Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

The Commissary is about to get a lot busier on Saturdays. Starting in January 2020, veterans with service-connected disability ratings, Purple Heart recipients, and former POWs will be able to access Exchange and Commissary services both in-person and online. Designated caregivers of eligible vets will have access too. The benefit goes into effect for all Exchange services, including NEX, AAFES, CGX, and MCX. But that’s not all.

Veterans will get access to on-base Morale, Welfare, and Recreation services too.


Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

This could be you.

(MWR Life)

To get access to the AAFES Exchanges, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Exchanges, Commissary, and MWR facilities, including the American Forces Travel site, all you need is a Veterans Health Identification Card, the one issued to you by the VA when you enroll in VA Healthcare. This will give you access to on-base facilities. For veterans who aren’t enrolled in the VA system, they will not be able to access U.S. military installations, but will still have access to the Exchange websites.

What’s especially great about the new rules is expanding access to veteran caregivers. Designated primary caregivers for eligible veterans will be able to get on base to these facilities without their veteran being present as long as they have the eligibility letter they will receive from the VA’s Office of Community Care.

These are just the new recipients of these benefits. Medal of Honor recipients and 100 percent service-connected disabled veterans have always had access to Exchange and Commissary services, and they still will.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

.00 haircuts for everyone!

The move comes from the passage of the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 that funds the improvement of physical access control on military installations to give expanded access to these facilities to disabled veterans and their caretakers. It’s a smart move for the Exchange services and the Defense Commissary Agency, both of which have struggled to expand their customer base over the past decade. After the success of allowing vets to use online Exchange services in 2017, the new bill expanded access to physical locations as well.

With the MWR facilities included in the new benefit, this means veterans and caretakers will also have access to RV campgrounds, recreational lodging, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and more.

Anthony’s Pizza, here we come.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35s ready for war if Syrian tensions explode

The US has a small aircraft carrier hosting F-35B stealth fighter jets in the Middle East as Russia threatens US forces in Syria — and if fighting breaks out the US will have no choice but to send in the advanced fighters.

Russia and its ally, Syria, have launched a massive offensive against Idlib, the last rebel-held area in the country, and appeared to predict chemical weapons use in the process.

Syria’s government has been linked to 33 cases of chemical weapons use against its own people during the 7 year-long civil war, and along with Russia stands accused of war crimes such as the indiscriminate bombing of hospitals and schools.


Russian media has accused terrorists and groups with US-backing of plotting to stage, and to actually carry out, a chemical weapons attack on children and families in Idlib to justify attacking the Syrian regime.

But Russia has made these claims before, and it hasn’t stopped the US from striking Syria in the past. This time, as Syria and Russia eye a bloody victory over the last remaining rebels, Russia has telegraphed that it would counter-attack the US if US missiles hit Syrian targets over chemical weapons use.

Russia, a weakened military power that often bolsters its image with propaganda, sat idly by while the US hit Syria twice before, but the US has spelled out that this time its penalty would take a much “stronger” form.

With a small armada of Russian ships in the Mediterranean, Russia too appears to have taken measures to look more committed to its cause.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

F-35Bs aboard the USS Essex.

(US Navy photo)

Enter the F-35B

In the face of a massive Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean hugging Syria’s coast, the US doesn’t have a single carrier strike group anywhere near the region.

But the US does have the USS Essex, a US Navy small-deck helicopter carrier modified to carry US Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighters. The Essex and its accompanying ships across the Suez Canal from the Russian ships in the Mediterranean represents one of the greatest concentrations of naval power ever put to sea, and its main mission is simple — crisis response.

The long-awaited F-35Bs have updated software that grants them “full warfighting capability” Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Christopher Harrison told USNI News. That capability takes the F-35 beyond anything that F/A-18s, the US Navy’s standard carrier-based fighter, could do in an environment like Syria.

Syria has advanced Russian missile defenses, creating some of the world’s most challenging air spaces. Only a stealth jet with advanced sensors, like the F-35B, could safely take on the mission of fighting in the skies above Syria.

“The F-35’s ability to operate in contested areas, including anti-access/area-denial environments that legacy fighters cannot penetrate, provides more lethality and flexibility to the combatant commander than any other fighter platform,” said Harrison.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

US Marines firing a howitzer in Syria.

