The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years - We Are The Mighty
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The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years

Congress sent President Donald Trump legislation to provide the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade.


The Senate cleared the bill by voice vote on August 2, passing the second piece of legislation aimed at addressing urgent problems at the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs in as many days. The House passed the bipartisan college aid legislation last week.

The measure is a broad effort to better prepare veterans for life after active-duty service amid a rapidly changing job market.

Building on major legislation passed in 2008 that guaranteed a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university — or a similar cash amount for private college students — the bill removes a 15-year time limit to tap into GI benefits and increases money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
USMC photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell

Veterans would get additional payments if they complete science, technology, and engineering courses. The bill also would restore benefits if a college closed in the middle of the semester, a protection added when thousands of veterans were hurt by the collapse of for-profit college giant ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges. Purple Heart recipients, meanwhile, would be fully eligible for benefits, regardless of length of time in service.

“This bill invests in the proven success of our veterans,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R- Ga., chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. “When our veterans return home, they should have every opportunity available to them to pursue their desired profession and career.”

The panel’s top Democrat, Jon Tester of Montana, says the bill “also does right by Guardsmen and Reservists by getting them the education, housing, and health care that they have earned. I look forward to working with President Trump to quickly sign our bill into law.”

Tester is one of the more vulnerable Democrats up for re-election next year, seeking another term in a state Trump won last year.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Sens. Johnny Isakson, R- Ga., (left) and Jon Tester, D-Mont (right)

The Senate, on August 2, backed a measure that authorizes $3.9 billion in emergency spending to avert imminent bankruptcy in the VA’s Veterans Choice Program of private-sector care. About $1.8 million of that money would bolster core VA programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.

The education benefits would take effect for enlistees who begin using their GI Bill money next year.

For a student attending a private university, the additional benefits to members of the Guard and Reserve could mean $2,300 a year more in tuition than they are receiving now, plus a bigger housing allowance.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Army Photo by Sgt. Alexander Snyder

A wide range of veterans’ groups had supported the expanded GI Bill benefits. The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans group, hailed the proposal as launching a “new era” for those who served in uniform.

According to Student Veterans of America, only about half of the 200,000 service members who leave the military each year go on to enroll in a college, while surveys indicate that veterans often outperform peers in the classroom.

Veterans of Foreign Wars estimates that hundreds of thousands of veterans stand to gain from the new benefits.

The expanded educational benefits would be paid for by bringing living stipend payments under the GI Bill down to a similar level as that received by an active-duty member, whose payments were reduced in 2014 by 1 percent a year for five years. Total government spending on the GI Bill is expected to be more than $100 billion over 10 years.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Norway releases video from inside sunken elite warship

A little over a month after the Helge Ingstad sank after colliding with a tanker in a Norwegian fjord, the Norwegian military has released footage from the submerged frigate.

The warship was rammed by a Malta-flagged tanker in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2018, in the port of Sture, north of Bergen, which is Norway’s second-largest city.


The frigate displaces 5,290 tons, and the tanker displaces over 62,500 tons when empty. But when the tanker is fully loaded, as it was at the time of the collision, that jumps to about 113,000 tons, more than an aircraft carrier. The collision tore a large hole in the starboard side of the frigate’s hull, which caused other compartments to flood.

Footage released by the Norwegian military, which you can see below, shows the damage sustained by the frigate.

Damage to the Helge Ingstad

www.youtube.com

The 0 million, 442-foot-long warship was returning from NATO’s massive, multinational Trident Juncture military exercise when it collided with the 820-foot-long tanker.

A Norwegian rescue official said at the time of the collision that the frigate was “taking in more water than they can pump out. There is no control over the leak and the stern is heavily in the sea.”

According to a preliminary report released at the end of November 2018, control of the frigate’s rudder and propulsion systems was lost, which caused the ship to drift toward the shore, where it ran aground about 10 minutes after the collision.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years

Recovery operations for the Helge Ingstad on Nov. 28, 2018.

(Norwegian armed forces photo)

Running aground prevented it from sinking in the fjord, but later, a wire used to stabilize the sunken vessel snapped, allowing it to sink farther. Only the frigate’s top masts remain above the surface.

In December 2018, Norwegian explosive-ordnance-disposal divers returned to the ship to remove the missile launchers from its foredeck.

Below, you can see footage of them detaching the launchers and floating them to the surface.

Missile removal Helge Ingstad

www.youtube.com

“All diving assignments we undertake require detailed planning and thorough preparation. We must be able to solve the assignments we are given, while providing as low a risk as possible,” diving unit leader Bengt Berdal said, according to The Maritime Executive.

