This Memorial Day let's look a little deeper into our veteran characters - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

Breaking into Hollywood is hard. We all know that behind every working writer, director or actor there is a lot of hard work, failure and luck. I should know; my path to booking the role of Gilly, an Afghan war veteran on FX’s Mayans, came from actually going to war and being lucky enough to survive.

In Gilly, I’ve tried to channel the pure joy that veterans feel when they are part of a pack, either in uniform or riding motorcycles. There is also the fierce loyalty to one another that can turn into a heated argument or a hug. But at the end of the day, there is reality.


This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

(Courtesy of Vincent Vargas)

My reality as I was writing this was to stop to answer a call. It was a call I didn’t want to receive. I was being notified that one of my friends – a Marine combat veteran – had committed suicide. In an instant, his story was over. He wanted to be an actor. We were making plans to meet up in Los Angeles, so I could help him network and find his way into film and television. He had so much more to give this world… but now he’s gone. This Memorial Day, I will remember him, but more importantly, I will channel the hurt inside into my craft.

War and homecoming are some of the greatest highs and lows of the human experience. The thrill of combat, the isolation of coming home as an outsider and the pain of losing a friend are the basis for characters that would impress Miesner, Chekhov and even Stanislavski. So the question I ask myself this Memorial Day is, why aren’t more veterans working in Hollywood?

I can’t tell you why, but what I can tell you is that veterans working in the entertainment industry have the potential to change the way the world sees those who serve and to create some of the most iconic moments of our generation. Thankfully, history is on my side. Audie Murphy, a decorated WWII veteran and recipient of the Medal of Honor came to Hollywood and starred in over 40 films. His films, such as to Hell and Back, helped a nation come to terms after a massive world war. What most people don’t know is that James Cagney (yes that one) is the one who invited Murphy to Hollywood.

Seventy five years later, I am asking the Hollywood system to invite other veterans to join their ranks, as equals, just like I was embraced by the showrunners, cast and crew of the Mayans. In doing so, we have an opportunity to not only create amazing content but also harness some of the most captivating characters of our generation. Sadly, where we stand and who we are as veterans is not shown in the best light. That needs to change, and I intend to be a beacon for that change.

The common stereotype of combat veterans focuses on struggles with drinking, drugs, post-traumatic stress and even suicide while trying to find a sense of normalcy in society. Although there is truth in these experiences and I will never discount those who are hurting, it is a severe misrepresentation of who we are as a whole. The veteran community is filled with success stories — beautiful stories of courage, strength, and determination.

It wasn’t long ago when every gang member in a movie was portrayed as Hispanic or African American. Asians were depicted as liquor store owners who spoke broken English. Since that time, there has been a beautiful shift in the portrayal of other diversity groups, However, we still have a long way to go with regard to the portrayal of combat veterans.

(Courtesy of Vincent Vargas)

If there were more inspirational films with an honest narrative, would that have saved my friend? Would he have gravitated toward that inspiration and pulled himself from the darkness?

Maybe…

If we genuinely want to make a positive impact in the veteran community, we have to change the narrative! We have to tell stories about the ones who faced the hardships and adversity but continued to fight for their own success. We have to be more than they give us permission to be or expect us to be.

To my knowledge, out of the over 2.5 Million Americans who have deployed since 9/11, I am currently the only Iraq and Afghan war combat veteran to hold a recurring role on television series. I’m not sure why that is because there are so many talented veteran storytellers and actors out there. I don’t credit my success to any extensive training or some unbelievable skillset. It’s more of being at the “right place at the right time with the right look.” But since I am here, I’ve had the opportunity to see how Hollywood portrays us, and I am not exactly proud of how we are being represented.

What would make me proud is to see a massive influx of veterans working in the entertainment industry. Whether they’re onscreen or behind it, I want us to tell our own stories. And I want those stories to be genuine, successful and make us better people.

The world needs to know that we are more than just boots and weapons. The world needs to know that we have lives, families, accomplishments and goals long past the physical wars we fought.

If we want to see this change, we have to lead by example and become that change. Seeing the potential in ourselves and building up our brothers and sisters is literally a matter of life or death.

Will you stand with me and make that change?

R.L.T.W.

Articles

Watch the Air Force launch a Minuteman missile

The U.S. Air Force released test-launched an unarmed Minuteman III missile Feb. 25 in order to test the reliability of the Cold War-era, nuclear-capable weapons. The Minuteman III is an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.


