decided to share the honors. They buried France’s Unknown Soldier underneath the Arc de Triomphe on the same day as The Unknown Warrior was laid to rest at Westminster.

This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Torkelson)

The next year, as the United States began the process of repatriating remains from the European battlefield, plans for an American Tomb of the Unknown Soldier began to take shape. The originator of the idea remains unknown to history, but the selection process was public. On October 24, 1921, six American soldiers were asked to come to Châlons-sur-Marne, France. Each soldier was a highly decorated and highly respected member of their respective units. They were selected to be pallbearers for the remains as they made their way back to the States.

While there, the officer in charge of grave registrations, Major Harbold, randomly selected one of the men. He gave Sgt. Edward F. Younger a bouquet of pink and white roses and asked him to step inside the chapel alone. There, four identical, unmarked coffins awaited him. He was told that whichever coffin he laid the roses on would be laid to rest in the National Shrine.

Younger said of the event,

“I walked around the coffins three times, then suddenly I stopped. What caused me to stop, I don’t know, it was as though something had pulled me. I placed the roses on the coffin in front of me. I can still remember the awed feeling that I had, standing there alone.”

The remains were brought to the Capital Rotunda and remained there until November 11th, 1921. President Warren G. Harding officiated a ceremony in which he bestowed upon the Unknown Soldier the Medal of Honor and a Victoria Cross, given on behalf of King George V.

Since that day, the entombed soldier has been guarded every moment of every day, rain, shine, hurricane, or blizzard.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s ‘Space Cowboys’ can see anywhere

It can sometimes be hard for commanders to get a full picture of the battlefield, whether that’s on the ground in Syria or in the forests of Colorado. The “Space Cowboys” of the Colorado Army National Guard‘s 117th Space Battalion aim to solve that problem.


Just the Facts

  • The 117th Space Battalion is the only unit of its kind in the National Guard.
  • Its 12 space support teams work with commercial and classified space-based assets to support command requirements.
  • The 117th has the highest concentration of space support teams anywhere in the Army.
  • Army Space Support Teams are made up of six soldiers — two officers and four enlisted — each with unique skills. The teams deploy around the world to enhance intelligence and operations planning abilities.
  • This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    U.S. Army Sgt. Rick D. Peevy, a crew chief from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, Colorado Army National Guard, surveys the scene while wildfires burn the training range at Fort Carson, Colo., June 12, 2008.

  • “The [space] support team allows the warfighter to see and overcome enemy forces using the most appropriate amount of lethality available to them,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Fred Korb, the 117th’s senior enlisted leader. “For example, this allows the maximum effectiveness for targeting enemy forces while limiting danger to the coalition warfighter and noncombatants.”
  • More than 55 percent of soldiers in the unit have advanced degrees.
  • “Support can include producing imagery products, deconflicting GPS issues, missile warning, missile defense, satellite communications, and space as well as terrestrial weather effects on operations,” said Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Fauskee, the noncommissioned officer in charge of one of the battalion’s space support teams.
  • The 117th’s soldiers also produce the imagery needed to support wildfire fighting efforts in their home state. This year, some of its soldiers responded to the Spring Creek fire, the third-largest wildfire in Colorado history.
  • This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

    MIGHTY HISTORY

    That time an F-22 pilot told the Iranian Air Force to go home

    The opening few minutes of the movie Top Gun make for, arguably, one of the coolest aerial scenes ever caught on film. There’s a reason it’s the enduring air power movie of the 1980s. Too bad for the Air Force that Top Gun featured the Navy.

    Except Air Force pilots do that sh*t in real life.


    In 2013, two Iranian Air Force F-4 Phantoms moved to intercept an MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace near the Iranian border. The two IRIAF fighters were quickly shooed away by two F-22 Raptors who were flying in escort.

    Except, they didn’t just get a warning message, they were Maverick-ed. That’s what I’m calling it now.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    How an F-22 Raptor intercepts a Russian-built bomber.

    The two F-22 Raptors were escorting the drone because of an incident the previous year in which two Iranian Air Force Sukhoi Su-25 close air support craft attempted to shoot down a different Air Force MQ-1. In the Nov. 1, 2012, incident, the drone was 16 miles from Iran, but still in international airspace. Iran scrambled the two Su-25s to intercept the drone, which they did, using their onboard guns.

    The fighters missed the drone, which captured the whole incident with its cameras. The drone returned to base, completely unharmed. Not surprising, considering the Su-25 isn’t designed for air-to-air combat.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Iranian Air Force F-4 Phantom fighters.

    The following year, another drone was being intercepted by Iranian aircraft. This time, however, it had serious firepower backing it up. The Iranians came at the drone with actual fighters, capable of downing an aircraft in mid-flight. The F-4 Phantom could bring what was considered serious firepower when it was first introduced – in the year 1960. These days, it’s a museum piece for the United States and most of its Western allies. Not so for the Iranians, who still have more than 40 of them in service. When the F-4s came up against the MQ-1, they probably expected an easy target. That didn’t happen.

