Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

Every military installation has its ups and downs. You could be assigned to a tropical paradise, but you can’t afford anything off-base. You could be assigned to a breathtaking foreign country, but learning the local language will take some time. Or, you could be assigned to Thule Air Base in Greenland, where there’s literally nothing but ice and rock for 65 miles (and, even then, it’s just a remote Eskimo village).


The multinational team stationed there consists of around 400 Danish troops, 150 American troops, and a handful of Canadians. Team Thule is charged with tracking satellites and orbiting debris using a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), a remnant from the Cold War by being strategically placed roughly halfway between Moscow and New York City.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

The BMEWS is still manned and operated by both American and Danish troops. Denmark holds territorial claim over Greenland but gave them “Home Rule” in 1979 and Greenlanders voted for self-governance in 2008. Denmark still handles much of the defense of Greenland, however.

Troops at Thule are locked out from the rest of the world by the ice for nine months, so during the three “summer” months, everyone loads up on supplies that’ll last them the rest of the year. Thule is also home to the Air Force’s only Tug Boat, the Rising Star, which it uses for these resupply missions.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
Just an average day at Thule Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dennis Hoffman)

The Military One Source Pamphlet hilariously tries to downplay the roughness of Thule while also telling you that there are no ATMs, no commissary, the PX is extremely limited, and there’s all of one bar and a single “base taxi.”

But hey! At least every barracks room comes with free WiFi and it’s kind of accepted that everyone shelters-in-place during the four-month-long Polar Night where winds can reach 200 mph and the temperatures are -28.

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 Facts about the Korean War: 70 Years Later

June 25, 1950 saw troops from North Korea pouring across the 38th parallel into South Korea. This began a short, yet exceptionally bloody war. There are those that refer to the Korean War as, “the forgotten war” as it did not receive the same kind of attention as did World War II or the Vietnam War. However, despite the lack of attention given to it, the Korean War was one of great loss for both sides involved – both civilian and military. Even now, 70 years later, the Korean War is given less notice than other conflicts and wars in history. It is just as important and just as worthy of remembrance as anything else.


To honor those that fought, those that died, and those that were wounded in Korea between June 25, 1950, and July 27, 1953, here are 5 facts about the Korean War:

38th Parallel still divides the two countries:

The 38th Parallel was the boundary which divided the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the North and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the South. Despite the original desires of the UN and the U.S. to completely destroy communism and stop its spread, the Korean War ended in July 1953 with both sides signing an armistice which gave South Korea 1,500 extra square miles of territory, and also created a two-mile wide demilitarized zone which still exists today.

It was the first military action of the Cold War: 

After World War II ended, the world entered a time period known as the Cold War. The Cold War lasted from 1945 until 1990. It was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their allies. The Korean War was the first military action following the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War.

American leaders viewed it as more than just a war against North Korea:

North Korean troops invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. By July, U.S. troops had joined the war on South Korea’s behalf. This is partly due to the fact that President Harry Truman and the American military leaders believed that this was not simply a border dispute between two dictatorships, but could be the first step in a communist campaign to take over the world. President Truman believed that, “If we let Korea down, the Soviets will keep right on going and swallow up one place after another.” They sent troops over to South Korea prepared for war against communism itself.

General MacArthur was fired from his post:

By the end of summer 1950, President Truman and General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Asian theater, had set a new goal for the war in Korea. They set out to liberate North Korea from the communists. However, as China caught wind of this, they threatened full-scale war unless the United States kept its troops away from the Yalu boundary. The Yalu River was the border between North Korea and communist China.

Full-scale war with China was the last thing President Truman wanted, as he and his advisers feared it would lead to a larger scale push by the Soviets across Europe. As President Truman worked tirelessly to prevent war with China, General MacArthur began to do all he could to provoke it. In March 1951, General MacArthur sent a letter to House Republican leader, Joseph Martin stating that, “There is no substitute for victory,” against international communism. For President Truman this was the last straw, and on April 11 he fired General MacArthur from his post for insubordination.

Millions of lives were lost:

Between June 1950 and July 1953, approximately five million lives were lost. Somewhere around half of those were civilian casualties. American troops saw approximately 40,000 soldiers die in action in Korea, and more than 100,000 were wounded. These numbers made the Korean War known as an exceptionally bloody war, despite the fact that it was relatively short.

Lists

9 big differences between Canadian and American diets

Canada and the United States are not as different as they may seem, at least in the food realm. We have most of the things they have and vice versa and the foods we eat are pretty similar. Even in terms of international cuisine, both countries boast a wide variety of food from all over thanks to robust immigrant populations.

