SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

SpaceX hopes to fire off its next Falcon 9 rocket mission on Nov. 19, 2018. If the launch goes well, Elon Musk’s aerospace company may not only break spaceflight records, but also help fight nefarious behavior on the open ocean.

The goal of SpaceX’s upcoming mission, called SSO-A, is to put 71 satellites into orbit all at once. A company called Spaceflight Industries organized the mission, and it claims this is the largest-ever rideshare mission in US history, as spacecraft from 35 different companies and organizations will fly aboard the rocket.


However, three microwave-oven-sized spacecraft on the mission — a cluster called Pathfinder — are particularly worth noting.

The trio of spacecraft belong to a startup called HawkEye 360, and they’re designed to “see” radio signals from space. The company’s software will take unique radio signals coming from ships to “fingerprint” vessels, track them over time, and even forecast future movements.

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

An illustration of the SSO-A payload deploying CubeSats and microsatellites.

(Spaceflight Industries)

If Pathfinder works, authorities around the world could gain a major leg up in hunting “dark ships”: vessels that turn off GPS location transponders, often to hide their whereabouts and engage in illicit activity.

Such activity includes illegal fishing, smuggling, drug trafficking, and piracy, and it amounts to roughly trillion each year, says John Serafini, the CEO of HawkEye 360.

“We care about the folks that are not doing the right thing. We care about the vessels that don’t want to be found,” Serafini told Business Insider. “We’re focused on detecting those and stopping them.”

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

A HawkEye 360 data visualization that shows every instance over a month in which a boat turned off its automatic identification system (AIS) for more than 8 hours.

(HawkEye 360)

Hunting ‘dark ships’ with radio waves

HawkEye 360 claims it’s unique not only for its radio-signal-detecting technology, but also artificial-intelligence-powered software the startup has developed to process data.

“You couldn’t have started this company 10 years ago,” Serafini said. “The costs were too high, and the technology wasn’t there.”

He added that HawkEye 360 exists today because of the increasing miniaturization of electronics, SpaceX’s lower-cost rocket launches, and advancements in machine learning.

Pathfinder, like the other satellites SpaceX is launching, will sweep around Earth from pole-to-pole in what’s called a sun-synchronous orbit — hence the “SSO” in the mission’s name. (The “A” signifies that it’s the first of multiple rideshare missions.) This orbit keeps sunlight drenching a spacecraft’s solar panels while allowing it to fly over every square inch of the planet.

The antennas of Pathfinder can detect a wide range of radio signals above about 1 watt in power. (“Cell phones are well below a watt in power,” Serafini said. “We don’t have the ability or the focus to do that.”)

This means the cluster can triangulate normally hard-to-pinpoint signals from satellite phones, push-to-talk radios, and marine radar. Ships need these and other radio-emitting tools to navigate the seas, the thinking goes.

This is especially true for “dark ships,” since those vessels turn off a mandatory device called an automatic identification system, or AIS. The AIS broadcasts a ship’s GPS location to avoid collisions, but turning it off is a common trick vessels use if they’re slipping into unapproved fishing zones or trafficking illegal drugs, wares, or people.

Serafini said that may soon cease to be an effective way to avoid getting noticed.

“If you’re turning on and off the AIS, we’re going to track your other emitters. If you try to turn them all off, you’re effectively negating your operation. You need to use them to navigate and communicate,” Serafini said. “If you do that, we’ve won. You can’t be effective.”

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

HawkEye 360’s three microsatellites that will form its Pathfinder constellation.

(HawkEye 360)

How Pathfinder works

The Pathfinder system relies on the fact that every radio transponder on Earth is built differently, even if it’s made by the same person in the same factory. Minor variations in parts and assembly lead to subtle differences in radio emissions that HawkEye 360 says it can detect and exploit.

More importantly, by tracking a mix of radio emissions on a ship and pairing those with AIS signals (when the devices are turned on), the company can “fingerprint” every ocean vessel on Earth. That way, even if a ship is “spoofing” its AIS data, the company says it will know; AIS data will report one location, but the vessel’s radio fingerprint will reveal its true location.

HawkEye 360 says it has already proved that its system works by equipping three Cessna jet airplanes with Pathfinder technology, flying them over the Chesapeake Bay, and detecting ships that were spoofing their AIS data.

“We were able to not only detect the AIS spoofing but also geolocate the ships using their other radio signals,” Chris DeMay, the founder and CTO of HawkEye 360, told Business Insider. “We were able to map where the ship actually was and compare that to where the ship said it was.”

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

Data from HawkEye 360’s airplane-based test of its core technology. Blue dots show reported locations, based on automatic identification system (AIS) data, while orange dots show radio-frequency-based locations. Red circles indicate a zone of 95% certainty.

(HawkEye 360/ESRI)

In addition to fingerprinting such vessels, HawkEye 360’s machine-learning algorithms will also be able to determine typical activity patterns for a ship and flag any unusual deviation.

Over time, the company says, it could even forecast the future locations of individual vessels based on their past behavior.

“Because we’ll be the first ones to do this, we’ll be the first ones to bring it to the commercial market,” Serafini said.

The future of tracking radio signals from above

The Pathfinder satellite cluster will give HawkEye 360 a global view of certain radio transmissions on Earth once every four to six hours. But DeMay and Serafini say that’s just the beginning.

According to them, HawkEye 360 is backed by about million in funding (enough to operate for 18 months), has 31 employees, and has secured 0 million in contracts. In the future, they aim to launch six more three-satellite clusters, which will create a constellation that can map Earth’s radio signals once every 30 to 40 minutes.

Launching larger and more capable satellites will also improve the company’s ability to detect weaker signals.

“Trucks use radio emitters that we could detect and track,” Serafini said. “If a truck is known to have a history of illegal border crossing, we might want to track that particular object.”

The company expects the US military to be increasingly interested in the technology, especially considering that HawkEye 360 can deploy its sensors on airplanes and high-altitude balloons (in addition to satellites). That feature could allow for real-time tracking of drones and weak signals on a battlefield.

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

An illustration of a cell tower transmitting data.

(HawkEye 360)

Another planned use of Pathfinder is more down-to-earth: The technology could detect improper use of the radio-frequency spectrum, including interference between cell-phone towers. Such interference can cause data loss between mobile devices and towers, leading to slow and unreliable internet, among other problems.

Ground crews with trucks typically drive around towers to search for and identify such problems, but such teams and equipment can expensive to deploy, especially on a nationwide scale.

“It’s like that Verizon ‘Can you hear me now?’ guy, but in space,” DeMay said — and possibly a lot cheaper and more effective.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Chris Pratt will star in new Navy SEAL TV show ‘The Terminal List’

Chris Pratt hasn’t been a series regular on television since his breakout role in Parks and Recreation. Since then, he’s transformed himself from goofy sidekick to leading man. From Zero Dark Thirty to Guardians of the Galaxy to Jurassic World, Pratt has proven that he can play a badass with specialized training and skills, and now he’s putting them to good use.