“This is the second ICBM launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the past 5 days and while it may seem routine, a tremendous amount of effort is required to safely assess the current performance and validate the security of the nation’s fielded ICBM force,” said Col. J. Christopher Moss, 30th Space Wing commander. “Our teams are made of dedicated Airmen who make a difference for the Air Force and the nation and I am proud to be a part of this team.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
A Minuteman III missile streaks across the sky in a 2013 test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales

The tested missile flew 4,000 miles over the Pacific to a test area in the Marshall Islands which opened up speculation that the missile test may have been a reminder to North Korea that the U.S. can hit it at any time. North Korea recently launched a failed satellite that some say was a camouflaged test of its own ballistic missiles and a threat to the U.S.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
A rocket lifts off from its launch pad in Musudan-ri, North Korea (DPRK State Media)

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said the test was necessary to remind rival nations that the aging U.S. nuclear missiles are still very capable, but he didn’t mention North Korea.

“We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable,” he told journalists at the launch. “And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
Photo: US Air Force via Wikipedia

Each Minuteman III missile can carry up to three nuclear warheads which each strike different targets. Each warhead packs a 300-500 kiloton yield, about 20-33 times the strength of the bomb that struck Hiroshima. The missile tested Feb. 25 carried a test version of the re-entry vehicles which steer nuclear warheads.

The Air Force has had to reduce its number of ICBMs to meet the requirements of the New START treaty which caps the number at 400 armed missiles and 50 unarmed reserves. The Minuteman III missile is the only U.S. land-based ICBM currently in service.

MIGHTY GAMING

How this video game stunt will predict the future of war

Top video game players are currently playing for a pool of almost $25 million’s worth in prizes in a game called DOTA 2, but one event that will take place on the main stage will be the most public display yet of a growing technology that will likely re-shape warfare in the way that the maturation of gunpowder or military aviation once did.


www.youtube.com

A team of artificial intelligence bots from OpenAI will take on a team of five professional human players and the AI will likely win. It will likely be the closest thing AI gets to a Billy Mitchell bombing the Ostfriesland moment.

The details of the game aren’t super important for this discussion, but you can read about it here if you care. Basically, the game is much more complex than the board games that AIs have been taking on in the last few years, and requires a much more complex system of evaluations and executions to win against humans, especially in team play.

Last year, the AI from OpenAI trained on one-vs-one matches and went from barely being able to control units in game to defeating the single-best human player in the world in less than six months. This year, it’s targeting team battles and has already defeated a team made up of players in the top 0.5 percent of the world.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

Fans watch the proceedings during the 2014 DOTA 2 invitational.

(DOTA 2)

So, what does this all have to do with war? OpenAI doesn’t exist to win video games. It’s a nonprofit started by big names like Elon Musk in order to advance safe AI (Artificial intelligence restricted to working for the benefit and safety of humans). In fact, most of OpenAI’s projects have nothing to do with video games. They just use DOTA 2 as a flashy way to get and keep people interested in their AI work.

What OpenAI really cares about is fueling breakthroughs in AI research and development for use in everything from managing cities to controlling factories. And while they don’t pursue military research, it’s not hard to see how a computer that can control a mage throwing fireballs across a digital battlefield might be taught how to control cruisers firing artillery shells across the water.

Other researchers have already created an AI that can outperform humans in small aerial dogfights. If an AI created with OpenAI’s deep-learning was aimed at that milestone, it could be expected to take on human opponents within a few months of creation, then win against teams within another year or less, and be able to dominate most human teams soon thereafter.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

The U.S. Navy’s unmanned X-47B jet aircraft.

(U.S. Navy)

And that’s while we make the computer fly jets designed for humans and if it’s forced to treat its planes as assets it can’t sacrifice. But jets flown by humans don’t need to be constrained by the limits of the human body, meaning they can take tighter turns at higher speeds. And we don’t have to treat losing jets the same as we would losing jets with humans on board. The computer could treat them like DOTA 2 heroes: valuable, but ultimately disposable for the right gain.

And the U.S. and Chinese militaries, among others, know about these advantages of AI, and are pursuing AI technology for just that reason. And it won’t just apply to jets, but also submarines, armored vehicles, and potentially even infantry. After all, OpenAI has helped AIs train each other for controlling human-like bodies in everything from digital sumo matches to high winds.

So it’s easy to imagine that, in the next war, China and America will start turning more and more to their robot partners for help against their enemies, potentially each other.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

For at least the next few decades, larger ships will still need human crews, which means that hundreds or thousands of sailors will still be at risk while fighting.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacques-Laurent Jean-Gilles)

But this will create an even more frightening change in warfare than aerial bombing did. Sailors and soldiers will be asked to go forward either knowing that the decision has been made by an unfeeling machine or knowing that there was a chance the decision was made by a machine, and that they will be fighting a mix of machines and humans.

And AIs will likely be better at strategic decisions eventually, but it will still carry an added moral weight for troops knowing that they aren’t executing the will of a senior human, but a robot.