But despite all our similarities, there are still some big differences between the way Americans and Canadians eat, here are the nine biggest ones.


1. Alcohol is not as readily available as it is in some places in the US, but you can drink earlier.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
In Quebec, you can get beer and wine at the grocery store, but you can only purchase liquor at government-run stores.
(Photo by Ryan Tir)

While our friends up north definitely enjoy a drink like anyone else, getting it is not as simple as going to a convenience store, or even a grocery store for that matter. Each Canadian province has different liquor laws and regulations stating what type of alcohol can be sold where. In some provinces alcohol is only sold in government-owned liquor stores while in others you can find it in grocery stores and privately owned liquor stores as well.

In Ontario for example, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, or LCBO, was the only place where liquor could be purchased within the province until it allowed beer to be sold in designated grocery stores in 2015. In Quebec, you can get beer and wine at grocery and corner stores but still have to get spirits at government-run stores.

The drinking age is also not all-encompassing and is decided by each province. In Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba you can drink as soon as you turn 18. However, In the rest of the provinces you have to wait a whole extra year to be able to legally partake.

2. Milk is consumed from bags, not cartons.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
In Canada, milk is sold in bags.
(Photo by Andrea R.)

According to Food Network Canadians traded in milk cartons for bags in the 1970s. When Canadians buy milk, they get a package with three un-resealable bags of milk for a total of 4 liters.

To make it easier to pour, they place it in a milk pitcher, cut off the top, and voila! Our northern neighbors gave both glass bottles, cartons, and plastic jugs a chance but when DuPont, a Canadian packaging company, came out with the much cheaper bag option, many Canadians made the switch. Not only were the bags more effective (glass breaks, people) and cheaper to produce, they were also more easily-adjustable to fit with the metric system which the country had recently converted to from the imperial system.

3. British and French food is a lot more prevalent.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
English foods such as fish and chips are common in Canada.
(Photo by Nicole Abalde)

Here’s a little history refresher, Canada was once colonized by both the British and the French. While Canada has been independent of either rule for quite some time now, the colonizers definitely had a lasting influence on the cuisine as well as the availability of European goods.

Many provinces in Canada have touches of French influence in their food but Quebec especially is a hot-spot for both French culture and food. Dishes like tourtiere (a meat pie), poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds), pea soup, and Buche de Noel (a rolled Christmas cake) are all French-Canadian delicacies hailing from the Quebec area.

Also prevalent in Canada are English foods and goods. While English pubs are a novelty in the States, they are commonplace throughout Canada making fish and chips and other British staples commonplace. Not only that, but as a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Canada has a constant supply of British goods including things like House of Parliament Sauce (a more savory barbecue-like sauce), Maltesers, Smarties, and Cadbury products-galore.

4. Starbucks exists, but it’s all about Tim Hortons.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
Canadians love eating at Tim Hortons.
(Flickr photo by Michael)

Starbucks is definitely a thing up north but Canadian’s devotion to Starbucks doesn’t even compare to their undying love of Tim Hortons. The chain is spread out all across Canada and is so popular that according to its website, every day approximately 15% of all Canadians visit a Tim’s near them.

More Dunkin Donuts than Starbucks, Tim’s main staples are coffee and doughnuts but they also sell a variety of coffee drinks, sandwiches, soups, and pastries. The thing to order however, is a double double, which is a coffee with two creams and two sugars. While the order is not unique to Tim Hortons, it’s strongly associated with the brand and so popular that the phrase was added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in 2004.

5. Food portions in restaurants are typically smaller.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
In Canada, portion sizes are smaller and junk food is more expensive.
(Photo by Marco Verch)

While it is by no means a hard and fast rule that portion sizes are smaller in Canada, many travelers have found that portion sizes are generally not as large as they are below the border. Additionally, many people have pointed out that junk food in Canada is typically more expensive than it would be in the US.

6. The Canadian chip game is strong.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
All-Dressed chips are popular in Canada.
(Photo by Adam Dachis)

While every country has its own claims to fame in the chip aisle, Canadian chips are particularly famous and exclusive. Ketchup chips are especially revered both in Canada and around the globe for their tangy, vinegary, ketchupy-but-not-actually-like ketchup taste. They’re made by a variety of companies including Lay’s, but they’ve yet to make the pilgrimage down south.

