A U.S. naval vessel collided with a South Korean fishing boat but no injuries were reported following the accident.
The USS Lake Champlain was taking part in joint naval exercises off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula when the collision occurred, Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday.
The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser hit the South Korean fishing vessel at around 11:50 a.m., local time.
South Korea’s coast guard said the accident occurred about 70 miles east of Gangguhang Port, a large harbor in Yeongdeok city, in South Gyeongsang Province.
“At the time of the collision there were no injuries, the front of the fishing boat was damaged, as was a part of the U.S. naval vessel,” the coast guard said.
The coast guard also said an accident at sea involving a U.S. naval boat and a Korean fishing boat was “unprecedented.”
The U.S. Navy and the South Korea coast guard continue to investigate the accident.
The USS Lake Champlain measures more than 560 feet in length, significantly larger than the South Korean boat measuring about 60 to 70 feet.
The South Korean fishing boat returned to Pohang port in the evening.
The accident occurred as the Lake Champlain was conducting exercises at sea with the USS Carl Vinson, the USS Wayne E. Meyer, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, and the USS Michael Murphy, the 62nd ship of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
Israel trolled Iran on June 4, 2018, with a gif from the film “Mean Girls” after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for their complete annihilation.
Khamenei tweeted that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that needs to be “eradicated,” and referenced the Palestinian “March of Return” movement which has seen several large-scale protests along the Gaza border in recent weeks.
The Israeli Embassy in the US responded to Khamenei’s colorful language with a gif from the 2004 film “Mean Girls,” in which Regina George, played by Rachel McAdams, Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan’s character, “Why are you so obsessed with me?”
The embassy’s response has over 18,000 likes and 7,000 retweets.
Many of the commenters praised Israel’s witty response to Iran’s threats of annihilation. One user asked in Hebrew: “Who is the 15-year-old boy responsible for the embassy’s Twitter?”
The autonomous drone would quietly travel to “great depths,” move faster than a submarine or boat, “have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit,” and “carry massive nuclear ordnance,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin translation of his remarks (PDF).
“It is really fantastic. […] There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them,” he said, claiming Russia tested a nuclear-powered engine for the drones in December 2017. “Unmanned underwater vehicles can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications and infrastructure.
“Putin did not refer to the device by name in his speech, but it appears to be the “oceanic multi-purpose Status-6 system” — also known as Kanyon or “Putin’s doomsday machine.”
Nuclear physicists say such a weapon could cause a large local tsunami, though they question its purpose and effectiveness, given the far-more-terrible destruction that nukes can inflict when detonated above-ground.
Why Putin’s ‘doomsday machine’ could be terrifying
A nuclear weapon detonated below the ocean’s surface can cause great devastation.
These underwater fireballs were roughly as energetic as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki in August 1945. In the tests, they burst through the surface, ejecting pillars of seawater more than a mile high while rippling out powerful shockwaves.
Some warships staged near the explosions were vaporized. Others were tossed like toys in a bathtub and sank, or sustained cracked hulls, crippled engines, and other damage. Notably, the explosions roughly doubled the height of waves to nearby islands, flooding inland areas.
“A well-placed nuclear weapon of yield in the range 20 MT to 50 MT near a seacoast could certainly couple enough energy to equal the 2011 tsunami, and perhaps much more,” Rex Richardson, a physicist and nuclear-weapons researcher, told Business Insider. The 2011 event he’s referring to is the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people in Japan.
“Taking advantage of the rising-sea-floor amplification effect, tsunami waves reaching 100 meters [328 feet] in height are possible,” Richardson said.
Richardson and other experts have also pointed out that a near-shore blast from this type of weapon could suck up tons of ocean sediment, irradiate it, and rain it upon nearby areas — generating catastrophic radioactive fallout.
“Los Angeles or San Diego would be particularly vulnerable to fallout due to the prevailing on-shore winds,” Richardson wrote, adding that he lives in San Diego.
The problem with blowing up nukes underwater
Greg Spriggs, a nuclear-weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, acknowledges that a 50-megaton weapon “could possibly induce a tsunami” and hit a shoreline with the energy equivalent to a 650-kiloton blast.
But he thinks “it would be a stupid waste of a perfectly good nuclear weapon.”
That’s because Sprigg believes it’s unlikely that even the most powerful nuclear bombs could unleash a significant tsunami after being detonated underwater.
“The energy in a large nuclear weapon is but a drop in the bucket compared to the energy of a [naturally] occurring tsunami,” Spriggs previously told Business Insider. “So, any tsunami created by a nuclear weapon couldn’t be very large.”
