The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition) - We Are The Mighty
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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch how bulletproof these ‘Star Wars’ inspired helmets are

Military equipment is notoriously cheap and can sometimes fall short of expectations when in the hands of the dirt-eating grunts who use them the most. But, every once in a while, a company comes by and makes something that not only lives up to its potential, but manages to make its way into the hearts of troops everywhere (things as wonderful as the M27 are few and far between). So, when DevTac developed the Ronin Kevlar Level IIIA Tactical Ballistic Helmet, we wondered how effective it really was.

Thankfully, Dr. Matt Carriker, a veterinarian and fellow gun enthusiast, put the helmet to the test on his YouTube channel, Demolition Ranch. We’ve covered a previous video of his where he tested Army helmets, seeing just how bulletproof they really are, but does this Boba-Fett-looking helmet stand up to the test?

Let’s find out!


The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
This thing just looks awesome. (Demolition Ranch)

 

Before the test, Dr. Carriker goes over some of the basic features of the helmet to provide a baseline of what to expect. Some of those features include armor plating — some parts Level II, others Level IIIA. Allegedly, the helmet is able to withstand most bullets shot from a pistol.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
You never know if you’ll catch a ricochet in the face while squirrel hunting. (Demolition Ranch)

 

Dr. Carriker starts off easy and light, hitting the helmet with a .22 LR fired from a suppressed pistol, then moving onto a .22 Hornet round fired from a Taurus Raging Hornet. The results for both are the same — some chipped paint but no penetration, which is what we hoped would happen given such a small bullet.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
There are some scratches and holes, but nothing went all the way through. (Demolition Ranch)

 

Next, he hits it with a .410, shooting a Charles Daly Defense Honcho. The lenses are supposed to stop a shotgun blast, and they do, but they get shot out. Afterwards, like a true, red-blooded American, he double fists a pair of Maxim 9s to hit the helmet with 9mm rounds. Still no penetration.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
We might have to get one for ourselves here… For professional reasons, of course. (Demolition Ranch)

 

After seeing that 9mm ain’t going to cut it, Dr. Carriker goes on to test a .357 magnum round shot from a Desert Eagle. After that, he picks up a .44 magnum and then, later, a .45-70 Government round shot from a revolver. The results for all three, despite doing significant damage to the helmet, were the same: no penetration.

If you don’t believe it, check out the video below and see the action for yourself:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

China is about to build a real ‘Red October’

When The Hunt for Red October came out in 1984, and with it the invention of the techno-thriller genre (author Tom Clancy’s claim to literary greatness), one of the stars was a modified Typhoon-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). That novel, of course, was adapted to film in 1990.


The book and the film featured two different versions of the silent drive. The book used impellors, while the film used magneto-hydrodynamic propulsion. Now, something that is somewhat similar to the latter version of the Red October’s silent drive could be a reality… thanks to the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
A 1993 photo of a Chinese Han-class submarine. These vessels were very noisy, and thus, easy to track. Newer Chinese submarines could have a very quiet permanent magnet motor. (US Navy photo)

According to a report by Popular Mechanics, the Chinese have tested a drive using a “permanent magnet motor” near Hainan Island. A release by the Chinese military noted that China was also experimenting with a “shaftless” pumpjet propulsion system.

Permanent magnet motors run much more quietly than conventional types currently in use on submarines. This is due to their “brushless” nature, which also means they can be smaller, taking up less volume on submarines (which are notoriously cramped) and increasing their reliability and also improving their endurance.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
USS Dallas (SSN 700) conducting training operations in 2000. This vessel was another star in the book and film versions of The Hunt for Red October. (U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Jason E. Miller)

According to GlobalSecurity.org, China has a small number of nuclear submarines at present, roughly a half-dozen attack subs and four ballistic missile submarines. While greatly outnumbered by those of the United States, China is planning to build many more nuclear-powered subs by 2030, including versions more modern than the Shang and Jin classes that are their current state of the art.

The United States is not standing still. Reportedly, the new Columbia-class SSBNs will also be using a magnetic-drive technology. That said, it should be noted that in both the book and movie versions of Hunt for Red October, the United States Navy was able to track the titular submarine.

Articles

6 benefits of deploying with a marine expeditionary unit

A Marine Expeditionary Unit, also known as an MEU, is affectionately called a booze-cruise in the Marine Corps. The purpose is to provide safety and security to our interest abroad by rapid response to any situation. Missions vary and can become intense, however, most of the time that is not the case. For the Marine deployed this way it means gym time, movies and exploring exotic countries when the fleet hits port. They call it a booze-cruise for a reason.

1. You get to see the world

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Or lots of sand, at least. U.S. Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conduct physical training in between simulated missions during sustainment training.

When a Marine Expeditionary Units patrols the world’s oceans, it is an asset to the president and essential to the security of our nation. Those fleets need to refit and refuel from time-to-time and for the crew, it means liberty. After the resupplying a ship, the idle Marine and sailor may be granted permission to have a mini-vacation in another country while the ship refuels. I’ve been to countries like Turkey, Bahrain, U.A.E., Spain, Djibouti, Cuba, Haiti, and others that I would not have had the chance of visiting. I almost died whitewater rafting in Turkey – no regrets. Port can be a lot of fun in between long periods at sea.