    One of the F-22 Raptor pilots flying escort for the drone flew up underneath the Iranian Phantoms. According to then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, the Raptor pilot checked out the armaments the Iranian planes were carrying, then pulled up on their left wing and radioed them.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    It wasn’t like this, but it could have been.

    “He [the Raptor pilot] flew under their aircraft [the F-4s] to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home’,” Welsh said.

    They did.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    This is the Air Force secretary’s cry for help over a service under strain

    The Air Force has over the past few years grappled with operational demands that have drained its resources and strained its personnel.


    Wars in the Middle East, ongoing tensions in Europe and Asia, and budgetary issues are a few of the issues that confront a leaner Air Force.

    In recent months, the service, which celebrates its 70th birthday on Monday, is looking at personnel and administrative shakeups to streamline the way it recruits, trains, and deploys.

    “We are a service that is too small for what’s being asked of us,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told Air Force Times at the end of August.

    “We have readiness issues at home already, and if we were to have to continue next year, either on a continuing resolution that [keeps Air Force funding] flat from last year or, even worse, under a sequester … it would be devastating, and [it would take] years to recover from it,” she added.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Members of Air Force Special Operations weather teams participate in a training scenario on a CH-47 Chinook during Emerald Warrior at Hurlburt Field, Fla., on March 7, 2012. (USAF photo)

    According to the Government Accountability Office, less than 50% of the Air Force’s units were at acceptable readiness levels. The highest-profile personnel issue facing the service may be its shortage of qualified pilots.

    While the Air Force expanded its ranks during the 2016 fiscal year, as of April 2017 it was still short of its mandated 20,300 pilots by 1,555 — 950 of whom are believed to be fighter pilots. It also reported a shortage of 3,400 aircraft maintainers.

    Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Wilson’s predecessor, Deborah Lee James, called the shortfall a “quiet crisis” in July 2016.

    To reverse that trend and keep pilots in uniform, the service plans top boost pay and bonuses, ask retired pilots to return and bring more support staff to free fliers from administrative duties, increase the number of pilots it trains each year, and give personnel more say in their rotations.

    The Air Force is also outsourcing some of its “red air” needs by bringing in outside pilots to play the role of rival aircraft. It is also converting mothballed F-16s into training aircraft for manned and unmanned exercises.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Greg Erwin

    But pilots are not the only Air Force members who find themselves taxed by a high operational tempo.

    Air Force Special Operations Command has borne the brunt of 16 years of military operations. About 1,200 AFSOC personnel are deployed to over 40 countries at any given time, AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Brad Webb told Air Force Times. With only 14,461 active-duty officers and airmen in the the command, the scale of those deployments “can obviously create demands on them and their families,” Webb said.

    “We have many airmen who have deployed more than a dozen times in the last 15 years. That’s a deployment rate our nation has not seen before,” Webb said, noting that his command has had to get waivers from the secretary of defense to allow more frequent deployments.

    For regular airmen, demand is high as well. The pace of deployments was high in 2017 and is expect to remain the same in years to come.

    “We can anticipate that the thickness of the training events and exercises that occurred in 2017 will be equally as thick in 2018, and we think those numbers of events are just about right,” Gen. Tod Wolters, head of US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa, said on September 8.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    An Air Force Special Tactics airman surveys a remote landing strip in his offroad motorcycle. (Photo from U.S. Air Force)

    The more than 30,000 Air Force personnel in Europe now are enough to meet the service’s needs, Wolters said. Despite concerns about pilot shortages and the amount of downtime, he added, “We certainly have the right number of airmen in theater at this time, when you take into account the ones we rotate in on an episodic, periodic basis.”

    The Air Force is also looking to fill gaps in its ranks of officers and enlisted personnel through promotions.

    This month, it said 2,001 enlisted airmen had been picked for supplemental promotions, which are typically given to airmen who face extended temporary duty assignments or are deployed to work on contingency operations.

    In December, the Air Force will also offer 100% promotion opportunities to officers at captain rank.

    As long as they’re qualified, recommended for promotion, and have an unblemished conduct record, the promotion is assured.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Master Sgt. Tanya Hubbard, 60th Medical Group, left, and Staff Sgt. Roberto Davila, 60th Medical Group, right, tack staff sergeant stripes on to Spencer Stone, 60th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician during a promotion ceremony at Travis Air Force Base, California, Oct. 30, 2015. Following his promotion to senior airman minutes earlier, Stone was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant by order of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. According to Air Force Instruction 36-502, the chief of staff of the Air Force has the authority to promote any enlisted member to the next higher grade. Stone became the recipient of the rare honor following his heroic actions in August when he and two friends thwarted a potential terrorist attack on a train traveling to Paris. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)

    The sweeping promotion opportunity comes in response to mission demands requiring more field-grade officers, which includes majors, lieutenant colonels, and colonels. The Air Force is currently at 92% manning for field-grade officers and 74% manning for non-rated field-grade officers, who typically fill support roles.

