Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87 - We Are The Mighty
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Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

Jim Nabors made good on his last name when he brought Gomer Pyle to “The Andy Griffith Show.” His big-hearted, ever-cheery gas-pump jockey was a neighborly fit in the easygoing town of Mayberry.


But when Gomer enlisted in the Marines for five TV seasons, he truly blossomed. So did the actor who portrayed him.

Nabors, who died Nov. 30 at 87, made Pvt. Gomer Pyle a perfect foil for the immovable object of Marines boot camp: Grinning, gentle Gomer was the irresistible force.

On Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a spin-off from The Andy Griffith Show that premiered in 1964, Gomer arrived in the fictional Camp Henderson with a happy attitude and eager innocence that flew in the face of everything he found awaiting him there, especially irascible Sgt. Vince Carter, played by Frank Sutton.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Publicity photo of Jim Nabors (left) and Frank Sutton from the television program ‘Gomer Pyle USMC,’ May 3, 1968.

It’s a measure of Nabors’ skill in inhabiting the anything-but-militaristic Gomer that this character was widely beloved, and the show a Top 10 hit, during an era when the Vietnam War was dividing America. His trademark “Shazam,” ″Gollllll-lee,” and “Surprise, surprise, surprise” were parroted by millions.

But Nabors had another character to offer his fans: himself, a booming baritone. In appearances on TV variety programs, he stunned viewers with the contrast between his twangy, homespun humor (“The tornado was so bad a hen laid the same egg twice”) and his full-throated vocals.

He was a double threat, as he demonstrated for two seasons starting in 1969 on “The Jim Nabors Hour,” a variety series where he joshed with guest stars, did sketches with Sutton and fellow Gomer veteran Ronnie Schell, and sang country and opera.

Offstage and off-camera, Nabors retained some of the awed innocence of Gomer. At the height of his fame in 1969, he admitted, “I still find it difficult to believe this kind of acceptance. I still don’t trust it.”

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Jim Nabors’ headshot for a USO performance. (Image from USMC)

After his variety show, Nabors continued earning high salaries in Las Vegas showrooms and in concert theaters across the country. He recorded more than two dozen albums and sang with the Dallas and St. Louis symphony orchestras.

During the 1970s, he moved to Hawaii, buying a 500-acre macadamia ranch. He still did occasional TV work, and in the late 1970s, he appeared 10 months annually at Hilton hotels in Hawaii. The pace gave him an ulcer.

Read Also: The 12 most iconic roles in military movie history

“I was completely burned out,” he later recalled. “I’d had it with the bright lights.”

In the early 1980s, his longtime friendship with Burt Reynolds led to roles in “Stroker Ace,” ″Cannonball II,” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

He returned to concert and nightclub performances in 1985, though at a less intensive pace. Among his regular gigs was singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the Indianapolis 500 each year, which he first did in 1972. That first time, he wrote the lyrics on his hand so he wouldn’t forget.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Honorary Marine Cpl. Jim Nabors sings ‘Silent Night’ during the Second Annual Na Mele o na Keiki, ‘Music for the Children’ Dec. 9 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, Dec. 9, 2009. (Photo by Sgt. Scott Whittington)

“I’ve never thought of (the audience reaction) as relating to me,” Nabors said. “It is applauding for the tradition of the race and the excitement.”

Illness forced him to cancel his appearance in 2007, the first one he had missed in more than 20 years. But he was back performing at Indy in 2008, saying, “It’s always the main part of my year. It just thrills you to your bones.”

In 1991, Nabors was thrilled to get a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. He was joined for the ceremony by pals Carol Burnett, Loni Anderson, Phyllis Diller, and Florence Henderson. His reaction? “Gollllll-lee!”

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Publicity photo of guest star Molly Picon and Jim Nabors from the television program Gomer Pyle USMC. (Image from CBS)

Nabors, who had undergone a liver transplant in 1994 after contracting hepatitis B, died at his home in Hawaii after his health had declined for the past year, said his husband, Stan Cadwallader, who was by his side.

“Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that’s all we can say about him. He’s going to be dearly missed,” Cadwallader said.

The couple married in early 2013 in Washington state, where gay marriage had recently been made legal. Nabors’ friends had known for years that he was gay, but he had never said anything to the media.