For example, the 2011 tsunami in Japan released about 9,320,000 megatons (MT) of TNT energy. That’s hundreds of millions of times more than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, and roughly 163,000 times greater than the Soviet Union’s test of Tsar Bomba on October 30, 1961.
Plus, Spriggs added, the energy of a blast wouldn’t all be directed toward shore — it’d radiate outward in all directions, so most of it “would be wasted going back out to sea.”
A detonation several miles from a coastline would deposit only about 1% of its energy as waves hitting the shore. That scenario may be more likely than an attack closer to the shore, assuming a US weapons-detection systems could detect an incoming Status-6 torpedo.
But even on the doorstep of a coastal city or base, Spriggs questions the purpose.
“This would produce a fraction of the damage the same 50 MT weapon could do if it were detonated above a large city,” Spriggs said. “If there is some country out there that is angry enough at the United States to use a nuclear weapon against us, why would they opt to reduce the amount of damage they impose in an attack?”
Is the Doomsday weapon real?
Putin fell short of confirming that Status-6 exists, though he did say the December 2017 tests of its power unit “enabled us to begin developing a new type of strategic weapon” to carry a huge nuclear bomb.
In a 2015 article in Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis — a nuclear-policy expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies — dubbed the weapon “Putin’s doomsday machine.”
He wrote that in part because of speculation that the underwater weapon might be “salted,” or surrounded with metals like cobalt. That would dramatically extend fatal radiation levels from fallout (possibly for years or even decades), since the burst of neutrons emitted in a nuclear blast could transform those metals into long-lived, highly radioactive chemicals that sprinkle all around.
Counter-attack by Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces supported by T-34 tanks near Playa Giron during the Bay of Pigs invasion, 19 April 1961. (Wikimedia Commons).
In terms of global influence and prestige, The Bay of Pigs is one of the most unanticipated events to befall America since the British attacked the White House in 1812. From its inception, the strategy implemented by John F. Kennedy and his Administration was possibly the major contributing factor to this catastrophe. Fidel Castro, the rebel against whom the U.S. waged war, also made a significant play of his success. It all began when Castro, a young Cuban nationalist, drove his army to overthrow General Fulgencio Batista, the nation’s president. Although pro-American and ruling with an iron fist, Batista was friendly to American companies that owned almost 50% of Cuba’s sugar plantations, ranches, utilities and mines in his tenure. Batista supported a stable business environment as he was also reliably communist.
In contrast, Castro disapproved of America’s decision to undertake their business interests in Cuba. Instead, he believed that Cubans needed to assume more control of their nation. As soon as he ascended to power, Castro took immediate steps to minimize American influence in Cuba by nationalizing sugar and mining industries.
Castro posed such a significant threat to the United States that even secret agents plotted to eliminate him. In early 1961, the U.S. government severed diplomatic relationships with Cuba and set up plans to invade Cuba. Although some organizations and the President’s advisor maintained that Castro posed no real threat to the U.S. John F. Kennedy believed that eliminating him would send a message that he is willing to do what it takes to win the Cold War.
The plan anticipated by John F Kennedy was to overthrow Fidel Castro and establish a government friendly to the United States. In March 1960, the CIA set up training camps in Guatemala, and by November, the operation had set up a dedicated army for guerilla warfare. Despite the U.S. government’s efforts to keep the invasion plan secret, it soon became exposed among Cuban exiles in Miami. Castro’s knowledge of the plans coupled with widespread press releases on events complicated its execution later.
The success of the invasion plans heavily relied on the Cuban population to join the overthrow. Initially, the plan was a two air-strike assault on Cuban air, followed by a 1,400 troop invasion that would launch a surprise attack in darkness. The landing port at The Bay of Pigs was part of the plan to cut off supplies to Cuban rebel forces.
Kennedy had some doubts about the plan. The last thing he wanted was direct involvement by the American military in Cuba. In April 1961, a group of Cuban exiles took off with American B-26 bombers to strike the Cuban air bases. However, Castro knew about the raid and had relocated his planes to safety. Fearing that he had started and lost the war, Kennedy suspected that the plan would largely be “clandestine.” Still, it was too late to halt the attack.
On April 17, the Cuban exile brigade began another invasion at an isolated southern part of the shore known as The Bay of Pigs. Although the CIA wanted to keep the secret as long as possible, a radio station at the beach broadcast every detail to listeners in Cuba. Projecting coral reefs sank some of the exile’s vessels, this loss was further propagated by backup troops landing in the wrong location.