    “There have been no major changes to the Officer Evaluation System in nearly 30 years, but there have been significant changes to our force composition, mission, requirements and how our performance system reflects what we value in officers,” Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services, said in a release announcing the promotion opportunity.

    Those promotions come as the service is also reviewing and implementing other changes meant to adjust the administrative burden faced by airmen, as well as the strain service puts on their personal life.

    “We strive across the command to encourage our airmen to achieve work-life balance,” said Webb, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command. “Air commandos are proud of what we continue to accomplish alongside our joint [special operations] partners, but we also know the importance of resiliency.”

    US airmen “are doing some amazing things,” Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, the Air Force’s top enlisted man, told Air Force Times. But they’re also dealing with manpower shortages, a lack of funding and resources, a high operational burden, and a plethora of extra duties, all of which has inspired frustration and stress.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Staff Sgt. Leland Hastings, 919th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, monitors the Raven-B, a four-by-four foot unmanned aerial system, through a laptop computer at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Aug. 4. The 919th SOSFS brought the UAS to demonstrate its capabilities to other security forces units involved in a large field training exercise at the camp. The Raven-B has the ability to take photos, video in day or night, and even designate locations via an IR laser. It also provides coordinates, magnetic azimuths, and linear distances creating a birds-eye view to topographical map. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sam King)

    “We can’t ask the world to calm down and not be so unstable,” Wright added. “Absent that, the best thing we can do to make our force more efficient and more effective and lethal is, with some of these additional requirements that we’ve levied upon them over the years, let’s slowly take them away, right?”

    Wright said the Air Force is weighing the elimination with some performance evaluations and some units have pursued programs to improve mental health and resiliency. The Air Force has lost 62 airmen to suicide this year and looks set to match the 100 suicides seen in most years.

    In addition to mental-health and professional-development initiatives, Grosso said the Air Force has started a broad overhaul of its personnel information technology systems.

    The service’s personnel operations run on 200 applications using 111 different systems that date to the 1990s. Streamlining those operations will ease the manner in which airmen can handle personnel issues, like problems with paychecks that roughly 5,000 airmen deal with each month.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Brian Kimball

    Grosso also said the service was looking at a two- to three-year overhaul of its performance management and evaluation systems.

    “We’re not trying to speed through this,” Grosso told Air Force Times this month. “We need to get this right.”

    The operational demands the Air Force faces look unlikely to ease in the near future. Despite a series of victories against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, partner forces there will need support going forward.

    That, coupled with the potential expansion of Air Force duties in Afghanistan, will come as the US military faces heightened tensions in Eastern Europe and northwest Asia.

    “Owning the ultimate high ground is continually going to be important as we go forward,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Defense News.

    “Air superiority is not an American birth right. It’s actually something we have to plan for, train for, fight for and win,” he added. “I see it as nothing short of a moral obligation that when any soldier or airman hears a jet noise overhead, they don’t look up. They know it’s us.”

    Humor

    The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Dec. 22

    America has a new tax code, no one at the UN cares what Nikki Haley thinks about Jerusalem, and this week, the President presented his plan to keep us all safe.


    Those are just a few of the more political stories we didn’t cover because we don’t really do politics.

    I present you the gift of memes. These memes. Merry Christmakkah.

    1. When the father of our country wants to stab people, you let him.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Father knows best.

    2. It only took 3 uniform changes over 10 years, but…

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    And Navy still comes in with ridiculous blue uniforms. They never learn.

    3. Turns out ‘Groundhog Day’ was the story of one man’s enlistment. (via Marine Corps Memes)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Also read: 6 crazy things actually found in amnesty boxes

    4. Does it count if a recording answers the phone?

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Or any millennial.

    5. Who calculated this?

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    And where are they stationed?

    6. “And you better dress for it.”

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Also, any pills you take will end your career.

    Now read: This is why the U.S.military uses 5.56mm ammo instead of 7.62mm

    7. Oh look, the Empire has a National Guard.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?

    8. But… Pew. Pew?

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    The learning curve in Vietnam was a b*tch.

    8. “Honk if parts fall off.”

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    There’s no in-between.

    9. Now show me Petty Officer 1st Class Keef before his promotion. (via Pop Smoke)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    I don’t want to be in that safety briefing.

    Classic: That time CBS captured an intense firefight in Vietnam

    10. “This song’s about me!”