“It’s pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you’ve been together 38 years, I think something’s got to happen there, you’ve got to solidify something,” Nabors told Hawaii News Now at the time. “And at my age, it’s probably the best thing to do.”

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Jim Nabors (right), honorary Marine sergeant who played Gomer Pyle in a television show laughs while his biography is read during a conference room dedication ceremony at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, June 9, 2015. Nabors laughed when his biography stated he was given the rank of private for 37 years before being awarded honorary lance corporal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Anderson)

An authentic, small-town, Southern boy, he was born James Thurston Nabors in Sylacauga, Alabama, in 1930, the son of a police officer. Boyhood attacks of asthma required long periods of rest, during which he learned to entertain his playmates with vocal tricks.

After graduating from the University of Alabama, he worked in New York City for a time, and later, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he was an assistant film editor and occasional singer at a TV station.

He moved on to Hollywood with hopes of using his voice. While cutting film at NBC in the daytime, he sang at night at a Santa Monica club.

“I was up there on the stage the night that Andy Griffith came in,” Nabors recalled in 1965. “He said to me afterward, ‘You know somethin,’ boy? You’re good. I’m going to bring my manager around to see you.'”

Nabors soon landed a guest shot on Griffith’s sitcom as Gomer Pyle. That grew into a regular role as Gomer proved a kindred spirit with other Mayberry locals. By then, he had proved he was also a kindred spirit with millions of viewers.

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Jim Mattis wouldn’t be the first former general to serve as Secretary of Defense

With reports swirling that retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is a leading contender to be selected as Secretary of Defense for President-elect Donald Trump, some people think it would be unprecedented for a former general to serve as Pentagon chief.


Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communications Specialist Shawn P. Eklund)

But General of the Army George C. Marshall might have something to say about that.

Marshall is perhaps best known for the “Marshall Plan” he put together as Secretary of State under President Harry S Truman to help rebuild Europe after World War II. Marshall had served two years in that post before leaving to become president of the American Red Cross.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

But when the Korean War started in June 1950 and became a near-disaster, Truman fired then-Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson over the military’s lack of readiness. He then nominated Marshall to take over.

Marshall was technically prohibited from serving as Secretary of Defense. As a General of the Army, he was by law on active duty, and per 10 USC 113, nobody who was a commissioned officer can serve as Secretary of Defense without having been retired for seven years.

Congress, though, waived that provision to allow Marshall to serve.

Marshall spent a year in the Pentagon, not only working to get the military into fighting shape for the Korean War, but also rebuilding bridges that his predecessor had burned with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (particularly the Navy), and also with the State Department.

Within two months of Marshall becoming SecDef, the United States and allied forces had nearly reached the Yalu River in Korea. When the Chinese Communists intervened and pushed the allied forces back, Marshall would play a crucial role in President Truman’s decision to relieve General of the Army Douglas MacArthur as overall commander in Korea, despite his initial reluctance to see that happen.

Within a year, Marshall resigned as Secretary of Defense and was succeeded by his deputy, Roger A. Lovett. He would die eight years after leaving the Pentagon.

Famous for has program to save a war ravaged Europe, Marshall’s service as Secretary of Defense is a nearly-forgotten footnote in his long career.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This massage therapist is using her ‘healing hands’ to help vets

As soon as licensed massage therapist Terry Smith starts to knead veteran James Davis’s neck and shoulders, Davis begins to relax.

“That feels so good,” says Davis, a patient in the Community Living Center (CLC) of the Columbia VA Health Care System.

Smith, a U.S. Army veteran, volunteers her hours at the Columbia VA Medical center. She is known as the massage therapist with the “healing hands.”

“It’s amazing what that sense of touch can do for a person. Especially when they don’t get to experience it much anymore,” Smith said.


Healing hands

One veteran in the CLC, a diagnosed Alzheimer’s patient, kept his hands tightly clenched. As Smith began to massage his hands and wrists, the patient slowly began to release his fingers. Another veteran seemed to be asleep in his wheelchair. As Smith massaged his shoulders, arms, and hands, the patient started to wake up and said that he thought he was dreaming about Smith’s touch.

Smith, a Desert Storm veteran from Mount Vernon, New York, joined the military to travel and see the world. Eventually, she found a career path as a medic in nutritional care at West Point.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

“This is the type of treatment that gets to the heart of a person”

(Photo by Jennifer Scales)

“Even though I am from New York, I had no clue about West Point or any other type of military posts or bases that were in my state,” Smith said. “Plus, not knowing a lot about the military before I enlisted made each assignment that I had a new experience for me.”