2. Walk a mile in another branch’s shoes

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Marines and Sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) pass stores during a resupply while in-port in Augusta, Italy, Jan. 25, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa/Released)

The Navy and Marine Corps when placed in close quarters will butt heads. Anyone would whether it is a tent or a ship. Long periods of isolation will do that. However, when Marines conduct amphibious operations and training in foreign countries and the physical challenges, that entails inspires respect. When Marines see sailors and what they have to do to keep the ship from hitting the bottom of the ocean, it inspires the same. If the sailors would stop ransacking our MRE stores maybe we would share the gym.

3. You appreciate what makes your branch different

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
U.S. Marine Maj. Jeff Horne, executive officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is interviewed by media on the flight deck of the USS Fort McHenry (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chris Roys/Released)

The relationship between officers and enlisted in the Marine Corps is more palpable than in the Navy. Marine officers are approachable with regard to the mission and do not believe they are better or less than their enlisted. The Marine Corps will attempt to treat everyone equally if they are able to. Of course, rank has its privileges but there is a mutual respect. Aboard a Navy ship, Marines are often shocked that this is not the case. It’s the little things. For example, at the chow hall, Navy officers are served made-to-order eggs or omelets while the enlisted get powdered eggs. It’s the Navy, they have the funding, there is no reason why that is a thing. If the Marine Corps, a branch that is willing to fight naked with sticks if need be, can afford eggs, then the Navy should damn well be able to. It’s 2021. That’s just bad leadership. Before anyone says anything about space and manpower, I was on a two-month working party on a ship helping rearrange the food stores – there’s room. Things like that make Marines appreciate the Corps. We thought our food was bad.

4. Unique moments at sea

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Matthew Teutsch from Piscataway, NJ., a combat videographer with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, records video aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The Marines and Sailors of the 11th MEU are conducting routine operations as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group in the eastern Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)

This one time the captain said over the intercom that if anyone one was interested in whale watching, there was a pod swimming next to us on the starboard bow. What. You don’t see that every day. Another cool event is watching dolphins. The sailors in charge of recreation put the Titanic on every TV on the ship when we crossed the Atlantic for the first time. ‘Har, har, I’ll change the channel.’ It’s on all of them.

5. You’re literally the tip of the spear

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
The 13th MEU embarked on the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Briauna Birl/ RELEASED)

While every branch considers itself the tip of the spear, Marines and sailors on a MEU are actually the tip of the spear. When the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 it was the 24th MEU who first responded to the situation. No cameras, no CNN, no Red Cross, it was the Marines and sailors who landed and provided aid. When everyone else showed up, other nations and branches over a period of two weeks, we handed the situation over and continued our mission elsewhere. Marines walk the walk. We’re always first.

6. The fleet may end up fighting pirates

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Pirates holding the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel FV Tian Yu 8 pass through the waters of the Indian Ocean while under observation by a U.S. Navy ship in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. The ship was attacked on Nov. 16 in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility and forced to proceed to an anchorage off the Somali coast.

They’re not the Pirates of the Caribbean variety by any means. Somalian pirates routinely attack merchant ships and ransom the crew. The Navy is tasked with protecting American and allied vessels at sea in conjunction with its other missions. While on the 24th MEU, my platoon was awoken by our company Gunner Sergeant after he kicked down our berthing door and yelled, “Everyone get to the armory! We’ve got pirates!” We weren’t sure if he was joking. The following, “Get the f**k up!” confirmed that he, in fact, was not joking. The U.S.S. Ashland was attacked by a tiny pirate boat that mistook the war vessel for a cargo liner. When merchant vessels call for aid, the U.S. military answers the call.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

A 10-member South Korean delegation met face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on March 5, 2018 for the first time in history — and the talks could set the tone for later US engagement.


The meeting, which took place in Pyongyang, reportedly involved an elegant reception and banquet for the visiting diplomats, who will stay in what a representative of the South Korean president’s office told NK News was a “luxury resort” on the Taedong River.

“The North Korean side has been preparing a lot for warmly welcoming the South Korean delegation,” the representative said. North Korea is known to go all out when hosting foreign diplomats.

Related: South Korea’s special ops wants to kill Kim Jong Un with suicide drones

But while the South Koreans may have found a warm reception, the delegation’s leader promised they would talk about the most difficult topic at hand and most likely the elephant in the room: North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and ambitions.

Chung Eui-yong, the chief of South Korea’s National Security Office, told reporters at a briefing that, “more than anything,” the diplomats would “clearly deliver” South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s “firm will to achieve the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and create sincere and permanent peace.”

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Photo from official ROK Flickr.)

North Korea has consistently said its possession of nuclear weapons is non-negotiable; it’s even written into the country’s constitution. The US and South Korea maintain that their goal in engaging with North Korea is denuclearization and that any mutual talks must seek that end.

Since the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea, North Korea has been much more open to inter-Korean talks, with Kim even inviting Moon to Pyongyang to become the first head of state to meet him in person.

Also read: South Korea wants to lower its bar for peace talks with the North

Moon has not yet accepted the invitation, and US President Donald Trump has said talks must happen only “under the right conditions.”

But North Korea may be feeling pressure to engage diplomatically with the US and South Korea, as a new wave of sanctions and an aggressive policy by the Trump administration of policing North Korea’s exports threaten to hamstring the country’s economy.

