Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Master Fitness Training instructors work tirelessly to coach soldiers from across the Army in developing new ways to prepare them for combat, while in the process, helping increase readiness and lowering profiles up to 40%, says the fitness school NCOIC.

Wanting to better understand the effectiveness of the fitness program, Master Sgt. Joseph Komes, U.S. Army Physical Fitness School noncommissioned officer in charge, used a roster based on thousands of soldiers, all previously certified at the school, and sent a questionnaire to understand the school’s effectiveness.

Shortly after, the responses started pouring in.


“What I started seeing was that trainers were increasing their unit readiness,” he said. “The way I measured unit readiness was only by PT scores and profile rates, because, I’m just one guy in an office trying to figure out if what we’re doing is working.”

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Komes also determined individual units, armed with certified fitness trainers, decreased their profile rates by close to 40%. However, Komes added, “I don’t know if those individuals were on a two-week profile and they just ended up falling off during the training program or what.”

That said, the responses were useful and answered his question. In addition, it gave fitness instructors at the school a better understanding of how worthwhile their program is, and with the Army Combat Fitness Test in its second phase of implementation, the timing couldn’t be better, he said.

Scheduled to be the test of record in October 2020, the ACFT is the Army’s largest physical fitness overhaul in nearly four decades. Like physical readiness training, something the instructors are experts in, the ACFT is part of a larger “reset” to build a more combat-ready force.

To meet the demands of the six-event ACFT, instructors from the school have already certified thousands of soldiers from around the Army to develop physical programs to bring back to their units. In addition, the selected soldiers are trained on a variety of skills vital to the ACFT, including how to set up the testing field, as well as supervising and grading the test.

According to Komes, in the past, physical training programs “lost touch” with combat readiness. Regarding PT, soldiers were forced to “run four days out of the week and ruck on the fifth,” which led to injuries and an overall decrease in a soldier’s lethality.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers conduct a sunrise run during annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 11, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. William Carraway)

He added, “That’s just the way PT was always done, and it’s our job is to help soldiers sit down and strategically assess their mission, and prevent injuries from happening. [They should think] Okay, I have a training event nine weeks from now — where we’re going to enter a building and clear room — how do we physically, and safely prepare for this?”

That’s where the master fitness trainer comes in, he said.

“These days, we have better knowledge to increase overall unit performance during a deployment,” he said. “[Master Fitness Training instructors] are doing their best to implement that [knowledge] and shape the future for the Army.”

When fitness instructors certify trainers, they’re thinking of each individual soldier and the unique needs required to be successful — even at that basic level, he said.

“We’re looking at them as individuals and not just as just a big mass,” Komes said. “I think with the ACFT around the corner, it seems like that’s the mindset that’s important, because every person has their own requirements.”

Komes added, it’s vital for trainers to know their soldiers and know what they need to be successful on the ACFT.

“Our trainers understand that we have to physically prepare individuals to complete the Army’s mission,” he added. “It’s very humbling for us to give soldiers, from all three components of the Army, the tools to succeed because the folks who leave here go back to those individual soldiers.”

“Everyone is different,” he said. “Some soldiers could be attached to National Guard units, and implementing a PT program once a month is challenging, or they could be military police and work odd shifts.”

Being able to “crack the code and see the challenges from different perspectives” is a daily task the trainers and instructors grapple with, he said, adding, that “having a fitness trainer all the way down to the platoon level” would be ideal. However, the trainers who leave the fitness school only reach the company level, for active duty.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Danny Gonzalez, Recruiting and Retention Command, New Jersey Army National Guard, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Army Combat Fitness Test

(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

“We already know each individual is different, but each individual platoon is different, too,” he said. “Each platoon is training for a different goal.”

That’s also where certified master fitness trainers come in, he added. “Certified trainers are able to go to their units with a wealth of knowledge, and look at essential task list and identify the most daunting task and develop a physical fitness program based on those tasks to increase the overall performance.”