Another Canadian snack-aisle staple is All-Dressed chips. Putting the exact flavor of All-Dressed into words is a little difficult but to help you imagine it just know that they’re “dressed” in sour cream and onion, barbecue, ketchup, and salt and vinegar flavors — in other words they’re all of your favorite chips combined. Ruffles brought the savory treats Stateside for a limited time but unless you were lucky enough to stock up on them then, the only way you can try them is by booking a ticket to Canada.

7. Maple syrup is seriously abundant.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
Canada produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup.
(Photo by Marten Persson)

There’s a reason why the Canadian flag features a maple leaf prominently in its center and why the Toronto hockey team is called the Toronto Maple Leafs — maple trees, and more importantly, maple syrup, are a big deal in the country. According to Maple from Canada, the country produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup which means there’s a lot of it within the country. Not only do Canadians use the syrup on its own or as a substitute for sugar, it also features prominently in other sweet treats such as maple taffy, cookies, and candy.

8. They eat beaver tails.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
An apple cinnamon Beaver Tail.
(Photo by Elsie Hui)

Ok, so they don’t eat actual beaver tails, but rather a thick, elongated piece of fried dough covered in sweet toppings that is referred to as Beaver Tails. The pastry is reminiscent of something you would get at a state fair and is covered in a variety of toppings including cinnamon sugar, chocolate, apple cinnamon, and of course maple.

9. Their loaded fries are very different from ours.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
Poutine is a popular Canadian dish consisting of fries topped with cheese curds and drenched in gravy.
(Photo by Guillem Vellut)

When you think of loaded fries you probably think of some french fries topped with cheese, bacon, sour cream, and maybe a dash of spring onion. Canadians also have a loaded-fry equivalent but unlike ours they’re made of only three key ingredients, fries, gravy, and cheese curds — the squeakier, the better. Poutine is yet another dish thatoriginated in francophone Quebec, but it is a staple all over Canada. In fact it’s so popular, that you can get quality poutine at none other than McDonald’s.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This South Korean howitzer can bring the thunder if Pyongyang attacks

One of the biggest threats North Korea poses is not measured in a few nukes on a few dozen ballistic missiles. We get it that nukes can do a lot of bad stuff, and the consequences of their use can be downright horrific. But they aren’t the only game in town.


In fact, one of North Korea’s deadliest threats are regular old howitzers.

To be honest, we’re talking lots and lots of howitzers. A veritable horde of howitzers, in fact. Try close to 8,000, according to GlobalSecurity.org. However, South Korea has not been idle in the howitzer field.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
A 46-ton K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer with its 155mm gun raised. (Wikimedia Commons)

According to Hanwha Defense Systems, the South Korean military has been using the K9 self-propelled howitzer. This vehicle carries a 155mm howitzer that has a range of about 25 miles that can fire up to eight rounds a minute, including a burst of three rounds in 15 seconds.

But the firepower isn’t all this is about. The K9 is also able to scoot – able to dash at just under 42 miles per hour and go as far as 223 miles on one tank of gas. The crew of five is able to start shooting within 30 seconds, and they have 48 rounds on board. The vehicle can be quickly resupplied by the K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle, which can reload the K9 in just under 18 minutes.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
The K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle. (Wikimedia Commons)

It can take punishment, too. Its armor protects the crew from 14.5mm machine gun fire and fragments from 152mm artillery shells. According to GlobalSecurity.org, over 1,100 of these self-propelled guns are in South Korean service.

The K9 has also secured an export buyer in Turkey, which is acquiring 300 of these guns. In short, this gun will potentially see action on both sides of the continent of Asia.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Commandant says he won’t force out Marines as the service shrinks

Tank Marines and other leathernecks in specialties that won’t play a role in the service’s future will get the option of transferring to another branch or military occupational specialty, the Corps’ top general said this week.

Commandant Gen. David Berger spoke to reporters Wednesday about the long-awaited force-redesign plans. One of the biggest changes to the future Marine Corps of 2030 will be its size. The total number of personnel will drop by 16,000 over the next 10 years to a 170,000-person force.


Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

That includes ditching its tank battalions, law-enforcement units and bridging companies. The Marine Corps will also drop its total number of infantry battalions and cut several aviation squadrons as it shifts its focus toward countering China in the Asia-Pacific region.

Marines won’t face the same hardships some endured during the post-war drawdown though, when thousands were cut from the ranks. This change, Berger said, “is intentionally drawn out over time so we can make the right decisions.”

“No one’s getting a pink slip saying time to go home,” the commandant said. “… We’re not forcing anybody out.”

The Marine Corps will rely on attrition to shed personnel from the ranks, Berger added.