Returning to the role of Navy SEAL, Pratt will star as James Reece in former Navy SEAL Jack Carr’s The Terminal List, a conspiracy thriller with a straight-to-series order on Amazon.

Perhaps even more exciting is that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Producers plan to assemble a writing staff where half the scribes are either veterans themselves or have veterans in their families. [They’ll also have] vets and their families as part of multiple aspects of the show.”

Based on a novel by the same name, The Terminal List follows James Reece after his team was ambushed during a covert operation and he uncovers a conspiracy that runs to the highest levels of government.

Pratt partnered with executive producer and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Magnificent Seven, The Equalizer) to pitch the series, with David DiGilio (Strange Angel, Traveler, Eight Below) currently primed for writing.

Pratt took to Twitter to acknowledge the announcement:

Such a misleading picture to announce what is guaranteed to be the most intense and violent character I’ve ever played. Careful TVguide or you’ll end up on James Reece’s List.https://twitter.com/tvguide/status/1257816640839995393 …

twitter.com

Author Jack Carr pictured Pratt for the role of James Reece even before Pratt’s film career took off. “The crazy part is, usually you think of Mark Wahlberg or somebody who’d done these kinds of [roles] before but I thought of Chris Pratt. All he’d done is Parks and Rec. He had a small role in Zero Dark Thirty where he plays a SEAL…and for some reason I thought, ‘That’s the guy.’ It wasn’t the obvious choice back then…but I thought ‘this seems like a likeable guy,'” Carr shared on the Joe Rogan Experience.

Carr goes on to talk about a fellow SEAL who reached out to get an early copy of the book specifically for Pratt, who read it and optioned it right away. Years later, the adaptation is becoming a reality.

“Usually they want to get rid of the author right away when they option something but Chris wanted me involved so I got to help out on the pilot script — and it is so good,” Carr gushed.

Check out Carr’s conversation with Joe Rogan in the video below:

How Navy SEAL Author Jack Carr Got Chris Pratt’s Attention

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

The 101st Airborne now has the Army’s new modular handgun

U.S. Army weapons officials have begun fielding the new Modular Handgun System under a plan to issue the service’s new sidearm all the way down to the team-leader level.


Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky. began receiving the new XM17 MHS on Nov. 27 and spent time shooting the new pistol Nov. 29, according to Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for the 101st Airborne.

The 101st received more than 2,000 MHS on Nov. 17 and plan to field the new pistols over the next year, O’Donnell said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, attended the initial MHS fielding to about 25 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, O’Donnell said.

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates
The M17 and M18 use the same polymer grip module and trigger group, with new slides and barrels for full-sized or compact models. (WATM Photo)

The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America, and Beretta USA, maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.

The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol. MHS comes with Tritium sights as well as 17 and 21-round magazines.

One of the challenges of fielding the MHS will be to develop a new training program since the current plan calls for issuing the XM17 to squad leaders and team leaders, a significant change to a policy that excluded junior leaders from carrying M9s.

“The 101st has realized that this weapon is going into a lot more hands than … what we are authorized to have as equipment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Flynn, the master gunner for the 101st Airborne.

“This weapon is going to go down to the team leader, which is not what we typically have in the 101st or across most light divisions.”

Also Read: Here’s a detailed look at the Army’s new M17 and M18 handgun — and how it shoots

The expanded policy will apply to all Army units receiving the MHS, Debra Dawson, spokeswoman for Program Executive Office Soldier told Military.com.

In addition to a standard operator’s course, “we are going to do an additional course which is basically teaching that soldier how to transition from that pistol to his M4 and the M4 to his pistol,” Flynn said, adding that the 101st is also planning to increase pistol marksmanship training.

“We are putting this weapon into the hands of a lot of younger soldiers who have never fired it,” he said.

First Lt. Andrew Borer said “today is a pretty awesome day” after shooting the new MHS.

“The weapon itself is a very simple handgun; it’s a very easy handgun to shoot,” Borer said. “There is little to no resistance on the trigger. … It’s a very easy weapon to regain our sight picture with and to aim and fire the weapon once we have put a round down range.”

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates
The new M17 is lighter and simpler to use than the Beretta M9. (WATM Photo)

Cpl. Jory Herrmann, a team leader in C Company, said it was a great experience being of the first units to fire the MHS.

“It handled really well, very reliable,” he said. “We slung a lot of rounds down range today had little to no problems out of them. … I think it is going to be a great side arm.”

Herrmann said he was excited about the plan to issue the MHS to team leaders, like himself.

“In the heat of the fight it will give you an opportunity to maybe change up your tactics,” Herrmann said. “It will give us more choices, more options … which is great for a team leader.”

As far as the current M9 pistols, “the Army has decided that in order to maintain that lethality and ensure that everybody has what they need, we are going to maintain the 9mm Berettas until all units have qualified on MHS, Flynn said.

Articles

These two veterans made one of the most iconic moments in music history

When Johnny Cash took the stage at California’s San Quentin State Prison on Feb. 24, 1969, one of the songs he would record there was destined to become one of Cash’s most iconic songs, as well as one of his biggest hits: “A Boy Named Sue.” It held the top spot on the country charts for five straight weeks and it was his biggest hit, climbing to the second slot on the Billboard 100 chart.


“The Man in Black” was a veteran of the United States Air Force, a morse code operator who spent much of his career spying on the Soviet Union. In fact, Cash was the first person in the West to learn that Stalin died in 1953. As a matter of fact, his distinctive facial scar was the result of good ol’ military medicine.

Related: Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates
Silverstein with Cash onstage years later.

“A Boy Named Sue” is the story of a boy who was abandoned by his dad at a young age — after giving the boy a female name. Sue finds his dad at a bar years later and gets into a pretty nasty brawl with the old man. That’s when his dad reveals he named the boy Sue so as to make Sue tough even when his dad wasn’t around to raise him.

The song about a boy trying to kill his father probably resonated with Cash’s audience that day.

The author of the song was also a veteran. Shel Silverstein, beloved around the world for his poetry, humor, and illustrations, was drafted by the U.S. Army to fight in Korea — but by the time he arrived the war was over. He was assigned to Stars and Stripes in the Pacific, part of the new peacetime Army. And thus a legendary military writer was born to the veteran community.