When Komes first arrived at the fitness school in 2012, the ACFT wasn’t a thought on anyone’s mind. Today, it seems to be everyone’s first thought, he said.

This change leaves the instructors with a large responsibility on their backs — to ensure the force is ready. But, it’s a responsibility they carry with pride, he said.

“When we conduct MFT training, we ensure each certified trainer has a plan for their unit,” he said, adding thousands of certified trainers are among the force already.

“They’re out there, they’re already in units, and hopefully commanders understand what they bring to the fight,” Komes said.

For soldiers uneasy with the ACFT, Komes recommends they reach out to their local master fitness trainer, or identify who it is through their chain of command.

The Master Fitness Training Course is broken into two phases — a self-paced, 60-hour online phase and a two-week, 76-hour in-residence phase. The curriculum covers everything from exercise science, PT program design, leadership, physical fitness assessment and unit physical readiness programs, aligned with current Army doctrine and regulations.

After graduating from the course, soldiers are equipped to advise units on physical readiness issues and monitor unit and individual physical readiness programs.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the LEGION Act is a big deal for veterans

In July 2019, President Trump signed into law the Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act – the LEGION Act. In brief, the legislation says the United States has been in a period of constant warfare since Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese Empire bombed Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II.


What this means for other areas of the law is up for other people to debate. What this means for veterans is that servicemen and women who were killed or wounded in previously undeclared periods of war are now eligible for expanded benefits.

The most apparent benefit of the new LEGION Act legislation is that now every veteran who served since the bombing of Pearl Harbor is eligible to join the American Legion. This will affect some 1,600 veterans who were killed or wounded during their service, which just so happened to be during a previously undeclared period of global conflict. The American Legion says this act honors their service and sacrifice.

“This new law honors the memories of those veterans while allowing other veterans from those previously undeclared eras to receive all the American Legion benefits they have earned through their service,” said American Legion National Judge Advocate Kevin Bartlett.

This also means the eligibility window will run until the U.S. is no longer at war, which – historically speaking – may never happen.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

The war in Afghanistan alone has outlasted two uniform designs.

Veterans with an interest in joining the American Legion still need to meet the other requirements of membership, such as having an honorable discharge. Joining the Legion means more than finding cheap drinks at the local post. The American Legion is not only a club for veterans, it’s also a powerful lobby in Congress and offers its membership benefits like temporary financial assistance, scholarship eligibility, and even help in getting VA disability claims through the system.

By expanding its network to include thousands of new veterans, the American Legion is better able to leverage its membership with members of Congress as well as state and local elected officials and legislative bodies – after all, it was the American Legion who drafted the first GI Bill legislation and helped to create the Department of Veterans Affairs.

So feel free to stop by for more than just a cheap beer.

MIGHTY HISTORY

World War II secret code breaker finds life’s purpose in a drawer

It was 1945, and the world was at war. Charles Hessemer was just 17 years old when he took a drive to Detroit, Michigan with a friend to enlist in the United States Navy. Hessemer’s older brother had already joined and was in Europe fighting. Hessemer gave a wry grin when he admitted that there may have been some fibbing in regard to his age. But he felt called to go. Hessemer had watched so many men that he knew die during that war. He wanted his chance to fight for his country — and those who lost their lives.


Hessemer could never have imagined that joining the Navy would change the course of his entire life. “You are born to do a particular thing and you will do it whether you want to, I firmly believe this. We are guided in what we do,” he shared.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Hessemer dreamed of getting stationed on an aircraft carrier. Everyone he went to boot camp with was being sent to San Diego, which meant action. He had visions of being on a dive bomber and sailing the high seas. As he watched his friends leaving, he was told to go down to the personnel office. Upon arrival, he was told that he had passed a second, more abstract test that all recruits were given. The test didn’t have any wrong answers, but his responses were deeply creative due to his way of thinking. It was those answers that would earmark him for “special” duty, something only five other graduating recruits were chosen for.

But the officer couldn’t tell him what it would be.