Additionally, the US and South Korea are expected to return to normal military exercises in mid-March 2018 after the Paralympic Games; such exercises serve as a major irritant to North Korea, which often responds with missile tests. Experts calculate that Pyongyang still needs several tests to ensure the functionality of its latest intercontinental ballistic missile systems.

Articles

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

Infantrymen train countless hours on immediate action drills, patrolling techniques and room clearing during their pre-deployment work up. The goal for every successful combat pump is to complete the mission and get your a** home safe.


While on a combat deployment, you made some epic memories — some good and some bad.

But one memory you’ll probably never forget is that first time you took enemy contact.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

Check out what many young troops go through during their first firefight.

1. After traveling for the past few weeks to get to your FOB, your platoon sergeant announces the squad’s first patrol heads out at first light — which is one hour from now.

The time has finally come. (Images via Giphy)

2. You head to your berthing area to “gear prep and check.”

Let’s rock this sh*t. (Images via Giphy)

3. What it felt like putting on all your tactical gear for the real thing.

He put on a pearl necklace. That’s classic. (Images via Giphy)

4. That badass feeling you had when you left the wire for the first time with your fireteam.

We’re here to chew bubble gum and f*ck sh*t up. (Images via Giphy)

5. How absolutely alert you were after every step you took.

You’re not getting me today ISIS. (Images via Giphy)

6. After several hours of patrolling with nothing cool happening — you’re freaking drained.

You were all worked up for nothing. (Images via Giphy)

7. Then, it finally happened. Crack! Snap! The enemy is finally engaging you, and it’s time to get your fireteam into the game.

Getting your teammates on the same page is vital. (Images via Giphy) 

8. Now that you handled all that, it’s time to fire off some rounds.

You wish you were that tough. (Images via Giphy)

9. After gaining a solid visual on the bad guy’s position, you jumped on your comm gear and called in a mortar strike.

Don’t worry, your mortarmen were much better than these dudes. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 33 images that perfectly portray your first 96-hour liberty

10. You felt like a beast when your mortar strike hits without having to make an adjustment.

Bad ass.  (Images via Giphy)

11. Then, a few enemy rounds zip past your head.

You didn’t expect that, but now you’re really pissed off. (Images via Giphy)

12. You order your fire team to open fire!

Take that you filthy sons-of-b*tches! (Images via Images)

13. When the bad guys pull-back because they can’t handle your fire superiority.

They can’t handle us. (Image via Giphy)

14. How accomplished and patriotic you felt after kickin’ their a**.

Semper Fi. (Images via Giphy)

Articles

Glock is still fighting the Army’s decision to go with a cheaper handgun

The leadership at Glock Inc. says that the US Army’s decision to select Sig Sauer to make its new Modular Handgun System was driven by cost savings, not performance. The gun maker is also challenging the Army to complete the testing, which the service cut short, to see which gun performs better.


Two weeks have passed since the Government Accountability Office released the findings behind its decision to deny Glock Inc.’s protest of the Army’s MHS decision.

Now Josh Dorsey, vice president of Glock Inc., said that Glock maintains that the Army’s selection of Sig Sauer was based on “incomplete testing” and that Sig Sauer’s bid was $102 million lower than Glock’s.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Sig Sauer P320. Photo from Sig Sauer.

“This is not about Glock. This is not about Sig. And it’s not about the US Army,” Dorsey, a retired Marine, told Military.com. “It’s about those that are on the ground, in harm’s way.”

It comes down to “the importance of a pistol, which doesn’t sound like much unless you realize, if you pull a pistol in combat, you are in deep s***.”

Dorsey maintains that the Army selected Sig Sauer as the winner of the MHS competition without conducting the “heavy endurance testing” that is common in military and federal small arms competitions.

Military.com reached out to both the Army and Sig Sauer for comment on this story, but the service did not respond by press time.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million January 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 program.

The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol to replace the M9s and compact M11s in the inventory.

The service launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. The decision formally ended the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.

From January to September 2016, the Army conducted what Dorsey calls initial, phase one testing and not “product verification testing described in the solicitation” which is the only way to determine which of the MHS entries meets the Army’s requirements for safety, reliability and accuracy, according to Glock’s legal argument to the GAO.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Glock, Inc’s MHS. Photo from Glock, Inc.

On August 29, 2016, the Army “established a competitive range consisting of the Glock 9mm one-gun proposal and the Sig Sauer 9mm two-gun proposal, according to the GAO’s findings.

Dorsey argues that the GAO’s description of “competitive range” means the both Glock’s and Sig Sauer’s submissions “are in fact pretty much the same.”

But the GAO describes Sig Sauer 320 as having lower reliability than Glock 19 on page 11, footnote 13 of its findings.

“Under the factor 1 reliability evaluation, Sig Sauer’s full-sized handgun had a higher stoppage rate than Glock’s handgun, and there may have been other problems with the weapon’s accuracy,” GAO states.

To Dorsey, that “says it all.”

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Glock, Inc’s one-gun entry. Photo from Glock, Inc.

“When you have stuff in the GAO report that says their stoppage rate is higher than ours — that’s a problem,” Dorsey said.