Shortly after landing, Castro’s army had pinned the troops and launched a counter-assault. The failed mission resulted in 114 deaths and 1,100 prisoners. Although the CIA and Cuban exile brigade claim that President Kennedy would not abandon Cuba to the communists, he maintained that he would not start a war that would possibly trigger World War III.
Operation Desert Storm kicked off 24 years ago on Jan. 17, 1991.
The Gulf War officially lasted from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991. It consisted of two phases; Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Desert Shield was the codename used for the part leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Desert Storm was the combat phase by the coalition forces against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
15,000 Western civilians – including 3,000 Americans – living in Kuwait were rounded up and taken to Baghdad as hostages. In this YouTube screen capture, 5-year-old Briton, Stuart Lockwood refuses Saddam Hussein’s invitation to sit on his knee … Awkward.
700,000 American troops were deployed to the war; that’s more than 2015’s entire population of Nashville, TN.
Desert Storm was the largest military alliance since World War II; 34 nations led by the United States waged war in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
American troops prepared for every scenario since Iraq was known for employing chemical weapons in the past.
Untested in combat, Desert Storm would be the first time the M1 Abrams tank saw action; 1,848 of them were deployed to the war.
The Iraqi Army used T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks imported from the Soviet Union and Poland.
But they were no match for U.S. forces.
More than 1,000 military aircraft were deployed to the Gulf War.
One of the key players in Desert Storm was the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk.
Coalition forces flew over 100,000 sorties and dropped more than 88,500 tons of bombs.
You can’t hit what you can’t see. Iraq’s anti-aircraft guns were useless against the F-117.
Here’s the aftermath of a coalition attack along a road in the Euphrates River Valley…
The 2020 Tokyo Paralympics took place from Aug. 25 to Sept. 5, 2021. Team USA was represented at the games by 240 Paralympic athletes. Among them were 18 veterans and three active duty service members, many of whom took home medals at the Beijing, London and Rio Paralympics. For 2020, six of them won nine medals for the US.
Alfredo De Los Santos
Going by the nickname Freddie, De los Santos was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In 1986, he moved to New York to finish high school. He attended the City College of New York where he studied graphic design and went on to work at NYU. Following the attacks on 9/11, De los Santos joined the Army. On October 20, 2009, he was deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan where his vehicle was struck by an RPG. De los Santos was wounded in the attack and later lost his right leg above the knee. During his extensive rehabilitation period, he took up handcycling. He competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympics but earned his first medal (bronze) in Tokyo in the mixed team relay. De los Santos still has a passion for art and uses graphic design and abstract painting to illustrate his combat experience.
Pinney was born and raised in Arizona. An avid cyclist, he graduated from Grand Canyon University with a BS in Sport Management. In 2000, Pinney enlisted in the Air Force and served as an inflight refueler. Over his 14 year career, he deployed to the Middle East over 10 times and flew over 100 combat missions. Shortly after returning from a tour in the Middle East, Pinney competed in a bicycle race where he was thrown over the handle bars of his bike. His spinal cord was injured and Pinney was medically retired from the Air Force as a Technical Sergeant. He was able to continue his passion for cycling with a gifted handbike from The Freewheel Foundation. Pinney joined the Air Force Wounded Warrior Team as well as the Paralyzed Veterans of America Racing Team. Tokyo was his first paralympics and he took home bronze in the mixed team relay.
Morelli is a Pennsylvania native who commissioned as an Army engineer officer through Marion Military Institute. During her Army career, she served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, she was wounded in Afghanistan. An explosion caused severe brain trauma, blindness in her left eye, and damaged her neck and spine. Her cycling career began with a trip to her local bike shop and was propelled by her exposure to competitive cycling at the 2010 Warrior Games. At the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships Morelli broke the women’s C4 pursuit world record. In Rio, she took home two gold medals (road time trial, track pursuit) and earned another gold (time trial) plus a silver (individual pursuit) medal in Tokyo.
Hennagir joined the Marines in 2001 and served as a combat engineer. On June 16, 2007, in Zaidon, Iraq, he was wounded by an IED. This led to the amputation of both of Hennagir’s legs as well as four fingers on his left hand. While recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, one of his recreational therapists encouraged him to try out wheelchair basketball. While he enjoyed the sport, it was wheelchair rugby that Hennagir really took after. Still a hard-charging devil dog, he preferred the physicality of wheelchair rugby and strove for the opportunity to compete at the highest level. He got that opportunity in Tokyo where he competed with Team USA’s wheelchair rugby team and helped to bring home silver.