(US Marine Corps photo)

Russia flirting with disaster

Russia specifically threatened US forces in southern Syria with retaliation. In the past, these US forces have come under attack from Russian-aligned forces and brutally beat them back with superior air power. But in that case, Russia held back its considerable bank of fighter jets in the region from the fight.

The F-35B has never tasted combat, but the Syrian war produced a rich list of firsts over the last seven years. Missile fires have taken down Israeli, Syrian, and Russian jets over the course of the war. Syria has seen the combat debut of Israel’s F-35I and the first US air-to-air kill between manned aircraft since 1999.

If Russia is serious about backing its ally and countering a possible US attack, it would no doubt need air power to do so. But not only does the US have stealth F-35s nearby ready to hit Russia with something it’s never seen, they have considerable air bases in the region that make Moscow’s threat appear less than serious.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How the Army’s new recruiting effort targets Gen Z

With the pool of qualified recruits shrinking, a new Army marketing campaign debuted on Veterans Day to target younger cohorts — known as Generation Z — and focus beyond traditional combat roles.

To do this, the Army is asking 17-to-24-year-olds one question: What’s Your Warrior?

The query is at the heart of the new strategy, and is designed to introduce young adults — who may know nothing about the military — to the diverse opportunities on tap through Army service, said Brig. Gen. Alex Fink, chief of Army Enterprise Marketing.


Over the next year, 150 Army career fields — along with eight broad specialty areas — will be interlinked through digital, broadcast, and print outlets, Fink explained, and show why all branches are vital to the Army’s overall mission.

The ads, designed to be hyper-targeted and highly-engaging, he said, will give modern youth an idea of how their unique identities can be applied to the total-force.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

What’s Your Warrior is the Army’s latest marketing strategy, aimed at 17-to-24-year-olds, known as Generation Z, by looking beyond traditional combat roles and sharing the wide-array of diverse opportunities available through Army service.

(Army graphic)

So, instead of traditional ads with soldiers kicking in doors or jumping out of helicopters, What’s Your Warrior pivots toward the wide-array of military occupational specialties that don’t necessarily engage on the frontlines — like bio-chemists or cyber-operators.

The campaign will unfold throughout the year with new, compelling, and real-soldier stories meant for “thumb-stopping experiences,” Fink explained, regarding mobile platforms.

And, with so many unique Army career-fields to choose from, Fink believes the force offers something to match all the distinctive skillsets needed from future soldiers.

One of the vignettes featured is Capt. Erika Alvarado, a mission element leader for the Army Reserve’s Cyber Protection Team, where she is on the frontlines of today’s cyber warfare.

Another example is 2nd Lt. Hatem Smadi, a helicopter pilot who provides air support to infantrymen, engineers, and other branches to secure the skies.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jerry Saslav)

Their stories — along with others — will tell the Army mission more abundantly, something previous marketing strategies “didn’t do the best job of,” Fink admitted.

“Young adults already know the ground combat role we play. We need to surprise them with the breadth and depth of specialties in the Army,” Fink said. “This campaign is different than anything the Army has done in the past — or any other service — in terms of look and feel.”

The backbone of the new push isn’t just showing the multitude of unique Army branches — such as Alvarado’s and Smadi’s stories. It goes beyond that, he said, and is meant to show how individual branches come together as one team to become something greater than themselves — a sentiment their research says Gen Z is looking for.

“Team” is also the key-subject of chapter one. An initial advertisement, unveiled as a poster prior to Veterans Day, depicts a team of soldiers from five career tracks — a microbiologist, a signal soldier, an aviator, a cyber-operator, and a ground combat troop — all grouped together.

“By focusing on the range of opportunities available, What’s Your Warrior presents a more complete view of Army service by accentuating one key truth — teams are exponentially stronger when diverse talents join forces,” Fink said.

Roughly five months after the team in chapter one, chapter two will be unveiled and focus on identity, he said. At this checkpoint, soldier’s personal stories will be shared through 30-60 ad spots, online videos, banner ads and other formats to tell their story.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

U.S. Army recruits practice patrol tactics while marching during U.S. Army basic training.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

“We know today’s young men and women want more than just a job. They desire a powerful sense of identity, and to be part of something larger than themselves,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy. “What’s Your Warrior highlights the many ways today’s youth can apply their unique skills and talents to the most powerful team on Earth.”