Sig Sauer’s $169.5 million bid outperformed Glock’s $272.2 million bid, according to GAO, which made the Sig Sauer proposal the “best value to the government.” The Army’s initial announcement of the contract award to Sig Sauer described the deal as being worth up to $580 million, but the reason for the discrepancy is not clear.

“So one of the least important factors as they said in the RFP would be the price; that is what became the most important factor,” Dorsey said.

“So let’s think about that for a minute … you are going to go forward making that decision now without completing the test on the two candidate systems that are in the competitive range? Does that make sense if it’s your son or daughter sitting in that foxhole somewhere?”

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach

Glock also argued that the Army’s testing only went up to 12,500 rounds when the “service life of the selected pistol is specified to be 25,000 rounds,” according to Glock’s legal argument to GAO.

“We are not asking for them to overturn Sig,” Dorsey said. “All we ask is for them to continue to test, so that the Army can be ensured that it has the best material solution for its soldiers. Make it fair, make it full and open; transparent and let’s see where the chips fall.”

“Fundamentally, Glock is going to continue to do what we always do. It is never over for us. It’s always on those that go into harm’s way and as long as they are in harm’s way, we will continue to knock on doors and offer the best material solution to the handgun requirement because in my heart, I believe we do have the best material solution.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

Army vet finds brotherhood through competition

1:23 a.m. It’s pitch black in Ramadi, Iraq, except for the cold moon above.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Major and his squad creep silently closer.

The enemy has already killed and maimed American troops with roadside bombs. Intel says the largest cache of explosives is right here. Major is part of the late-night raid to bring them down. This is where he wants to be.

“I was a junior in high school when the Towers were hit. I knew I wanted to do something then. And when it came time to choose college or something else, I wanted to get my hands dirty. It all stemmed from the Towers. I wanted to do my part.”

He’s in the desert as part of a light infantry unit. As he and his team get closer, the insurgents wait.


“We were two or three blocks away and I watched two squads cross that intersection,” he says.

He’s only a couple feet away now.

“I took like five steps … “

Major steps down with his right leg.

The enemy pushes the remote control.

The bomb explodes with a deafening roar, and fills the air with a lethal mix of fire and shrapnel.

“I was awake for the whole thing,” he said. “I remember going up and facing the stars.”

Major, 22, is blown up and over a steel gate and six-foot concrete wall.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)

Ryan Major loves rugby because it’s loud, fast and has lots of crashes. He is hoping for gold at this year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

His team, many with shrapnel injuries themselves, jump into their armored Bradley Fighting Vehicle, smash through the concrete and rush him back to the base camp.

“My guy, he had me laying on the floor and he is covering my leg. I’m losing blood like crazy. Trying to go to sleep. He smacks the p— out of me a couple times. I knew I was in a bad situation.”

“Read me my Last Rites. Tell my mom I love her,” Major says to his soldier.

“No! Wake your b— ass up! I’m not telling her anything! You’re telling her!”

They make it back to base.

“The surgeons and the doctors, they did their thing. Then they induced me into a coma.”

Doctors cut off his right leg and right thumb in Iraq. An infection while he was still in the coma took his left leg, two fingers on his right hand, his thumb on his left, part of his elbow and forearm.

Major wakes up six weeks later, December 26, in a hospital room inside Walter Reed.

And his nine years of dark depression begins.

Thirteen years after waking up in that hospital room, Major is one of the most vocal and energetic competitors at the 39th Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Louisville, Kentucky, with quad rugby his favorite sport because it’s loud, it’s fast and there’re lots of crashes and smack talk.

“Hey, it’s sports. I’m a competitor. I was competing in the military. I’m competing still. It’s fast and I like to go fast.”

Major whips around with a white ball in his hand. A wheelchair cracks into him from behind and throws him from the chair and to the ground. He gets helped back in and shakes it off. Another chair crashes into him from the side as Major smacks down on his wheel into a backspin and then scores.

He crosses his arms, leans back his head and howls to the rafters.

“WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

He makes it look easy, but it wasn’t always this way.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)

Ryan Major races down the court on the way to a score.

“Dude, it was rough,” he said. “So rough, and I was in a really dark spot. A deep, weird depression. It was a lot of self-doubt and being hard on myself. It’s typical, going from a 100 percent independent man, having to depend on everybody for everything. That took a really big shot to my pride.

“It took me so long. I don’t have my legs. I can’t play football or anything I used to do and love. I used to play football. I wrestled. I did track and field. Now I can’t do any of that.”

Days turned into weeks, months and years.

His mom, Lorrie Knight-Major, said she and his brothers — Michael and Milan — along with Ryan’s friends, rallied to do whatever needed done.

“I credit his brothers, his family and his amazing friends who have been there all the way for him, and for all of us,” Knight-Major said. “To this day, he has a great support system. I wished every veteran and every person recovering had that kind of love.”

Corey Fick, Ryan’s best friend since the 6th grade, visited him almost every day in the hospital and made him get out and about.

“Everybody was crying when we found out he got hurt, but he is a soldier through and through,” Fick said. “He is a soldier through and through, and whatever his cause, he’ll die for it. There’s no fight he’s not going to win. I think he had a 4 percent chance of making it out of Ramadi alive.