Snyder was born in Nevada but grew up on the beach in Florida where he developed his ability as a swimmer. He went on to swim competitively in high school and at the U.S. Naval Academy where he captained the swim team from 2005-2006. He commissioned as a Naval Officer and completed the grueling 42-week Explosive Ordnance Disposal School. On Sept. 7, 2011, Snyder stepped on an IED in Kandahar. Although the resulting blast did not affect his limbs, Snyder was blinded and lost both of his eyes. A determined sailor and athlete, Snyder battled his disability and immediately began training for the Paralympics. Just one year after his injury, he competed in the London Paralympics and won silver in the men’s 50m free and gold in the 100m free and 400m free. He returned in Rio and won another silver medal (100m back) and three more gold medals (50m free, 100m free, 400m free). In 2018, Snyder transitioned to Paratriathlon. In Tokyo, he won the men’s PTVI race. He is the first U.S. man to win a Paralympic, or Olympic, medal in an individual event in triathlon.
Marks comes from a family with a legacy of military service. In 2008, shortly after her 17th birthday, she joined the Army. While serving in Iraq as a combat medic, Marks sustained bilateral hip injuries. In 2012, nearly two years after her injury, she discovered her gift for competitive swimming during her recovery process. Six months later, Marks was declared fit for duty. More importantly, she was accepted into the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. In 2014, Marks was in London for the inaugural Invictus Games when she became rapidly ill. She was placed on ECMO life support for respiratory failure. She continued to suffer from chronic regional pain syndrome, a result of her original injuries and her time on ECMO. Still, she took home bronze (4x100m medley relay) and gold (100m breaststroke) in Rio. In 2017, Marks underwent left below the knee amputation. Despite this, she continued to train and push herself to excel. Her hard work paid off in Tokyo where she won bronze (50m butterfly), silver (50m freestyle), and gold (100m back). She is an inductee in the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame.
Feature Image: The 2020 Team USA Paralympic Team at the opening ceremony in Tokyo (Team USA)
The deaths of 13 US service members at Kabul International Airport on August 26, 2021 shook the nation. Their deaths serve as a tragic punctuation mark to America’s longest war. One of the fallen was Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez of Indio, California.
Growing up in SoCal, Lopez was a huge Disneyland and Star Wars fan, similar to how growing up in Marceline, Missouri, gave Walt Disney his love of trains. The family has been annual passholders for decades. In November 2019, Lopez visited the park and built his own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop in Galaxy’s Edge. He loved it so much that, before he deployed, he told his parents that he wanted to be buried with it if he was killed.
His parents wanted to honor Hunter’s request, “but I just couldn’t find the courage to part with the lightsaber he built,” Mrs. Lopez tearfully told Disney Parks. So, six days after Hunter’s death, Mr. and Mrs. Lopez took their 18-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter to Disneyland to build a new one. Together, they would build a replica of Hunter’s lightsaber to bury with him.
“As we walked into Disneyland, the marching band was coming out onto Main Street [U.S.A.] and started to play a Star Wars song,” Mrs. Lopez recalled. “We don’t know if it was Disney magic or whether it was Hunter, but either way it felt good knowing he was there with us.”
A friend of the Lopezes helped arrange for the family to build the lightsaber in private. The friend, a member of the exclusive Disneyland Club 33, also arranged for the family to have lunch at the famous dining club afterwards. When Club 33 Member Services Coordinator Rex Roberts learned of the Lopez family’s visit, he advised resort leaders to see what else they could do that day.
Members of SALUTE, the cast member Business Employee Resource Group that supports veterans and service members, reached out to Vice President of Security Dan Hughes. “We took the American flag that was flying over Disneyland and quickly had it framed and created a plaque, so we could present it to the family,” Hughes said to Disney Parks. In just 90 minutes, he was on his way to Club 33 to meet the Lopezes. “Your son’s sacrifice means the world to our country and also to us at Disneyland, and it’s our honor to give you this token of our appreciation,” Hughes told the family as he presented them with the flag.
“My son loved Disneyland,” Mrs. Lopez said as she broke down in tears. The whole room choked up at the emotional gesture. The gift prompted Mrs. Lopez to recount Disney-related memories of Hunter. His favorite ride was the Mad Tea Party with its iconic spinning tea cups. As a child, he loved Winnie the Pooh so much, Mrs. Lopez nicknamed him, “Hunter Pooh.” However, Star Wars was his true passion.