Hessemer decided to take it, feeling the pull towards something unique. Although he thought he would ship out soon after accepting the special assignment, he would end up waiting another five weeks. He found out later it was due to his last name – of German descent – which caused in-depth investigations.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

For many years, Adolf Hitler’s number two man was Rudolf Hess. Hess would go on to edit Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, and become deputy leader of the Nazi party. Due to the closeness of Hessemer’s last name, the Navy wasn’t taking any chances.

The investigations would span all the way back to his time in grade school, but would finally come back with an approval. The six men selected for the special assignment were then put on a train and took a three day trip to Washington, D.C., still unaware of what they would be doing.

Hessemer and the others arrived in D.C. and reported to the temporary building the Navy was using as the brand-new Navy Department was being built. He shared the story of continually running into a heavily braided admiral in the hallways of that building. The second time Hessemer almost knocked him over, he remembers the admiral saying: “Young man, you and I seem to be having a problem.”

That man was Fleet Admiral Charles W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. From the moment he assumed command after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he brought the fight to the enemy and would eventually sign the Instrument of Surrender from Japan. As Hessemer walked away from him, his head was spinning.

Eventually the new building was ready. Hessemer remembers how heavily secured it was, as he had to show his identification three times before he made it into the office where he was assigned to work. The six men were brought to a room and told to pick a desk. He remembers looking around and seeing one by the window, so he chose that one. As he searched the drawers, he found the book that would change his life, “How to Draw the Figure.” Hessemer finally found out what his special assignment was at that desk. He was a secret code breaker.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Hessemer spent three years as a part of the communications annex, breaking codes, and he was sworn to secrecy for life. During this time, he read that book he found front to back and enrolled in art night classes. “That book was just waiting for me. I know it,” said Hessemer.

He began to win awards for his paintings. Hessemer eventually left D.C. after two years to work onboard the famous aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Randolph, anchored in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

He left the Navy in 1948 with an honorable discharge and was accepted into the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1950. Although passionate about painting, he felt like something was missing. By accident, he tried painting figures with a palette knife – something no one at the time was doing. From the moment he began, he knew he found what he was meant to do for the rest of his life. His favorite thing to say is that, “An artist’s life is a climb up an endless stairway which he must never stop climbing.”

Hessemer would go on to work as an art director for several successful art ad agencies while painting at night and on the weekends. He spent 10 years truly perfecting his palette knife work before he knew in his heart it was beyond good. It was breathtaking.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

“Everything has its reason, it just comes to you and you say that’s it – and you do it,” he said. He believes every mistake you make is only a serious mistake if it makes you quit. When Hessemer was asked what he would tell today’s veterans as they leave the service, he implored them to find their passionate purpose and give it everything they have.

These days, Hessemer is retired from ad agency work and spends his days and nights painting alongside his furry rescue dog, Charlie. Hessemer is 92 years old and still living his purpose, every day.

Visit his website to see his incredible palette knife paintings.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
MIGHTY TRENDING

These 5 vets discuss the ups and downs of the VA

In this latest episode of Vets Get Real, WATM talks to a group of veterans about the ups and downs of dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the important lessons they learned from transitioning out of the military.


And be sure to keep an eye out for other episodes of Vets Get Real where WATM hosts discussions with vets on topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.

Editor’s note: If you have questions that you’d like to see Vets Get Real about, please leave a comment below.

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Updated: AWOL female engineer has turned herself in

Update: Pvt. Erika Lopez turned herself in to Army authorities Feb. 4 after reports of her desertion went viral. The Army will now decide whether to charge her with a crime, administratively separate her from the service, or allow her to continue training. The original post on Lopez’s disappearance is below:


According to reports from Tennessee news channels, the first woman to enlist as a combat engineer from that state has gone absent without leave and has been gone for over 30 days, meaning she is now technically a deserter.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
Photo: Youtube/Election2016

Erika Lopez enlisted in July of 2015 to much fanfare as the Army was first opening the combat engineer military occupational specialty to women.