“If this happened to anyone but Ryan, I don’t think they could do what he is doing. He has no fear and is living life to the fullest.”

As Major watched others in a wheelchair living their lives, that’s when he knew he had to do it, too.

“I’m watching other vets in my situation who had been hurt for a few years. They’re walking and talking and out having fun and I’m overhearing them. Why am I moping around when you got other amputees going out and having the time of their life?

“It was time for me to get my ass out of this bed and start getting active.”

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)

Besides quad rugby, you can find Ryan Major kayaking and even skiing.

The first thing he did was the Hope and Possibilities handcycle race around Central Park.

“You hear people cheering you and that started to boost me back, but it was easy. I went back to my therapist and said, ‘What’s next?'”

“There’s an Army 10-miler,” the therapist said.

He did it and wanted more. So he did the New York Marathon — 26.2 miles on a hand cycle.

“I went from a 5K to a 10-miler to a marathon all in a year,” Major said. “The best part of a marathon, is all the fans on the side, yelling at you and telling you you’re doing awesome. The worst part of a marathon, in my opinion, are those last two miles. Those last two miles were the longest two miles ever.

“I was hurting bad. My fingers were cramped and locked in place. But I crossed that finish line and said, ‘God, I am a freaking trooper. I am the biggest bad ass in this whole, entire race!”

He hasn’t stopped since.

“I found out I can still do sports. I didn’t ski before I was injured. I had my first skiing experience in Colorado and didn’t anticipate liking that. They had me going down that mountain fast and I fell in love with it. I’m kayaking. I’ll do anything.”

Besides rugby, Major is competing in javelin, table tennis and even bowling this year.

“But I want that gold in rugby,” he said. “That’s the goal. Haven’t gotten it yet. Got close and made it to the final round once. I’ll get it.”

“I am so very proud of him,” his mom said. “I am amazed at the adversity he had to overcome. Ryan has always been a fighter. He wakes up every morning happy, and makes the most out of each day of his life.”

He sometimes thinks back on that day when everything changed, but doesn’t stay in that place too long.

“Those thoughts creep in my head every once in awhile. The what ifs, the woulda, coulda thing. Those are never good,” he said. “There are positives and negatives to every situation. If I wouldn’t have joined the military, wouldn’t have met my brothers in arms, who are a huge part of my life. I never would have had that experience. I never would have traveled. I never would have had those life experiences.

“I still keep in touch with those guys from Walter Reed and with some of the staff. All these years back, and we still talk.”

It’s that brotherhood, he said, that makes these Games so important.

“I like to be loud out there and have fun. Other vets look at me and that makes them proud. They say it inspires them. Well, they inspire me.”

Major just has one request if you see him on the street. Don’t call him disabled.

“I’m an athlete. And I hope when they look at me, they think I’m a good athlete. That’s what they can call me.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

A top-secret Cold War project unearthed ancient fossils buried deep under the Greenland ice sheet

  • Greenland’s ice sheet disappeared at least once in the last million years, a new study found. 
  • The discovery came after fossilized plants were found deep below the ice.
  • The fossils were collected as part of a Cold War project but weren’t analyzed until recently.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

During the Cold War, US Army scientists planned to hide hundreds of nuclear warheads underneath the Greenland ice sheet in a covert mission known as “Project Iceworm.”

It was 1960 and tensions were mounting between the US and Soviet Union. If nuclear war broke out, the US wanted to be close enough to strike the USSR with medium-range missiles.

But the top-secret project was abandoned after scientists realized that the ice sheet was moving too quickly: Within two years, the trenches dug by the military would be destroyed.

The work wasn’t entirely fruitless, though, since geologists held onto samples of ancient soil from roughly 4,500 feet below the surface of the ice. The frozen chunks were stored in glass cookie jars for five decades, until researchers at the University of Vermont got hold of them, thawed the chunks, and began to rinse the sediment in the lab.

In doing so, one of those researchers, Paul Bierman, suddenly turned to his colleague, Andrew Christ: “What is that stuff floating in the water?” he asked.

Christ sucked up the floating specs with a pipette, then placed them under a microscope.

“It was amazing,” he told Insider. “They were these delicate little twigs and leaves that just started to unfurl when they were wet. They are so well-preserved that they look like they died yesterday.”

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Frozen plant fossils from an ice core from the Greenland ice sheet. 

The researchers knew that plants couldn’t grow if the ice sheet was present. So they calculated the materials’ age based on the rate of decay of isotopes in the soil.

Their results suggested there must have been an ice-free period in the region far more recently than scientists previously realized. In a new study, they suggest that Greenland’s ice sheet melted and reformed at least once in the last million years. Before that, scientists thought the current ice sheet had been around for up to 3 million years.

“Paul and I were just totally ecstatic,” Christ said. “We were jumping up and down in the lab.”

Fossils between a few hundred thousand and a million years old

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)Landon Williamson (left) and Andrew Christ (right) with the samples of frozen sediment. Paul Bierman

Scientists first collected the frozen soil samples from northwestern Greenland in 1966. At the time, the samples gave researchers a never-before-seen peek at Earth’s ancient climate.

“That was the first time anyone had drilled that deep into an ice sheet before, let alone recovered whatever’s at the bottom,” Christ said.