The campaign will be the first major push for the Army’s marketing force since they moved from their previous headquarters near the Pentagon to Chicago — in an effort to be near industry talent, Fink said.

Although not quite settled in, the force’s marketing team started their move to the “Windy City” over the fall. Since then, they have led the charge on a variety of advertisements and commercials, both in preparation of What’s Your Warrior, and other ongoing efforts.

At the Chicago-based location, the office makeup is roughly 60% uniformed service and 40% civilian employees, Fink said.

Chicago is also one of 22 cities tapped by Army leaders as part of the “Army Marketing and Recruiting Pilot Program.” The micro-recruiting push — focusing on large cities with traditionally lower recruiting numbers — has utilized data analytics, and been able to tailor messaging for potential recruits based on what’s popular in their location, sometimes down to the street they live on, Fink said.

How “What’s Your Warrior” will target those cities — and others — remains to be seen.

That said, Fink believes the new campaign will speak to today’s youth on their terms, in their language, and in a never-before-seen view of Army service and show how their skillsets are needed to form the most powerful team in the world: the U.S. Army.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia throws new fit over peace process with Japan

Russia has summoned the Japanese ambassador and accused Tokyo of deliberately ramping up tensions ahead of a planned visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks with President Vladimir Putin on formally ending World War II hostilities.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Jan. 9, 2019, said it “invited” Japanese Ambassador Toyohisa Kozuki to the ministry over comments made from Tokyo about the possible return to Japan of a disputed Pacific island chain.


The dispute over the chain — which Russia refers to as the Southern Kuriles and Japan calls the Northern Territories — has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from a signing of a formal peace treaty to end World War II.

Soviet forces seized the islands at the end of the war, and Russia continues to occupy and administer the territory, although it has allowed visits by former Japanese residents and family members in recent years.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said recent Japanese government statements represented an apparent attempt to “artificially incite the atmosphere regarding the peace-treaty problem and try to enforce its own scenario of settling the issue.”

The ministry cited Tokyo’s remarks about the need to prepare island residents for a return of the chain to Japan and about dropping demands for Moscow to pay compensation to former Japanese residents of the islands. It also took issue with Abe’s comments that 2019 would see a breakthrough in the negotiations.

“Such statements flagrantly distort the essence of the agreements between Japanese and Russian leaders to accelerate the talks’ progress” and “disorientate” members of the public in both countries, the Russian ministry said.

It said Japan was attempting to “force its own scenario” on Russia over the talks.

Following Kozuki’s meetings at the Russian ministry, Japan’s Foreign Ministry was quoted by Russian state-run TASS news agency as saying Tokyo would continue negotiations with Russia on a peace treaty “in [a] calm atmosphere.”

The Japanese ministry said Kozuki explained Tokyo’s position on the matter to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, but it did not provide details.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.

“The Japanese government will continue the negotiations process in the framework of its main position — to resolve the territorial dispute and then signing a peace treaty,” the ministry added.

Russia’s position on the Kuriles remains unchanged, that Japan must accept the outcome of World War II, including Russia’s sovereignty over the disputed islands, the Russian ministry stressed.

Russia has military bases on the archipelago and has deployed missile systems on the islands.

Abe is tentatively scheduled to visit Russia on Jan. 21, 2019, for talks with Putin on the peace treaty, Russian news agencies have reported.

The two leaders met in November 2018 and agreed to accelerate talks to formally end World War II.

In an interview published on Dec. 17, 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda that Moscow could hand Japan the two smaller islands, Shikotan and a group of islets called Habomai, if Tokyo “recognizes the results” of World War II — something he said Tokyo was “not ready for yet.”

Recognition of the results, in Russia’s eyes, means that Japan would have to accept Russian possession of the disputed islands as legal, potentially ruling out any further dispute or claims by Tokyo on the two larger, more populated islands, Iturup and Kunashir.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

Here’s The Hilarious Result Of Mashing Up Left Shark With Famous Military Quotes

We all know by now that Left Shark was the big hit of the big Super Bowl game, but he’s also pretty influential in military circles.