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    11. That’s the Christmas spirit. (via Decelerate Your Life)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Be not led into temptation.

    12. Somebody call the medic, we have a sick burn. (via the Salty Soldier)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    When a recruiter is on an all-salt diet.

    13. This is only the half-truth. (via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    We wouldn’t eat that garbage cut. Filet or nothing.

    Now Check Out: 9 reasons you should have joined the Army instead

    Humor

    The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Dec. 1

    It’s December now, and as we stare down the barrel of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa… um… Boxing Day… and probably others (the only holiday I care about it National Waffle Day), we can finally look forward to holiday leave.


    We spend time with family, drink in that one bar in our hometown that everyone we’ve ever known goes to, and open up the new fighting season in the war on Christmas.

    Now matter how stressful the holiday season can get, you know who has your back? Memes. Veterans will make memes until they run out of jokes to tell. Did you see how much fun they had with the sky dick?

    Oh man, anyway… here are the best memes of the week, created by your veteran social media community.

    1. A toast to war criminals the world over!

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Worst Mall Santa Ever.

    2. Marines are a contentious people.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Watch: Navy just dropped its 2017 smack talk video

    3. When you meet other veterans while on holiday leave. (via Decelerate Your Life)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Also: The Air Force has just as many stupid people as any other branch.

    4. The wind beneath my wings got a DD-214 (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Moves like Gandalf.

    5. This is not helping our Chair Force image. (via Maintainer Nation)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Here we see Airman Snuffy sittin’ pretty in a 2017 Telford II Luxura model. So ANG.

    Related: 7 military things that somehow get you fired in the civilian world

    6. Now we know why he crossed the road. (via Pop Smoke)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    The one day the sky isn’t falling.

    7. UN sanctions on North Korea must include Windex.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    8. The real reason weapons aren’t allowed in Antarctica.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    This revolution will not (but totally should) be televised.

    Now Read: This MARSOC recruiting video looks like a Hollywood movie

    9. Remember when I said no more ‘Sky Dick’ memes?

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Pants on fire.

    10. I don’t know what they’re training for, but they’re winning.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Fuels doesn’t have a Class Six.

    11. Spend free time learning to build robots.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Or pass butter.

    12. Repent for the sins you committed on Thanksgiving. (via the Salty Soldier)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Also: This is what ‘eternal patrol’ means for a submarine  

    13. Some people just join the Navy… (via Decelerate Your Life)

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    A-10 Warthog drops bombs on Florida after hitting a bird

    A US Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II out of Moody Air Force Base in Georgia accidentally dropped training bombs on Florida after hitting a bird, the 23rd Wing Public Affairs Office said in a statement.

    The Moody attack aircraft assigned to the 23d Fighter Group “suffered a bird strike which caused an inadvertent release of three BDU-33s,” 25-pound nonexplosive training munitions used to simulate the 500-pound M1a-82 bombs, the statement said.


    The dummy munitions fell somewhere off Highway 129 near Suwannee Springs in northern Florida. The Air Force is apparently still looking for the bombs. The service has instructed anyone who comes across them to keep their distance, explaining that while the weapons are inert, they do have a small pyrotechnic charge that could be dangerous.

    There were no reports of damage or injuries, and the incident is under investigation.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    A BDU-33 training munition.

    (U.S. Air Force)

    Birds are a serious problem for the US military, as they cause millions of dollars in damage a year. Since 1995, the Air Force has suffered more than 105,000 bird strikes that have cost the service more than 0 million.

    This is not just an Air Force problem. Every branch of the armed forces has had run-ins with birds. In May, a bird reportedly banged up an F-35 stealth fighter to the tune of at least million.

    Bird strikes have cost the military more than money, too.

    From 1985 to 2016, bird strikes killed 36 American airmen, according to the 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office at Ellsworth Air Force Base, a bomber base where the Air Force has deployed bird cannons to keep geese at bay.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Check out video of volcanic lightning caused by erupting volcano

    Video footage captures the moment a rare occurrence called “volcanic lighting” occurred in the Philippines.

    As can be seen in the video below, volcanic smoke and ash are erupting from the volcano as lightning strikes the sky.

    The smoke appears to make the lightning more visible and pronounced to onlookers, who are heard screaming in the background at the terrifying scene.


    Lightning strike from the ash cloud during the Taal Volcano Eruption – Philippines

    www.youtube.com

    A closeup of the footage seen below was re-posted by meteorological institution MetSul on Twitter.

    Volcanic lighting is a rare natural phenomenon believed to be caused by ash particles rubbing together in volcanic clouds, creating friction and static electricity.

    The Taal volcano began spewing lava on Monday morning local time.

    A day prior, the volcano emitted a huge plume of ash across the surrounding area, and put an estimated 450,000 people at risk, according to the UN OCHA office in the Philippines.