But, of course, it won’t be all bad. In isolated areas with little need for humans to safeguard against collateral damage, entire battles could be fought with little or no human losses.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

A U.S. Marine leads a robot on a simulated patrol.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kyle J. O. Olson)

Imagine a few decades into the future, one where robots can control warships and planes, submarines, and anti-aircraft guns. Now imagine the historic Battle of Midway where Japan lost five ships and 292 aircraft while suffering 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost two ships and 145 aircraft while suffering 307 casualties.

Now, combine those two visions, a Battle of Midway where two of the world’s largest navies clash with almost no sailors having to fight at the front. Yes, the ships and planes would still be lost, and control of vast swaths of the world would still be decided by violent clashes, but the human sacrifice would be in the single or double digits.

And the victory for the winner will still be complete. After all, if the U.S. fleet survives at Midway, whether it is crewed by robots or humans, that’s still a physical fleet that can move towards the Japanese home islands.

So, yes, AI will almost certainly revolutionize warfare, and it will happen in the secrecy of classified labs until exploding into the open in a large war.

Until then, if you want to see the progress AI is making, watch the OpenAI Twitter and YouTube streams. Robots may prove their supremacy this week, if only in digital space…

…for now.

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of Sept. 1

Bravo Zulu to all of servicemen and women down in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. You guys are the light in this sh*tty moment. You deserve a beer.


Oh yeah… And there’s North Korea. There’s still the same douchebags screaming the same stupid rhetoric for the last 50 years.

#13: They also set up a canopy.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Popsmoke)

#12: It’s all fun and games until Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club came in.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Gruntworks)

#11: When and why did we stop using the phrase “BOHICA?”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme by We Are The Mighty)

#10: What? Did you think your enlistment was just about saving drunk boaters and going to festivals?

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Army as F*ck)

#9: “You think you and your boys were ride or die? My bros proved it.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

#8: We get it, dude. Your “totally knocking out the drill if he got in your face” is the reason you didn’t enlist.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

#7: “You know what would cheer the single, lower enlisted troops up? An FRG Meeting.” -Said every CO ever.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Air Force AMN/NCO/SNCO)

#6: The alcohol makes up 75% of that sadness.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

#5: Remember – Scoring 181 or higher with at least 60 points in each event during the APFT is technically “exceeding the standard.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

#4: Nothing works better than telling her that she’s better than a laptop in a 120° Porta-John.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

#3: Maybe if we send her more troops, she’ll forget we were eyeing another conflict.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

#2: If he completes his purpose, he’ll also cease to exist.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

#1: You might be stacked, but do your medals go all the way to your pants?

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Tehran says missing former FBI agent left Iran ‘long ago’

Tehran says that Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, left the country “long ago” and doesn’t know where he is, rejecting a claim by his family saying he died in Iranian custody.

“Based on credible evidence, [Levinson] left Iran years ago for an unknown destination,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said in a statement on March 26.


He added that officials had done everything possible to find out what happened after Levinson left Iran but had found “no evidence of him being alive.”

“Iran has always maintained that its officials have no knowledge of Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts, and that he is not in Iranian custody. Those facts have not changed,” added Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission at the United Nations.

The Iranian comments come in response to a White House statement saying that the U.S. administration believed Bob Levinson may have passed away “some time ago.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

“Iran must provide a complete accounting of what occurred with Bob Levinson before the United States can fully accept what happened in this case,” White House national-security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement about the American, who disappeared in Iran 13 years ago, when he was 58.

Before that statement, Levinson’s family posted on social media that it had received word about his likely fate from the U.S. government.

“We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody,” the Levinson family said in a statement.

“We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.

Following the family’s announcement and before O’Brien’s comments, President Donald Trump told reporters that “I won’t accept that he’s dead.”

Levinson had been “sick for a long time” before he was detained, Trump said, adding that he felt “terribly” for the family but still had some hope that Levinson was alive.

“It’s not looking great, but I won’t accept that he” dead. They haven’t told us that he’s dead, but a lot of people are thinking that that’s the case,” he said.

Levinson disappeared when he traveled to the Iranian resort of Kish Island in March 2007. He was working for the CIA as a contractor at the time.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

The United States has repeatedly called on Iran to help locate Levinson and bring him home, but Iranian officials said they had no information about his fate.

However, when he disappeared, an Iranian government-linked media outlet broadcast a story saying he was “in the hands of Iranian security forces.”

The Levinson family said he would be alive today “if not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime.”