“Our biggest concern [during this mission] is any increased movement of the vessel.”

With the missiles off the ship, all its weapons have been removed. Recovery crews are preparing to raise the ship, putting chains under the hull to lift it on a semisubmersible barge that will take it to Haakonsvern naval base.

The frigate will not be raised until after Christmas, according to The Maritime Executive.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years

Chains being readied aboard the heavy-lift vessel Rambiz to lift the sunken Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad on Dec. 7, 2018.

(Norwegian armed forces photo by Jakob Østheim)

The oil tanker was not seriously damaged in the incident and didn’t leak any of its cargo. Only eight of the 137 crew aboard the Helge Ingstad were injured, but the multimillion-dollar ship was one of Norway’s five capital Nansen-class frigates and was one of Norway’s most advanced warships. (It also leaked diesel and helicopter fuel, but that was contained and recovered.)

The preliminary report found that the warnings to the frigate, which was headed into the port, went unheeded until too late, allowing the outbound tanker to run into it.

According to the report, the frigate’s automatic identification system was turned off, hindering its recognition by other ships in the area, and there was confusion on its bridge because of a change in watch — both of which contributed to the accident.

The preliminary report also raised questions about other ships in the class and the Spanish shipbuilder that constructed it.

The review board “found safety critical issues relating to the vessel’s watertight compartments. This must be assumed to also apply to the other four Nansen-class frigates,” the report said.

“It cannot be excluded that the same applies to vessels of a similar design delivered by Navantia, or that the design concept continues to be used for similar vessel models.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian power in Europe is more dangerous than ever

The former top U.S. Army commander in Europe said Russian battlefield tactics in eastern Ukraine show sophisticated integration of drones, electronic warfare, and mortar and artillery, posing major challenges for Ukrainian forces.


Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges also said on Jan. 24 that U.S. and European allies should do more to publicize Russia’s capabilities on the ground in eastern Ukraine, including the region historically known as the Donbas.

Hodges, who retired as commander of the U.S. Army’s European forces last year, made the comments in Washington, at the Helsinki Commission, a U.S. government agency charged with monitoring human rights in Europe and elsewhere.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, shares a toast after receiving an award from the Hungarian Defense Force. (Image from DoD)

The United States and its NATO allies have helped train and supply the Ukrainian armed forces since the outbreak of fighting in eastern Ukraine in April 2014. About 250 U.S. soldiers are helping in the training, Hodges said, plus Canadians and other NATO allies.

‘Diplomatic solution’

In all, more than 10,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million displaced in the conflict pitting Ukrainian forces against Russia-backed separatists.

Russia has repeatedly denied its forces have been involved, or that it has supplied weaponry or equipment, assertions that independent observers and journalists have largely debunked.

Hodges said the recent U.S. decision to supply Ukraine with more sophisticated weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank weapons, was important for persuading the Russians to negotiate an end to the conflict.

“There has to be a diplomatic solution to this,” he said. “Russia has to, at some point, agree to stop supporting the separatists or pull out to allow the re-establishment” of Ukrainian control of its border with Russia.

Also Read: Finland once snuck inside the Soviet air force to bomb Russia

Electronic warfare capability

In eastern Ukraine, Hodges said, there are about 35,000-40,000 Russia-backed fighters, and around 4,000-5,000 are actual Russian military officers or commanders.

He said many of the tanks and vehicles operated by both Ukrainian and Russia-backed forces are now covered with reactive armor, a specialized type of plating designed to protect against rocket-propelled grenades and weapons other than small arms.

He also said Russia-backed commanders have honed tactics that include using drones, artillery, and electronic warfare. That’s allowed Russians forces, for example, to eliminate Ukrainian mortars and artillery units. He said one Ukrainian unit that was using a U.S.-supplied radar was taken out by Russian rocket fire with surprising speed.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Quadcopter drones are readily available to both military and civilian buyers and may play a large role in future conflicts. (USAF photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

“The [Russian] electronic warfare capability; again that’s something we never had to worry with that in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Ukrainians live in this environment,” he said. “So you cannot speak on a radio or any device that’s not secure because it’s going to be jammed or intercepted or worse, it’s going to be found and then it’s going to be hit.”

“Certainly we have the capability to show everybody what Russia is specifically doing in the Donbas, that would be helpful to keep pressure on Russia, to live up to what they’ve said they’re going to do,” he said.