After a varied post-military career, Smith decided to use the GI Bill to study massage therapy. By 2012, when she obtained her license, she knew she had found her calling.

Helping others

“I love what I do,” Smith said. “This is the type of treatment that gets to the heart of the person. I can oftentimes feel the stiffness in their muscles when I begin my massage, and it is my goal to work it out.”

Carrie Jett, a Columbia VA recreation therapist, notes that Smith is the facility’s only volunteer massage therapist. “The patients really appreciate what she does, and the word is spreading,” said Jett. “Even those veteran patients here who don’t participate in other therapeutic events eagerly await the day and time of Smith’s arrival to get a massage.”

When asked what makes her massages so special for veterans, Smith replied, “I touch them with the spirit of love.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 top jobs you wish the Space Force had

Ever since the news of the newest, and most confusing branch of the Armed forces surfaced this past year, we’ve all been enjoying plenty of memes. While the Space Force is the sixth official branch of the Armed Forces, we were all deeply let down by the news there are no plans for a fleet of Millennium Falcons (yet).


Legitimate questions still linger in the atmosphere surrounding MOS details, which feels a bit like staring into a black hole of information. Like where to drop a packet for the Space Rangers, and if Space Public Relations comes with Area 51 clearance. Instead of waiting, we thought we’d create the top list of jobs you wish the Space Force had. And hey, perhaps they might only be a light year away from existence.

Space Infantry 

Grunts across the galaxy will have to take it down a notch in their hopes for grabbing the first CIB or CAR for actions taken in space war. Fans of the so-bad-it’s-good 1997 movie Starship Troops would see their dreams of other-worldly combat possibly become a reality (but probably without the massive, bloodthirsty bugs, sorry). As it turns out, the Outer Space Treaty declares the Moon, and all other celestial bodies as peaceful space, so a war on the Moon isn’t likely to happen. Still, the Infantry slogan “Embrace the Suck” gets a whole new meaning when the only thinking protecting you from the air-sucking death of outer space is the badass helmet that ironically looks a lot like something off Halo.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

upload.wikimedia.org

Space shuttle door gunner

Who doesn’t want to wield the first-ever commissioned laser-based 50 Cal? Will it be more of a “kksssshhhh” or a “vrau- vrau” noise when it fires? What regulations will be necessary if a bullet fired in space would theoretically continue forever- you know, to infinity and beyond?

Space public relations 

While obviously necessary, and already existing here on Earth (in a different format), what we really want to know is- who gets to talk to the aliens? What are the foreign language requirements for extraterrestrial life? How exactly will they know we come in peace? All completely irrelevant to the actual mission of Space Force Public Relations, but still.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

farm5.staticflickr.com

Space rangers

To where exactly will this elite group lead the way to? In the absence of a tan beret, will headgear be sleek or exude the classic trooper style? Will hyper-speed come standard in all Ranger vehicles, so that no man could be left behind, despite the vastness of the galaxy? Lastly, what about training? How swiftly will one be recycled from the zero-gravity phase in Space Ranger School? Will the Ranger Instructors be dressed as Storm Troopers? How will you execute burpee long-jumps in zero gravity?

Space pilot

Finally, Tom Cruise can unleash his inner being when Top Gun 3 is filmed on Mars (Sorry Tom, please don’t sue me). Do pilots wear aviators in space? Can you do a fly-by of the radar tower on the Moon? Will it be called Mission Control or Star Command? Will flight suits still look as sexy? These are important and we need to know. The image of streaking through the Solar System in a space fighter that may or may not resemble an X-Wing from Star Wars should be enough to enable the Space Force’s recruitment demands for the next couple of decades. Surely by then, we will have built a Death Star already, right? After all, it’s not a moon it’s a space station.

All joking aside, welcome to the neighborhood Space Force. We’re all just jealous you get to do cool space jazz while we’re stuck here on Earth as the mortal elite force to reckon with.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is trying to get an edge on NATO as it stokes Ukraine

A confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea in November 2018 ended with Ukraine’s ships seized and its sailors jailed.

It was the first direct clash between Moscow and Kiev in years, and it stoked tensions that have been elevated for years, especially after Russia intervened in Ukraine in 2014 and seized the Crimean Peninsula and then backed separatist movements along Ukraine’s eastern border.