But in the 1960s, scientists didn’t have the technology to determine the age of the soil. Now, researchers know that two isotopes, aluminum and beryllium, accumulate in rocks and sediment on Earth’s surface when they’re exposed to radiation from space. Over time, these isotopes decay.

“Because they’re different isotopes, they decay at different rates,” Christ said. “We can use that difference to tell us how long they’ve been buried.”

Based on the ratio of aluminum to beryllium isotopes in the samples, the researchers concluded that the plant fossils collected by Project Iceworm were between a few hundred thousand and 1 million years old.

The ice sheet is ‘very sensitive’ to climate shifts

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A small iceberg in Southern Greenland near where the fossils were discovered.

Christ said it’s possible that the ice sheet vanished more than once in the last 3 million years.

“We still have 12 feet of this soil to analyze,” he said. “That might tell us in greater detail how many times the ice has disappeared from this part of Greenland.”

Already, he added, his study demonstrates that the Greenland ice sheet is “very sensitive to relatively minor changes in climate.” 

Now, Greenland’s ice sheet is starting to shrink again. Snowfall is already insufficient to keep up with the pace of the melting — meaning the ice sheet could disappear even if global temperatures stop rising. By the year 2100, the melted ice could raise sea levels up to 7 inches.

When the fossilized plants in the samples first bloomed, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged just 230 parts per million. By the time the ice samples were taken in the mid-1960s, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide exceeded 320 parts per million. Today, those concentrations have topped 410 parts per million.

“That is a massive change in a really short amount of time,” Christ said. “The worry is that: Are we pushing the Greenland ice sheet towards the point where it’s going to start melting rapidly and adding to sea level rise?”

If the ice sheet were to melt completely again — which scientists predict could happen in the next millennium — the ocean would swallow the coasts across the globe.

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

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Russia sold its enemy the metal for the greatest spy plane ever

In the ultimate irony of Cold War-era surveillance, one of America’s most effective spy planes — and literally the fastest plane ever built — could never have happened without the help of its intended target, the Soviet Union.


Turns out the Americans bought the metal it needed to help the SR-71 Blackbird withstand the temperatures of supersonic travel from its longtime rival Russia. These are just a few of the fun facts the Smithsonian revealed in a recent video on the plane.

The documentary features a tour of the SR-71 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Former Blackbird pilot Buz Carpenter joins the tour, giving the lowdown on what kept the stealthy plane up in the air. Carpenter flew the SR-71 hundreds of times during its time in service, and he even flew the airplane that now resides at the Smithsonian.

The SR-71 had three nose options: A training nose, a radar nose, and a camera nose capable of taking a 72-mile wide photo. The film in that camera was 5 inches wide and 2 miles long. It had to be processed in 500-foot rolls.

The radar nose wasn’t required for navigation. The SR-71 had a pod that read the location of the stars in the sky and, as long as you gave the plane its initial position on the planet, the plane would know where it was anywhere in the world. This was 12 years before the global positioning system was first imagined by the U.S. military.

While the radar nose could assist with avoiding enemy ground fire, the Blackbird’s jamming and missile countermeasures usually meant — not to mention its 2,200 miles-per-hour speed — enemy surface-to-air missiles missed by a mile. Literally.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Photo: US Air Force

That top speed meant the average temperature of the plane’s skin was upwards of 600 degrees. At that temperature, it couldn’t be built with aluminum, so it had to be built with 93 percent titanium – and that titanium came from Russia.

The Russians never knew to whom they were selling the titanium, but they sold enough to build 32 SR-71 Blackbirds — planes used primarily to spy on the Soviet Union. The windows were made of quartz and the plane was built with intentional gaps in the wings and fuselage to account for heat expansion during flight. The airplane grows about 2 inches in width and 4 inches in length because of the frictional heat. The hottest part of the plane could get to 1,200 degrees.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)

The plane’s engines are unique to the Blackbird because no jet engine can absorb supersonic air. So they were specially designed to expand and contract with the airspeed. The extremely high airspeed gave the jet a unique sonic boom as it broke the sound barrier, and the Air Force routinely overflew foreign heads of state to remind them the U.S. could see them.

During the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon ordered SR-71 pilots to fly over Hanoi and go supersonic to create a sonic boom as a signal to POWs held at the Hanoi Hilton. The booms let the downed pilots in the prison know that if they could escape, Navy SEALs were waiting on the North Vietnamese coast to help them.

Of the 12 Blackbirds rendered unserviceable (none were shot down), four of those came from tire failure. Engineers solved this by cutting the amount of fuel the plane carried during takeoff. A normal mission would see one or two in-flight refuelings. The plane had to refuel every two hours, either in air or on land.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-22s left at Tyndall likely damaged by massive hurricane

The U.S. Air Force anticipates that a number of F-22 Raptors left behind at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, during Hurricane Michael were damaged by the storm, an official said Oct. 12, 2018.

“A number of aircraft were left behind in hangars due to maintenance or safety reasons, and all of those hangars are damaged,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement. “We anticipate the aircraft parked inside may be damaged as well, but we won’t know the extent until our crews can safely enter those hangars and make an assessment.”

Neither the extent of the damage nor how many fighters were left behind was disclosed.


Officials also did not describe what maintenance was taking place that led officials to leave the jets at Tyndall instead of moving them to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where other F-22s from the 325th Fighter Wing moved.