“In other words, people [will be] out as they normally would,” he said. “We might recruit less … but there’s no intent at this point to issue a whole bunch of go-home cards for Marines.”

The Marine Corps got rid of about 20,000 people over four years starting in 2012. It involved putting sometimes-painful involuntary separation plans in place that cut short some people’s hopes of making the Marine Corps their career.

Berger said Marines affected by the changes in the force redesign will “have some choice” in what happens next. That will depend on where they are in their careers though, he said.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

“They can choose another military specialty to go into; they can, in some instances, make a transfer to another service,” Berger said.

Some may be eligible to move into career fields that don’t exist yet.

“We are fielding new capabilities that we don’t have right now, so we will need Marines in specialties that we either don’t have at all or we don’t have nearly in the numbers that we’re going to need,” the commandant said.

The Marine Corps plans to spend money it will save on having fewer personnel and ditching some aging equipment on new capabilities. The service will invest in equipment for long-range precision fires, new air-defense systems and unmanned aircraft, among other things.

The Marine Corps carried out a series of war games that showed areas where it can cut some existing capabilities, a 15-page memo on the force design states.

When it comes to tanks, the Marine Corps found “sufficient evidence to conclude that this capability, despite its long and honorable history in the wars of the past, is operationally unsuitable for our highest-priority challenge,” the report adds.

“Heavy ground armor capability will continue to be provided by the U.S. Army.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy’s transition-based COOL program is, well, actually kinda cool

The Navy Credentials Program Office (CPO) completed its latest brief on the Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) program at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, April 18, 2019.

Navy COOL provides active duty and reserve sailors, whether forward-deployed, underway or ashore, with a way to map their Navy education, training, experience, and competencies to civilian credentials and occupations.

“The Navy COOL program reflects the Navy’s ongoing commitment to sailors and civilians in providing world class training, experience, and opportunities that will serve them well on active duty, Federal service, and post-service civilian careers,” said Keith Boring, Navy Credentialing, director.


The Navy Region Hawaii Career Information Center hosted the CPO team for this four-day visit. The team visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii K-Bay, Wahiawa NCTAMS, Joint Base Pearl Harbor and for the first time, Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

Thom Seith, program analyst, Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program, front-right, speaks with Hawaii-based sailors about Navy credentialing opportunities during a Navy Credentials Program Office visit.

(U.S. Navy photo by David Adkins)

“This was a great opportunity to get the word out about the value of certification and licensure from the subject matter experts,” said Senior Chief Navy Counselor Robert Pagtakhan, Navy Region Hawaii career counselor. “The information presented enhanced Career Development Boards, advancement, and individual personal and professional goals. Discussions also emphasized the importance of the Learning and Development Roadmaps and United Services Military Apprenticeship Program.”

In addition to discussions on the importance of credentialing and licensing during and after a sailor’s Navy career, the CPO team also walked attendees through the Navy COOL website, the voucher submission process and credentialing eligibility requirements.

Upcoming Navy COOL briefing opportunities include:

  • May 13-17: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • May 13-17: Kings Bay, Georgia/Mayport, Florida
  • May 30-June 1: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • July 16-20: New London, Connecticut
  • August 1-5: Kitsap/Whidbey/Everett, Washington
  • August 13-17: Annapolis, Maryland
  • August 20-24: Washington D.C.
  • September 15-20: San Diego, California

Any command interested in hosting a COOL briefing, can complete an online feedback form at: http://coolcontactus.com/ContactUs?service=N.

For more information on Navy COOL, visit http://www.cool.navy.mil/usn or contact a Navy COOL representative at navycool@navy.mil or (850) 452-6683.

For more information about Naval Education and Training Command visit the command’s website at https://www.public.navy.mil/netc or www.navy.mil/local/cnet/ and follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/netcpao.

Get more information about the Navy from US Navy facebook or twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Sneak peek: Benchmade Infidel 3300BK-2001 Auto-Open Dagger

Bold, functional, and hardcore were the first words that came to mind when I unboxed the Benchmade Infidel 3300BK-2001 double-edge dagger. It feels light but still strong. Every edge and line is incredibly clean, and at a nearly $500 price point, it should be that way.

It is an incredibly comfortable blade to carry, for its size, thanks to the tip-down, deep-carry pocket clip. If you’re the kind of person who wants to carry this type of tactical blade on a MOLLE capable host, you can certainly do that — although I’m not sure that its anodized blue color makes it the best choice for that (in such a case, you might prefer Benchmade’s fixed-blade Infidel instead). That being said, my preferred method of carrying is in my pocket, so this is a great option for me. While the color isn’t my normal choice, when I consider that I’ve got a box full of black and gray tactical knives, it is actually kind of refreshing to have something that stands out a bit.


Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

This iteration of the popular Infidel OTF (out-the-front) platform features the introduction of a bold new anodized blue handle (.59″ thickness) to a family of tactical knives that sported more traditional colors. The handle material is 6061-T6 aluminum. It looks a little blocky from certain angles, but it is very comfortable to hold and deploy. The total weight comes in at 4.90oz so it isn’t heavy enough to be noticeable while carrying. I’ve got average-sized hands and this knife feels great in every way. It wasn’t simply the handle color that got an upgrade — the blade did too.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

The 3.91″ length blade now sports a DLC (Diamond-like Carbon Coated) finish on a new CPM-S30V steel with a thickness of 0.118″ and a hardness of 58-60. When the plain double-edged blade is closed the handle length is 5″; when the blade is open the overall length is 8.91″. Deploying the blade is a clean action. There is no unnecessary play with the release button, and it doesn’t require superhuman strength. For the first few days I carried this knife I was admittedly nervous about a negligent discharge, but soon came to realize it wasn’t a valid concern due to its quality.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

The Infidel 3300BK-2001 comes with a MSRP of 5 (depending on where you look it may be slightly more or less). This Benchmade “Black Class” blade is in the company’s highest tier of quality. It is considered an “Unlimited Limited” product, meaning that it will only be available for one year. If you’re looking for a defensive blade that conceals easily in your pocket but also has a bit more character than the typical tactical knife, this is one to consider. This blade will be available for purchase on 8/20/2020.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Two defense companies just Voltroned into a massive behemoth

L3 Technologies and Harris Corporation rallied on Oct. 15, 2018, after the two companies agreed to merge in an all-stock deal. The new company will have a market capitalization of $33.5 billion, making it the sixth-largest defense company in the US, according to the company release.

Following the news, L3 Technologies climbed 9.8% and Harris Corporation jumped 8.6%.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, each L3 Technologies shareholder will receive 1.30 Harris Corp shares for each L3 share they owned, the company said. After completion of the deal, Harris shareholders will own approximately 54% of the company while L3 shareholders will own the remaining 46%.


The combined company, called L3 Technologies, is expected to generate net revenue of approximately billion, earnings before interest and taxes of .4 billion, and free cash flow of id=”listicle-2612680907″.9 billion. The company will employ 48,000 people and will have its headquarters in Melbourne, Florida, where Harris is based.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

The all-stock deal will create the country’s sixth-largest defense contractor.

“This merger creates greater benefits and growth opportunities than either company could have achieved alone,” said Christopher E. Kubasik, L3 chairman, president and chief executive officer.

“The companies were on similar growth trajectories and this combination accelerates the journey to becoming a more agile, integrated and innovative non-traditional 6th Prime focused on investing in important, next-generation technologies.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

What it’s like to be strapped into the U-2 Dragon Lady

The Air Force needs new spy pilots, especially for the Cold War-era U-2 Dragon Lady that has flown since 1955, but piloting the U-2 is different from nearly any other aircraft in the world right now. Pilots are strapped into the plane by a dedicated crew and then fly at the edge of space, capturing photographs and signals intelligence.

Here are 13 photos that show what that’s like:


Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Reynato Acncheta, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, and Senior Airman Willy Campos help Maj. Sean Gallagher don his helmet before a mission in a U-2 Dragon Lady at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, November 23, 2010.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

First, it really is a team effort to get pilots suited up. Flying at the edge of space exposes pilots to all sorts of hazards, from extreme cold to solar radiation. The extensive gear required would be nearly impossible for the pilot to put entirely on themselves, so enlisted airmen help them get in gear.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Willy Campos, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, helps Maj. Sean Gallagher don his flight suit before a mission in a U-2 Dragon Lady at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

The pilot’s entire body is covered by the suit, and it helps regulate their blood pressure, even at high altitudes. The pilots also have to breathe in pure oxygen for a while before the flight to get the nitrogen out of their blood. Otherwise, they would develop decompression sickness, similar to when divers get the bends.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U.S. Air Force Maj. Sean Gallagher, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, gets in a vehicle to take him to his aircraft before a mission in a U-2 Dragon Lady.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

The pilots leave the prep room and ride to the plane in trucks converted for the purpose. The airmen bring the pilot’s gear along, including the hoses and pumps that feed air to the pilot. The pilot will also receive liquid food, water, Gatorade, and caffeine through hoses as missions can be very long.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U.S. Air Force Maj. Sean Gallagher, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, greets his ground support crew before a mission in a U-2 Dragon Lady.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