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates
Bobby Bare Sr. (left) and Shel Silverstein (right)

Now read: This famous author started his career drawing timeless cartoons as a drafted US troop

It was Silverstein who penned Cash’s now-famous song about the boy with a girl’s name, although Cash put his own twist on it. During the original San Quentin recording, Cash added the line, “I’m the son of a bitch that named you Sue!” In Silverstein’s original writing, there were no curse words used. Even so, the “son of a bitch” line was censored out of the album.

Cash was doing what was known as a “guitar pull” back then — where writers take turns singing each other’s songs. In fact, Silverstein recorded his own version of the song on his own 1969 album. Johnny Cash’s band at San Quentin didn’t even know it very well and did their best to improvise.

Silverstein notably worked with another fellow vet and country music superstar, Kris Kristofferson, on a few songs that were performed by country legends Chet Atkins and Loretta Lynn.
MIGHTY TRENDING

A U.S. service member was involved in a deadly crash over Ukraine

The U.S. Air Force and Ukrainian defense ministry have confirmed that a fighter aircraft crashed October 16, killing two pilots and leading to speculation that one of the dead is a U.S service member. The crash took place at Clear Skies 2018, an exercise featuring the militaries of nine nations and more than 50 aircraft.


The aircraft crash took place at 5 p.m. local time in Ukraine, and appears to have involved a Su-27UB, a two-seater combat trainer/fighter jet. The U.S. has confirmed that a service member was involved and Ukraine has stated that two pilots were killed in the crash, identifying them by their nationality and branch of service.

“We regret to inform that according to the rescue team, the bodies of two pilots have been discovered: one is a serviceman of the Ukrainian Air Force, the other is a member of the US National Guard,” a statement from the Ukrainian General Staff said.
SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

Su-27UB fighter aircraft.

“We are aware of a Ukrainian Su-27UB fighter aircraft that crashed in the Vinnytsia region at approximately 5pm local time during Clear Sky 2018 today,” U.S. Air Force public affairs official said.

The Air Force later updated their press release with another statement. “We have also seen the reports claiming a U.S. casualty and are currently investigating and working to get more information. We will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.”

The Air Force has not confirmed that a U.S. pilot has died, but did say that it is investigating the incident. The U.S. will typically collect all the major details before declaring a service member is deceased, often waiting until a doctor has made the official declaration.

If it is confirmed that a U.S. pilot has died in the crash, public affairs officers will likely not release any new details until 24 hours after the notification of the next of kin in order to allow the family to communicate the loss internally and begin grieving before the deceased’s name is made public knowledge.

They likely will not release much more after that until the investigation is complete.

The incident took place during Clear Skies 2018, which began October 8 and is scheduled to conclude on October 19. The U.S. is one of nine countries involved in the Ukrainian-hosted exercise designed to build interoperability with that country and NATO.

The Air Force said before the exercise that it would send 450 personnel to the exercise with approximately 250 of them playing a direct role. These were mostly maintainers and pilots. Multiple state national guards are involved in the exercise, including those of California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

The exercise focused on air sovereignty, air interdiction, air-to-ground integration, air mobility operations, aeromedical evacuation, cyberdefense, and personnel recovery. It takes place as Ukraine is increasing its military capabilities and continuing hostilities from a Russian-backed separatist movement has claimed lives in its eastern regions.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The ancient roots of the film ‘The Warriors’ will surprise you

The Warriors was controversial when it was released in 1979. Some critics panned it for stilted dialogue and lazy writing; President Ronald Reagan enjoyed it so much he had it screened at Camp David. The story of a street gang fighting its way through New York City to make their way home continues to captivate audiences today. But how many people know the book that the movie was based on?

The Warriors is based on the novel of the same name by Sol Yurick. However, Yurick’s work is based on the ancient Greek philosopher Xenophon’s Anabasis. Anabasis is Xenophon’s autobiographical account of the march of the Ten Thousand mercenaries through Asia Minor (modern Turkey).


In 401 BC, the Persian emperor was Artaxerxes II. His brother, Cyrus the Younger, had spent years preparing to seize the throne and was now primed to strike. Cyrus hired Xenophon’s Ten Thousand to march through Asia Minor and meet up with his own army in Mesopotamia so Cyrus could overthrow Artaxerxes.

Fans of the movie can probably guess how Cyrus’s plans turned out. At the Battle of Cunaxa the rebels were defeated and Cyrus was killed, leaving Xenophon and the Ten Thousand stranded in enemy territory with a furious emperor on their heels.

Anabasis (a Greek word meaning “a march up country”) details the experiences of Xenophon and the remaining Ten Thousand during their march north through Mesopotamia. The army was traveling to the Black Sea, where the Greeks could escape to their own coastal cities. Xenophon and his men were forced to fight their way home through hostile forces in one of the Western world’s first nonfiction adventure stories.

The Warriors follows Xenophon’s narrative rather closely. The film begins as Cyrus, a powerful gang leader in New York, calls a meeting of all the city’s gangs to work together and overthrow the police. However, Cyrus is assassinated and the blame falls on the Warriors, another gang which now has to fight its way to their turf of Coney Island through gangs and police alike.

The parallels between the Warriors and the Ten Thousand are striking. The Ten Thousand consisted mostly of hoplites, Greek soldiers who formed an interlocking wall of shields in a rectangular formation called a phalanx. The strength of the phalanx was the strength of the men holding it up; if one man broke formation, then everyone was put in danger. Similarly, the Warriors depend on each other to survive their perilous journey through New York. In both narratives, the soldiers or the gang members cannot survive without one another.

The Anabasis was widely influential throughout ancient Greece. According to some ancients, the Anabasis inspired King Philip of Macedon to conquer Greece. Xenophon’s descriptions of the Persian landscape were so detailed that supposedly, Philip’s son Alexander the Great used the Anabasis to navigate his own invasion of the Persian Empire.

Hundreds of years later, the parallels between Xenophon and Alexander were still being noted by the Greeks. Arrian of Nicomedia titled his histories of Alexander The Anabasis of Alexander and wrote it in seven books, just like Xenophon.

Unfortunately, The Warriors was also an inspiration for violence. The film was popular with street gangs, who would often encounter each other going to or coming back from the movie. There were three killings in the weekend after the release of The Warriors.

The violence did not stop the film from becoming a commercial success. The film made .5 million on a million budget, and in recent years became a cult film that currently holds a 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Warriors, like the Anabasis, is a classical tale of companionship, survival, and homecoming, that continue to be popular in the modern day. The next time you watch this classic film, remember that there were real people for whom that ending walk on the beach meant home.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this soldier is finding his dream job through the US Army

Sit across the table from Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili for just a few seconds and you’ll see a basic outline emerge fairly quickly. His manners and easy smile, the way he leans forward when he talks, and — not least of all, of course — his affection for Starbucks Doubleshot energy drinks make him the typical — almost archetypal — 30-year-old soldier; busy, eager, and always ready for the next task, the next challenge. But dig a little deeper and you will see, quite clearly, the details that color the world inside that simple sketch. To map the entire terrain, however, you’ll need to travel some 15,000 miles.