“How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands,” the statement added.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch this cockpit footage of an A-10 flying over Miami Beach

Filmed on May 26, 2018, the following footage shows Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Schriever, a pilot in the 303rd Fighter Squadron, flying an A-10 Thunderbolt II alongside his wingman, Air Force 1st Lieutenant Tanner Rindels, over Miami Beach, Florida during the 2nd annual Salute to American Heroes Air and Sea Show, a two-day event showcases military fighter jets and other aircraft and equipment from all branches of the United States military in observance of Memorial Day.

The clip shows the two A-10s maneuvering close to an HC-130 “King” involved in a HAAR (Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling) mission with two HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida.


Dubbed Warthog, Hog or just Hawg, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the “airplane built around the GAU-8 Avenger 30-mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon” to fight the Soviet tanks in the European battlefields during the Cold War, is considered one of the most durable and lethal combat plane in the CAS (Close Air Support) mission. Interestingly, on May 25, 2018, the day before the video was shot, the U.S. Air Force released the official request for proposals for an A-10 Thunderbolt Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit (“ATTACK”) program under which it could buy as many as 112 sets of new wings for the service’s remaining, so-called “thin wing” A-10 Warthog attack aircraft.

Military Life

7 white lies recruiters tell and what they really mean

Military recruiters are some of the most tireless salesmen in the country. When they’re not handling some paperwork to make entering the military easier on a recruit, they’re out finding fresh faces to bring into military service. Oftentimes, however, recruiters are given a bad reputation for stretching the truth to a prospective troop.


And let’s be honest; there is an extremely small handful of recruiters out there who are unethical and bring discredit upon their branch of service by flat-out lying to boost their numbers. The other 99.9% of recruiters out there doing the right thing, however, respond to questions a recruit asks in more colorful words to avoid scaring them. For example, if a dumb high-school graduate asks if the military will give them a free Camaro, the recruiter would likely respond with something like, “the military will give you the money you’ll need for a Camaro.” This isn’t a blatant ‘yes,’ but reframes how the potential recruit thinks about military service.

Here are some the ways these master persuaders put their special touch on common questions.

7. When asked, “is Boot/Basic is hard?”

Recruiters have a qualifier they use here — “It’s not as hard as it used to be.”

They’ll never tell you that it’s a walk in the park — because it’s not. Older vets that went in when Drill Sergeants/Instructors could lay hands on a recruit had it much harder, but they’re still going to break the civilian out of you.

Basic is so easy, even Homer Simpson could do it. (Image via GIPHY)

6. When asked, “is college is free?”

A good recruiter will never use the phrase “free college,” because it isn’t.

In addition to “paying for it with your commitment,” you pay small chunks for the first 12 months of your enlistment as an allotment.

Basically… (Image via GIPHY)

5. When asked, “which job pays more?”

There is no job in the military that pays more than others. Yes, there are slight increases in pay for certain things, like deployments, dependents, and airborne pay, but everything else goes off pay grade.

That said, an MOS with lower promotional requirements will pay more over time.

Yep. That’s pretty much how it works… (Image via GIPHY)

4. When asked, “Do I get to do this when I’m in?”

Outsiders looking in have wild ideas about military service. Wide-eyed recruits who show up wanting to start their life as part of Airborne, Rangers, or Special Forces will be sadly disappointed.

Recruiters don’t have the pull to get a fresh recruit into some of the most prestigious schools. The go-to response is, “you can try when you get to your first duty station,” which basically like a Magic 8-ball saying, “ask again later.”

When a recruiter is asked if a recruit can get an “SF Contract.” (Image  via GIPHY)

3. When asked, “what are my best options when I get out?”

All MOS’s have skills that transfer into the civilian world. “Leadership abilities” and “working well as a team or alone” are buzzwords that every civilian job goes nuts over.

Usually, if you show interest in anything non-military, the recruiter will masterfully relate it to the lessons learned in service.

Best advice a recruiter can give. (Image via GIPHY)

2. When asked about bonuses.

Bonuses add a little incentive, helping convince people into high demand jobs (like water purification specialists) or jobs that need to stay competitive with the civilian marketplace (like aviators).

Recruiters don’t or at least shouldn’t lie about bonuses because they’re hard numbers on paper. If you just ask which job has the best bonus, they’ll look to the spreadsheet to see which job is needed at that moment.  If you show interest in a job that doesn’t have a bonus, they’ll often leave them out of the conversation as to not change your mind.

Don’t spend it all in one place… (Image via GIPHY)

1. When asked, “does this need a waiver?”

If a recruiter pushes for a waiver, they like something about the recruit or their numbers are hurting, but there’s just one or two things holding them back.

Waivers are a pain in the ass. While the recruit has to prove they’re worth the trouble, the recruiter has to jump through far more hoops to get them through — that means paperwork, meetings, and phone calls. It takes a lot for the recruiter to back-up their claim that the recruit is a fine addition to the military or they really, REALLY need the numbers.