Well, at least he should be. Check out these famous military quotes with the infamous Gen. Left Shark, the hero we need and deserve.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Gen. James “Mad Shark” Mattis is not afraid to fail, whether behind Katy Perry or in front of Marines.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

You shouldn’t be bummed just because you’re decisively engaged. Smile as you practice your marksmanship.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. reminded Katy Perry and Right Shark that if they can’t lead properly, Left Shark will make it’s own choreography.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Sure, there are plenty of dancers on the stage. But only one is Greek Left Shark Hericlitus.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Mad Shark Mattis reminds his enemies that, yes, he wants peace, but he has endless teeth to destroy those who don’t.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Sgt. Left Shark wants good morale, and he will have it by any means necessary.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Gen. Left Shark Patton Jr. knows how you win wars.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Gen. Left Shark Sherman brought great destruction across the South during the Civil War. When protests reached him, he was unapologetic.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

Sgt. Maj. Dan Left Shark Daly might be able to live forever, but he doesn’t see any reason to.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services

General Douglas Left Shark McArthur never went in for ball point pens when firings pins were an option.

popular

Here’s what happens to the body when you pull a muscle

There are 640 muscles in the human body. The primary functions of these critical, fibrous structures are to support movement and help circulate blood throughout our anatomy. Everyone has three different types of muscles: smooth (or visceral), cardiac, and skeletal.

Smooth muscles, like our esophagus and intestines, push the food we eat through our digestive system. Cardiac muscles, also known as myocardium (your heart), contract and relax to move through the body’s vessels. Skeletal muscles layer on top of our bones, connect to the osseous matter via tendons, and move our limbs around.

Although each type of muscle can be damaged in various ways, our skeletal muscles are most often damaged. The leading cause for most of our muscular lacerations — also known as “strains” or “muscle pulls” — is the moving an unprepared set of muscles.

We’re here today to learn what happens to your muscles when they’re pulled. It just might make you rethink how you warm up before your next exercise.


Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services
Don’t forget to warm up, or you might be sidelined for longer than you’d like.

Picture your pre-workout muscles like a frozen rubber band. If you stretch it out fast and far enough, it’ll break. Once we strain a muscle, the neuroreceptors will send a message to our brains, letting it know something’s wrong. These muscular injuries usually feel like a shock and cause our bodies to immediate jerk back into its starting position — protecting the structure. Unfortunately, by the time you feel the pain and your body reacts, the damage might already be done.

The amount of damage the muscle structure sustains helps catalog these injuries into three different categories, based on severity. The lower end of injury is called a “pull,” which means around 5 percent of the muscle was torn. Treatment for these minor injuries typically consists of painkillers and rest.

A “sprain” is the next tier up. Here, a significant percentage of the muscle fibers, greater than 5 percent, are damaged. This type of injury usually requires several weeks of recovery before the person is back to fully functioning.

The diagnosis that no one wants to hear is a “rupture.” This means every fiber in the muscle group has been torn. These injuries are severe and typically require immediate surgery. For many athletes, hamstrings, groin, and quadriceps are the muscle groups most at risk.

Let the long road to recovery begin…

To avoid becoming a victim of a nasty muscle pull, be sure to warm up properly before exercising and stretch afterward.

For more information about the muscles in your body and the injuries they can sustain, check out Tech Insider’s video below.

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The United States used combat hovercraft to kick butt in Vietnam

When people think hovercraft, the Landing Craft Air Cushion (also known as the LCAC) comes to mind. Understandably so — that hovercraft has been a vital piece of gear for the Navy and Marine Corps when it comes to projecting power ashore. But these are not the first hovercraft to be used in service. In fact, hovercraft saw action with both the Navy and Army during the Vietnam War.


In 1966, the Navy acquired four Patrol Air Cushion Vehicles, or PACVs (pronounced “Pack-Vees”), for test purposes and deployed them to Vietnam. The hovercraft quickly proved very potent, delivering a lot of firepower and speed and reaching areas inaccessible to traditional tracked or wheeled vehicles.

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Patrol Air Cushion Vehicles packed a lot of firepower and were fast — but they never got past an operational test.

(US Navy)

A PACV was equipped with a turret that held one or two M2 .50-caliber machine guns mounted on top of the cabin, which held a crew of four. There were also two M60 general-purpose machine guns, one mounted to port and the other to starboard. Additionally, there were two remote-controlled emplacements for either M60s or Mk 19 automatic grenade launchers.