Articles

The F4U Corsair was meant for the Navy but became a Marine Corps legend

The Vought F4U Corsair is an iconic WWII fighter plane. Thanks to its distinctive long nose, inverted gull wing and appearance in the classic TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep, the Corsair has etched itself into the minds of many Americans. Moreover, the Corsair was an exceptional fighter plane that outperformed many Allied and Axis fighters. However, this performance came at a dangerous cost which set the Corsair on a different path than originally intended.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
A Navy Corsair bounces during a rough carrier landing (U.S. Navy)

In 1938, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics published a request for a high-speed single engine fighter plane to lead its carrier air wings into the next decade. Vought responded with its Corsair prototype. Equipped with a 1,805 hp Pratt & Whitney engine, the Corsair became the first single-engine U.S. fighter to fly faster than 400 mph in 1940. With further development, the Corsair achieved excellent climb rates and dive speeds making it a very capable fighter.

On July 31, 1942, the first F4U-1 Corsair was delivered to the U.S. Navy. Fitted with an improved Pratt & Whitney engine capable of 2,000 horsepower, the Corsair had a top speed of 446 mph. This was exceptional for a carrier-based fighter. For comparison, the legendary F6F Hellcat, which ended the war with a kill ratio of 19:1, had a top speed of 391 mph. However, the large engine and fuel tank at the front of the Corsair forced the cockpit further back along the airframe. Its large propeller also necessitated long landing gear. While this resulted in an elegant-looking aircraft, it meant that Corsair pilots had to orient the plane’s nose up to the point of losing sight of the deck during landings.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
The Corsair required a skilled pilot to land safely on a carrier (U.S. Navy)

Due to the nature of carrier landings, the required nose-up attitude of the Corsair made it a deadly challenge for pilots to land. Many had to approach the deck nearly sideways and straighten out at the last minute in order to maintain visibility. Moreover, the Corsair had a tendency to stall one wing before the other during landing. As a result of all this, Navy pilots nicknamed the Corsair the “hog,” “hosenose” and “bent-wing widow maker.”

Despite the Corsair passing its carrier qualification trials, the Navy didn’t want it anymore. Though the F6F Hellcat didn’t have the same performance as the Corsair, it was much easier to land on the deck of a carrier. As such, the Navy equipped its fighter squadrons with Hellcats and divested most of its Corsairs to the Marine Corps. The Marines flew primarily from land bases anyway and eagerly took on the more powerful Corsair. This also streamlined maintenance for carrier wings and Marine airfields.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Maj. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington commanded the Marine Black Sheep Squadron and was one of the leading Corsair aces (U.S. Marine Corps)

The Corsair was a natural fit in the Marine Corps. With the Marines’ doctrine of combined air and ground operations, the Corsair excelled as a fighter-bomber. Loaded with bombs, napalm tanks and rockets, the Corsair provided accurate and deadly close air support to the Marines on Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh conducted experiments as a civilian advisor to determine how to maximize the Corsair’s range and payload and even conducted strikes on Japanese positions in the Marshall Islands.

Although repurposed from its original design, the Corsair was instrumental in winning the war in the Pacific. It flew 44% of all Navy and Marine fighter sorties and earned a kill ratio of over 11:1. Moreover, the Corsair flew the majority of U.S. fighter-bomber missions during the war. It delivered 15,621 short tons of bombs, or 70% of all bombs dropped by U.S. fighters. The Corsair continued its close air support role in the Korean War and was flown by the first African American U.S. Naval aviator, Ens. Jesse L. Brown.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
A Marine Corsair conducts a rocket strike on Okinawa (U.S. Marine Corps)

Feature image: U.S. Naval History and Heritage

Articles

Special Air Service is testing a helmet inspired by Star Wars

The British Army is unveiling a new helmet that provides much more protection for its troops. The Devtac Ronin Kevlar Level IIIA Tactical Ballistic Helmet is now being field-tested by the Special Air Service.


According to a report by the New York Post, the troops have taken to calling their new helmets “Boba Fett” helmets, after the famous bounty hunter who first appeared in “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980. The helmets are already used by special operations personnel in the United States, including Navy SEALs and Delta Force.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Navy SEALs in desert camouflage, looking very un-Star Warsesque. (Photo from U.S. Navy.)

The new helmets feature protection against a number of small arms rounds (up to Dirty Harry’s favorite, the .44 Magnum), infra-red goggles for night operations, communications technology, and a GPS system that can project a map for the operator.

However, the helmets in question aren’t new — or at least, they had been widely used in a very different sector than the military. According to PopularAirsoft.com, the Ronin had been a highly sought-after mask used by people involved in Airsoft, an action sport in which participants use guns that fire 6mm BBs made of hard plastic at speed of 350 to 500 feet per second. The guns in question are replicas of actual firearms like the M9 pistol and M4 carbine.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
GIF: Youtube/STAR WARS NERD

Best left unsaid is just what happened to Boba Fett in “Return of the Jedi.” Hopefully, special operations troops will fare better than the most famous bounty hunter in the Star Wars movies. I mean, taken out by a blind guy is a pretty embarrassing way to go.