Recruits can basically get in with whatever — given enough paperwork. (Image via GIPHY)

MIGHTY SPORTS

Team gets kicked out of Military World Games for ‘extensive cheating’

A Chinese team got kicked out of the Military World Games in China after accusations of “extensive cheating” from six European nations.

On Oct. 21, 2019, China took gold, silver, and fourth place in the women’s Middle Distance orienteering challenge in Wuhan, as well as silver in the men’s event.

But their celebrations were short-lived.

“The Middle Distance competition was unfortunately overshadowed by extensive cheating by the Chinese team,” the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) said in a press release.


The IOF said it was “discovered and proven” that Chinese runners “received illegal assistance both by spectators in the terrain, markings, and small paths prepared for them and which only they were aware of.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

The U.S. Armed Forces Sports team marches during opening ceremonies for the 2019 CISM Military World Games in Wuhan, China Oct. 18, 2019.

(DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

The national teams of Russia, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Poland, and Austria submitted a formal complaint, and the jury disqualified everyone in the home orienteering team.

Business Insider contacted The People’s Liberation Army and China’s Ministry of Defense for comment, but is yet to receive a response.

The IOF said it rejected an appeal from China.

Athletes from Russia’s military were then awarded gold in both the men’s and women’s event.

Orienteering is a foot race involving small teams, who use a compass and map to navigate a path through complex terrain to a finish line.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

The logo and mascot for the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan, China.

(YouTube/CISM)

The Military World Games are an annual event which see several armed forces compete in a variety of summer and winter sports.

This year’s event ran from Oct. 18 to Oct. 27, 2019, and was opened with a ceremony attended by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army creating shape-shifting robots out of smaller robots

A U.S. Army project took a new approach to developing robots — researchers built robots entirely from smaller robots known as “smarticles,” unlocking the principles of a potentially new locomotion technique.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and Northwestern University published their findings in the journal Science Robotics.

The research could lead to robotic systems capable of changing their shapes, modalities and functions, said Sam Stanton, program manager, complex dynamics and systems at the Army Research Office, an element of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, the Army’s corporate research laboratory.


“For example, as envisioned by the Army Functional Concept for Maneuver, a robotic swarm may someday be capable of moving to a river and then autonomously forming a structure to span the gap,” he said.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

Five identical “smarticles” — smart active particles — interact with one another in an enclosure. By nudging each other, the group — dubbed a “supersmarticle” — can move in random ways. The research could lead to robotic systems capable of changing their shapes, modalities and functions.

The 3D-printed smarticles — short for smart active particles — can do just one thing: flap their two arms. But when five of these smarticles are confined in a circle, they begin to nudge one another, forming a robophysical system known as a “supersmarticle” that can move by itself. Adding a light or sound sensor allows the supersmarticle to move in response to the stimulus — and even be controlled well enough to navigate a maze.

The notion of making robots from smaller robots — and taking advantage of the group capabilities that arise by combining individuals — could provide mechanically based control over very small robots. Ultimately, the emergent behavior of the group could provide a new locomotion and control approach for small robots that could potentially change shapes.

“These are very rudimentary robots whose behavior is dominated by mechanics and the laws of physics,” said Dan Goldman, a Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the project’s principal investigator. “We are not looking to put sophisticated control, sensing and computation on them all. As robots become smaller and smaller, we’ll have to use mechanics and physics principles to control them because they won’t have the level of computation and sensing we would need for conventional control.”

The foundation for the research came from an unlikely source: a study of construction staples. By pouring these heavy-duty staples into a container with removable sides, former doctoral student Nick Gravish — now a faculty member at the University of California San Diego — created structures that would stand by themselves after the container’s walls were removed.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

Light hits a smarticle (smart active particle) causing it to stop moving, while the other smarticles continue to flap their arms. The resulting interactions produce movement toward the stopped smarticle, providing control that doesn’t depend on computer algorithms.

Shaking the staple towers eventually caused them to collapse, but the observations led to a realization that simple entangling of mechanical objects could create structures with capabilities well beyond those of the individual components.

“Dan Goldman’s research is identifying physical principles that may prove essential for engineering emergent behavior in future robot collectives as well as new understanding of fundamental tradeoffs in system performance, responsiveness, uncertainty, resiliency and adaptivity,” Stanton said.

The researchers used a 3D printer to create battery-powered smarticles, which have motors, simple sensors and limited computing power. The devices can change their location only when they interact with other devices while enclosed by a ring.