The hovercraft could reach a top speed of 35 knots and had a maximum range of 165 nautical miles. But as maintenance and training proved problematic, especially given the trans-Pacific supply lines, the Navy decided to pull the plug. The Army, however, remained interested. The hovercraft operated primarily from a land base, but could also be deployed from amphibious ships (like today’s LCACs).

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PACVs worked with the Navy’s Light Attack Helicopter Squadron Three (HAL-3), providing a fast response to enemy activity.

(US Navy)

The Army acquired three Air-Cushion Vehicles, which operated within the 9th Infantry Division. Two were configured for attack missions and both were destroyed in 1970. The other, which was tooled as a transport, was shipped back to the United States.

Learn more about these early hovercraft that did some damage in Vietnam in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCiTyP-3Klk

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

You will laugh at this Marine vet comic (and that’s an order)

Marine veteran James P. Connolly (Sirius/XM Radio, Comics Unleashed) hosted the 6th Annual Veteran’s Day Benefit Comedy Show “Cocktails Camouflage” at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California in early November.


All funds raised were donated to Veterans in Film Television (VFT), a non-profit networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in film and television and offers the entertainment industry the opportunity to connect with and hire veterans.
In this video, headliner and USMC vet Greg Hahn reads the crowd into his grand life plan and remembers how he was right out of boot camp.
MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch R. Lee Ermey laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery

The United States Marine Corps gave its final goodbye to one of its most famous and most revered alums, actor and Vietnam veteran R. Lee Ermey, on Jan. 18, 2018 as his remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The revered Gunny died on Apr. 15, 2018 at age 74 from complications during pneumonia treatment.

His body was cremated after death, and his ashes were buried with full military honors.


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Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket.”

There was more to R. Lee Ermey’s life than just the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film that made his career while defining the image of the Marine Corps Drill Instructor. He was the living embodiment of a Marine who never gives up, being forced into the military, working a bar and brothel after leaving the service, and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

Read On: 5 little-known facts about R. Lee Ermey, the military’s favorite Gunny

The man we know as “Gunny” was medically discharged in 1972, and didn’t even make the rank of Gunnery Sgt. until after his military career. That’s how important his image is to the Corps. Even though his Hollywood career began to flag as he aged, he was always a vocal supporter of the military and the troops who comprise it.

His internment at Arlington was delayed due to the backlog of funeral services there. The backlog for eligible veterans to be buried there is so great that even a veteran of Ermey’s stature – a Vietnam War-era Marine who served in aviation and training – must wait several months before the services can be performed.

Articles

Meet the first black woman to lead West Point cadets

Simone Askew. Remember her name.


She is the leader of the pack, so to speak, of the Class of 2021 at the US Military Academy at West Point, and the first black woman to hold the position.

That Cadet Askew shattered West Point’s glass ceiling is no small measure — no small measure in the armed forces, for sure, and no small measure of 21st century America.

The military, like the world of business, has long been considered a man’s world.

And the telltale signs of war, peace and tribalism reflect where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re headed. Cadet Askew and her teammates are leading America across a new threshold.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services
West Point Academy. Photo courtesy of US Army.

For one, West Point is the oldest of our military academies. It was founded after President Thomas Jefferson, who had not served in the military but became commander in chief when he was sworn into office, signed the Military Peace Establishment Act in 1802. The act specified that the academy be established along the Hudson River in New York.

One of the largest footprints Cadet Askew is stepping into belongs to Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, West Point’s first black cadet captain and now commander of US Forces Korea.

“We are role models to a lot of young people, not just African-Americans and soldiers,” the now 58-year-old Gen. Brooks once said.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services
Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks. Photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Salcido.

Indeed, America’s current state of affairs proves that America’s future leaders will have much with which to contend. Geneneral Brooks, who, like Cadet Askew, attended high school in Fairfax County, Virginia, is staring down the barrel of the North Korea nuclear threat.

On the home front, civil unrest and tensions among various cultural factions make the rounds of daily news and undistilled social media every day.

Remember Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch, the two soldiers who were captured in Iraq in 2003 during the “global war on terror”? The Marines rescued both, and both wrote successful biographies.