“I always wanted to be a soldier,” says Dzamashvili, sitting in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade on a warm September morning. “When I was a kid that was always something I thought would be cool, being a soldier for the American Army.”


Those words, and indeed his affinity for the Army and America as a whole, are repeated so often and with such calm conviction that he could almost double as a motivational speaker; one specializing, perhaps, in writing simple daily mantras for busy professionals to read on their daily commutes. Instead, Dzamashvili is a board-certified medical doctor who enlisted in the Army just last year, in early 2018. It’s a commitment, he says, that doubles as a gift to the country that gave him opportunities he never would have had in his native Georgia — a tiny, still-emerging country located at the intersection of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili speaks with a coworker at his desk located in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade.

(Photo by Mr. Ramin A. Khalili)

“Honestly,” says Dzamashvili, “the reason I wanted to become an American soldier is because America has given my family everything.”

The first 5,000 miles

“When I was born in Georgia,” says Dzamashvili, reaching back to the late 1980s, “it was still part of the U.S.S.R. This was just before the U.S.S.R. split up, and so there was instability and there was upheaval … there was an ongoing fight for power.”

It was that atmosphere of decline that Dzamashvili’s father, Konstantin, sought to flee when he reached out to a friend living in Chicago for help in the early 1990s. Political and cultural strife in the country of — at the time — barely more than four million people had led to the breakdown of living conditions and, in some cases, the basic application of law. And so Konstantin, a neurologist by trade, was hoping America could provide safety for his wife, son, and young twin daughters.

“My father was waiting in breadlines for hours just to feed the family,” says Dzamashvili. “So when he came here, it was for a better life.”

But that opportunity came with a catch. In order to pay for his family’s move to America, Konstantin had to travel to the U.S. alone first in order to save up enough money. He wound up bunking with that same buddy in Chicago for a year —eventually re-starting his medical career at 40-years old — before bringing the rest of the family to Illinois.

Says Dzamashvili of his father, “He was out there for a year, alone, while we were still in Georgia, until he had passed all his boards and started his residency program, which would then fund us coming over here.”

And so at age five, Sergo was finally in the place he wanted to be all along … for a little while, at least.

Return to Georgia

For Sergo, it all started with his grandfather — his father’s father. He was the catalyst, the inception point. He passed away when Konstantin was in his late teens and so Sergo never got a chance to meet him, but he did have pictures — volumes of mementos from Georgia.

“I would always hear stories about his bravery,” says Sergo, “about what kind of man he was. From early on, I was always intrigued — the way he was standing there in his [military] uniform with all these medals.”

Those pictures, coupled with Sergo’s newfound affinity for the United States, stuck with him during his formative years and carried through to his entrance into medical school — which he ultimately chose to attend at David Tvildiani Medical University back in Georgia.

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili (foreground, right) conducts Army Warrior Tasks (AWT) drills during the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

The decision to both leave home (to leave again, in a manner of speaking) and reconnect with family roots was daunting to say the least, as Georgia had been rife with the same political instability from Dzamashvili’s youth up until pro-democratic forces rose to power in the mid-2000s. The tiny, burgeoning country was still — much like Sergo at the time — moving through its adolescent years.

There was contrasting comfort, however, in the medical training itself. Turns out Dzamashvili’s chosen university not only came highly recommended from family friends practicing medicine in Chicago, it was designed specifically to cater to regional students who wanted to ultimately enter U.S.-based medical professions. To that end, all university textbooks were written in English and, further, the overall cost of schooling was substantially less than a U.S.-based medical education — all perks unavailable to his father just a decade-or-so earlier. Ironically, Georgia would eventually, in 2014, become home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Georgia, a subordinate command of the USAMRDC’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

“Going back to Georgia really brought me that perspective,” says Dzamashvili. “There was a long time where my family wouldn’t go back, even though we had a chance to go back in the 90s.”

Just twelve years after touching down in America’s Heartland — and just a few years after becoming an American citizen — Sergo was back on a plane at age 17 for a new and different journey.

Homecoming, part II

When you ask him how Georgians speak — ask about the language they use, the way they talk, the casual slang terms they use, even — Dzamashvili is quick to make it clear that Georgia is a singular and unique entity; a hard-fought identity that he clearly still respects.

“Georgians have their own language,” he says quickly, almost as a sly-but-gentle rebuke to those who think the country may still be hindered by its turbulent past in any way. “They have their own alphabet, everything — and so I had to re-learn how to read and write, essentially, when I went back for school.”

Dzamashvili’s university stay would last for six years until his graduation in 2013; at which point he’d not only navigated the rigors of initial medical training, but had reached a poignant understanding of the country of his birth (“people there are very hospitable,” he says), gained a greater understanding of the government’s democratic efforts (“I see hope,” he says), and, with regards to cultural differences, had also determined that Georgia had substantial culinary shortcomings as compared to the U.S. (“I did miss burritos over there,” he says).

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili assigned to HHC, 21st Signal Brigade, conducts M9 weapons qualification as part of the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

Touching back down in Illinois, Dzamashvili eventually passed his medical board examinations, shadowed professional doctors, and even performed clinical research at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. But when it came time for residency training, instead of waiting a year to attend either Loyola University of Chicago or the University of Illinois at Chicago, he opted for a different path: the U.S. Army.

“Screw waiting,” says Dzamashvili of his mindset at the time. “I’m going to join the Army. I was always told the fastest way to get into the Army was to just go and enlist anyways, so that didn’t bother me to go enlist for a couple of years as long as I got into the medical field.”

Desire, meet destiny

Now, after thirty years and medical training efforts on two different continents, Sergo Dzamashvili is both a medical doctor and a member of the U.S. Army; his first assignment is here at Fort Detrick. His unique qualifications have bred an understandable eagerness to move forward — a chomping at the bit, of sorts — as, indeed, he’s already started the process of entering the Army’s medical occupation; taking the steps required to become a physician. But if you think the man who’s waited nearly three decades to realize his dream is put off by a little time in the waiting room, then you don’t know Sergo.

“My ultimate goal is to practice medicine in the Army,” says Dzamashvili. “That’s what I want, to give back. I’d like to serve for at least eight years, to give back that entire time in service.”

Just how long it will take to reach that goal is yet to be seen, though it should come as no surprise that Dzamashvili has already attempted to plot the arc of his military medical career even before his training has been completed. Even now, serving as a Human Resources Specialist in the S-1 Office until his next assignment, he finds in each day’s shift what so many others would gladly welcome into their own lives: a sense of purpose, the feeling of belonging, and the satisfaction of a job that truly has meaning.