“Even though no individual robot could move on its own, the cloud composed of multiple robots could move as it pushed itself apart and shrink as it pulled itself together,” Goldman said. “If you put a ring around the cloud of little robots, they start kicking each other around and the larger ring — what we call a supersmarticle — moves around randomly.”

The researchers noticed that if one small robot stopped moving, perhaps because its battery died, the group of smarticles would begin moving in the direction of that stalled robot. The researchers learned to control the movement by adding photo sensors to the robots that halt the arm flapping when a strong beam of light hits one of them.

Smarticles: Robots built from smaller robots work together

www.youtube.com

“If you angle the flashlight just right, you can highlight the robot you want to be inactive, and that causes the ring to lurch toward or away from it, even though no robots are programmed to move toward the light,” Goldman said. “That allowed steering of the ensemble in a very rudimentary, stochastic way.”

In future work, Goldman envisions more complex interactions that use the simple sensing and movement capabilities of the smarticles. “People have been interested in making a certain kind of swarm robots that are composed of other robots,” he said. “These structures could be reconfigured on demand to meet specific needs by tweaking their geometry.”

Swarming formations of robotic systems could be used to enhance situational awareness and mission-command capabilities for small Army units in difficult-to-maneuver environments like cities, forests, caves or other rugged terrain.

The research project also received funding from National Science Foundation.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

We Are The Mighty screens ‘Kilo Two Bravo’ for enthusiastic crowd

“[Kilo Two Bravo is] less about the flag for which these men may die but the weary bravery they must summon to survive.”

Miami Herald, 4/5 stars


 

We Are The Mighty hosted a screening of the war film “Kilo Two Bravo” at the Lido theater in Newport, CA on November 10. Described as “the most honest and unflinching look at the reality and brutality of war”, the film was well received by the 200-some people in attendance.

“Kilo Two Bravo” tells the true story of a platoon on a mission to neutralize a Taliban roadblock in the Kajaki region of Afghanistan. While closing in on the insurgents, the unit find themselves marooned in the middle of a minefield, setting in motion a desperate rescue mission. This taut thriller tells the story of heroism, courage and survival and captures what war is like for those fighting it in the 21st Century.

“Kilo Two Bravo” is now in theaters and available on iTunes.

Articles

Marine Aviators will fly in the F-35 Vs. Super Hornet review

A recently launched Pentagon review comparing F-35C carrier-variant Joint Strike Fighters with F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets will involve Marine Corps aviators and aircraft, the Corps’ deputy commandant of aviation said Wednesday.


Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said the review, commissioned by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Jan. 26, would study the two aircraft “apples to apples” to determine whether the 4th-generation Super Hornet can fill the shoes of the brand-new F-35C.

Related: A-10 vs. F-35 flyoff may begin next year

“Really, it is — looking across the mission sets — does a Block 3 Super Hornet match up, compare to an F-35C,” Davis said. “It’s for the carrier air wing of the future.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
Pilots with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 exit F-35B Lightning II’s after conducting training during exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 20, 2016. This is the first time that the fifth generation fighter has participated in the multi service air-to-air combat training exercise. Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson

The Marine Corps, Davis said, has already purchased 10 of the 67 F-35Cs it planned to buy and has six on the flightline at Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 in Beaufort, South Carolina.

While the Navy is planning to purchase most of the F-35Cs, with a strategy to buy 260, the Corps has gone ahead of the other services to hit a number of F-35 milestones. Its F-35B jump jet variant was the first to reach initial operational capability in July 2015, and it was the first to forward base a squadron overseas in January.

Davis noted that the Marine Corps owns a significant portion of the program’s institutional wisdom as well.

“I probably have the most experienced F-35 pilots in the department of the Navy on my staff right now,” he said.

Mattis’ directive, aimed at finding ways to shave cost off the infamously expensive Joint Strike Fighter program, dictates that the review assess the extent that improvements can be made to the Super Hornet “in order to provide a competitive, cost-effective fighter aircraft alternative.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
U.S. Marine Corps F-35 Lightning II aircraft and F-18 Hornets assigned to Naval Air Station Pensacola fly over the northwest coast of Florida May 15, 2013. | Department of Defense photo

Davis said that F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin and Super Hornet maker Boeing would have opportunities to make their case for the aircraft.

However, he said, he expects the study to validate the need to have the technologically advanced F-35C deployed aboard carriers in the future.

“I think it will be a good study, and my sense is we’ll probably have validated the imperative to have a 5th-generation aircraft out there on our nation’s bow,” he said.

If F-35Cs are taken out of the picture as a result of the review, attrition rates of the 4th-generation Super Hornet may become an issue, Davis said, suggesting such a move would limit the aircraft’s ability to deploy in some situations.