“He’d dress up as a Jedi for Halloween, he knew all the movies, all the lines — even the background characters,” Mrs. Lopez recalled. When she was pregnant with her second child, 5-year-old Hunter asked to name the baby Uncle Owen after Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen from Star Wars. The Lopezes liked the name (minus the “Uncle” part) and named their second son Owen. Owen signed his Airborne infantry contract with the Army just hours before the family received the fateful knock on the door from the casualty notification officers. Hunter advised his brother to join the Army with the goal of becoming a Ranger before following their parents into law enforcement with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; Hunter’s own goal after transitioning out of the Marine Corps.
On the day of the Lopez family’s visit, Club 33 also poured 13 glasses of champagne and lined them up on the service counter. The drinks served as a tribute to all 13 service members killed on August 26.
“Disneyland is all about celebration and happiness, so it’s not often that we see or hear this in our work,” Club 33 General Manager Luke Stedman told Disney Parks of the event. “But in this divisive world, when we can all come together and support something so meaningful, it’s a reminder of how much pride our cast can take in what this place means to people.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was grilled by lawmakers May 1, 2019, on the lengthy and costly effort to develop compatible electronic records systems between the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I don’t ever recall being as outraged about an issue than I am about the electronic health record program,” Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, told Shanahan at a House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the DoD’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget.
She said a hearing last month with DoD and VA health program managers on the progress of meshing the records “was terrible.”
“I can’t believe that these program managers think that it is acceptable to wait another four years for a program to be implemented when we’ve spent billions of dollars and worked on it for over a decade,” Granger said.
“For 10 years we’ve heard the same assurances” that the electronic health records problem will be solved,” Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, said. “It’s incredible that we can’t get this fixed.”
Veterans are suffering “because of bureaucratic crap,” he said.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan during a hearing on Capitol Hill, May 1, 2019.
In response to Granger, Shanahan said, “First of all, I apologize for any lack of performance or the inability of the people that testified before you to characterize the work of the department in this very vital area.”
He added that he personally spent “quite a bit of time on how do we merge together” with the VA on the records.
The “rollout and implementation” of the fix to the electronic health records has shown promise at those installations, Shanahan said, and the next step is to put the program in place at California installations this fall.
“I can give you the commitment that these corrective actions and the lessons learned will be carried forward,” he said.
“There’s a degree of inoperability” between the VA and DoD systems that has defied solution over the years, Shanahan said. “The real issue has been [the] passing on of the actual records. I can’t explain to you the technical complexity of that.
“We owe you a better answer,” he told the committee, “and four years is unacceptable” as a time frame for making the records compatible. He promised to help DoD “deliver” a fix.
Rogers recalled past promises from the VA and DoD and said he is skeptical that the latest attempt at solving the problem will be successful.
He cited the case of a service member from his district who was badly wounded in Iraq. He lost an eye, but military doctors in Germany saved his other eye, Rogers said.
The good eye later became infected. The service member went to the Lexington, Kentucky, VA Medical Center, but doctors there could not get access to his medical records in Germany.
“They could not operate because they didn’t know what had been done before,” Rogers said.
As a result, the service member lost sight in the good eye.
“Why can’t we have the computers marry? Can you help me out here? Don’t promise something you can’t deliver,” he told Shanahan. “I can’t believe that we have not already solved this problem.”
In the latest effort to mesh the records, then-Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in May 2018 awarded a billion, 10-year contract to Cerner Corp. of Kansas City to develop an integrated electronic health record (EHR) system, but related costs over the course of the contract are estimated to put the total price at about billion.
Previous attempts to mesh the EHR systems have either failed or been abandoned, most recently in 2013 when then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki dropped an integration plan after a four-year effort and the expenditure of about id=”listicle-2636127747″ billion.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
The Battle of Mogadishu is one of the most infamous and controversial engagements in modern U.S. military history. The battle has been documented in books and film, most notably the 2001 film Black Hawk Down. The film depicts the Rangers, Delta operators, 160th SOAR pilots, and Air Force Pararescuemen that made up the ill-fated Task Force Ranger. Even the 10th Mountain Division and Pakistani UN Peacekeepers were mentioned and depicted respectively. However, the film does not depict or even refer to the Navy SEALs from the elite SEAL Team Six that joined the raid on October 3, 1993, all of whom received Silver Stars for their actions during the battle.