In the end — if these kinds of stories can have an end — the service career of Sergo Dzamashvili is, in reality, just beginning. It would be an exaggeration, perhaps, to say that Dzamashvili has already lived multiple lives; though it wouldn’t be such a stretch to say that’s the truth, either. In any capacity, his life’s work as currently constructed already stands as an impressive feat; a soldier coupling the desire to serve America with the talent required to make a lasting impact.

Not too bad for a typical 30-year-old.

Says Dzamashvili, “If there’s nothing else I do in my life, I can always say I was a soldier. That’s the way I look at it. If there’s nothing else that I accomplish, I will always know that I served my country.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

17 Russian jets buzzed and threatened a British destroyer

Footage released as part of a documentary about life aboard a British warship shows an incident in which 17 Russian warplanes swarmed the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Duncan as it sailed near Crimea in the Black Sea earlier this year.

Russia intervened in Ukraine and annexed Crimea in early 2014, and tensions between Russia and other countries in the West have been elevated since then, particularly in the Black Sea region and eastern Europe.


Tour of HMS Duncan

www.youtube.com

The Duncan’s transit near Crimea, sailing just 30 miles from the peninsula, is the closest any British navy ship has come to Crimea since Moscow annexed it.

SNMG2 exited the Black Sea after that tour on May 20. (An international treaty limits which warships from countries that do not border the Black Sea can enter it and restricts them to 21 days there.)

Commodore Mike Utley, who was leading the NATO group from the Duncan at the time, said in the clip that the British ship was “probably the only maritime asset that has seen a raid of that magnitude in the last 25 years.”

“To me it felt unprecedented,” said Cmdr. Eleanor Stack, the Duncan’s captain. “There were more aircraft than we have seen in a long time.”

The clip posted by Sky News shows the Duncan’s crew reacting as call signs and bearings are issued for Russian jets as they appear on radar.”

Our long-range radars are picking up air contact. The air team are trying to work out what type of aircraft that contact is and whether or not that contact poses any threat,” a British sailor in the Duncan’s command center explains.

“The assumption is that they are Russian, because they’re coming from Russian airspace and from a Russian point of origin,” another crew member says.

The herd of Russian jets flying out of Crimea — a mix of fighters and fighter-bombers — zoomed over the Duncan, sometimes as low as a few hundred feet, alarming crew members trying to determine whether they were there to attack or just intimidate.

The jets came so close that electronics systems they carried could have been affected by the Duncan’s radar, potentially causing a crash.

Upon departing, one of the Russian pilots sent the Duncan a brief message — “Good luck, guys” — which one of the Duncan’s crew members interpreted as a final rattle of the saber.

Utley scoffed at the show of force. “I think their tactics are naive,” he said. “What they don’t know is how capable the ship is.”

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A Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepts a US Navy EP-3 Aries reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea in January.

(U.S. Navy Screenshot via YouTube)

“When you see that much activity, I think it reinforces the nature of what people expect at the moment and why there is a challenge from Russia,” Utley added.

“They had 17 aircraft. We’ve got 48 missiles. I think we’re going to win that one,” a lieutenant commander in the Duncan’s command center said in the clip.

The Russian jets departed without incident, but earlier in the deployment the British ship scrambled its Merlin Mk2 helicopter to track down a Russian spy ship detected by the Duncan’s radar.

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson praised the Duncan’s crew members, saying they “epitomized the nation we are going to be as we exit the EU — a truly global Britain.”

“As NATO flagship, she has faced down brazen Russian hostility in the Black Sea with jets buzzing overhead, been stalked by Russian spy ships and played a vital role protecting NATO allies during the British, American and French strikes against Syrian chemical weapons facilities,” Williamson said of the Duncan.

Tensions between Russia and Western countries have led to close encounters on and above the Black Sea.

In July, British fighter jets in Romania were scrambled to intercept a Russian fighter that flew close to NATO airspace over the sea.

Earlier this month, in the second close encounter publicized this year, a Russian jet flew close to a US Navy reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea and suddenly banked right, forcing the US aircraft to fly through turbulence.

Such encounters have led observers to describe a return to Cold War behavior over Eastern Europe.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

PBR just dropped a beer with no alcohol and a beer with extra alcohol

Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is celebrating its 175th birthday the same way most people celebrate their (18th, 19th, 20th and…) 21st birthday–with a whole lot of beer. However, PBR has a new spin on their own birthday gift this year. They are debuting two very different beers: one a totally non-alcoholic beer, and the other a more alcoholic beer (from 4.6% ABV to 6.5% ABV).

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In true yin and yang fashion–they come in black and white cans. Debauchery and purity. Dark and light. Stumbling into a Little Caesars at 2 a.m. Being the DD driving your buddies to buy Little Caesars at 2 a.m.


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According to PBR, both beers are modeled after the same taste profile as standard PBR. In case you are unfamiliar with binge drinking on a budget, that taste can only be described as “fun water.” This is not to say that PBR tastes bad. It’s arguably the best bang-for-your-buck beer out there.

Please do not let beer snobs fool you. There is a reason most beer snobs end up brewing their own god-awful wheat sludge in a basement– because they are ashamed, deep down, that the neighbors will see their pretentious witchcraft-beer rituals.

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It’s really refreshing to know that PBR is finally going to bring some easy drinkability to the non-alcoholic beer market. Gone are the days of choking down a couple of lukewarm O’Douls (gag) with your dad. We’re so happy you’ve kept the promise for yourself to bend your situation towards self-improvement and hold yourself accountable all these years…but damn it those things taste like liquid saltines with no salt.

Now next time that weird distant uncle nobody really knows shows up to the 4th of July party ready to turn it into a rager–you can just toss him a white non-alcoholic can of PBR. It’ll taste great, and he won’t know the difference. You just may save that above-ground pool from his antics this year…

On the flip side– think of all the possibilities now that PBR can get you drunk before 20 beers! Think about all the conversations you can see through to the end, instead of going to take a whiz every 6 minutes! Think of the 10s of dollars you can save! Think about only having to use your car keys to shotgun 10 PBRs instead of 12!

All joking aside this is great news. You and your buddy fresh out of AA can still enjoy some PBRs together in the summer heat. Throw some brats on the grill. Get too hot and move inside. Watch some underwhelming baseball game. Live life.

This is of course, if you’re over the age of 21.

If you’re a 20-year-old man or woman, you can ship out overseas. You can be trusted with millions of dollars of equipment. You can be trusted with the responsibility of defending your life and your brothers in arms.

But for some reason, you still can not be trusted with a six pack of PBR. Hell, depending on the state, you can’t even buy that nice new white can of non-alcoholic PBR.