You can see a video about this new helmet below.

Articles

The Marines are getting these sweet new 4-wheelers for high-speed ops

Infantry Marines will soon receive ultralight off-road vehicles that will improve mission readiness by providing rapid logistics support in the field.


Program Executive Officer Land Systems, the Corps’ acquisition arm for major land programs, is expected to deliver 144 Utility Task Vehicles to the regiment-level starting later this month — a mere six months from contract award.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
The Marine Corps Program Executive Officer Land Systems is expected to deliver 144 Utility Task Vehicles to the regiment-level starting in February 2017. The rugged all-terrain vehicle can carry up to four Marines or be converted to haul 1,500 pounds of supplies. With minimal armor and size, the UTV can quickly haul extra ammunition and provisions, or injured Marines, while preserving energy and stealth. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Private 1st Class Rhita Daniel)

The rugged all-terrain vehicle can carry up to four Marines or be converted to haul 1,500 pounds of supplies. With minimal armor, the UTV can quickly haul extra ammunition and provisions, or injured Marines, while preserving energy and stealth.

“The Marine’s pack is getting heavier, and they are carrying more gear than ever down range,” said Jessica Turner, team lead for Internally Transportable Vehicles/Utility Task Vehicles at PEO LS. “Infantry Marines were looking for a capability that would lessen the load while increasing the area of operation, and the UTV is that solution.”

Read More: Fast Attack Vehicles might be exactly what the Army needs to stop ISIS

The UTV is a new capability for the fleet. Measuring roughly 12 feet long, the commercially acquired diesel vehicle is modular, with back seats that convert into a small cargo bed.  Thanks to its small size, the UTV fits inside MV-22 Ospreys and CH-53E helicopters for easy transport to remote locations and greater tactical support.

PEO LS joined a Marine Corps Special Operations Command contract to deliver the capability to Marines in such a short amount of time.

“We have taken an off-the-shelf capability and leveraged it with other commands to maximize the effort,” said Eugene Morin, product manager for Legacy Light Tactical Vehicles at PEO LS. “The continued challenge for the Marine Corps is finding commercial-off-the-shelf items that satisfy the needs of Marines. Through partnerships like this, we can find the solutions we need.”

In exchange, MARSOC partnered with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory to run field user evaluations on the UTV to ensure it met the needs of the warfighter.

“One key takeaway from the MCWL testing was user feedback from Infantry Marines,” said Mark Godfrey, vehicle capabilities integration officer at Marine Corps Combat Development and Integration. “MCWL did demonstrations such as casualty evacuation and maximum payload, and were able to tell us Marines’ thoughts on the value of the vehicle.”

The UTV program also satisfies the infantry’s requirement to maneuver more rapidly and deeply throughout the battlespace.

Much like larger tactical vehicles, Marines authorized to drive the UTV will be required to complete operator training as well as additional off-road vehicle safety procedures.

“One reason for the driving course is the UTV is an off-road vehicle,” Turner said. “The UTV’s suspension, handling and the way it distributes power is a lot different than a regular vehicle.”

Eighteen vehicles will be delivered to specific infantry regiments, with the first shipment going to I and II Marine Expeditionary Force in February, and III MEF in March and April. The Marine Corps will continue to seek ways to leverage partnerships and speed acquisition for Marines.

“The UTV is a perfect example of how we can do acquisition faster and more efficiently,” said Godfrey. “It may be a model for obtaining items from industry quicker in the future.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Google billionaire Sergey Brin has a secret charity that sends ex-military staff into disaster zones on a superyacht

Sergey Brin, Google’s cofounder and the eighth-richest person, has a secret disaster-response team, according to The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast’s investigation found Brin was the sole donor to a disaster charity called Global Support and Development (GSD). The Daily Beast identified Brin as the company’s sole donor through a California court filing.


The company’s staff, almost half of whom are ex-military, arrives at disaster areas on a superyacht called Dragonfly to clear debris and use high-tech solutions to assist victims. GSD is headed up by Grant Dawson, an ex-naval lieutenant who was on Brin’s personal security detail for years.

The idea for GSD was apparently sparked in 2015 when the yacht’s captain was sailing past Vanuatu, which had just been hit by Cyclone Pam. The captain contacted Brin to ask if anything could be done to help, and Brin then got in touch with Dawson.

Dawson said in a speech in 2019 about GSD: “So I grabbed a number of Air Force para-rescue guys I’d been affiliated with from the security world, and a couple of corpsmen out of the Seal teams … We raided every Home Depot and pharmacy we could find and on about 18 hours’ notice, we launched.”