    The ash covered the area in a blanket of volcanic dust, and as of 6.a.m Monday local time 7,700 people had been evacuated by authorities.

    The volcano is one of the world’s smallest in size, but has recorded 34 eruptions over the last 450 years, according to the BBC.

    This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

    Read more:

    Articles

    5 Quotes that explain the barbarism of World War II

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    German Federal Archives


    1. “Fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.”

    —George Patton, General of the US Seventh Army

    The Maginot Line has come to symbolize a lack of foresight and the dangers inherent when conservative military planners fail to accurately anticipate changes in technology and tactics. The French spent much of the 1930’s constructing the impressive, but ultimately futile Maginot line – a series of defensive fortifications stretching from the French Alps to the Belgium border – to prevent a repeat of the 1914 German invasion. Of course, the Germans basically just drove their tanks around it, encircled the French defenders and in a little more than a month, Nazi tanks were rolling through Parisian streets.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Wikimedia Commons

    But not everyone was so blind to the changing times. George S. Patton, known primarily for his leadership during the Allied invasion of Europe, the Battle of the Bulge and the allied advance into Germany, had become interested in tank warfare as early as 1917, when he was charged with establishing one of the first American tank schools, the AEF Light Tank School. Patton was the most experienced tank operator of WWI and led the first American tank offensive of the war. As the new tanks helped break the stalemate of trench warfare, it was becoming clear to men like Patton that the future of land warfare would be dominated by mechanized infantry and tank battalions, rendering defensive fortifications, such as the aforementioned Maginot Line, largely obsolete. The inability of European military planners to anticipate the effectiveness of the German Blitzkrieg is one of the leading contributors to the scale and devastation of the war.

    2. “If we come to a minefield, our infantry attacks exactly as if were not there.”

    Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union

    While Zhukov was probably making the case that advancing directly through a minefield (rather than slowly progressing through a breakthrough point, allowing Germans to concentrate their fire) would lead to fewer overall casualties, this quote has nonetheless been used to substantiate claims that the Soviet Army did not value the lives of its soldiers. While I think that is an exaggeration, the reality of total war on the Eastern Front dictated that equipment, artillery, planes and tanks were far more valuable than the lives of ordinary soldiers.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Wikipedia

    The story of the Shtrafbat battalions that fought on the Eastern front highlight this reality. The Shtrafbat were Soviet penal units, composed of deserters, cowards, and relocated gulag inmates. Assignment to the Shtrafbat was basically a deferred death sentence. Often not even given weapons, the Shtrafbat were used as decoys, sent on dangerous reconnaissance missions, and in general deployed as cannon fodder to absorb heavy causalities that would be otherwise inflicted on more effective and battle ready battalions. The most dangerous of such assignments was “trampler duty,” which entailed the Shtrafbat units running across mine fields shoulder to shoulder to clear the area of any enemy mines ahead of advancing troops.

    3. “Prussian Field Marshals do not mutiny”

    Field Marshal Erich von Manstein

    The Prussian Military tradition has a long and storied history stretching as far back as the Thirty Years War (1618 -1648). The main doctrine of the Prussian army was to achieve victory as quickly as possible by making use of mobile, aggressive flanking maneuvers. Prussian military theorists also refined the concept of drill for infantry troops and implemented a severe disciplinary system to instill obedience, loyalty and unwavering professionalism in the army.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Wikipedia

    Erich Von Manstein, a Prussian with a long family history of military service, was arguably Hitler’s most effective commander. During Fall Gelb, the Nazi invasion of France, it was Manstein’s plan that was ultimately put in place with resounding success. Manstein was not a member of the Nazi party and while he disagreed with many decisions made by the Nazi high command (especially towards the end of the war), he followed his orders unwaveringly. At the battle of Stalingrad, Manstein repeatedly urged Hitler to allow him to attempt to break out of the city with the 6th Army, potentially saving it, however Hitler refused, leading to the surrender of 91,000 German troops and the deaths of many more.

    The following year, the July 20th conspirators approached Manstein to secure his support for Claus Von Stauffenberg’s infamous attempt on Hitler’s life, but he refused, giving the above quote as an explanation. This unquestioning loyalty was all too common among the top German commanders, many of whom were either Prussian or trained in the Prussian tradition, including Field Marshals Heinz Guderian, Gerd von Rundstedt, Fedor von Bock and others. Most were reluctant to disobey or even disagree with orders from the High Command even as their Führer, who had assumed direct control of military decisions, made blunder after blunder on a certain path to total disastrous defeat.

    4. “In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.”