They, too, became role models even though their capture spawned anew the debate over whether women should even serve in combat areas.

Cadet Askew, 20, had barely entered grade school at the time.

Veterans will get access to Commissary, Exchange, and MWR services
Simone Askew. (Photo from Ken Kraetzer via YouTube)

Cadet Askew not only is making history, she is studying it as well. In fact, her major is international history, an ever-changing subject in this ever-changing world of ours.

She also loves volleyball and is on the West Point crew team — understanding, as too many of America’s political leaders and wannabe political leaders do not, that team sports give you a different perspective on leadership.

The media gave anyone interested a glimpse of Cadet Simone Askew in her new role as first captain of cadets at West Point, leading the Long Grey Line of cadets on a 12-mile basic training trek — smiling all the way.

Cadet Askew already sounds like she’s preparing the Army Class of 2021 for the history books.

“It’s humbling,” she said, “but also exciting as I step into this new opportunity to lead the corps to greatness with my teammates with me.”

As I said, remember the name Simone Askew.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Navy designed this lethal one-man turret in World War II

When you think about turrets, you likely think about the big ones. Like those on Iowa-class battleships that hold three 16-inch guns, or even the twin five-inch mounts found on cruisers, destroyers, and carriers. Well, in this case, you’d be thinking too big.


Toward the end of World War II, the Navy was deploying a unique turret meant for the legendary PT boats. The purpose was to make them even more lethal than they proved to be in the Philippines and the Solomons.

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This version of the Elco Thunderbolt had four 20mm Oerlikon cannon and two M2 heavy machine guns. (U.S. Navy photo)

PT boats had become more than just a means of torpedoing enemy ships. By the end of the Solomons campaign, they were being used to attack barges — not with torpedoes, but with a lot of gunfire. Field modifications soon gave PT boats more powerful weapons, but there was a problem: PT boats didn’t have a ton of space.

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This early Thunderbolt had six M2 heavy machine guns and two 20mm Oerlikon cannon. (Photo from National Archives)

The solution to that problem was an electric turret called the Elco Thunderbolt. Elco was one of two companies that made the fast and lethal PT boats (the other was Higgins — yes, the makers of a crucial landing craft made PT boats as well). In addition to making PT boats even more lethal, this new turret would help a number of ships add firepower and reduce manpower.

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A PT boat off New Guinea. Operations in the Solomons lead to a push for more firepower. (U.S. Navy photo)

One early version of this turret featured two Oerlikon 20mm cannon and six M2 heavy machine guns. Other mixes were tested, including four Oerlikon cannon and two M2s or just the four Oerlikons. No matter the loadout, though, these turrets only required one person to send a huge wall of lead at an incoming enemy.

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Operations Specialist 2nd Class Brian Norman defends the ship with a Mark 38 .25mm machine gun supported by the phone talker, Torpedoeman’s Mate 2nd Class Edwin Holland during a small boat training exercise aboard the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61). (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Jeremie Kerns.)

By the time the war ended, the turret found its onto PT boats and some of the older battleships. Afterwards, it faded into history. Today, the Navy uses somewhat similar mounts for the Mk 38 Bushmaster, a 25mm chain gun. Still, the Thunderbolt showed some very interesting possibilities during its brief, but potent lifespan.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Japan’s submarines are getting more lethal thanks to this upgrade

With more Chinese submarines roaming the Pacific and the Trump administration pushing US-made hardware, Japan is putting into play a new piece of gear that may give its subs an edge at sea and keep its defense firms afloat.

On Oct. 4, 2018, in the city of Kobe, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries launched the Soryu-class diesel-electric attack sub Oryu, the 11th sub in the class and the first to be equipped with lithium-ion batteries.


The Oryu has a number of upgrades over previous Soryu-class boats, which are the biggest diesel-electric subs in the world, but the biggest change is the batteries.

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The JSMDF submarine Oryu at its launch on Oct. 4, 2018.

(JMSDF / Twitter)

Diesel-electric subs use power from their diesel engines to charge their batteries, which they switch to during operations or in combat situations in order to run quietly and avoid detection.

The lithium-ion batteries in the Oryu — which store about double the power of the lead-acid batteries they replace — extend the range and time the sub can spend underwater considerably.