The Daily Beast reported that GSD now has 20 full-time staffers, plus about 100 contractors working for it.

The Daily Beast said that like at Google, GSD’s employees enjoy perks, including strawberry ice cream and fresh laundry aboard the superyacht while working in disaster areas. In addition to military-trained staff, the charity has access to sophisticated technology including drones and sonar mapping.

Since 2015, GSD has assisted during several disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. Now the company says it is lending a hand during the coronavirus pandemic by helping set up testing in California.

“GSD provided operational support to stand up the first two drive-through test centers in California and planning and logistic support for other test centers as they opened across the state,” GSD says on its website. “Our paramedics and support staff also partnered with the Hayward, California Fire Department to perform more than 8,000 swab tests at their drive-through test site and local eldercare facilities.”

Rob Reich, the codirector of Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, told The Daily Beast that disaster relief is good work, but it shouldn’t be secretive.

“There should be an expectation of transparency to understand how his charity interacts with existing efforts at disaster relief, and so we citizens can examine whether it’s consistent with what democratic institutions want to accomplish,” Reich said.

GSD did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, and the news organization was unsuccessful in trying to contact Brin personally. GSD did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Don’t miss out on these 6 veteran education opportunities

While every veteran probably knows about the GI Bill, there are a number of other education benefits offered that they might be unaware of. Here are a few of them:


1. VA Work-study Programs

These work-study positions are part-time jobs, up to 25 hours a week, for students-veterans usually at local VA facilities (i.e. hospitals, Vet Centers, etc.) that allow veterans to earn extra money and gain experience while in school. The job may only pay minimum wage but since it is considered an education benefit it is tax free. To utilize this benefit a veteran must be enrolled at least three-quarters of the time and are using veteran education benefits, such as the GI Bill.

Bonus:

If you are a veteran working for the VA, a company, or non-profit that is dedicated to serving veterans you can apply to host a work-study program and employ your own student veterans.

2. Vocational Rehabilitation

vocational rehab

Also known as Voc Rehab this is a benefit provided by the VA to assist veterans with service connected disabilities to obtain education or training in a new field. This can be particularly useful for veterans who have exhausted their GI Bill but wish to continue their education.

3. Veterans Upward Bound

A pre-college program designed to help veterans reintegrate into higher education after their service. Unfortunately there are only 49 programs nationwide, but they cover most states and many major universities. Check to see if there is a program in your area.

4. Veterans Success Program at your school

Much like the Veterans Upward Bound program, many colleges and universities have implemented their own in-house programs to assist veterans with the transition to college. The nationally recognized program at the University of Arizona offers specialized classes to help transitioning veterans and also has a VETS Center on campus.

5. State Veteran Education Benefits

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years

Many states have enacted their own benefits for veterans, such as the Hazelwood Act in Texas, which pays the tuition of Texas veterans after they have exhausted their GI Bill. Other states have varying types of veteran assistance, check with the Veterans Services Representative at your school for more information.

6. Veteran Scholarships

Many veteran and unit organizations (i.e. the 82nd Airborne Division Association) offer scholarships to their members. A quick search for your unit’s association (or just asking your buddies) should get you started.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Friday! Just another few hours until that few-hours-long safety brief. In the meantime, check out this memes list.


1. If this happened to you this morning, sorry for bringing it up (via 11 Bravos).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years

2. When fighter pilots want in on anti-sub missions (via Pop Smoke).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
They better close those canopies before they dive though.

SEE ALSO: These crazy photos show 30+ ton tanks in flight

3. When your selfie game is on point (via Military Memes).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
This is also how F-35 pilots look behind them.

4. Time to see the world (via Military Memes).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Individual experiences may vary.

5. It’s a hell of an obstacle (via US Army Brotherhood of Tankers).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Concertina wire: Not even once.

6. EOD doesn’t have time for your “missions.”

(via 11 Bravos).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
They have boss fights to win.

7. Coast Guard finally gets gun-like objects.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
If they play their cards right, they might even get guns.

8. Rack City for rich yuppies (via Sh-T My LPO Says).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
And yes, we know about the Navy spelling on here.

9. Corpsmen just shove hard drugs down your throat (via Navy Memes).

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years

10. Remember to line up in the first few ranks so you can take a knee for the whole thing.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Also, try to smuggle in some knee pads.

11. When ISIS lines up for a parade …

(via Doctrine Man!!)

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
… and gets a fireworks show for free.

 12. The music scene in Baghdad has a lot of low notes.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Still a crowd pleaser though.