But that is a thought for a different day.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This woman landed under fire at Inchon with the Marines

Marguerite Higgins was a legend of the news media who went ashore with the Marines in the fifth wave at Red Beach at Inchon, South Korea, earning her the respect of ground-pounders and a Pulitzer Prize while allowing the general public to understand what troops were doing for America overseas.


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Marguerite Higgins, a war correspondent who landed with Marines at Red Beach.

(YouTube/womenshistory)

Higgins’ journalism career started when she traveled to New York with her portfolio from college, asked a newsstand guy where the closest newspaper office was, and stormed in with the demand that she be made a reporter.

That was in 1941. America was quickly dragged into the wars in Europe and the Pacific, and Higgins got herself sent to Europe where she wrote some of her most haunting work, describing the liberation of concentration camps during the fall of Nazi Germany. She braved shellfire in battle and wrote about what the soldiers around her suffered.

In fact, when she rushed to cover the liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau, she arrived with a Stars and Stripes reporter before the Army did. The German commander and guards at the southern end of the camp turned themselves over to the journalists, and those journalists had to let the prisoners know they’d been freed.

Her work in World War II was appreciated, but she hadn’t been sent overseas until 1944. When the Korean War began, Higgins was based out of Japan as the bureau chief of the New York Tribune’s Far East Office, and she immediately sent herself to the front.

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Prisoners are marched past an M26 Pershing tank in the streets of Seoul, South Korea in 1950.

(Department of the Navy)

She was there when Seoul fell to North Korea, but then the Tribune sent another war reporter and ordered Higgins back to Japan. Instead of leaving, she kept reporting from the front in competition with other journalists — including the other Tribune journalist: Homer Bigart.

Yup, she competed against other employees of her own newspaper. Though, in her defense, that just meant the New York Tribune was getting a steady stream of articles from two of the top war correspondents in the world.

Well, it was, anyway, until the U.S. passed a new rule banning female reporters from their front lines. Higgins protested, which did nothing. Then, she protested directly to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was then the commander of all U.S. forces in Korea. This proved to be much more successful.

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Newspaper article announces that ban on women war correspondents in Korea has been lifted.

(YouTube/womenshistory)

MacArthur sent a telegram to the Tribune saying, “Ban on women correspondents in Korea has been lifted. Marguerite Higgins is held in highest professional esteem by everyone.”

And that was great for Higgins, because her Pulitzer moment came a couple months later. Higgins got herself onto one of the largest operations of the war: The Army and Marine Corps landing at Inchon. The strategic idea was to threaten the interior supply lines of the Communists and to relieve pressure on troops that were barely holding the southern edge of the peninsula. She opened her article with:

Heavily laden U.S. Marines, in one of the most technically difficult amphibious landings in history, stormed at sunset today over a ten-foot sea wall in the heart of the port of Inchon and within an hour had taken three commanding hills in the city.

A little later in the article, she writes:

Despite a deadly and steady pounding from naval guns and airplanes, enough North Koreans remained alive close to the beach to harass us with small-arms and mortar fire. They even hurled hand grenades down at us as we crouched in trenches which unfortunately ran behind the sea wall in the inland side.

It was far from the “virtually unopposed” landing for which the troops had hoped after hearing the quick capture of Wolmi Island in the morning by an earlier Marine assault.
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Marines clamber over obstacles at Inchon, South Korea, during the amphibious assault there. Marguerite Higgins landed with the fifth wave of Marines.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Higgins landed with the fifth wave of Marines. Her coverage highlighted the bravery of troops under fire, but was also critical of those who had sent forces in under-prepared or -equipped. In 1951, she wrote in War in Korea: A Woman Combat Correspondent:

So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth. It is best to tell graphically the moments of desperation and horror endured by an unprepared army, so that the American public will demand that it does not happen again.

After Korea, she continued to search out chances to cover troops in combat. In 1953, she went to Vietnam to cover French forces and covered the defeat at Dien Bein Phu where her photographer was killed by a land mine. She got a pass to report from both sides of the Iron Curtain and covered the Cold War tensions as they rose in the early 1960s.

Unfortunately, her dangerous work eventually caught up with her. She returned to Vietnam to cover American operations there and, in 1965, she contracted leishmaniasis. She was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the U.S. for treatment, but died on January 3, 1966, from the disease.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump reveals new details about the mysterious ‘super duper missile’ in West Point graduation speech

President Donald Trump revealed new details about a mystery missile during an address at West Point Saturday, appearing to offer new insight into a high-speed weapon he previously called the “super duper missile.”

In mid-May, Trump boasted about US military strength from the Oval Office, and in the process, he announced that the US is building a new missile faster than anything currently available.


“We’re building incredible military equipment at a level that nobody has ever seen before. We have no choice with the adversaries we have out there,” the president said.

“We have — I call it, the ‘super duper missile,'” Trump said, explaining that he “heard the other night, 17 times faster than what they have right now, when you take the fastest missile we have right now.”

“You’ve heard Russia has five times and China’s working on five or six times. We have one 17 times, and it’s just gotten the go-ahead,” he said.

The prevailing view of the president’s remarks was that the president was referring to some type of hypersonic weapon. The Department of Defense said in a statement shortly after the president’s announcement that the Pentagon “is working on developing a range of hypersonic missiles to counter our adversaries.”

Hypersonic weapons are able to travel at high speeds and along unpredictable flight paths, making them difficult for traditional air-and-missile defense systems to intercept. The development of these weapons has become a point of competition between the US, Russia, and China.

Speaking to the graduating class of 2020 at the US Military Academy at West Point Saturday, Trump provided new information on the weapon he boasted about last month.

“We are building new ships, bombers, jet fighters, and helicopters by the hundreds. New tanks, military satellites, rockets and missiles, even a hypersonic missile that goes 17 times faster than the fastest missile currently available in the world.”

He said that the missile can strike a target 1,000 miles away, striking within 14 inches of center point. These appear to be the most specific details to date about the missile in question.

Trump’s description of the new missile as being 17 times faster than the fastest missile currently available in the world is likely an exaggeration or a misunderstanding, for while hypersonic systems tend to be faster than some missiles, such as Tomahawk cruise missiles, they tend to be slower than some ballistic missiles.

For instance, the US Air Force’s LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile can hit speeds as high as Mach 23, over 17,600 mph. A weapon able to travel at speeds 17 times faster than that would be unbelievably fast.

In February, the president touted US military strength while discussing “superfast missiles,” which he described with slower speeds than the weapon he discussed Saturday.

“We have the superfast missiles — tremendous number of the superfast. We call them ‘superfast,’ where they’re four, five, six, and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile,” he said at the time.