The Nov. 25, 2018 clash took place in the Kerch Strait, which divides Crimea and mainland Russia and connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Photos show Russia appears to have struck one of the Ukrainian ships with a heavy weapon, such as a 30mm gun or missile.


Since claiming Crimea, Russia has taken a more aggressive stance toward the Sea of Azov, declaring invalid a 2003 agreement in which Moscow and Kiev agreed to share the body of water.

In 2015, Russia began construction of a bridge over the Kerch Strait. The sea is already the world’s shallowest, no deeper than 50 feet, and the height of the bridge further restricted the size of ships that could pass through.

Russia has also interfered with Ukrainian shipping in the area and at times closed the strait completely — all of which is particularly challenging for Ukraine, which has major ports on the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine and Russia have both pursued a military buildup in the area, but Russia has more forces and their activity has been more substantial.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross, background, conducts an underway exercise with the Ukrainian navy.

Moscow’s moves in the Black Sea region are of a piece of with what it’s been doing throughout Eastern Europe amid heightened tensions with NATO.

‘An arc of A2/AD’

Since 2014, Russia has “built up tremendous amounts of capability” in Crimea, said Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at geopolitical-analysis firm Stratfor.

Russian forces in the area now amount to about 30,000 troops and more than 100 combat aircraft, up from dozens that were in the area prior to the takeover, Lamrani said. (In May 2018, 17 Russian planes swarmed a British warship sailing just 30 miles from Crimea.)

“They have now three battalions of S-400s, plus other air-defense systems, like the S-300 [and the] Buk M2,” Lamrani said. Another division of S-400 missiles is on its way to Crimea, where it will be the fourth on duty, according to Russian state media.

“They installed a number of coastal missile-defense batteries” firing weapons like Bastion and Bal cruise missiles, which can strike land and sea targets, Lamrani said. Russian state media also said this week that more Bal and other anti-ship missiles were headed to the Crimean city of Kerch, which overlooks the strait of the same name.

“They have some Iskander missiles they rotate through the area, lots of new artillery systems, lots of new armor,” Lamrani added, referring to Russian short-range, nuclear-capable cruise missiles. “They didn’t really have main battle tanks there before 2014. Now they do.”

Russia sees Crimea as a stronghold from which to pressure Ukraine and assert control over a broader swath of the Black Sea, Lamrani said.

Weapons like the S-400 and coastal-defense systems can be employed as a part of anti-access/area-denial, or A2/AD, strategy, and their presence in Crimea and elsewhere along Russia’s eastern frontiers has garnered attention from NATO.

Russian “A2/AD capability [runs] from the high north through Kaliningrad, down to Crimea and all the way down into [Russia’s] base at Tartus in Syria,” Ben Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe before retiring at the end of 2017, told Business Insider at the beginning of November 2018.

The S-400, considered Russia’s most advanced air-defense system, is also deployed in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea and near Latakia on the Syrian coast. The S-300, which is older but still highly capable, has been deployed in the region, including in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia, which borders the Black Sea.

“There are varying degrees of capabilities” at each of those sites, Hodges added, “but the one in Kaliningrad and the one in Crimea are the most substantial, with air- and missile-defense and anti-ship missiles and several thousands of troops” from Russia’s army, navy, and air force. “That’s part of creating an arc of A2/AD, if you will.”

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

Russia S-400 air-defense systems in Syria.

(Russian Defense Ministry)

Russian moves around the Black Sea were particularly worrisome, Hodges said, comparing the seizure of Crimea and subsequent territorial claims in the Black Sea to China’s claims and island construction in the South China Sea.

Some of the NATO members bordering the sea, like Romania and Bulgaria, don’t have a major naval presence there, but Turkey would likely prevent Russia from having free reign in the sea.

With the vantage point provided by Crimea, Russian combat aircraft and land-based weapons systems like the S-400 and Bal missiles can extend their reach hundreds of miles into and over the Black Sea.

“They can effectively support their navy with an umbrella defense of surface-to-air missiles and anti-ship missile systems that can keep NATO away in case of any threat,” Lamrani said.