She went on convalescent leave from basic training and was scheduled to return Jan. 4. Once she failed to appear, she was listed as AWOL. After 30 days, an AWOL soldier’s status is changed to deserter unless there is evidence that something has happened to the soldier or that he or she is confined.

The Army has been unable to locate Lopez despite numerous attempts. It’s one of the few situations where the most desirable scenario is that a soldier deserted, since the alternative is that something has happened to her.

While there have been reports listing Lopez as the Army’s first female combat engineer, that title actually goes to Vermont National Guard Spc. Skylar Anderson who graduated the combat engineer course in December and continues to serve in Vermont. Lopez was actually the fourth woman to enlist as a combat engineer.

Similarly, Lopez has been described as the first woman to become a combat arms soldier. The term “combat arms” was rescinded in 2008 with an updated version of Army Field Manual 3-0, but the first female combat arms soldiers were those who enlisted into air defense MOSs in the early 1990s.* Combat engineers were a combat arms MOS when that term was in use.

*Updated Feb. 5, 2016: This paragraph originally stated that combat engineer was not technically a combat arms specialty. When “combat arms” was a doctrinal term, Army Engineering was a combat arms branch.

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Milspouses can now get free LinkedIn memberships through DoD

The Defense Department’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program is launching a new partnership with LinkedIn, the virtual professional networking platform.

Military spouses will soon have access to a free LinkedIn Premium membership, valid for one year, every time they have a permanent-change-of-station move, including access to more than 12,000 online professional courses through LinkedIn Learning, as well as access to LinkedIn’s military and veterans resource portal. The membership is also available for the spouse of a service member who is within six months of separation from the military.


“The partnership with LinkedIn will offer military spouses a great opportunity to advance their careers during their times of transition,” said Eddy Mentzer, associate director of family readiness and well-being in DoD’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy. “Spouses will be able to access a global network of professionals any time, from any place. They can plan their next career step before they move, as soon as they have orders [for a permanent change of station].”

More Than Networking

A premium account includes enhanced insights comparing users to other applicants, on-demand learning, and use of the InMail feature, where users can send direct messages to LinkedIn members they’re not connected to. As corporate interest in hiring military spouses steps up, DoD and LinkedIn will be using the military spouse LinkedIn group to connect spouses to each other and employers.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Kendra Velasquez speaks with a representative from Facebook during a job fair hosted by The Fleet and Family Support Center at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale, Wash.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher R. Jahnke)

“It is important for military spouses to see LinkedIn Premium as more than just enhanced networking. LinkedIn has developed a learning path specific to military spouses to help them find and succeed in remote, flexible, and freelance work opportunities,” Mentzer said. “Additionally, LinkedIn provides enhanced resources for spouses that own and operate their own business as well as for employers to search the military spouse community for potential employees.”


The LinkedIn partnership is designed to help military spouses overcome a common challenge, sustaining steady employment. The number one contributing factor to military spouse unemployment is continual relocation from duty station to duty station. On average, active-duty military personnel move once every two to three years, more than twice as often as civilian families, and military spouses move across state lines 10 times more frequently than their civilian counterparts.

Empowering Spouses

“Empowering our community of military spouses to reach their personal and professional goals is part of maintaining a healthy military community,” said A.T. Johnston, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. “We encourage military spouses to take advantage of the LinkedIn Premium membership opportunity as just one of many tools available to them through the SECO program.”

Military spouses interested in the LinkedIn Premium upgrade can visit MySECO for more information and to learn how best to maximize this new service. Eligible military spouses are expected to have access to the LinkedIn Premium membership later this summer.

The DoD established the SECO program to provide education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering free comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections. This program also offers free career coaching services six days a week. This program may further develop partnership with private sector firms such as LinkedIn for purposes of enhancing employment opportunities for military spouses pursuant to authority in Section 1784 of Title 10, United States Code. The formation of such partnerships does not signify official DoD endorsement of any such private-sector entity or its products or services. Learn more about the SECO program by visiting Military OneSource or calling 800-342-9647 to speak to a SECO career coach.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @usnavy on Twitter.