    Isoroku Yamamoto, Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy

    This quote might go down as one of the most prophetic of all time. The Japanese strategy to defeat the Americans was to deliver an initial blow at Pearl Harbor and then whittle down the American Navy further as it made its way across the Pacific. The Japanese Navy would then engage the Americans in a final decisive battle after which the Americans would hopefully be willing to sue for peace. There were several problems with this approach, for one, even in war games this strategy hadn’t worked. Secondly, the Japanese were aware that America’s industrial output capabilities could outpace their own and thirdly, some, such as Yamamoto himself in all likelihood, felt that a surprise attack would eliminate the possibility that the U.S. would accept a brokered peace. These miscalculations ensured American entry into the war, further expanding the scale of the conflict.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Wikipedia

    Admiral Yamamoto made other prophetic statements as well, including this one: “the fiercest serpent may be overcome by a swarm of ants”, in opposition to the construction of the Yamoto Class of Battleships, which he feared would be vulnerable to relentless American dive bombing attacks launched from aircraft carriers. He was right about that too but one thing Admiral Yamamoto could not predict was Magic, the American code breaking operation that led directly to the destruction of the Japanese fleet at Midway and Yamamoto’s own death at the hands of American fighter pilots who, acting on intelligence provided by Magic, intercepted and shot down the plane he was flying in on April 18, 1943.

    5. “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal.”

    Curtis LeMay, Major in the US Air Force

    The Pacific War took the concept of total war to horrific new heights with atrocities committed on both sides. The air-raid campaign against Japanese cities being particularly brutal with its large scale use of incendiary explosives. The key to Curtis LeMay’s strategic bombing campaign was saturation bombing – of military installations, industrial areas, commercial zones and even dense residential urban centers – with the hopes that it would weaken the resolve of the Japanese people and stunt their ability to wage an ongoing war.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Wikipedia

    It is estimated that between 250,000 and 900,000 civilians alone were killed during the air-raids. Sixty percent of the urban area of 66 Japanese cities was burned to the ground, leaving many millions of people homeless. Whether you think LeMay’s firebombing campaign was justified or not, his estimation of his fate should Japan have won the war is probably correct.

    Articles

    The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

    Before 9/11, the last time American forces fought on horseback was on January 16, 1942 when the U.S. Army’s 26th Cavalry Regiment charged an advanced guard of the 14th Japanese Army as it advanced from Manila.


    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    Philippines! F*ck Yeah!

    After the terror attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, the United States demanded the extradition of Osama bin Laden from the Taliban, then the recognized government of Afghanistan. When the Taliban didn’t cough him up, the U.S. military went to work.

    Official combat operations started on Oct. 7, 2001 in the form of airstrikes and Tomahawk missile strikes against suspected al-Qaeda training sites near Kandahar, Kabul, and Herat. On Nov. 16, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced “we have had limited number of American forces on the ground for weeks.”

    He was talking about the Horse Soldiers, U.S. Special Forces attempting to secure Northern Afghanistan with the Afghan Northern Alliance.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    The elite troops were there to connect with and advise the Northern Alliance fighters who had been fighting the Taliban government since 1996. They were just in time. On Sep. 9, 2001, al-Qaeda operatives assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud, the longtime resistance fighter who led wars against the Soviet Union and later, the Taliban (Massoud even tried to warn Western leaders about the 9/11 attacks). He rejected the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam and was the able political and military leader of the Northern Alliance. When the Americans arrived the Alliance fighters were ready to avenge Massoud. The only way to get around the country was on horseback.

    For some of the American commandos, it was their first time on a horse.  “It was like riding a bobcat,” Lt. Col. Max Bowers (Ret.) told CNN.

    Sergeant 1st Class Joe Jung, the team’s medic and sniper, was thrown from his horse, broke his back, and continued with the mission. “I would not allow myself to be the weak link,” Jung said. “It’s not in my nature, and it’s not in any Green Beret’s nature.”

    Bowers carried a piece of the World Trade Center during the entire mission and months later, buried it with full military honors at Mazar-e-Sharif.

    The commandos’ horses were trained by the Northern Alliance warriors to run toward gunfire. Charges pitting Alliance forces against the Taliban were much like those centuries ago, but the fighters used AK-47s instead of sabers.

    Air Force Combat Controller Master Sgt. Bart Decker used laser-guided airstrikes to support Alliance forces. Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of Alliance forces, referred to one of the female navigators on an AC-130 gunship providing close air support as the “Angel of Death.”

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    During the Battle of Mazar-e-Sharif, Jung treated Taliban fighters. The special forces let one go, allowing him to tell other Taliban fighters he was treated humanely and they would be too. This led to mass surrender after the battle. After Mazar-e Sharif, Jung heard an odd accent among the wounded at a prison camp.

    That voice came from John Walker Lindh, the infamous “American Taliban.” The Taliban POWs would later rise up against their captors, capturing the arsenal at Mazar-e Sharif, killing CIA operator Mike Spann, the first casualty of American operations in Afghanistan.