Mitsubishi turned to Kyoto-based firm GS Yuasa to produce the new batteries.

The latter company said in February 2017 that Japan would be the first country in the world to equip diesel-electric attack subs with lithium-ion batteries, putting them on the final two boats in the Soryu class: the Oryu, designated SS 511, and its successor, designated SS 512.

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Japanese officials at the launch of the JSMDF submarine Oryu, Oct. 4, 2018.

(JMSDF / Twitter)

Previous Soryu-class subs used two Kawasaki diesel generators and two Kawasaki air-independent propulsion engines. (AIP allows nonnuclear subs to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen, replacing or augmenting diesel-electric systems.)

Both platforms have a top speed of 12 knots, or about 14 mph, on the surface and of 20 knots, or 23 mph, while submerged, according to Jane’s.

Soryu-class subs are outfitted with six tubes in their bow that can fire Japan’s Type 89 heavyweight torpedo. They can also fire UGM-84C Harpoon medium-range anti-ship missiles against targets on the surface.

Construction started on the 275-foot-long Oryu — which displaces 2,950 metric tons on the surface and 4,100 metric tons underwater — in March 2015. It’s expected to enter service with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force in March 2020.

Under pressure

The Oryu’s launch comes as Japan’s military and defense industry face pressure from two vastly different sources.

The Trump administration has been pushing Japan to buy more US military hardware, which Trump sees as a way to cut the trade imbalance between the two countries.

Japan, which has tried hard to court Trump, has beefed up its purchases of US-made gear. Tokyo spent about .5 billion through the US’s Foreign Military Sales program in the most recent fiscal year, after never spending more than about 0 million a year through fiscal year 2011, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Those acquisitions have helped Japan get sophisticated US hardware but have been of little benefit for Japan’s defense industry, which has struggled to export its own wares. Additional purchases from the US are likely to leave Japanese firms with fewer orders.

Facing pressure from US military imports and with Chinese and South Korean firms gaining an edge in commercial shipbuilding, subs are the only outlet left for Japanese heavy industry, which has specialized technology and strong shipbuilding infrastructure, according to Nikkei.

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A Chinese Shang-class (Type 093) nuclear-powered attack sub in the contiguous zone of the Senkaku Islands, January 2018.

(Japanese Ministry of Defense photo)

The Oryu also launches amid rising tensions in the East and South China Seas, where a number of countries have challenged Beijing’s expansive claims and aggressive behavior.

China has put “growing emphasis on the maritime domain,” the Pentagon said in 2018. Beijing can now deploy 56 subs — 47 of which are believed to be diesel or diesel-electric attack boats. That force is only expected to grow.

While those subs need to surface periodically, they can still operate quietly and strike with long-range anti-ship missiles — capabilities that likely weigh on the minds of US and Japanese policymakers.

Of particular concern for Tokyo is Chinese submarine activity in the East China Sea, around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which Japan controls but China claims.

In January 2018, a Chinese Shang-class nuclear-powered attack sub was detected in the contiguous zone around the islands — the first confirmed identification of a Chinese sub in that area. The presence of a concealed sub was seen by Japan as a much more serious threat than the presence of surface ships, and Tokyo lodged a protest with China.

Japan is using its own subs to challenge Beijing.

In September 2018, JMSDF Oyashio-class attack sub Kuroshiro joined other Japanese warships for exercises in the South China Sea — the first time a Japanese sub had done drills there, the Defense Ministry said.

The drills, done away from islands that China has built military outposts on, involved the Japanese sub trying to evade detection.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Australia won’t allow Chinese tech near its networks

The top cyber and communications spy in Australia has explained why Huawei and ZTE have been barred from the country’s 5G network and China is unimpressed.

Mike Burgess, the director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate, said in Canberra on Oct. 29, 2018, that the ban on Chinese telecom firms like Huawei Technologies and ZTE was in Australia’s national interest and would protect the country’s critical infrastructure.

It is the first time the nation’s chief cyber spook has publicly explained the move since August 2018 when Australia made the call to block the Chinese telecom giants from supplying equipment to the nascent Australian 5G network.


Burgess said that the stakes “could not be higher” and that if Australia used “high-risk vendor” supplies then everything from the country’s water supply and electricity grid to its health systems and even its autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles would be compromised.