The U-2 is an ungainly beast on the ground, necessitating a ground crew. But once pilot and plane are together, the possibilities are great.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Willy Campos, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, ensures that Maj. Sean Gallagher’s flight suit is properly connected before a mission in a U-2 Dragon Lady.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

The crew straps the pilot into the bird and plugs them into the systems in preparation for taxiing and takeoff.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Colin Cortez, a U-2 Dragon Lady crewchief assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, signals a U-2 aircraft as it taxis to a parking spot after flying a mission while deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on November 23, 2010.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andy Kin)

The jet taxis on permanent gear that sits under the fuselage as well as two sets of wheels that are placed under the plane’s wings.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

A U-2 Dragon Lady flies over the Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco, California, March 23, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

Once they’re in the air, though, they’re graceful and sleek with large wings supporting a thin fuselage. They can zip through the air at low altitudes, but they specialize at high-level flight, taking photos and collecting signal intelligence from up to 70,000 feet in the air or higher.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

A U-2 Dragon Lady flies above the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, California, March 23, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

When flying at high altitudes, the plane’s lightweight construction and powerful engines allow it to continue even when the air gets thin and oxygen is scarce. This was vital in the 1950s when satellites didn’t yet exist. The Air Force thought they could retire the plane in 1969, but the date has been continuously pushed off or canceled. Most recently, the Air Force decided to cancel a 2019 retirement.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

Ice forms around the canopy glass of a U-2 Dragon Lady flying over California, March 23, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

This allows the U-2 to fly above the range of many air defenses and even the engagement altitudes of many jets. During the Cold War, some U-2s were caught in Soviet airspace and escaped simply because MiGs and Sukhois of the time couldn’t reach them. This isn’t quite immunity, though. As the war dragged on, the Soviets developed weapons that were quite capable of reaching near space, and China and Russia can both reach U-2s in flight.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U-2 Dragon Lady pilot lands on the runway at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 16, 2017.

(U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott)

When U-2s land, the pilots have a very limited visibility, so the Air Force assigns chase cars to follow the planes and radio guidance to the pilot. Sometimes the pilots can make do with very little guidance, but the chase cars are needed in case anything goes wrong. This is especially true after long missions where the pilots may be exhausted form 12 hours or more in the air.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

A U.S. Air Force maintainer from the 380th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron runs to the wing of a U-2 Dragon Lady from the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron to install a pogo support at an undisclosed location.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

Once its back on the ground, the U-2 is again limited by its paltry two sets of wheels which are lined up like a bicycle’s. So maintainers are sent out with “pogos,” the small sets of wheels that prop up the wings and keep the plane stable on the ground.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

A U-2, flying from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, approaches the maintenance hangar after the final sortie for one of its mission systems, December 15, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carwile)

If the plane is landing at a new base or has flown through possible contamination, the pilot may have to take it through a wash down. This is also traditionally done when an airframe or a mission module has flown its final mission.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

U.S. Air Force Major Sean Gallagher, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, explains the U-2 Dragon Lady’s mission after landing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, November 23, 2010.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

Pilots then climb down from the high-flying bird, exhausted. But their missions ensure American safety and security by collecting intelligence that might otherwise be impossible to garner. Its sensors have collected data of enemy air defenses, troop deployments, and technology.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how the US wants to take down Iran

Early reports suggest National Security Advisor John Bolton presented a plan that called for 120,000 U.S. troops to counter Iran, just in case the Islamic Republic ups the ante by attacking American forces or starts building nuclear weapons again.



Tensions in the region are reaching a fever pitch as the United States sends more warships, including the USS Abraham Lincoln into the Persian Gulf and the Saudis accuse Iran of attacking oil tankers using armed drones. According to the New York Times, Bolton’s plan does not include a ground invasion force. But John Bolton is no moderate when it comes to regime change, and there’s no way his plan for the United States toppling the Iranian regime precludes a ground invasion.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

The guy who openly admits he joined the National Guard because he didn’t want to die in a rice paddy in Vietnam has no problem sending your kids to die in Iran.

Bolton has openly advocated for the U.S. to use military power to foment regime change everywhere from Syria and Iran to North Korea and Venezuela. Bolton even backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and still maintains it was a good idea, despite everyone else, from historians to President Bush himself, admitting it was a costly, bungled pipe dream. President Bush soon learned from his mistakes and Bolton’s career was wisely kicked back into the loony bin where it belongs.