13. “Is the grass going to get too long under the snow, staff sergeant?”

(via Arctic Specter)

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Guess who’s about to mop snow from the parking lot?

NOW: This video shows the adrenaline rush soldiers feel after being shot at

OR: SEAL Team 6’s plan to surrender and 7 other amazing JSOC tales

Articles

How one Soviet agent single-handedly changed the course of World War II

When Richard Sorge was born, his German parents were living in what is now Azerbaijan, working for the Russian government. He moved with his family to Berlin at a very young age. He was raised in a typical upper-middle-class family, supporters of the German Empire and the Kaiser.

Like many Europeans, he became disillusioned with the state of affairs during and after World War I, and his political views changed. If Richard Sorge hadn’t become a Communist, World War II might have lasted much longer – or ended differently. 

At age 18, Sorge enlisted in the German Army and was sent to the Western Front. As a member of a reasonably wealthy family, he was supportive of the Kaiser and the war – at first. As the war dragged on, his views on war not only changed, his entire political point of view changed along with it. 

Sorge was wounded in his hands and both legs and was discharged in 1916. By the time he left the army, he was no longer a German nationalist. As he recovered from his wounds, he read the works of Karl Marx and became a Communist. After earning a doctorate degree, he joined the Communist Party and moved to the Soviet Union.

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
Sorge (left) in uniform in 1915 (German Federal Archive)

It was in the USSR that he was recruited to work for the Red Army’s intelligence directorate. He was sent back to Germany posing as a journalist. He would spend years in Germany, China, and Great Britain, reporting back to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) on the development of communist parties in those countries and the outbreaks of violence in China. 

Once Japan had taken parts of China in 1931, the Soviet Union was worried that the Japanese Empire would invade the Soviet Far East. Sorge was sent to Germany to join the Nazi Party, get a job as a correspondent in Japan, and set up an intelligence gathering ring there.

That’s exactly what he did. After reading Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf, he became adept at creating Nazi propaganda and began attending beer hall meetings. He was so good at his work in Germany that three publications commissioned his work in Japan. Sorge’s farewell dinner was attended by Joseph Goebbels himself. 

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
He was so good at peddling fake Nazi bullsh*t that he had this guy buying in (German Federal Archive)

By 1933, Sorge was working in Japan as a correspondent for Germany’s top newspaper. His real job, from his Soviet handlers, was to determine if Japan was planning an attack on the USSR. He recruited a team of communist informants and by 1935 had contacts in both the German military presence in Japan, as well as the Japanese military and government. 

Sorge was, soon after he was established, committed to the role of the hard-drinking playboy and ladies man, a typical Nazi diplomat in Japan at the time. He was so trusted by the German delegation in Japan that they weren’t just sharing information with the Soviet spy, Sorge was actively writing diplomatic cables back to Berlin.

After some Japanese officers started a border clash with the USSR near Manchuria, Sorge learned that it was an isolated incident and that Japan had no intentions of an all-out invasion of the USSR. 

By far, the two most important intelligence findings of Sorge’s time in Japan came after World War II had started in earnest. He learned that Nazi Germany was planning its invasion of the USSR in 1941, but Soviet leader Joseph Stalin wrote off Sorge as a drunkard. Sorge’s next intelligence coup would not be ignored.

In September 1941, Sorge learned that the Japanese military command was resisting German pressure to go to war with the USSR and wanted to attack the United States’ possessions in the Pacific instead. He reported to Moscow that the Japanese would not invade the Soviet Union until the Nazis captured Moscow, the Japanese had enough troops to invade Siberia, and a civil uprising could be started there.

After receiving this intelligence and seeing the Germans halted before Moscow, Stalin felt he could move Soviet Far East divisions to counter the Nazi invasion and turn the tide against the Germans. 

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years
This intel was crucial to the Soviets driving the Germans out of Stalingrad and turning the tide on the Eastern Front (Wikimedia Commons)

Sorge was eventually arrested under the suspicion of espionage. He confessed under torture and was hanged as a spy in November 1944.


Feature image: German Federal Archive

Articles

Why World War I zeppelins were harder to kill than you think

Today we look back at the airships of World War I and wonder how they managed to stay airborne while everyone on the ground could literally shoot hot, pointy metal at it. Watching footage of the Hindenburg only makes the idea of a combat blimp even more baffling. It seems like a giant balloon is the last thing anyone would want to take into combat.

But times are much more different today than the world of a century ago. Weapons were not as accurate, planes not as fast or well-armed, and there’s a lot we can’t see in old, grainy wartime photographs from World War I. 

Simply put, shooting down a zeppelin with the weapons and aircraft available in World War I just isn’t as easy as you might believe. This is not to say that it never happened, but even taking down that one airship was much harder than it should have been.