“We’re not going backward in time, we’re going forward in time,” he said. “The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, we’re deployed, naval and expeditionary, and we want to make sure our Marines and our sailors have the very best gear in case something bad happens. And that’s 5th-generation airplanes.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia field-tests its armored ‘Terminator’

KYIV, Ukraine — The Russian military is testing its first batch of “Terminator” tank support fighting vehicles.

Built on the chassis of Russia’s T-72 tank, the heavily armored Ramka-99 BMPT-72 tank support combat vehicle — colloquially known as the “Terminator” — is equipped with a lethal suite of weapons capable of destroying tanks, armored fighting vehicles, infantry, helicopters, and some aircraft. It’s also designed to protect its five-man crew from radiation after a nuclear blast.

A video posted by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on both Facebook and Twitter on Monday shows several Terminators in a live-fire exercise alongside tanks from the 90th Tank Division in the Chelyabinsk region of the Urals. Under overcast skies, the armored formation advances across a snowy field while intermittently firing various weapons. Infantry are seen moving on foot behind the line of armor.

“Tankers of the Central Military District are mastering the new BMPT ‘Terminator,’ which came to them for a trial operation. They study all the combat capabilities of the combat vehicles and test them in action,” the Russian Ministry of Defense wrote on Facebook.

Produced by Russia’s largest battle tank manufacturer, UralVagonZavod, the Terminator was primarily designed to destroy enemy forces equipped with anti-tank weapons in an urban environment. Effectively, the Terminator serves as a “guard” for its associated tank unit, according to UralVagonZavod.

“In order to change the perspective on its use, we refer to it more often as a fire support combat vehicle (BMOP) rather than a tank support fighting vehicle (BMPT). That is, it can be used both as part of armored, motorized infantry formations and on its own, which is very important,” UralVagonZavod’s press office said in a release.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
A Russian tank exercise involving the Terminators. Photo by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Facebook via screenshot.

The Terminator appeared in the 2018 “Victory Day” parade on Moscow’s Red Square, and first saw combat in Syria in 2017. That year, at the Hmeymim air base in Syria, Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov demonstrated the fire support combat vehicle to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

According to the Russian news site TASS: “The tank support combat vehicle was created in response to modern battlefield tactics. Local conflicts over the past several decades have demonstrated that a tank needs protection against enemy grenade launchers in urban conditions.”

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters
“Terminator” fire support fighting vehicle. Photo by Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation via Wikimedia Commons.

The Terminator is equipped with multiple weapons, including: four Ataka supersonic anti-tank missiles with a range of more than 3 miles, two 30 mm guns that can fire both armor-piercing and high-explosive fragmentation rounds (effective against infantry forces and helicopters), two grenade launchers with 600 grenades, and a Kalashnikov submachine gun. According to Russian defense officials, the Terminator can simultaneously track three targets.

“One BMPT actually substitutes one motor rifle platoon: six infantry fighting vehicles and 40-strong personnel. It is actually impossible to survive under the Russian vehicle’s fierce precision fire,” UralVagonZavod’s press office said in a release.

The Terminator’s design dates back to 2006 and was first showcased to international arms buyers in September 2013 at the Russia Arms Expo. However, the project stalled for years due to budgetary concerns. The Russian Ministry of Defense finally approved the purchase of its first batch of Terminators in 2017. So far, the Russian army has taken possession of eight of the vehicles, according to news reports.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

In addition to its formidable armor, the Terminator is also designed to protect its crew from radiation in the event of a nuclear exchange.

“The Terminator tank support combat vehicle is multipurpose and highly protected, with powerful armament, modern fire control devices and high maneuverability,” the Russian Ministry of Defense wrote on Facebook.

Terminators saw use in the Zapad-2017 military exercise, which comprised forces from Russia and Belarus. According to Russian media reports, Kazakhstan — a former Soviet republic — has purchased an unspecified number of Terminators, marking the only foreign export, to date, of the armored fighting vehicle.

The US Javelin anti-tank missile was introduced in 1996. In 2018 the US delivered its first batch of Javelins, also known as FGM-148s, to Ukraine — a post-Soviet country with which Russia has been engaged in a low-intensity land war since 2014.

To date, Ukraine has not used the Javelins in combat.

MIGHTY FIT

Is cold weather training good for your immune system?

Freakin’ Russia, man! That country is everywhere in the news these days. Whether it be unexplained deaths of Putin’s opposition, election meddling, weird political memes, or @lookatthisRussian they seem to be everywhere.

Because of this borderline second Cold War, the U.S. military has taken a renewed interest in cold-weather training. Russia is a cold place, and a foreseen conflict will probably occur, at least partially in the Arctic Circle. Not because it’s a “Cold” war, read a textbook!