Also: Here are 10 wars that could break out in the next four years

But there’s a new President in office, one who has elevated Bolton and his hawkish sentiment to the post of National Security Advisor. While Bolton may have presented a plan without an invasion force, it’s very likely he has one somewhere that does include an invasion, and 120,000 troops will not be enough.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

John Bolton is a mouth just begging for a sock.

The extra seapower is likely just the beginning of the overall plan to topple the Islamic Republic. A complete naval blockade in the Persian Gulf would be necessary to cut Iran off from outside supplies, help from the Revolutionary Guards Corps forces, and protect international shipping lanes. This sounds like it should be easy for the U.S. Navy, but Iran’s unconventional naval forces could prove difficult to subdue without American losses.

Now Read: That time a Marine general led a fictional Iran against the US military – and won

That would be a significant escalation, perhaps even enough to subdue the Iranian regime for the time being. But that’s not John Bolton’s style, as cyber attacks would work to cripple what military, economic, and physical infrastructure it could while U.S. troops deploy inside Iran. The Islamic Republic is firmly situation between Iraq and a hard place, both countries where American troops are deployed and have freedom to move.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

The worldwide demand for white Toyota pickups is about to skyrocket. Or land rocket. Because of Javelins.

Then the ground game will begin. Tier one forces from the U.S. Special Operations command will conduct leadership strikes and capture or destroy command and control elements. Other special operators will have to engage Iranian special forces inside Iran and wherever else they’re deployed near U.S. troops, especially in Iraq and Syria. It’s likely that Army Special Forces would link up with anti-regime fighters inside Iran to foment an internal uprising against the regime.

Meanwhile, the main ground invasion force will have to contend with some 500,000 defenders, made up of Iran’s actual army, unconventional Quds Force troops, Shia militias like those seen in the Iraq War and the fight against ISIS, and potentially more unconventional forces and tactics.

Also: The horrifying way Iran cleared mines in the Iran-Iraq War

Conventional American troops will seal the country off along its borders, especially the porous ones next to Iraq and Afghanistan, where significant numbers of American combat troops are already deployed. The combined squeeze of American troops from the East and West along with the naval blockade of the Persian Gulf would be akin to Winfield Scott’s Civil War-era Anaconda Plan, which crippled Confederate supply lines while strangling the South. American forces would move from the northern areas to southern Iran in a multi-pronged movement.

The first prong would be a thrust from the northwest into the southern oil fields and into the Strait of Hormuz, securing Iranian oil and shipping infrastructure. The second prong would move right into northern Iran, cutting it off from its northern neighbors. The final thrust would likely cut Tehran off from the outside while keeping an eye on the border with Pakistan.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

Kinda like this except in the desert… and the Indians are very different.

While Iran’s borders with Iraq and Afghanistan make moving U.S. troops to the Iranian combat zone easier, it also leaves America’s supply lines vulnerable to attack. These would need to be reinforced and protected at every opportunity and are vulnerable to sympathetic forces that could be exploited by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Quds Forces, as all routes into Afghanistan pass through Iranian neighbors or their allies, which include Pakistan.

How long this would take is anyone’s guess, but the United States managed to build up its forces and topple Saddam Hussein’s Iranian regime in less than a year, though CIA operatives had been in-country with opposition forces for longer. If the CIA or American special operations troops are already inside Iran, then the invasion has already begun.

popular

This kid turned in a lost Nazi fighter as homework

Lists of awesome history projects include science fair volcanoes with accurate representation of Pompeii added, verbatim delivery of the Gettysburg address while dressed as a shorter Abraham Lincoln, and collections of whatever arrowhead-ish rocks that can be dug from the backyard.


But one-uppers be one-upping, and a kid in Denmark just blew everyone else out of the water with his discovery of an actual lost Messerschmitt Bf 109 and pilot that he and his father dug out of the family farm.

 

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
(Photo: Public Domain)

 

Daniel Kristiansen was assigned a history project and his father, Klaus, jokingly suggested that they go look for the crashed fighter plane on the property, a reference to an old story the child’s grandfather told. As the story went, a German pilot in training crashed on the family farm during a flight in 1944 and was lost in the woods.

The family had figured the story was probably a tall-tale but decided it might be worth a quick look for the history project. The father-son team went out with shovels, meaning they probably thought they would recover some small parts if they found anything at all.

 

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
(Photo: Kogo CC BY-SA 2.0)

They used a metal detector to find the site and tried to find artifacts but were unable to recover anything working with the shovels. So they borrowed an excavator from the neighbor and hit paydirt at a depth of approximately 12 feet.