Wasdin (second from the left) with the rest of the DEVRGU sniper team (Howard Wasdin)
HT1 Howard Wasdin enlisted in the Navy in 1983 as an antisubmarine warfare operator and rescue swimmer. He served with distinction in Anti-Submarine Squadron 7 (HS-7) and even survived a helicopter crash over water before he re-enlisted to attend BUD/S. Wasdin graduated with Class 143 in July 1987 and was assigned to SEAL Team TWO in Little Creek, Virginia. He completed deployments to Europe and the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War before he volunteered for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in November 1991, better known as SEAL Team Six. Wasdin completed an eight month specialized selection and training course to join DEVGRU and later completed the USMC Scout Sniper Course.
In August, 1993, Wasdin deployed to Mogadishu with three other snipers from SEAL Team Six and their skipper, Commander Eric Thor Olson, as part of Task Force Ranger. The special task force’s primary mission was to capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid who had been attacking UN supply convoys and food distribution centers. The task force also included Air Force Combat Controllers who, like the SEALs, were omitted from the 2001 film. In the time leading up to the October 3rd raid, Wasdin and the other SEALs conducted a number of missions in and around Mogadishu. On the day of the raid, the four-man team returned to the airfield from setting up CIA repeaters in the town to find the task force gearing up. The intel driving the raid had developed earlier in the day and the mission was planned quickly.
The SEALs received the hour to hour and a half-long mission brief from Cdr. Olson in just a few minutes. “You’ll be part of a blocking force. Delta will rope in and assault the building. You guys will grab the prisoners. Then get out of there,” Cdr. Olson said, slapping Wasdin on the shoulder. “Shouldn’t take long. Good luck. See you when you get back.” With that, the SEALs, and three soldiers joined the convoy of trucks and drove into the city.
Not long into the mission, the convoy received sporadic fire. The SEALs’ Humvee, referred to as a “cutvee”, had no roof, doors, or windows. The only protection that it offered was the iron engine block and a Kevlar ballistic blanket underneath the vehicle. Neither of these were able to protect one SEAL, known as Little Big Man, from taking a round on the way to the target building. “Aw hell, I’m hit!” He shouted. Wasdin pulled over to check his buddy out and found no blood. Rather, he saw Little Big Man’s broken custom Randall knife and a large red mark on his leg. The knife, strapped to Little Big Man’s leg, had absorbed most of the bullet’s energy and prevented it from entering the SEAL’s leg.
(Kneeling, left to right) Little Big Man, Casanova, Wasdin, and Sourpuss, with other operators of Task Force Ranger (Howard Wasdin)
The convoy made it to the target building and the SEALs joined their assigned blocking position with the Rangers and Delta operators as the Delta assaulters infilled on the roof. Wasdin engaged a handful of enemy snipers with his CAR-15 for 30 minutes before the call came over the radio to return to the convoy. It was then that he took a ricochet to the back of his left knee. “For a moment, I couldn’t move,” he recalled. “The pain surprised me, because I had reached a point in my life when I really thought I was more than human.” Wasdin’s SEAL teammate, nicknamed Casanova, quickly neutralized two militia fighters as Air Force CCT Dan Schilling dragged Wasdin to safety for a medic to patch him back up.
37 minutes into the routine mission, a call came over the radio that changed the mission, and Wasdin’s life. “Super Six One down.” CW3 Cliff “Elvis” Wolcott’s bird had been shot down by an RPG, turning the raid into a rescue mission. Wasdin hopped back behind the wheel and the SEALs joined the convoy to secure Wolcott’s crash site. Holding the wheel with his left hand, Wasdin returned fire with his CAR-15 in his right hand.
On the way to the crash site, five Somali women walked up to the roadside shoulder to shoulder, their colorful robes stretched out to their sides. When a Humvee reached them, they pulled their robes in to reveal four militia fighters who would open fire on the soldiers. Seeing this, Wasdin flicked his CAR-15’s selector switch to full-auto and emptied a thirty-round magazine into all nine Somalis. “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six,” he said of the incident. Shortly after, the call came over the radio that CW3 Mike Durant’s Super Six Four had also been shot down. With two birds down, ammunition running low, casualties mounting, and an entire city out to kill Americans, things looked grim for the men of Task Force Ranger.
Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart and Master Sgt. Gary Gordon were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for trying to rescue Mike Durant before they were overrun (U.S. Army)
To make matters worse, the convoluted communication network between the observation aircraft, the JOC, the C2 bird, and the convoy leader was further mired by the misunderstanding of sending the convoy to the closest crash site rather than the first crash site. This led to the bullet-ridden convoy going literally in circles and passing the target building that they raided at the start of the mission.