A2/AD systems could provide similar defense in a place like Kaliningrad, which has Russia’s only year-round, ice-free Baltic Sea port and is close to St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. In western Syria, where Russian S-400 systems have already been deployed, US-led coalition forces have worked hard to avoid Russian airspace.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) flagship HMS Duncan, arrives to the harbor in Constanta, Romania, Feb. 2, 2018.

(NATO / CPO FRA C.Valverde)

‘Alive to these challenges’

Russian forces are outstripped by NATO as a whole, and an all-out Russian attack on another country is considered unlikely.

But concern has grown that Russian A2/AD in areas like eastern Syria or the Baltic and Black seas could create layered defensive bubbles and limit NATO’s freedom of movement — especially in an engagement below the threshold of war.

In the decades since the Cold War, NATO members also shifted their attention away from a potential conflict with a peer or near-peer foe, focusing instead on smaller-scale operations like counterterrorism. (The US and others have started to reverse this shift.)

“There’s been decline in … investments rather in this type of warfare, as NATO attention has shifted to other priorities,” Lamrani said of A2/AD.

But, he noted, Russia has pursued the mismatch to compensate for a weakness.

“Russia is stronger than NATO in air defenses and stronger than NATO in land-based anti-ship missile systems, as well as anti-missile systems in general,” Lamrani said. “That came out of Russia trying to mitigate its disadvantages in other areas. For instance, NATO naval forces are much stronger than Russia, and NATO air power as a whole is much stronger than Russia.”

Advanced stealth platforms, like the US-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, are seen as potential counters to A2/AD systems. And other assets, like the Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic-attack aircraft, could help thwart them.

But it’s not clear those resources are available in the numbers needed to do so, nor is it likely such an engagement could be conducted without heavy losses.

Nevertheless, while Russia may find an advantage within the specific area of A2/AD, Lamrani said, “that doesn’t mean that NATO hasn’t been developing its own capabilities in other areas [and it] doesn’t mean that NATO hasn’t been thinking about this type of stuff.”

“Let’s just say the alliance is alive to these challenges, and it … will be prepared to use all the different things that would be required,” Hodges said in early November, without elaborating. “This is not something … the alliance has not looked at very closely.”

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

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.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US Navy humble-brags it has 7 carriers at sea

The US Navy bragged on social media Tuesday morning that it currently has seven aircraft carriers underway, a major improvement over the situation in late October, when half the carrier fleet was in a non-deployable state.

“The Navy has 7 aircraft carriers underway today. NBD,” the Navy Chief of Information (CHINFO) tweeted Tuesday in a humble-brag; “NBD” is an acronym for “no big deal.”


Less than two months ago, the Navy had that many carriers stuck pier-side due to maintenance issues, preparation for mid-life overhauls, unexpected malfunctions, and new construction challenges.

On the East Coast, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) was winding up to a deployment after an extended maintenance availability.

The USS George Washington (CVN-73) was in the yard for its Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) with the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) pier-side, apparently in preparation for its mid-life overhaul.

The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) was in extended maintenance. The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) was down for an electrical malfunction.

The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was in an extended post-shakedown availability.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

(U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt)

And, on the West Coast, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was in maintenance, leaving only handful of the 11 carriers readily available.

Even with less than half of its carriers available, the Navy still had ready an unmatched carrier force, but the problem is that with that many ships in the yard, it makes it harder to meet the demand for carriers, important tools for the projection of American military power.

“I have a demand for carriers right now that I can’t fulfill. The combatant commanders want carriers,” Richard Spencer, the former Secretary of the Navy, said at that time.

Right now, the Truman is underway in the 6th Fleet area of operations while the Stennis, Ike, and Ford are all underway in the Atlantic. The USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) are underway in the 3rd Fleet AOR, and the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) remains in the 5th Fleet AOR, the Navy told Insider.

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is forward-deployed in Japan, but it is currently in port.

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

Articles

The Pentagon is considering sending 1,000 more troops to Syria

The Pentagon is considering sending an additional 1,000 conventional troops over the next few weeks into Syria, ahead of an upcoming offensive against the ISIS capital of Raqqa.


The troops would likely come from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit — currently on its way to the region — and the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, which recently made its way to Kuwait, according to a report in The Washington Post by TM Gibbons-Neff.

The proposed increase in conventional forces would follow similar deployments in recent weeks that have supplemented special operations forces, of which roughly 500 have been on the ground for some time.