Articles

SECDEF says ‘no exceptions’ to women in combat

Women in the armed forces of the United States will no longer be limited to being “in the rear with the gear.”


Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will order the Pentagon to open all military combat roles to women, rejecting limitations on the most dangerous military jobs. The secretary’s orders will give the branches until January 1st to plan their changes and force those combat roles open to women by April 1st. This includes infantry, reconnaissance, and special operations forces.

“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said at a news conference.

The only branch to attempt to exclude women from combat roles was the Marine Corps, who conducted an internal study of gender-integrated units vs. all-male units and found the integrated ones to be less effective.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
Lance Cpl. Chandra Francisco with the female engagement team in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines talks to Afghan women inside a compound during an operation to clear the village of Seragar in Sangin, Afghanistan. (Marine Corps photo)

Women already have access to most front-line roles in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Earlier in 2015, women were integrated into the Navy’s Submarine Service. Women have been serving as fighter pilots in the Air Force since 1993, and the Army has been fighting to open its infantry positions to women since September 2015.

The defense secretary’s order is not without consideration for potential recruits. His rationale is simply that any qualified candidate should be allowed to compete for the jobs.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
Pfc. Julia Carroll after a six-hour patrol during patrol week of Infantry Training Battalion near Camp Geiger, N.C (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

MIGHTY FIT

How intermittent fasting can work on a hungry troop’s schedule

Ketogenic, South Beach, and Atkins are a few of the most well-known diet plans that countless people from around the country try in hopes of shedding unwanted pounds. Since most troops in the military can’t be as selective with their food choices as civilians, finding a healthy way to shed body fat before your next physical assessment can be tough. After all, those MREs aren’t exactly low-carb.

Today, intermittent fasting has become extremely popular within the fitness world. The idea, in brief, is to eat your meals within a structured time frame and then go several hours without taking in a single calorie.


Intermittent fasting has been proven to control two essential chemicals in the body: growth hormones and insulin.

According to Dr. Eric Berg, growth hormones help the body produce lean muscle, burn fat, and reduce the effects of aging. On the contrary, insulin blocks the benefits of growth hormones and causes weight gain.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
Dr. Berg breaks down the power of intermittent fasting.
(Dr. Eric Berg)

So, how can troops, specifically, benefit from patterned eating? Well, we’re glad you asked.

We all know the simple formula: If you eat more calories than your body burns, you gain weight. First, people looking to drop pounds start by cutting their calorie intake by lowering the amount of food per meal — which is an excellent start. But every time you eat, even if it’s something healthy, your insulin levels spike. In the presence of too much insulin, you simply cannot lose weight.

The solution is to follow a pattern of intermittent fasting. To do so, Dr. Berg recommends waiting at least four hours before eating your first meal of the day. Follow this meal with another two or three within an 8-hour window. After this window closes, don’t eat anything for the following 16 hours — until breakfast the next morning.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
Members of the 334th Training Squadron combat controllers and the 335th Training Squadron special operations weather team begin a physical training session bright and early
(U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Troops who undertake morning PT should set their alarm so that they’re awake long enough to begin their eating period immediately after exercises come to a close.

Since the availability of chow in the field is continuous, controlling your fasting isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Food is available for intake within your 8-hour window, just remember to cease fire on the consumtion once that window has closed.

During your fast, make sure to drink plenty of water. You can also add some apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice to help fill up your tummy after reveille plays bright and early.

Check out Dr. Eric Berg‘s video below to get the complete breakdown of this exciting health trend.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Navy just changed who gets to wear the coveted gold stripes

The Navy announced updates to uniform policy, grooming standards, uniform item availability and mandatory possession dates for new uniform items in NAVADMIN 075/19, released March 25, 2019.