In response, a miffed, but totally unsurprised China on Oct. 30, 2018, again called on Australia to drop “ideological prejudice” and “create a level playing field for Chinese companies doing business in the country.”

Australia is a member of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance alongside Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US, and while Australia is also a close trading partner, there is certainly an understanding to follow the US on sensitive intelligence issues that can compromise the alliance.

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ZTE booth at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona.

So that obviously puts the kibosh on allowing any access to critical infrastructure for any companies aligned with the Chinese state.

And since the Chinese government has been leveraging the state’s position, role and function within its growing portfolio of world-beating mega-tech companies, the decision out of Canberra to err on the side of caution — and Washington — would have surprised precisely no one.

But that didn’t stop China from responding the way it did.

In a restrained retort from the English language tabloid, The Global Times, China accused Canberra of being part of a US-led global conspiracy to leave Chinese tech companies behind.

“Australian officials and think tanks in recent days continued to raise security concerns over Chinese companies’ operations in the country and have made accusations about China stealing its technologies, in what Chinese analysts say is an attempt to, in collaboration with other Western powers, derail China’s steady rise in telecom and other technologies,” the Global Times noted.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing on Oct. 30, 2018, that “the Australian side should facilitate the cooperation among companies from the two countries, instead of using various excuses to artificially set up obstacles and adopt discriminatory practices.”

Back in August 2018 Marise Payne, the Australian foreign affairs minister, said the move was not targeted specifically at Huawei and ZTE, but applied to any company that had obligations clashing with Australia’s national security.

In response, China’s Ministry of Commerce released a statement chilling in its brevity: “The Australian government has made the wrong decision and it will have a negative impact to the business interests of China and Australia companies.”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner and 30% of Australian exports end up in the Middle Kingdom, it’s a bit of a fraught relationship when the US is also the isolated Pacific nation’s most important and closest military ally.

Huawei is the largest maker of telecom equipment worldwide, and in Australia for that matter too. But its sales here are still a fraction of the broader economic ties between the two countries, and it is China that has historically been unwilling to open much of its own telecom markets to foreign companies.

Describing Australia’s ban on Chinese telecommunication companies as “discriminatory” and based on manufactured “excuses,” China on Oct. 30, 2018, called on Australia to drop its “ideological prejudice” and “create a level playing field for Chinese companies doing business in the country.”

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Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne.

(DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

In the annals of majestic propaganda, it’s low-key bluster coming as it does from the world’s first digital dictatorship, as Business Insider UK’s Alexandra Ma describes here.

It’s just that not getting your tech-giants invited to global infrastructure parties is one of the unforeseen costs of setting up the greatest, most powerful intelligence-collection systems ever devised.

That success makes it hard for the Chinese government and its state-owned media to credibly look surprised, hurt, or bewildered when such a decision is made.

China’s vast data-collection platforms — WeChat alone has more than a billion users — are harvesting ever-deeper and more granular material on behalf of the state.

That’s great news for China’s state machinery when it comes to monitoring the population, but it’s a double-edged sword too, and wielding it has its price.

According to Danielle Cave, a senior analyst at the Australian Security Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, requiring Chinese citizens, organisations and companies to support, cooperate with and collaborate in intelligence activities, of course, comes at a cost to China.

“And that cost will be the international expansion plans of Chinese companies — state-owned and private — which have been well and truly boxed into a corner.

“The CCP has made it virtually impossible for Chinese companies to expand without attracting understandable and legitimate suspicion. The suspicion will be deeper in countries that invest in countering foreign interference and intelligence activities, Cave wrote in 2018 in The Strategist.

Most developed countries, including Australia, fall into that group and will come to fear the potential application and reach of China’s technical successes.

But then again, there are a good few states out there that could be willing to risk being watched by China, if they can use China’s tech to watch their own populations.

For now the Global Times insists that “such accusations are baseless.”

“They are in line with the Australian government’s overall approach toward China — a tougher approach that (is) derived from suspicion about China rise’s (sp) that they perceive as threat, a fantasy to contain China’s further development and ideological prejudice against China.”

It might be infuriating, but taken from this perspective it is a mark of sheer awe and respect for China’s technocratic achievements that Australia has balked at letting Huawei loose inside its critical networks.

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

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