Related: Chinese troops are reportedly patrolling in Afghanistan

A convoy of US Army Rangers riding in armored Stryker combat vehicles was seen crossing the border into Syria last week to support Kurdish military forces in Manbij. The convoy, identified by SOFREP as being from 3rd Ranger Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, was the most overt use of US troops in the region thus far.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Marines with the 11th MEU train in Djibouti. Leathernecks from the 11th MEU reportedly just deployed to Syria to bolster an assault on Raqqa. | U.S. Marine Corps photo

The Ranger deployment was followed soon after by a contingent of US Marines from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine regiment, which left their ships to establish a combat outpost inside Syria that is apparently within striking distance of Raqqa.

“For the base in Syria to be useful, it must be within about 20 miles of the operations US-backed forces are carrying out,” the Post wrote.

Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for OIR, told Business Insider previously that the moves into Syria were to pre-position US forces so they can provide logistical and fire support to “Syrian partnered forces” who will eventually assault Raqqa.

The Marines and Rangers will provide the “commander greater agility to expedite the destruction of ISIS in Raqqah. The exact numbers and locations of these forces are sensitive in order to protect our forces, but there will be approximately an additional 400 enabling forces deployed for a temporary period to enable our Syrian partnered forces to defeat ISIS,” Dorrian told Business Insider.

He added: “The deployment of these additional key enabling capabilities allows the Coalition to provide flexible all weather fire support, training and protection from IEDs, and additional air support to our Syrian partners.”

Meanwhile, US special operations forces, who are said to be taking a training and advisory role with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, were quietly given more latitude to call in precision airstrikes and artillery. As the AP reported in February, advisors are now able to call in airstrikes without seeking approval from an operations center in Baghdad.

Additionally, advisors were embedded at lower echelons of Iraqi security forces at the brigade and battalion level, rather than division — meaning that US forces are increasingly getting closer to direct combat.

Also read: Meet the female Peshmerga fighters battling ISIS

The presence of additional US ground troops inside Syria — even miles from the frontline — would bring with it considerable risk. Combat outposts often draw rocket and mortar fire, in addition to small arms. Last March, a Marine outpost established to support the operation to retake Mosul, Iraq came under rocket attack by ISIS militants, killing Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin.

A total of nine American service members have been killed in OIR combat operations, while 33 have been wounded, according to Pentagon statistics.

There is also additional risk from the US’ partnership with Syrian Kurdish fighters known as the YPG, or People’s Protection Units. Though the Pentagon seems to believe the YPG would be the most effective force in the Raqqa fight, the unit is considered a terrorist group by Turkey.

Turkey has so far refused to compromise, insisting the US use a different Syrian rebel group, Reuters reported.

“Our soldiers will not be fighting together with people who shot us and killed our soldiers and are trying to kill us,” one senior Turkish security official, briefed on recent meetings between Turkish and U.S. strategists, told Reuters.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Scientists want to give you artificial, robot muscles

Remember that LS3 Mule robot the Marines tested but then decided against deploying because it was just too noisy for use on the frontlines? That was sort of crazy, right? But Army researchers are doing a large amount of work to make quiet, robotic muscles to reinforce soldiers, exoskeletons, and robots of the future.


LS3 Robotic Pack Mule Field Testing by US Military

www.youtube.com


It might sound sort of odd that the servos on a robot could be too noisy for the place where mortars and machine guns are fired. But Marines and soldiers try to stay quiet and stealthy until the fight starts. Then they start firing, and it’s fine to be super noisy. But a new problem pops up, then: you don’t want any systems to run out of power in the middle of a firefight. And firefights are some of the worst times to change out batteries. You need to be efficient.

But those two problems with the Legged Squad Support System, as the robot program was officially known, could be fixed with one—albeit major—breakthrough. Humans can move without any sound of motors and can go for days or even weeks when necessary with little new energy input. All it takes is muscles instead of motors.

And muscles can use chemical fuels much more efficiently than most motors and other machines. A gallon of gasoline contains 31,000 calories, enough to propel a fit human 912 miles on the bicycle or 260 miles running.

Muscles are very efficient both in terms of energy consumed and weight. That makes them very attractive to engineers, especially ones that need to make stealthy machines.

And scientists are working on that. So, yeah, welcome to the future.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

A graphic shows how proteins are structured.