Highlights include:

A command/unit logo shoulder patch is now an option for wear on the left shoulder pocket of the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type II and III in place of the Don’t Tread On Me shoulder patch.

Black leather and non-leather gloves can be worn with the black NWU parka fleece liner.


NWU Type III O-6 rank insignia will be available for purchase and optional wear in silver thread starting June 1, 2019, for easier visual recognition and distinction from the E-4 insignia.

Effective June 1, 2019, all enlisted sailors with 12 years of cumulative service in active or drilling reserve time in the Navy or Marine Corps may wear gold rating badges and gold service stripes on dress uniforms in lieu of red rating badges and stripes.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

The gold rank insignia of a Boatswain Mate Chief Petty Officer.

Women have the option to wear smooth or synthetic leather flat shoes (flats) in service and service dress uniforms.

Nursing T-shirts may be worn with service uniforms, NWU Type I, II and III and flight suits.

The message provides clarification on the definition and manner of wear for ponytail hairstyles.

Effective immediately, sailors who are assigned to Joint/Unified Commands are authorized to wear the command’s identification badge only during the period of assignment.

Also read: This is why some sailors wear gold stripes, and some wear red

Navy Exchange (NEXCOM) uniform stores will provide a free replacement collar if needed to improve the fit of the officer and chief petty officer (CPO) service dress white coat (choker) effective March 1, 2019.

The NAVADMIN announces the completion of the testing and evaluation of the improved female officer and CPO slacks and skirts.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

It also provides the schedule for when the NEXCOM Customer Contact Center and Uniform Centers will have slacks and skirts, the Improved Safety Boot (I-Boot 4) and the optional physical training uniform available for purchase.

The dates for when sailors must possess new uniforms and uniform components are listed in the NAVADMIN.

Sailors can ask questions and provide feedback and recommendations on Navy uniforms via the “Ask the Chiefs” email, on the Navy Uniform Matters Office (UMO) website, through MyNavy Portal at https://www.mnp.navy.mil/. Select Professional Resources, U.S. Navy Uniforms and “Ask the Chiefs”. Sailors can also contact UMO via the Navy Uniform App that can be downloaded at the Navy App Locker https://www.applocker.navy.mil/ and the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.

Read NAVADMIN 075/19 in its entirety for details and complete information on all of the announced uniform changes, updates and guidelines at www.npc.navy.mil.

Get more information about the Navy from US Navy facebook or twitter.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.

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This is why the ‘Bouncing Betty’ was absolutely devastating

Developed by German Engineers during the 1930s as a defensive strategy of the Third Reich, the self-contained anti-personnel mine was originally named Schrapnellmine or S-Mine. Considered one of the deadliest tools on the battlefield, the French first encounter this version of bouncing mines in 1939 as it devastated their forces.


Dubbed the “Bouncing Betty” by American infantrymen, these mines were buried just underground, only exposing three prongs on the top which were usually camouflaged by the nearby grass vegetation.

Related: ISIS is digging up Nazi land mines in Egypt to use for IEDs

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Once these prongs were disturbed by a foot or vehicle, the mine would shoot itself upward to around 3 feet or at its victim’s waist level using its black powder propellant. The fuse was designed with a half a second delay to allow its aerial travel.

As it detonated, ball bearings contained inside flew out rapidly and acted as the casualty producing element. The S-mine was lethal at 66 feet, but the American training manuals stated that serious casualties could be taken up to 460 feet.

The landmine had great psychological effects on ground troops as it was known to inflict serious wounds rather than kill.

Although the Schrapnellmine was highly effective and constructed mostly out of metallic parts, detection was quite simple using metal detectors. However, at the time, such heavy and expensive gear wasn’t available to all infantry units as they fought their way through the front lines.

Also Read: The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines

So allied forces had to probe the soil with their knives and bayonets to search for the dangerous mines. When they were discovered, a soldier could disarm the Bouncing Betty with a sewing needle inserted in place of the mine’s safety pin.

Production of the Bouncing Betty ended in 1945 after Germany had manufactured 2 million of the mines.