    It took two months for the Allied forces to defeat the Taliban government.

    Kentucky sculptor Douwe Blumberg created a monument of the horse soldiers in his studio in 2011, in honor of the entire military special operations community. That statue, the American Response Monument, is now at the World Trade Center site in New York.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be
    De oppresso liber.

    NOW: 8 post-9/11 heroes who should have received the medal of honor — but didn’t

    OR: Never before seen photos show Bush Administration officials right after 9/11  

     

    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    Marines combine Osprey speed and JPADS precision for optimal training

    As the wind swept through the tall green grass in an open field on the Ie Shima coast line, a group of Marines stood in anticipation as they watched a bundle soar across the bright sky. Guided by the Joint Precision Air Drop System, the package piloted itself onto the drop zone.

    U.S. Marines with Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, 3rd Transportation Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, conducted air delivery operations with JPADS on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan June 6, 2019.

    “Today we are conducting air delivery training using the Joint Precision Air Drop System,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Mulvey, the battalion commander of 3rd TSB. “What’s unique about our training today is that we coupled with the MV-22 Osprey. We are using the speed and distance of the Osprey with the precision air drop capability of the JPADS to really offer the warfighter sustainment.”


    The JPADS is an airdrop system that uses prepared geographic coordinates programmed into a computer system to guide the parachute to the ground within 100 meters of the drop zone.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin Murphy, left, and Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Bird, right, conduct military free fall operations June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

    (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)

    “The JPADS use a GPS to basically do what a free fall parachutist would do,” said Mulvey, a Cherryville, North Carolina native. “It understands the altitude and wind speed and it drives the parachute like a free fall parachutist would, the only difference is that it’s delivering cargo to Marines on the deck.”

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sheldon Ford prepares for a static line jump June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

    (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)


    The JPADS allow 3rd TSB to drop cargo away from the enemy threats and guide it to the Marines on the ground not only making it more accurate, but also allowing Marines to recover the cargo faster.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, land at a drop zone on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan June 6, 2019.

    (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mark Fike)

    Mulvey said the training was a big step forward for III Marine Expeditionary Force because it wasIE SHIMA, Okinawa, Japan — As the wind swept through the tall green grass in an open field on the Ie Shima coast line, a group of Marines stood in anticipation as they watched a bundle soar across the bright sky. Guided by the Joint Precision Air Drop System, the package piloted itself onto the drop zone.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Paul Konicki returns to an MV-22 Osprey after a military free fall training June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

    (U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)

    “This mission is not possible without the help of the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force with the professional pilots and the crew of the Air Combat Element,” said Mulvey. “I’m very happy from the performance of the air delivery specialists of LS Co., the roughriders are great, I’d jump with them any day.” the first time they had dropped cargo utilizing the JPADS from an MV-22 Osprey.

    This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Russia appears to be lying about size of military exercises

    In September 2018, Russia kicked off its Vostok-18 military exercises, drills that defense officials claim involve some 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, 1,000 aircraft, and scores of warships and have touted as “unprecedented in scale.”

    That’s roughly a third of the entire Russia military, much of which would have to be moved to the far east to participate in these large-scale maneuvers.

    2018’s version of the Vostok, or East, exercise is billed as the largest ever, topping the 1981 Zapad, or West, military exercise, which took place in the Baltic Sea area and Eastern Europe amid heightened tension with the US after President Ronald Reagan took office.


    Vostok is a no doubt a major undertaking for Russia’s armed forces — and a major geopolitical development, given the inclusion of Chinese forces for the first time — but there are a number of reasons to believe Moscow is overstating the forces it has mustered.

    The logistical challenges of moving that many personnel and their equipment cast doubt on the stated numbers.

    The 300,000 troops Russian officials have said would participate would be roughly one-third of the country’s military. Gathering such a force would be a considerable financial challenge in light of Russia’s decreasing defense spending and its standing military commitments elsewhere, according to The Diplomat. By comparison, that force would represent roughly two-thirds of the much better funded and equipped active-duty US Army.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Tanks rolling during the Vostok 2018 military exercises in Russia.

    A conservative estimate of the vehicles in the Central and Eastern military districts is around 7,000 to 10,000. Bringing in roughly 25,000 more vehicles would clog railways and highways, and shuttling in that many troops would likely overwhelm Russia’s military logistics structure.

    The size of the force involved is likely around 50,000 to 100,000, according to The Diplomat. Other estimates put it around 150,000 — about the size of the Vostok-81 exercise — which is still very massive force.

    Inflating the number of military personnel involved in such exercises is nothing new for Russia. And there appear to be a number of types of legerdemain through which Russian officials carry it out.

    The stated total — 297,000, to be precise — likely includes all units stationed in the Central and Eastern military districts, as well as those in the Northern and Eastern Fleets and in the airborne units that are taking part.