With the potential that you may end up in some type of cold weather environment either in training or on an Op, it’s a good idea to take a look at what that exposure to the frigid cold may have on your body and mind.

You may have heard of cold shock proteins, you may have even dabbled with a cold shower or some Wim Hof breathing. Let me spare you the Ice Man’s Polish accent and just get to the good things that cold exposure is doing to your body.

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Sgt. Bruce Allen, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, proceeds to the rally point after completing an airborne training jump at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska, in January 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña, Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson Public Affairs)

Strengthens the immune system

Cold exposure three times a week for six weeks actually increases the number of immune cells that you have. Of course, that’s not the only magic combination of exposure that you have to do, it’s just what’s been tested.

Winter swimmers have some insane immune systems. It used to be just them bragging, but some real research has backed them up. It appears the cold water is making these people superhuman.

But that’s not the only benefit to cold exposure. There are a lot more ways that cold exposure can help you maximize your training returns.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

A Soldier prepares to climb out of a hole cut into an ice-covered Big Sandy Lake after jumping in the water as part of cold-water immersion training for Class 19-01 of the Cold-Weather Operations Course on Dec. 13, 2018, at Fort McCoy, Wis.

(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis)

Improved mood

Depressed? Angry? Outlook grim? Hop in an icy lake; it may be just the thing you need to shake your funk.

When you expose yourself to the cold, your body releases this hormone called norepinephrine (AKA noradrenaline) to constrict your blood vessels. This decreases the amount of heat you lose from your blood by decreasing the surface area of the blood.

There are a few side benefits to norepinephrine, one of which being that it also functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain that helps increase vigilance, attention, and mood.

Makes sense why a cold shower wakes you up!

If you’re a fan of hormones and neurotransmitters, check out how they impact your appetite in my free Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

Cold Weather Leaders Course 19-004 students fire from the standing supported position at the Northern Warfare Training Center’s Black Rapids Training Site during the 10-kilometer biathlon March 12, 2019.

(Army photo/John Pennell)

Fixes your brain

Cold shock proteins are these things that form when you experience extreme amounts of cold exposure. They tend to be rather awesome for you. This is where some of the real hype about cold exposure comes from.

Scientists have even found that in mice, cold exposure results in this cold shock protein called RBM3.

If this seems questionable to you, check this out to see how these types of experiments actually work.

RBM3 appears to fix lost connections in the brain!

If you at all worry about dementia or just losing your mental edge, cold exposure should be on your to-do list.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

In addition to cold-water immersion training, students were trained on a variety of cold-weather subjects, including skiing and snowshoe training as well as how to use ahkio sleds and other gear.

(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)

Inflammation management

Inflammation is the key driver in the aging process, meaning the more you can manage unnecessary inflammation, the more likely you are to slow the aging process.

The aging process includes a lot more than just developing wrinkles. Things like joint degeneration, memory loss, slower recovery times, digestive efficiency are all included in the aging process. Basically, anytime something stops working the way you want it to, that’s the aging process.

Inflammation occurs when we hurt ourselves like a swollen joint. Inflammation also occurs from stress. If you’re always stressed, you’re always experiencing increased amounts of inflammation. Remember, more inflammation means more aging.

To help the physical symptoms of inflammation, try some cold exposure like cold water immersion or cryotherapy.

The cause of your chronic stress will take more effort; some simulated life-threatening danger may help, also meditation is a great help.
How you burn more fat through COLD EXPOSURE

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Burns more fat

The best for last. It appears that cold exposure increases the amount of brown fat we have. Brown fat is fat that is much more active than other fat tissue. The browner, fat tissue is, the more active it is because of the increased number of mitochondria that it has.

More active fat cells help us warm our bodies in cold environments through what’s called non-shivering thermogenesis. Basically, your body heats up without shivering. The amount of heat that you produce from this effect requires energy to conduct, AKA calories.

More brown fat means you have a higher metabolism. A higher metabolism while maintaining the same amount of food you normally eat is basically the same thing as going on a diet. That’s science for you.

Here’s some more science on other ways to burn fat!Cold exposure is another tool you should keep in your toolkit to keep yourself in the fight. That being said, it won’t make up for missed training sessions or a shitty diet. If you want to learn how to maximize cold exposure, diet, or your training, shoot me an email at michael@composurefitness.com.

Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!

I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.

This Memorial Day let’s look a little deeper into our veteran characters

Cold exposure is another tool you should keep in your toolkit to keep yourself in the fight. That being said, it won’t make up for missed training sessions or a shitty diet. If you want to learn how to maximize cold exposure, diet, or your training, shoot me an email at michael@composurefitness.com.

Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!

I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.