(Lightning War 1941, YouTube)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The world’s biggest airplane took its first flight ever

Somewhere out in the California desert, a streamlined, aerodynamic behemoth woke up on April 13, 2019. It was Stratolaunch Systems’ critical test flight for an airframe designed to launch rockets into space while in mid-air. The aircraft was a long time coming, the dream of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who died of Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2018.


After the plane’s historic two-hour flight, Allen would have been proud to watch the mammoth plane land on the Mojave Desert test strip.

Stratolaunch’s six-engine, 500,000-pound aircraft has a 385-foot wingspan and is designed to fly around 35,000 feet. In comparison, the largest aircraft used for civilian air travel is the Airbus A380-800, with a wingspan of 238 feet and weighing in at slightly more than the Stratolaunch.

“The flight itself was smooth, which is exactly what you want a first flight to be,” said test pilot Evan Thomas. “It flew very much like we had simulated and like we predicted.”

The previous record holder for largest aircraft ever flown was Howard Hughes’ famed Spruce Goose, an eight-engine, wooden-framed plane that was less than half the weight of the Stratolaunch. Until April 13, it was the longest wingspan aircraft to ever fly.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

“It was an emotional moment for me, personally, to watch this majestic bird take flight,” said Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd.

Stratolaunch was founded in 2011, the brainchild of Allen, who originally also wanted to make the rockets the Stratolaunch planes would launch into low earth orbit. The company plans to do incremental tests of the airframe over the coming years, as they had done in previous years. Other small tests included engine tests and runway taxis before the April flight.

While the two-hour test flight was a success, not much else was conclusive save for a deal with Northrop Grumman to use Stratolaunch planes to put their Pegasus XL rockets into space. Who knows – these could be the early models of a Space Force troop transport. The skies are no longer the limit.

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The HMS Thunderbolt was lost with almost all hands. Twice.

The HMS Thunderbolt was lost in combat on March 14, 1943, after a short but successful World War II career that saw it sink multiple Italian vessels, which might have been surprising to some since the submarine had actually sank three years prior in 1940 with a loss of nearly all hands.


Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
The submarine scheduled to become HMS Thetis in 1939. It would later sink but was raised and served in World War II as the HMS Thunderbolt. (Royal Navy Lt. S.J. Beadell)

That’s because the HMS Thunderbolt was once the HMS Thetis, or, more properly, it was almost the HMS Thetis. It was a submarine launched in 1938 as part of the interwar buildup of arms. The submarine was scheduled to become the HMS Thetis when it was commissioned.

But the planned commissioning didn’t happen. As the submarine went through its sea trials, a tragic accident occurred. Most torpedo tubes, then and now, work using two doors. One door opens to the sea when a torpedo is launched, one door opens into the sub when the crew needs to load a new torpedo. The best subs have mechanisms that make it physically impossible to open one door if the other isn’t closed.

But the N25 had an indicator instead, that was supposed to tell the crew the outer door was open so they wouldn’t open the inner door. But the indicator was really just a small hole in the door that would spurt water if the tube was flooded, and a painter had accidentally filled the small hole in.

During a dive on June 1, 1939, this resulted in the inner door being opened while the outer door was also open. The crew was able to seal a bulkhead after significant flooding, but the boat was filled with 53 members of the defense industry and public, and air was already in short supply in the flooded sub.

The crew managed to raise themselves back to the surface for a short period, and four crewmembers escaped, but it crashed back to the seafloor, and 99 people were killed.

But the almost-HMS Thetis was in shallow water, and divers were able to salvage the ship which was drained, dried, and repaired. After passing new sea trials, it was commissioned as the HMS Thunderbolt in 1940 and sent to the Atlantic.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
​The HMS Thunderbolt in the Mediterranean in 1942. (Royal Navy)

The HMS Thunderbolt was successful, even though it seemed like it would be cursed. First, sailors don’t always like it when a vessel’s name is changed, an old superstition. And if any sub could be a ghost ship, the Thunderbolt was a top contender. Worse, Thunderbolt was, itself, an auspicious name for British vessels as two previous HMS Thunderbolts had been lost in crashes.