The damage could hamper operations for the already dwindling Raptor fleet as the Defense Department aims to restore its fighter readiness rates.

While some aircraft have come out of active status for testing purposes, the Air Force has 183 of the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made F-22s in its inventory today. More than 160 belong to active-duty units; the remainder are with Air National Guard elements. Four aircraft were lost or severely damaged between 2004 and 2012.

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An Air Force F-22 Raptor assigned to the 3rd Wing flies over Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Feb. 27, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Jamal Wilson)

The Pentagon last estimated the F-22 unit cost at 9 million in 2009, roughly 3 million in today’s money. The last F-22 was delivered in 2011. But in a classified report submitted to Congress in 2017, the Air Force estimated it would cost “6 million to 6 million per aircraft” should it ever want to restart the production line for newer, more advanced F-22s.

The DoD said that would amount to approximately ” billion to procure 194 additional F-22s.”

Roughly 120 fifth-generation stealth Raptors are combat-coded, or authorized to perform in wartime operations, at any given time. But the platform’s mission-capable rate has decreased over the years.

According to Defense News’ fiscal 2017 statistics, F-22s had a 49.01 percent mission-capable rate, meaning less than half were flyable at any given time. In 2014, more than three-quarters of F-22s were deemed mission capable.

The Pentagon wants to increase readiness rates for the F-22, F-16, F-35 and F/A-18 to 80 percent by September 2019 — a 31 percent bump for the Raptor alone.

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An F/A-18 lands on the flight deck USS Theodore Roosevelt.

(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Luke Williams)


In July 2018, the Government Accountability Office said the F-22 is frequently underutilized, mainly due to maintenance challenges and fewer opportunities for pilot training, as well as the fleet’s inefficient organizational structure.

In October 2018, an F-22 at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson made an emergency landing on a base runway. Photos showed the jet, from the 3rd Wing, leaning on its left side, which the Air Force said was the result of a landing gear malfunction.

The latest incident comes months after an F-22, also assigned to JBER’s 3rd Wing, experienced engine failure April 6, 2018, during a routine training flight at Tyndall. Days preceding the engine failure, another F-22 experienced a belly skid at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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A new Civil War film tells the true story of the southerner who seceded from the Confederacy

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)


An upcoming film set during the Civil War will tell the remarkable story of Newton Knight, a poor farmer who seceded from the Confederacy to establish his own independent state in Jones County, Mississippi.

It sounds like a crazy tale that only Hollywood could come up with, but “The Free State of Jones” is based on a true story, with Matthew McConaughey in the lead role. The film was shot in Louisiana and is set for release on March 11, 2016. Only a few photos have been made public, no trailer has been released, and little is known of the full plot, but if the movie follows the real story close enough, it’ll probably be quite awesome.

Newton Knight was born in 1837 and lived a simple life of farming on his own land. By 1860, that would quickly change after his state seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Having the smallest percentage of slaves among all the counties in Mississippi, many in Jones County — including Knight — didn’t agree with the idea of secession.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)

Still, Knight knew he would have been drafted into the Confederate Army. He reluctantly enlisted in 1861, only to get a furlough after a few months to care for his dying father. Then in May 1862, he enlisted again with a group of friends so he wouldn’t be sent off to fight amongst strangers, according to The Smithsonian Associates.

It was in Nov. 1862 that Knight officially became a rebel among his rebel peers. He went absent without leave (AWOL) from the army, then he raised his own, bringing together roughly 125 men from Jones and nearby counties to fight against the Confederacy. This was shortly after Knight allegedly shot and killed Confederate Maj. Amos McLemore when he came around hunting for deserters.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
Interestingly enough, the “Knight Company” didn’t technically secede from the Confederacy. Hailing from an anti-secessionist county, the band maintained that the county had never actually left the Union, writes Victoria Bynum, the author of “The Free State of Jones,” at her blog Renegade South.

The Mississippi Historical Society writes:

By early 1864, news of Newt Knight’s exploits had reached the highest levels of the Confederate government. Confederate Captain Wirt Thomson reported to Secretary of War James Seddon that the United States flag had been raised over the courthouse in Ellisville. Captain William H. Hardy of Raleigh, who later founded Hattiesburg, Mississippi, pleaded with Governor Charles Clark to act against the hundreds of men who had “confederated” in Jones County. Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk informed President Jefferson Davis that Jones County was in “open rebellion” and the combatants were “… proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees,’ and resolved to resist by force of arms all efforts to capture them.”

The Natchez Courier reported in its July 12, 1864, edition that Jones County had seceded from the Confederacy. A few days after his destructive Meridian campaign in February 1864, Union General Sherman wrote that he had received “a declaration of independence” from a group of local citizens who opposed the Confederacy. Much has been written about whether the “Free State of Jones” actually seceded or not. Although no official secession document survives, for a time in the spring of 1864, the Confederate government in Jones County was effectively overthrown.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)

According to the studio’s brief summary of the plot, the film will be more than just outlaws fighting for their homeland. “His marriage to a former slave, Rachel, and his subsequent establishment of a mixed race community was unique in the post-war South,” it reads. “Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, which distinguished him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.”