Even the AH-6J Little Birds providing direct fire support from the air were feeling the strain of the not so routine mission. “We’re Winchestered,” one pilot told Wasdin as he called for air support. With no ammunition left, the Little Bird pilots flew low over the enemy positions in order to draw the attention of the militia fighters skyward and off the beleaguered convoy. “The pilots didn’t just do that once. They did it at least six times that I remember,” Wasdin said, recalling the bravery of the Night Stalkers. “Our Task Force 160 pilots were badass, offering themselves up as live targets, saving our lives.”
Contact was so heavy that Wasdin ran out of 5.56 for his CAR-15, including the ammo given to him by the wounded Rangers in the back of his cutvee, forcing him to draw his 9mm Sig Sauer sidearm. As the convoy slowed, a militia fighter emerged from a doorway with an AK-47. Wasdin and the fighter exchanged rounds. The first double-tap from the Sig missed and the fighter put a round through Wasdin’s right shinbone before a second double-tap put the fighter down.
His right leg hanging on by a thread, Wasdin switched seats with Casanova and continued to return fire with his sidearm despite the incredible pain. Five to ten minutes later, Wasdin was wounded a third time, taking a round to his left ankle. “My emotions toward the enemy rocketed off the anger scale,” Wasdin recalled. “Suddenly, I realized I was in trouble.” As the convoy pressed on, the SEAL cutvee hit a landmine. Though the occupants were protected by the Kevlar blanket, the explosion brought the vehicle to a halt. With three holes in him, Wasdin thought of his family and likened his situation to one of his favorite films, The Alamo. Not willing to give up without a fight, he continued to return fire. “Physically, I couldn’t shoot effectively enough to kill anyone at that point,” Wasdin said. “I had used up two of Casanova’s pistol magazines and was down to my last.”
The only picture taken on the ground during the battle (U.S. Army)
As if scripted in a movie, the Quick Reaction Force soon arrived to extract the battered convoy from the city. With the arrival of the QRF, the militia fighters retreated and gave the convoy a much-needed reprieve. “Be careful with him,” Casanova said as he helped load Wasdin onto one of the QRF’s deuce-and-a-half trucks. “His right leg is barely hanging on.” The convoy returned to the airfield without further incident.
The scene at the base was unreal. Dozens of American bodies laid out on the runway as medics tried to sort out the most critically wounded. “A Ranger opened a Humvee tailgate—blood flowed out like water.” The sight enraged Wasdin who itched for payback. Many of the chieftains in the Aidid militia, anticipating the revenge that Wasdin and his brothers sought, fled Mogadishu. Some even offered to flip on Aidid to save themselves. “Four fresh SEAL Team Six snipers from Blue Team were on their way to relieve us. Delta’s Alpha Squadron was gearing up to relieve Charlie Squadron. A new batch of Rangers was coming, too.” Ultimately, there would be no counteroffensive.
With the broadcast of the results of the battle on American televisions, the Clinton administration feared the negative publicity that further operations could bring. “In spite of the gains, President Clinton saw our sacrifices as losses,” Wasdin recalled angrily. “He ordered all actions against Aidid stopped.” Four months later, all prisoners taken by Task Force Ranger were released.
On what should have been a routine snatch and grab operation, special operators were left exposed and eventually trapped by thousands of Somali militia fighters. Conducting the raid in the afternoon without the cover of darkness removed one of the biggest advantages that the operators had. Sending them into the city without armored fighting vehicles or Spectre gunships further reduced the American technological advantage. For warriors like Wasdin though, the ultimate defeat was not finishing the job.
The war in Syria is now five years old. In that time, there have been so many factions vying for power and battlefield superiority, some under-equipped group was bound to have to get creative with their weapons tech. Enter the Hell Cannon.
First rigged up in the rural areas near Idlib, the Hell Cannon is an improvised, muzzle-loaded cannon, built by the Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, then a member force of the Free Syrian Army. The homegrown howitzer caught on and was soon produced in and around Aleppo. The cannon’s popularity is responsible for a grassroots weapons industry in the area.
The weapon is essentially a barrel mounted to wheels and towed to where it needs to go. It’s entirely muzzle-loaded like an old timey powder smoothbore cannon. The powder is an explosive, usually ammonium nitrate (the explosive used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1996 Oklahoma City Bombing), which is ramrodded with a wooden stick. The round is a gas cylinder (commonly used in the region for cooking stoves) filled with explosives and shrapnel, and welded to a pipe with some stabilizing fins.The cylinder forms a tight seal in the cannon.