(U.S. Army-Shutterstock)

The Army Research Laboratory has recently highlighted two related tracks that scientists are currently moving down. One group of researchers is focusing on a much better understanding of how human muscles work, and other scientists just enjoyed a 10-day visit from a professor who helped them understand how polymer, or plastic, strands can be made to coil and uncoil like a muscle, to function like a muscle.

So, the first group is seeking to reverse engineer biological muscles, and that second group is basically studying ways of making plastic muscles.

BTW, if that first group sounds like a bunch of flunkies, “How do they not know how muscles work? I eat carbohydrates and proteins, and I get bigger muscles. Not complicated,” then realize that none of us know how muscles really work on a micro level, the level needed to really engineer a muscle. One of the researchers put it well. Dean Culver said:

These widely accepted muscle contraction models are akin to a black-box understanding of a car engine. More gas, more power. It weighs this much and takes up this much space. Combustion is involved. But, you can’t design a car engine with that kind of surface-level information. You need to understand how the pistons work, and how finely injection needs to be tuned. That’s a component-level understanding of the engine. We dive into the component-level mechanics of the built-up protein system and show the design and control value of living functionality as well as a clearer understanding of design parameters that would be key to synthetically reproducing such living functionality.

Both the projects would result in chemically powered muscles. One group would just create the muscle “fibers” out of plastic instead of proteins. Either way, future warriors could use the extra muscles from the scientists.

But the science is still in the nascent stages, so the real muscle suits probably won’t be available until you need them more for getting around the retirement home than the battlefield.

Until then, you can always get a sweet Halloween muscle suit instead.

Articles

Military scientists are looking to salamanders to help regrow limbs on wounded troops

One of the signature wounds of the War on Terror has been the traumatic amputation of limbs.


Today, advanced prosthetics help wounded troops recover much of their independence and live their lives more fully than those who’ve lost limbs in the past.

And while the science and engineering of prosthetics has markedly advanced, the military is working on ways to make those prosthetics flesh and blood.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, talks about extremity regeneration at the Military Health System Research Symposium in Kissimmee, Florida, Aug. 28, 2017. (DOD photo)

According to military doctors and scientists, Army medical researchers are trying to figure out how salamanders are able to re-grow their limbs, and apply that to wounded troops who have lost limbs.

“What we’re trying to do is develop a toolkit for our trauma and reconstructive surgeons out of various regenerative medicine products as they emerge to improve long-term outcomes in function and form of injured extremities,” Lt. Col. David Saunders said during a recent Military Health System research symposium.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Sergeant First Class LEroy Petry, whose right han was amputated by a grenade. (US Army photo)

The symposium also featured technologies closer to current science. A number of projects involving synthetic grafts have shown amazing potential, including one involving bone fillers that are treated to reduce the possibility of infection. Other projects have focused on recovering or preserving nerves, or regrowing muscle.

One researcher is even looking at a mouse to help improve the treatment of burn victims. In this case, the African spiny mouse has been known to lose much of its skin to escape a predator, yet it can quickly recover the skin with a minimum amount of scarring.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Army medics unload a mock casualty from a UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopter during a training exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center. | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

“Warfighters and civilians alike suffer large surface [cuts] and burns, and these result in medically and cosmetically problematic scars,” said Dr. Jason Brant of the University of Florida. “The ability to develop effective therapies will have an enormous impact not only on the health care system but on the individuals as well.”

One Army officer, though, is developing biocompatible sponges that can also reduce scarring by promoting better skin healing. Major Samuel Tahk of Fort Detrick noted that in addition to the sponges being a step along the path towards furthering regenerative medicine, the devices could also cut costs by making treatment of patients simpler.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr. from Joliet, Ill., listens to instructions for adjusting the sight on his compound bow during the archery competition at the 2016 DoD Warrior Games. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever/Released)

With this host of new technologies, it’s no wonder Saunders is excited, not only noting that wounds to limbs have become far more survivable, but also about the many advances “emerging in the field of regenerative medicine to restore form and function to our wounded warfighters.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

What you can do to help people in war-torn Syria

The crisis in Syria reached new, heartbreaking heights on April 3, 2018, when one of the most devastating chemical attacks left dozens of people — including at least 27 children — dead or critically injured.

While watching a humanitarian disaster unfold before your eyes across the world may make you feel powerless, there are some things you can do to aid the people still in Syria and the 4.8 million refugees who have fled their country since the civil war began nearly six years ago.