    “For every battalion fielded they will likely count the entire brigade, and for a few regiments an entire division, etc.,” writes Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at CNA and the Wilson Center.

    Many of those are involved may not ever venture into the field, instead remaining at command posts. (The US has also counted geographically dispersed units as taking part in certain exercises, but typically at much smaller scales.)

    Participation may go beyond uniformed troops and include civilian reserves, Jeffrey Edmonds, a former Russia director for the National Security Council, told Voice of America

    Edmonds noted that other units, like those operating in western Russia, may be included in some tallies.

    Moscow has also likely counted under-strength units at full strength and included units that have been alerted or are indirectly involved — like those that are taking over assignments from units that are redeploying to actually take part, according to The Diplomat.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Russian troops participating in Zapad-2017.

    (Russian Ministry of Defense)

    The figures presented by Moscow for these kinds of exercises could be called “true lies,” Kofman told Voice of America, “in that they’re statistical lies whereby the Russian army’s General Staff tallies every single unit-formation that either sends somebody to the exercise or has some tangential command component in it.”

    “So these numbers are not entirely fictional, but you have to divide them by a substantial amount to get any sense of how big the exercise actually is,” Kofman added.

    Such sleight of hand is not new — similar tactics were used during the Cold War — and using them now may also be meant to avoid adding to anger over reduced social spending and proposed hikes to pension-eligibility ages.

    Russia faces economic and demographic challenges, and, as noted by Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert and fellow at the European University Institute, the government spends an outsize portion of its federal budget on security.

    Overstating the number of forces involved also likely serves broader geopolitical purposes.

    Over the past decade and a half, President Vladimir Putin has turned a weakened military into a capable force, but the Russian leader is aware that his country lags in objective measures of strength, Galeotti notes at The Atlantic.

    “Instead, [Putin] relies on bluff and bluster, theater and shadow play,” Galeotti writes. “He wants to project an image of a dangerous yet confident country, one that should be placated, not challenged.”

    China’s inclusion may also indicate a shift in Moscow’s thinking.

    Previous iterations of the Vostok exercise were meant to send a message to Beijing, which Moscow long viewed as a rival. The relatively small Chinese contingent taking part this year has been interpreted as a message to the West that Russia is not isolated and could further embrace China.

    Many doubt a formal military alliance between China and Russia is in the offing, instead seeing their cooperation on Vostok — they have carried out joint military exercises elsewhere — as an effort by both sides to balance against US and by Russia to allay Chinese concerns about the target of the exercises.

    “Maybe the announcements of how big it’s going to be is a reaction to hostilities with the West, but the actual exercise itself is a pretty standard Russian military activity,” Edmonds, now a research scientist at CNA, told Voice of America.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Terrorist leader behind 2017 ambush of green berets killed

    A senior official with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was killed in a strike on a terrorist camp in Mali involving French warplanes and commandos, the French defense ministry confirmed Aug. 27, 2018.

    The lifeless body of Mohamed Ag Almouner, a senior leader for the ISIS affiliate that claimed responsibility for a deadly ambush that left four American Green Berets dead in Niger in 2017, was found on the battlefield by a French-led unit after an airstrike by two Mirage fighter jets Aug. 26, 2018, according to a report from Stars and Stripes, which cited a statement from the French military.


    An unidentified member of the group was also killed.

    In October 2017, armed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara militants ambushed US and Nigerien troops. Five Nigeriens and four Americans were killed while another ten people were wounded. During the firefight that ensued, US and Nigerien forces managed to kill nearly two dozen terrorists.

    The four American special operations soldiers who lost their lives in the fight were: Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Bryan Black. The US Army Special Forces team leader Capt. Michael Perozeni, who was singled out for blame in an investigation into the ambush during which he was wounded, is reportedly being considered for a silver star, the military’s third-highest valor award for gallantry.

    This is how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be

    Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson.

    (US Army photos)

    The US military maintains a presence in Niger to “provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts, in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region,” US Africa Command spokesman US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo told CNN after the incident in 2017.

    France has deployed thousands of troops to West Africa for Operation Barkhane, an effort to eradicate Islamist militants in the region.

    Aug. 26, 2018’s airstrike also ended the lives of two civilians. “The French criteria for opening fire are particularly strict and aim at avoiding civilian casualties,” the French military said in a statement, “The proven presence of civilians near the target would have led to the cancellation of the mission. An investigation is underway to determine how civilians were hit during this strike.”

    US Africa Command said that it “routinely works with our French partners in the Sahel region, who provide a bulk of the force with more than 4,000 military forces,” adding that the US remains ” committed to assisting the French-led operations to degrade violent extremist organizations and to build the defense capacity of … Mali and its neighbors.”

    Featured image: A French Air Force Mirage F1CR.

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

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