The US conducted a test of a hypersonic glide vehicle in March, verifying a design that will be used to develop weaponry expected to come online in the next few years.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

New Army museum will feature six National Guardsmen

When the National Museum of the United States Army opens to the public outside Washington, D.C. in 2020; six New York Army National Guard soldiers will be a permanent part of it.

The six men who serve at the New York National Guard Headquarters outside Albany and the 24th Civil Support Team at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, are models for six of 63 life-sized soldier figures that will bring exhibits in the museum to life.

Studio EIS (pronounced ice), the Brooklyn company that specializes in making these museum exhibit figures, would normally hire actors or professional models as templates for figures, said Paul Morando, the chief of exhibits for the museum.


But real soldiers are better, he said.

“Having real soldiers gives the figures a level of authenticity to the scene,” he said. “They know where their hands should be on the weapons. They know how far apart their feet should be when they are standing. They know how to carry their equipment.”

Actual soldiers can also share some insights with the people making the figures, Morando added.

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New York Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Nick Archibald displays the cast made of his face at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 15, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

The museum is under construction at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The Army Historical Foundation is leading a 0 million dollar campaign and constructing the 185,000 square-foot building through private donations. The Army is providing the 84-acre site, constructing the roads and infrastructure, and the interior exhibit elements that transform a building into a museum.

The museum will tell the story of over 240 years of Army history through stories of American soldiers.

The figures of the six New York National Guard Solders — Maj. Robert Freed, Chaplain (Maj.) James Kim, Capt. Kevin Vilardo, 2nd Lt. Sam Gerdt, Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Morrison, and Sgt. 1st Class Nick Archibald — will populate two exhibits from two different eras.

Vilardo, Gerdt, and Archibald will portray soldiers who landed in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

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New York Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Nick Archibald clutches pipes representing rope as a technician prepares to apply casting material to his body at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 15, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

The figure modeled by Archibald, an assistant inspector general at New York National Guard headquarters, will be climbing down a cargo net slung over the side of a model ship into a 36-foot long landing craft known as a “Higgins boat.”

The boats took their name from Andrew Higgins, a Louisiana boat-builder who designed the plywood-sided boats, which delivered soldiers directly to the beach.

Vilardo, the commander of A Troop, 101st Cavalry, who also works in the Army National Guard operations section, was the model for a combat photographer. His figure will be in the boat taking pictures of the action.

Gerdt, a survey section leader in the 24th Civil Support Team, modeled a soldier standing in the boat gazing toward the beach.

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New York Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Sam Gerdt holds a pose while technicians take a cast of his upper torso at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 14, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

The landing craft is so big that it, and three other macro artifacts, were pre-positioned in their space within the museum in 2017 — the museum is being built around them.

Kim, Morrison and Freed modeled for figures that will be in an Afghanistan tableau. They will portray soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment on patrol in 2014, each soldier depicting a different responsibility on a typical combat mission.

The figure based on Morrison, the medic for the 24th CST, will be holding an M4 and getting ready to go in first.

Freed, the executive officer of the 24th CST, modeled a platoon leader talking on the radio.

Kim, the chaplain for the 42nd Division, was the model for a soldier operating a remote control for a MARCbot, which is used to inspect suspicious objects.

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New York Army National Guard Major Robert Freed holds a pose with a mock M4 and block of wood replicating a radio handset, as technicians apply casting material to his body at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 15, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

The process of turning a soldier into a life-sized figure starts by posing the soldier in the position called for in the tableau and taking lots of photos. This allows the artists to observe how the person looks and record it.

When Archibald showed up at the Studio EIS facility they put him to work climbing a cargo net like soldiers used to board landing craft during World War II.

“They were taking pictures of me actually climbing a net with a backpack on and a huge model rifle over my shoulder,” he recalled. “That was uncomfortable because I was actually on a net hanging off this wall.”

The Studio EIS experts take pictures of the model from every angle and take measurements as well, Morando explained.

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Heads casted from New York Army National Guard soldiers wait to be matched with their bodies at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 15, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

Vilardo, who posed crammed into a mock landing craft corner with a camera up to his eyes, said the photography portion of this process was the most unnerving part for him.

“I’m not one to like my picture being taken and to have really close photography of your face and hands was a new experience,” he said.

Next, a model of the individuals face is made. A special silicone based material is used for the cast. The model’s nostrils are kept clear so the subject can breathe.

The soldiers were told what their character was supposed to be doing and thinking and asked to make the appropriate facial gestures.

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New York Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Morrison holds his pose as technicians apply casting material to his face at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 5, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

Gerdt was told to stare into space and think about not seeing his family for two years.

“I had to hold my facial expression for about 15 minutes while they did that,” he said.

Because his character was talking on the radio, he had to hold his mouth open and some of the casting compound got inside, Freed said.

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New York Army National Guard Major Robert Freed poses with a mock M-4 and block of wood replicating a radio handset, as photos of his pose are taken at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 15, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

“It was a bit nerve wracking, “Freed recalled. ” They pour the silicon liquid over your entire face and you have these two breathing holes. Your hearing is limited. It is a bit jarring.”

The material also warmed up.

“It was like a spa experience,” Kim joked. “They had me sit with one of those barber covers on. I had to be still with my head tilted back.”

The material got so warm that he started sweating, Archibald said. “As they did the upper portion (of his body) I got pretty toasty in there,” he said.

Once their facial casts were done the Studio EIS experts cast the rest of their body. The soldiers put on tight shorts and stockings with Vaseline smeared over body parts and posed in the positions needed.

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New York Army National Guard Captain Capt. Kevin Vilardo poses as World War II combat cameraman standing in the corner of a landing craft at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 13, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

Kim was asked to crouch and hold a controller in his hand. When he got up to move his legs were frozen, he said. “It was four hours and a lot of stillness,” Kim said.

Archibald was positioned on blocks so that his body looked like it was climbing and they used this small little stool supporting my butt.” He also had to clench his hand around rods to look like he was gripping a rope.

Vilardo jammed himself into a plywood cutout so it looked like he was stabilizing himself on a boat. Morrison held an M-4 at the ready as if he were ready to lead a stack of soldiers into a room.

The six New York National Guardsmen and four other soldiers visited the Brooklyn studio during the first two weeks of November 2018.

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New York Army National Guard Major (Chaplain) James Kim poses with the remote control for a MARCbot robot as Paul Morando, the Exhibits Chief for the National Museum of the United States Army, refines his position at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 8, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

They were the last soldiers to be turned into figures, Morando said.

Four active duty soldiers also posed during the process; Chaplain (Major) Bruce Duty, Staff Sgt. Dereek Martinez, Sgt. 1st Class Kent Bumpass, and Sgt. Armando Hernandez.

Next the artists will sculpt sections into a complete figure, dress and accessorize, and paint precise details on the face and skin; crafting it to humanistic and historical perfection. These lifelike soldier figures will help visitors understand what it looked like on D-Day or during a combat mission in Afghanistan, Morando said.