Here are some actions you can take to help:


Donate to a charity

These 13 organizations received 3 or 4 stars (out of 4) from Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit that rates charities based on their financial management and accountability. Here are links to their websites, listed in alphabetical order:

Volunteer

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
Syrian refugee children attend a lesson in a UNICEF temporary classroom.
(Photo by Russell Watkins)

Your time can be even more valuable than your money.

Instead of — or in addition to — donating to a charity helping Syrian refugees, volunteer with them.

Contact any of the charities listed on the previous slide (plus find more from USAID here) and ask them how you can give your time.

You can also join Doctors Without Borders and go to Syria or a European country where refugees have fled to.

If you live in several European countries or Canada, you can also list your home as a place where Syrian refugees can stay (sort of like a free Airbnb).

Educate yourself and others

Learn more about the crisis from official sources, and educate your friends and family about what you discover. The more you know about the crisis, the more you can help.

Here is more information about the situation in Syria from the United Nations Refugee Agency and the USAID Center For International Disaster Information.

Keep up with the latest news on Business Insider’s Syria page.

Contact your lawmakers

Call, email, or send a letter to your elected officials or the US State Department and encourage them to act the way you want them to.

Your voice can be louder than you might think.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Head of Afghanistan ISIS reported killed in Nangarher

Authorities say the head of Islamic State militants in Afghanistan has been killed in a strike on the group’s hideouts in Nangarhar Province.

The National Security Directorate said that in addition to Abu Saad Erhabi, 10 other members of the militant group were also killed in a joint ground and air operation by Afghan and foreign forces on Aug. 25, 2018.


The Aug. 26, 2018 statement said a large amount of heavy and light weapons and ammunition were also destroyed.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

U.S. and Afghan National Security Forces stand in formation during a transfer of authority ceremony on Forward Operating Base Fenty, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012

Amaq, the extremist group’s news agency, carried no comment on the issue, and there was no reaction from the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.

Sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan, the group has built a stronghold in Nangarhar, on Afghanistan’s porous eastern border with Pakistan. It’s now one of the country’s most dangerous militant groups.

It’s unclear exactly how many Islamic State fighters are in the country, because they frequently switch allegiances. The U.S. military estimates that there are about 2,000.

Featured image: A U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Knighthawk makes its approach into Forward Operating Base Fenty in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 13, 2013.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Russians were all drunk when Trump Tomahawked Syria

When Syrian President Bashar al-Asad used a sarin nerve gas attack on his own citizens during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, Trump was pissed. According to veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s 2018 book, Fear: Trump in the White House, Trump wanted to kill Asad for the attack, using a targeted leadership strike.


But cooler heads prevailed, and then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis convinced the President to hit Syrian airfields with a series of Tomahawk missiles instead.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

Sparing them from getting hit by Mattis’ personal Tomahawk.

The Russians came to Syria in September 2015, at a time when things looked pretty bleak for the regime, good for the loose confederation of rebels, and great for the Islamic State. Almost immediately, Russian intervention began to make the difference for the Syrian government forces. By the end of 2017, the government had retaken key cities and areas from both rebel groups and ISIS fighters.

Also the end of 2017, the Russians began to make their presence at air bases in the country permanent. That’s who the United States called in April 2017, delivering a warning that some of America’s finest manufactured products were being forcibly delivered to a Syrian airbase that night.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

There goes id=”listicle-2636430379″.8 million worth of forcible export.

Nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles were fired from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross of the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea that night. The Pentagon ordered the Navy to deliver a warning to Russian troops in the area right before the attack hit at 3:45 in the morning. According to Woodward’s source, the Russian airfield troop who picked up the phone sounded like he was dead drunk.

Jim Nabors, the original Private Gomer Pyle, dies at 87

“That’s our secret, captain… we’re always drunk.”

The warning worked, and the attack reportedly killed no Russian troops at the Shayrat Air Base, though it did damage and destroy aircraft and missile batteries, on top of killing nine Syrian government troops and seven civilians. The U.S. attack purposely avoided attacking a sarin gas storage facility on the base. The base itself was targeted because it was the source of Asad’s sarin gas attack on Syrian civilians.

Warning Russia of the pending attack may have given the Syrian Air Force notice to shelter its planes and prepare for the attack, as it was noted that many of the planes there survived the assault and its airfields were operational again less than 24 hours later.