Improvised Hell Cannon rounds made of cooking gas canisters and mortar ammo seized by Syrian government forces (SAA) in Latakia (Twitter Photo)
Each round weighs roughly 88 pounds and will fly 1.5 kilometers (just under a mile). Some variants of the weapon will have multiple barrels, from two to seven. Others are welded to vehicles like cars and bulldozers.
Two U.S. military commands involved in buying and fielding new gear for special operators have released a list of what features they would like to see in future military vehicles — and the list shows some serious upgrades for warfighters.
The Joint Special Operations Command and the Program Executive Office Special Operations Forces Warrior released their wish list in a Federal Business Opportunities solicitation. While some of the upgrades they’re searching for are pretty standard — such as more reliable drivetrains and cheaper brakes — these five technologies could be game changing:
1. Invisible armor on civilian vehicles
The document calls for low visibility “Armor materials/panels, etc., that can be transferred and integrated from one commercial vehicle to another with minimal manpower and in a minimal timeframe.” This could allow operators to fortify a civilian vehicle for a mission. Then, if that car is compromised, quickly move the armor to a new ride for the next mission.
2. Transformer vehicles
Spec ops buyers are looking for a chassis that could survive after the car body wears out. In other words, operators would have a truck or SUV that they use for some operations, and after the vehicle gets banged up, worn out, or just stops looking cool, the troops could trade out the body for a new one for cheap.
3. Engine starters and batteries that work at -50 degrees
Batteries and starters that work at 50 degrees below zero would give soldiers confidence that they can always make a quick getaway, even in the Arctic Circle. In addition to delivering power in extremely frigid weather, the batteries should provide electricity for a longer time between charges. This would allow users to run the heat and electronic devices in the field for longer without turning on the engine.
4. Lighter, hidden armor
In addition to the transferability of the armor described in the first entry, JSOC and PEO-SOF are asking for the hidden armor for civilian vehicles to be lighter. This would reduce the low gas mileage and high rollover problems associated with current vehicles using hidden armor.
5. Hybrid military dune buggies
The solicitation calls for electric or hybrid electric vehicle technology for LTATVs. The Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle is basically a souped-up ATV for light troops like special operators and paratroopers. Now, soldiers want an all-electric or hybrid version of the vehicle that would “increase range, reduce maintenance, and lower the audible signature.”
6. “Low Profile Antennas for Line of Sight, SATCOM, and ECMS”
This is exactly what it sounds like, a variety of antennas that work as well as current models while also being harder to detect. It would allow all vehicles — commercial and military — to be outfitted with more communications devices without drawing undue attention and enemy fire.
7. “Visual, Audible, and Thermal Signature Reduction”
The commandos want vehicles that are harder to detect, track, and target. Quieter vehicles are more difficult to hear, cooler vehicles are harder to see with IR, and better-camouflaged vehicles are challenging to pick out with the naked eye. Operators want all three upgrades.
Anticipating a deployment is at once stressful, exhilarating, and boring as hell. Here are the 8 basic steps:
The announcement comes down from the Pentagon that your unit is headed overseas at some point. Everyone will respond to this differently. Newer troops will walk with a swagger as they think about becoming combat veterans. Actual combat veterans will sigh heavily.
2. Keeping it a secret (while telling everyone)
Sure, operational security and all that. But you have to tell your family. And your best buddies need to know. Also, those guys at the bar won’t buy you drinks just for sitting there. Is that hot girl over there into deploying troops?
3. First stage of training
“Time for pre-deployment training! Time to become the most elite, modern warriors in the world!” you think for the first 15 minutes of the first training session.
4. The rest of training
“Oh my god, how much of this is done via PowerPoint?” Also, your weapon will be completely caked in carbon from those blanks.
5. Culmination exercise
Suddenly, it’s exciting again. Pyrotechnics, laser tag, a bunch of awesome pictures that can become your Facebook cover photo so those girls from high school can see them. Someone in your squad can edit out the blank firing adapters.
6. Packing (and packing, and packing …)
That brief adrenaline rush at the final culmination exercise will not last. You will realize you still have to clean and pack the gear to go home. Then pack the connexes to send to country. Then pack your bags to go into other connexes. Then pack the …
7. Pre-deployment leave
Finally! After months of hard work, a brief rest before more months of hard work. Also, a chance to “not” tell more hometown girls that you’re deploying.
8. Getting on the plane (or ship or whatever)
Time to go somewhere really “fun” and live there for a year or so. But hey, only [balance of deployment] left until redeployment.