All of this likely weighed on the crew, especially when they saw the rust line on the walls of the sub from the original sinking. But it destroyed an Italian sub in the Atlantic on Dec. 15, 1940, and helped destroy an Italian light cruiser and a supply ship in early January 1943 in the Mediterranean.

But on March 14, 1943, the Thunderbolt attacked and doomed the transport Esterel, but caught the attention of the Italian cruiser Cicogna in the process. Cicogna was commanded by a former submarine officer, and he knew the adversary’s tactics and the local sea.

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat
The crew of the HMS Thunderbolt poses with a Jolly Roger flag in 1942. (Royal Navy J.A. Hampton)

The Cicogna forced the Thunderbolt under and, when the British crew tried to resurface for air, spotted the boat’s periscope and hit it with depth charges, ending the ill-fated sub’s career and killing its crew, the second time the submarine was lost with all hands.

Interestingly, the HMS Thetis and Thunderbolt was not the only ship to serve in World War II that had already sank. Just before the Thetis sank, the USS Squalus sank during a test dive just months after it was commissioned. It was later raised and served as the USS Sailfish. And there were seven combat ships sank at Pearl Harbor that later saw service in World War II after salvage and repairs.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army Rangers have been deployed to combat for 7,000 days straight

December saw the 75th Ranger Regiment achieving an astounding feat. On December 17, the U.S. Army Rangers passed the 7,000-days mark of unbroken combat operations.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Rangers were on the first units to deploy against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who harbored the terrorist organization, as part of the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

Rangers deployed on combat operations in October of 2001. A Ranger Reconnaissance team jumped into Afghanistan to recon an airfield. A few days later, on October 19, 2001, A Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion, jumped in that airfield, known as Objective Rhino, and took it.

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Army Rangers assaulted, took, and defended the Haditha Dam, a vital strategic position, for days against a superior enemy.

Then, as the Islamic insurgency ignited, Rangers conducted counterterrorism operations throughout Iraq. The extremely heavy workload that was placed on the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) meant that Rangers were tasked with increasingly important missions.

army rangers
(Graphic by Sgt. David Soflin, Multimedia Illustrator/75th Ranger Regiment Public Affairs.)

The limited number of operators that Delta Force and SEAL Team 6 could deploy offered the 75th Ranger Regiment an opportunity to be more than a blocking force for the military’s Special Mission Units, an impression that had been cultivated, and even encouraged by some, in the 1980s and 1990s and cemented during the Battle of Mogadishu.

Rangers began getting high-value target missions that were pretty on the target deck, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. They did, however, continue to provide support to SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force during national-level missions, like Operation Neptune Spear, the SEAL Team 6 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, and Operation Kayla Mueller, the Delta Force raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, in 2019.

The 75th Ranger Regiment is the US military’s premier direct action and light infantry special operations unit. Comprised of five battalions, the 75th Ranger Regiment specializes in direct action, airfield seizures, special reconnaissance, and counterterrorism.

The unit has three infantry battalions (1st Ranger Battalion based in Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia; 2nd Ranger Battalion based in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; 3rd Ranger Battalion based in Fort Benning, Georgia), one Special Troops Battalion located in Fort Benning, and one Ranger Military Intelligence Battalion, which is also the newest addition to the unit, being activated last June, again based in Fort Benning.

The 75th Ranger Regiment shouldn’t be confused with Ranger School, which is the military’s premier leadership course and open to all branches. Although most Rangers, especially those in a leadership position, have gone through the two-month Ranger School, graduating Ranger School doesn’t translate to an assignment with the 75th Ranger Regiment.

To serve in the unit, a soldier has to pass the Ranger Assessment and Selection Process (RASP), which has two versions (RASP 1 and RASP 2), depending on the candidate’s rank.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

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