The New York soldiers got their chance to be part of the new, state of the art museum because of Justin Batt, the director of the Harbor Defense Museum at Fort Hamilton.

He and Morando had worked together before, Batt said.

Morando needed soldiers to pose and wanted to use soldiers from the New York City area to keep down costs. So he turned to Batt to help find ten people.

Batt, in turn, reached out to Freed to ask for help in finding guard soldiers.

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Soldiers pose for museum exhibits.

(U.S. Army photo)

The museum was looking for soldiers with certain looks, heights, and in some cases race, Freed said.

For the D-Day scene they needed soldiers of certain height and weight who would look like soldiers from the 1940s. The design for the Afghanistan scene included an Asian American and African-American soldier, Freed said.

He recruited Kim, a Korean-American, as the Asian American and Morrison as the African-American soldier. Vilardo, Archibald and Gerdt are lean and looked more like an American of the 1940s.

The six New York Guardsmen that Freed recruited were perfect, Batt said. Not only did they look the part but also they all have tremendous military records, he added.

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

New York Army National Guard Captain Capt. Kevin Vilardo holds a pose as a World War II combat cameraman while technicians take a cast of his upper torso at Studio EIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 13, 2018.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

Being part of the National Museum of the United States Army is an honor, the soldiers said.

While their names won’t be acknowledged on the exhibits, it will be great to know they are part of telling the Army story, they all agreed.

He was impressed to find out how much work goes into creating an exhibit and the care the museum staff is taking to get it right, Freed said.

“I have a newfound appreciation of the efforts the Army is making to preserve its history,” he added.

“I think it is pretty cool that they would get soldiers to model as soldiers,” Archibald said. “Part of it is an honor to be able to bring people down there and point at the exhibit and say that is actually me there.”

SpaceX is launching satellites that will hunt down smugglers and pirates

This draft of the landing craft exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Army gives a sense of what the finished result will look like when the museum opens.

(National Museum of the United States Army)

“I feel privileged to have an opportunity to be part of a historic display, “Kim said. ” To be immortalized and to be able to share that with generations of my family. It is a once in a life time opportunity.”

“It’s extremely cool. I feel honored to do it,” Gerdt said, adding that he was looking forward to taking his newborn daughter to see the exhibit.

Vilardo, who has a seven-year old daughter, said she was pretty excited when he showed her photographs of him being turned into an exhibit figure.

“I told her it would be just like “Night at the Museum”, he said referring to the Ben Stiller movie about museum exhibits coming to life, “and that we could go visit anytime.”

“It is extremely humbling to know I am going to be part of Army history, “Morrison said. “I already thought I was part of the Army Story. Now I am going to be part of the story the public gets to see.”

Editor’s Note: The National Museum of the United States Army is a joint effort between the U.S. Army and the non-profit organization, The Army Historical Foundation. The museum will serve as the capstone of the Army Museum Enterprise and provide the comprehensive portrayal of Army history and traditions. The Museum is expected to open in 2020 and admission will be free. www.thenmusa.org

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

With modern technology, US soldiers can learn the essentials of operating everything from grenade launchers to .50-caliber machine guns before they ever set foot on a firing range.


Soldiers with the New Jersey National Guard’s D Company, 1-114th Infantry Regiment recently conducted virtual-reality training on a number heavy weapons at the Observer Coach/Trainer Operations Group Regional Battle Simulation Training Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Capt. James Ruane, the company’s commander, explained the virtual-reality system to Insider, introducing how it works and how it helps the warfighter.

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New Jersey National Guard soldiers train with a heavy weapons simulator at the Observer Coach/Trainer Operations Group Regional Battle Simulation Training Center, Feb. 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

This virtual-reality system, known as the Unstabilized Gunnery Trainer (UGT), gives users the ability to operate mounted M240B machine guns, Mk 19 grenade launchers, and .50-caliber machine guns — all heavy weapons — in a virtual world.

“When the gunner has the goggles on, he’s able to look around, and it is almost like he’s in an actual mission environment,” Ruane told Insider.

The virtual-reality system is designed to mimic a heavy weapon mounted on a vehicle. In the simulated training environment, users can engage dismounted and mounted targets, as well as moving vehicles and stationary targets.

“It’s the same type of targets they would engage on a live-fire range,” Ruane said.

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A New Jersey National Guard soldier on a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

The “weapon” is designed to feel and function much like an actual machine gun or grenade launcher.

“When you pull the trigger and actually fire this thing, it moves,” the captain said. “It has the same recoil as a weapon system would. So it gives the gunner as real of an experience as you could have in a virtual environment.”

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A New Jersey National Guard soldier trains with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

To operate the gun, the user even has to load ammunition.

There are, however, limitations to the system that prevent it from being a perfect one-for-one training platform for the real deal.

For example, this virtual-reality training platform does not factor things like jams or barrel changes in, despite both issues being important parts of operating a heavy machine gun.

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New Jersey National Guard soldiers practice on a Virtual Convoy Operations Trainer, February 9, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

In addition to the single gunner training system, there is also a convoy trainer for three vehicle crew members and a dismount.

“In this setup, you have a driver, you have a vehicle commander, and you have a gunner,” Ruane told Insider. “You also have the ability to have a dismount, and all members of that crew are plugged into the same virtual system.”

“They are all wearing the goggles,” Ruane added. “They all have weapons systems attached to the [VR] system, including a dismount who would have an attached M4.”

“They operate like a crew,” he said, telling Insider that while the training, usually carried out over the course of a weekend, is focused on taking troops through the gunnery tables, the simulator can also be used to train forces for convoy protection missions and other more complex mission sets.

The training normally involves two vehicle crews, but it could be connected to other systems for training with a platoon-sized element.

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A New Jersey National Guard soldier trains with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

The company commander said he has seen marked improvements in performance since the introduction of the virtual reality trainer a few years back.

“I’ve definitely seen a dramatic improvement over the last five years,” the captain said.

“In the beginning, crews would have to go two or three times through gunnery,” Ruane, who has been with his company for five years now, told Insider, explaining that soldiers would make “simple mistakes.”

“Now,” he said, “crews are able to get through their engagements and get qualified as a crew” with some of “the highest scores that we’ve seen in the scoring cycle over the last five years.”

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New Jersey National Guard soldiers train with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

Ruane says virtual reality has enhanced their training in a big way.

“A lot of people think, especially some old-school military people, think that the virtual-reality stuff takes away from the actual live-fire ranges, when in fact this is actually an enhancer,” he explained, adding that “when you get out to the live-fire ranges, it is going to be muscle memory at that point, and it’s going to go flawlessly.”

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

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