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Buildings were effective, though (no, it’s not too soon. The Hindenburg had swastikas all over it) (U.S. Navy photo)

For starters, a zeppelin just wasn’t going to fly low enough to be vulnerable to enemy small arms fire from the ground. There are, of course, a few that did during bombing raids on England, but they were definitely shot down by small arms fire. The high altitude was fine by zeppelin crews, because their primary mission was reconnaissance.

Aircraft attacking World War I-era zeppelins had their work cut out for them. The framework of these ships was made with a durable aluminum-copper alloy. The balloon itself was made of goldbeater’s skin, a durable, nearly tearproof substance derived from the intestines of farm animals. It was essentially leather-type armor, one inch thick.

Entente pilots using the Lewis machine gun – those from England and the United States – had about 97 rounds to fire before they would have to stand up in the open cockpit and manually remove the old drum and add a heavy, new ammunition drum to the gun. They also had to fly it at the same time. If that wasn’t enough to dissuade them, they Lewis was prone to jamming so they might be flying helpless until they could clear the jam.

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Bunch of crybabies… reloading a 28-pound machine gun while flying a rickety biplane? What’s the issue? (Wikimedia Commons)

Even if they did decide to take down a zeppelin, there was no guarantee they would actually hit the thing, no matter how big the target was. Shooting one bullet through the goldbeater’s skin hide did not mean it would be an instant kill. Even dozens of rounds hitting home wouldn’t bring it down. It looks like a balloon, but it’s not even close. 

Then there’s the idea of simply dropping a bomb over the top of the zeppelin. Coming at an enemy from above is always a preferred method of attack, and this tactic did work one time. One time. World War I-era airplane bombs were about as effective as the bombing raids zeppelins themselves made, which is to say hardly at all. 

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Painting depicting a German zeppelin bombing raid in WWI (public domain)

Night operations made the effort to track a zeppelin all the more difficult. If a zeppelin was found by search light and managed to escape from it, they could be difficult to relocate. Imagine how difficult it might be to see such an aircraft in the dark of a World War I-era British night. 

Finally, the easiest and best way to bring down a zeppelin was the use of incendiary ammunition, but this too was problematic. The gas bags inside the balloon were filled with hydrogen, which, yes, is extremely flammable. The fire would still need oxygen to burn, so even a few well-placed shots wouldn’t necessarily light up the target. 

Only after firing enough holes in the gasbags to allow oxygen to ignite the incendiaries would the zeppelin go up in flames – and we talked about how difficult that can be.

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This is the deal with the NASA spacewalk spacesuit change

On Friday, March 29, 2019, Christina Koch and Anne McClain were scheduled to perform a spacewalk together to upgrade the power systems of the International Space Station. It would have been the first all-female spacewalk in human history. While disappointing to many people, after the last spacewalk was completed March 22, 2019, NASA changed the assignments to protect the safety of the crew and the timing of the mission. Now, Christina Koch and Nick Hague will be performing this upcoming spacewalk, leaving lots of people are wondering: What’s the deal?


1. Why did the availability of spacesuit sizes affect the schedule?​

Spacesuits are not “one size fits all.” We do our best to anticipate the spacesuit sizes each astronaut will need, based on the spacesuit size they wore in training on the ground, and in some cases astronauts train in multiple sizes.

McClain trained in both a medium and a large on Earth. However, living in microgravity can change the size of your body! In fact, Anne McClain has grown two inches since she launched to the Space Station.

McClain realized that the medium she wore during the March 22, 2019 spacewalk was a better fit for her in space. She had planned to wear a large during the March 29, 2019 spacewalk.

In a tweet, McClain explained: “This decision was based on my recommendation. Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgement. We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission come first.”

To provide each astronaut the best fitting spacesuit during their spacewalks, Koch will wear the medium torso on March 29, 2019, and McClain will wear it again on April 8, 2019.

​2. Why is spacesuit sizing so important?

The spacesuit is a mini spaceship that keeps our astronauts alive while they are spacewalking!

Astronauts train several hours on Earth in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab for every hour they spend spacewalking. Spacewalks are the most physically demanding thing we ask astronauts to do, which is why an optimally fitted spacesuit is important to completing the assigned tasks and overall mission!

​3. How come you don’t have enough spacesuits in the right size?

We do have enough torsos. The spacesuit takes into account more than 80 different body measurements to be configured for each astronaut. The suit has three sizes of upper torso, eight sizes of adjustable elbows, over 65 sizes of gloves, two sizes of adjustable waists, five sizes of adjustable knees and a vast array of padding options for almost every part of the body.