The BBC had an interview with the father:

“In the first moment it was not a plane,” Mr Kristiansen told the BBC. “It was maybe 2,000 – 5,000 pieces of a plane. And we found a motor…then suddenly we found parts of bones, and parts from [the pilot’s] clothes.

“And then we found some personal things: books, a wallet with money…either it was a little Bible or it was Mein Kampf — a book in his pocket. We didn’t touch it, we just put it in some bags. A museum is now taking care of it. I think there’s a lot of information in those papers.”

That’s right, they found sections of the plane and pilot which were originally lost 70 years ago.

Of course, once it was confirmed that a crash, including the remains of a pilot and a bunch of fighter plane ammunition that might be unstable, the police took over the crash site.

Forensic experts are attempting to identify the pilot and return him to Germany for a military funeral.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Air Force pilot and his brother love adrenaline

Some families really do seem to be genetic gold mines — just take a look at these siblings who earned the Medal of Honor (or the Hemsworths, am I right?).


Greg Oswald and Eli Tomac are a couple of modern bad asses in their own right. Greg is a C-17 pilot for the U.S. Air Force and Eli just shredded the 2018 San Diego Supercross. I hate to go all Top Gun on you, but these guys obviously have a need for speed.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle
You just know their parents are proud as hell.

“Motocross and Supercross, you’re just in it. We race in rain or shine. The noise from the four-stroke, and you’re in the dirt — it pushes you in every area, whether it’s physically or mentally, it’s the real deal.”

In 2010, Eli was the first rider in history to win his professional debut — since then, he’s continued to prove himself to be one of the fastest riders in the sport. In early 2018, he won his first Monster Energy Supercross, and his brother Greg was there to watch.

“I’m here to support Eli. If it’s a good day or a bad day, the overall goal is to just be a big brother to the guy in the track.”

Greg pointed out the connection between a pilot in his aircraft or a rider on the bike — they’re both about a man and his machine, but neither can do it alone. Pilots and riders require a crew to get their machines going.

“I’m out there as an entertainer [but with] the military…you can’t just go into work and say ‘Oh I’m tired, I’m not gonna ride today.’ You gotta get it done no matter what if you’re in the military so that’s something that I’ll never know…and that’s where I have the utmost respect for everyone that’s in, and that’s for my brother as well.”

Check out the video above to watch Monster’s coverage of Eli’s victory and hear the brothers talk about how they support each other.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How people give Abraham Lincoln the last laugh at his killer

It was not an ending befitting a man of Lincoln’s personal stature. He died in a bed at the House of a local tailor, William Petersen. He didn’t die right away, instead dying the next morning after a night of labored breathing. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth, bolted out the door and made for Maryland, crossing the Navy Yard bridge after the evening curfew. From there, he and his conspirators made their way to Virginia, where they were captured and eventually executed.


The killing was dramatic, public, and caused a popular outcry that has persisted for generations – and continues to this day.

The manhunt for Booth and the co-conspirators, those who also attacked Secretary of State William Seward and failed to murder Vice-President Andrew Johnson, was the largest in American history. It was personally led by Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. A reward for a sum equal to more than 0,000 when adjusted for inflation was offered for Booth and searches were conducted by the U.S. goddamn Army.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

You know you maxed-out your wanted level when the U.S. military is after you.

Booth and accomplice David Herold made it to a Virginia farm one night and were asleep in the barn when the 16th New York Cavalry came calling. Herold surrendered when the cavalry ordered the men to come out, but Booth would not be taken alive. As soldiers set fire to the barn, the assassin gathered his weapons and made for the back door. Unfortunately for Booth, Sgt. Thomas “Boston” Corbett was already there, having snuck around to the back earlier. He shot Booth in the back of the head just below where Booth hit President Lincoln. The assassin was paralyzed immediately and died outside the farmhouse, surrounded by Union cavalry two hours later.

Of the eight people arrested for the conspiracy, four were hanged (including Herold), three were given life sentences, and one served six years. Booth’s body was rolled into a horse blanket and eventually buried next to the four who were hanged for their crimes. They were moved briefly before being turned over to his family in 1869. They moved his body to their family plot near Baltimore. There, in that plot, you’ll find a small, unmarked stone – one likely covered in pennies.

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

Visitors believe this to be John Wilkes Booth’s final resting place, and leave pennies on top of the marker as a means to mock the assassin, more than a century after his death. The penny (in case you don’t use cash) usually features the image of President Lincoln. It’s far more economical to get your kicks in with a penny than with a bill.

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