While most of his outlaw Army was eventually captured or killed, Knight survived the war and lived to the age of 84. The inscription on his gravesite reads, “He lived for others.”

These photos purportedly show some of the sets from the movie when it filmed in Clinton, Louisiana:

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Navy F/A-18 test fires high powered anti-ship missile

The Navy has released its emerging Long Range Anti-Ship Missile from an F/A-18 Super Hornet, marking a new milestone in the development of a next-generation, long range, semi-autonomous weapon designed to track and destroy enemy targets – firing from aircraft and ships.


Long Range Anti-Ship Missile was successfully released earlier this month from a U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, a Lockheed Martin statement said.

The weapon, called the LRASM, is a collaborative effort between Lockheed, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency, or DARPA.

The test involved a “jettison release” of the first LRASM from the Super Hornet, used to validate the aerodynamic separation models of the missile, Lockheed developers said. The test event was designed to pave the way for flight clearance to conduct captive carry integration testing scheduled for mid-year at the Navy Air Weapons Station, China Lake, California.

The LRASM, which is 168-inches long and 2,500 pounds, is currently configured to fire from an Air Force B-1B bomber, Navy surface ship Vertical Launch Tubes and a Navy F-18 carrier-launched fighter. The current plan is to have the weapon operational on board an Air Force B-1B bomber and a Navy F-18 by 2019, Navy statements have said.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik

“The first time event of releasing LRASM from the F/A-18E/F is a major milestone towards meeting early operational capability in 2019,” Mike Fleming, Lockheed Martin LRASM program director, said in a written statement.

With a range of at least 200 nautical miles, LRASM is designed to use next-generation guidance technology to help track and eliminate targets such as enemy ships, shallow submarines, drones, aircraft and land-based targets.

Navy officials told Scout Warrior that the service is making progress with an acquisition program for the air-launched variant of LRASM but is still in the early stages of planning for a ship-launch anti-ship missile.

“The objective is to give Sailors the ability to strike high-value targets from longer ranges while avoiding counter fire. The program will use autonomous guidance to find targets, reducing reliance on networking, GPS and other assets that could be compromised by enemy electronic weapons,” a Navy statement said.

Alongside the preparation of LRASM as an “air-launched” weapon, Lockheed Martin is building a new deck-mounted launcher for the emerging  engineered to semi-autonomously track and destroy enemy targets at long ranges from surface ships.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
A B-1B bomber deploys a LRASM. | Public Domain photo

The missile has also been test fired from a Navy ship-firing technology called Vertical Launch Systems currently on both cruisers and destroyers – as a way to provide long range surface-to-surface and surface-to-air offensive firepower.

The Navy will likely examine a range of high-tech missile possibilities to meet its requirement for a long-range anti-ship missile — and Lockheed is offering LRASM as an option for the Navy to consider.  .

A deck-mounted firing technology, would enable LRASM to fire from a much wider range of Navy ships, to include the Littoral Combat Ship and its more survivable variant, called a Frigate, Scott Callaway, Surface-Launched LRASM program manager, Lockheed Martin, told Scout Warrior in an interview last year.

“We developed a new topside or deck-mounted launcher which can go on multiple platforms or multiple ships such as an LCS or Frigates,” Callaway said.

The adaptation of the surface-launcher weapon, which could be operational by the mid-2020s, would use the same missile that fires from a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System and capitalize upon some existing Harpoon-launching technology, Callaway added.

Along with advances in electronic warfare, cyber-security and communications, LRASM is design to bring semi-autonomous targeting capability to a degree that does not yet exist. As a result, some of its guidance and seeker technology is secret, developers have said.

The goal of the program is to engineer a capable semi-autonomous, surface and air-launched weapon able to strike ships, submarines and other moving targets with precision. While many aspects of the high-tech program are secret, Lockheed officials say the available information is that the missile has a range of at least 200 nautical miles.

Once operational, LRASM will give Navy ships a more a short and long-range missile with an advanced targeting and guidance system able to partially guide its way to enemy targets and achieve pinpoint strikes in open or shallow water.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 13 edition)
An LRASM acquires its target. | Lockheed Martin image

LRASM employs a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said.

LRASM is engineered with all-weather capability and a multi-modal seeker designed to discern targets, Lockheed officials said. The multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system can detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said.

LRASM is armed with a proven 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, Lockheed officials said.

Distributed Lethality

The development of LRASM is entirely consistent with the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy which seeks to better arm the fleet with long-range precision offensive and defensive fire power.

Part of the rationale to move back toward open or “blue water” combat capability against near peer competitors emphasized during the Cold War. While the strategic and tactical capability never disappeared, it was emphasized less during the last 10-plus years of ground wars wherein the Navy focused on counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and things like Visit Board Search and Seizure. These missions are, of course, still important, however the Navy seeks to substantially increase its offensive “lethality” in order to deter or be effective against high-tech adversaries.

Having longer-range or over-the-horizon ship and air-launched weapons is also quite relevant to the “distributed” portion of the strategy which calls for the fleet to have an ability to disperse as needed.  Having an ability to spread out and conduct dis-aggregated operations makes Navy forces less vulnerable to enemy firepower while. At the same time, have long-range precision-strike capability will enable the Navy to hold potential enemies at risk or attack if needed while retaining safer stand-off distance from incoming enemy fire.

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