In space, we have two medium hard upper torsos, two larges and two extra larges; however, one of the mediums and one of the extra larges are spares that would require 12 hours of crew time for configuration.

Configuring the spare medium is a very methodical and meticulous process to ensure the intricate life support system – including the controls, seals, and hoses for the oxygen, water, and power as well as the pressure garment components – are reassembled correctly with no chance of leaks.

Nothing is more important than the safety of our crew!

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Astronaut Anne McClain gets assistance putting on her spacesuit during her ASCAN EVA Skills 3 Training.

(NASA)

12 hours might not seem like a long time, but the space station is on a very busy operational schedule. An astronaut’s life in space is scheduled for activities in five minute increments. Their time is scheduled to conduct science experiments, maintain their spaceship and stay healthy (they exercise two hours a day to keep their bones and muscles strong!).

The teams don’t want to delay this spacewalk because two resupply spacecraft – Northrop Grumman Cygnus and SpaceX cargo Dragon – are scheduled to launch to the space station in the second half of April 2019. That will keep the crew very busy for a while!

​4. Why has there not already been an all-female spacewalk?

NASA does not make assignments based on gender. The first female space shuttle commander, the first female space station commander and the first female spacewalker were all chosen because they the right individuals for the job, not because they were women. It is not unusual to change spacewalk assignments as lessons are learned during operations in space.

McClain became the 13th female spacewalker on March 22, 2019, and Koch will be the 14th March 29, 2019 – both coincidentally during Women’s History Month! Women also are filling two key roles in Mission Control: Mary Lawrence as the lead flight director and Jaclyn Kagey as the lead spacewalk officer.

​5. When will the all-female spacewalk happen?

An all-female spacewalk is inevitable! As the percentage of women who have become astronauts increases, we look forward to celebrating the first spacewalk performed by two women! McClain, Koch (and Hague!) are all part of the first astronaut class that was 50 percent women, and five of the 11 members of the 2017 astronaut candidate class are also women.

You can watch the upcoming spacewalk on March 29, 2019, at 6:30 ET, which is one in a series to upgrade the station’s power technology with new batteries that store power from the solar arrays for the station to use when it is in orbital night.

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How the President can really launch a nuclear strike

President Donald Trump tweeted Jan. 2 that he had a “Nuclear Button” to launch a missile attack — but the process is much more complicated than the President made it seem.


Trump’s tweet was a direct response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who recently warned that nowhere in the U.S. is safe from his country’s nuclear missiles. Despite warnings from the international community, Kim said, North Korea would produce as many missiles and nuclear weapons as possible.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said during his New Year’s speech. “This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment. These weapons will be used only if our society is threatened.”

Trump responded, tweeting, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.'”

Read More: POTUS and North Korea exchange nuclear threats

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump tweeted.

 

 

The President does not have a nuclear button, and the process of launching a nuclear missile is not as simple as, for example, pressing a button on a desk.

“U.S. nuclear forces operate under strict civilian control,” retired Air Force general C. Robert Kehler, the former commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command as well as U.S. Strategic Command, recently said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on nuclear weapons authority.

“The President’s ability to exercise that ability and direction is ensured by people, processes, and capabilities that comprise the nuclear command and control system,” Kehler said. “This is a system controlled by human beings — nothing happens automatically.”

In short, there is no button.

Inside the ‘football’ and the ‘biscuit’

It would be more accurate to say that there is a phone, and a long line of advisors, both civilian and military, that present all the facts and all the options on the table.

Once the decision is made, the President himself must authenticate that he is the one giving the order by calling the senior officer in the Pentagon. That officer will give the President a “challenge code” that requires a matching response, which the President or one of his aids carries at all time on a laminated card called the “biscuit.”

Once the order is confirmed by the highest ranking official, it works its way down the chain of command until it reaches those who are responsible for turning the keys and carrying out the action.

The missile could be launched from either the sea or from land. In both cases, multiple people need to authenticate the order even after it comes down from the Pentagon.

Bloomberg determined that the process could take anywhere from five to 15 minutes after the President’s order.

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The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the president’s emergency satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Even the famous “nuclear football” that is in reach of the President at all times does not contain a button.

Instead, it contains books with strike options, classified sites to shelter the President, instructions, codes, and likely some type of communication device.

Though the President has the authority to launch nuclear weapons, a press of a button on his desk will not send ICBMs hurling towards targets.

“The nuclear decision process includes assessment, review, and consultation between the president and key civilian and military leaders, followed by transmission and implementation of any presidential decision by the forces themselves” Kehler said.

“All activity surrounding nuclear weapons are characterized by layers of safeguards, tests, and reviews.”

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