This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space - We Are The Mighty
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This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Space is getting more and more dangerous these days, with Russia and China standing up to weaponize space. Of course, astronauts and other space travelers have carried weapons into orbit before, though they may never have carried anything like this triple-barreled shotgun-machete.

American astronauts would have no use for such a thing. Soviet Cosmonauts, on the other hand, might need it very badly. Not to shoot American capitalists in low Earth orbit but rather for use against bears.


This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
Results may vary.

 

Before the days of the reusable Space Shuttle program, making re-entry required a capsule that would protect the crew of any spacecraft on re-entry. For this the Soviet Union developed the Soyuz, a spacecraft mounted on a Soyuz rocket. Its re-entry vehicle was (and still is) a capsule, similar to the ones the United States used during the Apollo Program. In Apollo, the capsules splashed down into the ocean and were retrieved by the U.S. Navy. The Russians’ capsule usually falls back down to Earth in Central Asia.

There’s a problem with that, however. Russia is a big country. The Soviet Union was an even bigger country. There’s a lot of space such a capsule could get lost in – and one eventually did.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
The Urals are in there somewhere.

 

It’s a terrible idea to fire a firearm inside an oxygen-rich kinetically weightless environment, and all astronauts and cosmonauts no doubt know this very well. But the triple-barreled TP-82 Survival Pistol was never designed to be shot aboard a ship or in the vacuum of space. It was included in the Soyuz survival kit for use on Earth. In 1965, one cosmonaut found out why.

Alexey Leonov – the first human to do a spacewalk – landed his capsule in forests of the snow-covered Ural mountains, some 600 miles off target. Luckily for him, he carried a 9mm pistol that would protect him from the beasts in the untamed wilderness. His fears of landing off-course caused him to lobby for a survival weapon that would be included in all Soyuz capsules. What he got was the TP-82, a weapon that could hunt, take down large predators and fire off flares. But wait, there’s more: The weapon’s buttstock was also a large machete that could be used as another survival tool.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
Alexey Leonov in his cosmonaut days.

 

But the survival weapons didn’t show up overnight. Leonov and his partner in the Soyuz capsule that day, Pavel Belyayev, spent two nights on the ground in the Urals, cold and fearful of large predators. They weren’t able to be rescued for two full days before a ground crew could ski out to them in the deep snow and heavy forest canopy. Leonov’s fear of being stranded among brown bears never left him, however. Nearly 20 years after the rescue, he became second in command of the cosmonaut training program in 1981.

He used this influence to develop the three-barreled pistol and make it standard in Soyuz space capsules.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian admiral says there’s nothing weird about sunbathing sailors

When a Russian destroyer came close to colliding with a US Navy warship on June 7, 2019, Russian sailors were spotted sunbathing on the deck. A retired Russian admiral says there’s nothing weird about that.

Russian Admiral Valentin Selivanov, a military analyst who previously served as the chief of staff of the Russian Navy, told Russian media on June 10, 2019, that there’s nothing wrong with relaxing topside when you’re not at war. “There is a time for war, and a time for sunbathing,” the admiral explained.

On June 7, 2019, the US Navy accused the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov of taking a run at the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chancellorsville in the Philippine Sea. The two ships narrowly missed one another as the Russian destroyer came within 100 feet of the US warship.


Each side blamed the other for the incident; however, the US Navy released photos and videos to support its version of events.

(1/2) USS Chancellorsville Avoids Collision with Russian Destroyer Udaloy I DD 572

www.youtube.com

In one video, at least two Russian sailors were seen sunbathing shirtless on the helicopter pad. One sailor is sitting down, and pants aren’t immediately visible, although the video isn’t particularly clear.

“Our vessel is on the move in the open sea,” Selivanov told the Russian government’s Sputnik news agency, adding, “The seamen and officers have had lunch. They are on their after-lunch break, glad to be serving in the south. Sure, if one was sunbathing, then dozens were. And yes, you have to be undressed to sunbathe.”

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

The sunbathing Russian sailors has been interpreted a couple of different ways.

The New York Times noted the sailors and argued that this behavior could suggest that “the Russian vessel was not on high alert at the time and was not engaged in a planned provocation.”

The Russian statement on the incident claimed that the USS Chancellorsville put itself on a collision course with the Russian destroyer and the “crew was forced to conduct an emergency maneuver.”

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

The U.S. Navy cruiser USS Chancellorsville, right, is forced to maneuver to avoid collision from the approaching Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Were the Russian warship seriously concerned about the possibility of a collision, there would have likely been an all-hands response. The lack of such a response and the presence of Russian sailors calmly sunbathing on the deck could signal that the Russian destroyer was not the reactive party in this incident.

It is difficult to know for certain what was going on aboard the Russian ship, but US naval experts have already cast doubt on Russia’s narrative, with one telling Business Insider that the USS Chancellorsville had the right of way and accusing the Russian warship of acting in a “dangerous” fashion.

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

Articles

These were the terrifying dangers of being a ‘Tunnel Rat’ in Vietnam

If fighting the well-defended Viet Cong on their home turf wasn’t dangerous enough, imagine having to crawl your way through a series of extremely tight and narrow underground tunnels to capture or kill them.


Armed with only a flashlight, a single pistol, or maybe just a knife, a “Tunnel Rat” didn’t have much in the way of defense.

“The most dangerous part would be psyching up to get into the tunnel,” Carl Cory says, a former 25th Infantry Div Tunnel Rat. “That was the part that was most frightening because you didn’t what you were getting into.”

Related: This video shows the ingenuity behind the Viet Cong tunnel systems

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
Sgt. Ronald H. Payne, a Tunnel Rat, bravely searches a tunnel’s entrance during Vietnam War. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

In 1946, the Viet Minh were the Viet Cong resistance fighters who began digging the tunnels and bunkers to combat the French, whom they would eventually defeat.

By the time the Vietnam War broke out, the Viet Cong had over 100-miles of tunnels with which to spring deadly ambushes on American and South Vietnamese forces before vanishing.

The numerous spider holes (as the tunnel entrances were sometimes called) were conveniently located and well camouflaged — nearly impossible to detect.

Also Read: American troops tried to find Viet Cong tunnels using witching rods

It was the duty of the brave Tunnel Rat to slide alone into the tunnel’s entrance then search for the enemy and other valuable intelligence. Due to the intense and dangerous nature of the job, many Tunnel Rats became so emotionally desensitized that entering a spider hole was just another day at the office — no big deal.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
Sgt. Ronald A. Payne searches a Vietnamese tunnel armed with only a flashlight and a pistol. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

With danger lurking around every corner, the Tunnel Rat not only had to dodge the various savage booby traps set by the Viet Cong, but typically only carried 6-7 rounds of ammunition with him even though the tunnels were commonly used to house up to a few dozen enemy combatants.

With all those physical dangers to consider, the courageous troop still needed to maintain a clear and precise mental state of mind and not let the fear get the best of him.

After completing a search, many American and South Vietnamese units would rig the tunnels with C-4 explosives or bring in the always productive flamethrowers to flush out or kill any remaining hostiles.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These are the 8 biggest scams people fall for online

One in 10 adults in the US will fall victim to fraud every year. That figure is only rising, and it jumped by 34% in 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The vast majority of that fraud takes place online.

A new study conducted by the Better Business Bureau, FINRA, and the Stanford Center for Longevity sheds light on the channels through which scammers are raking in the most money, based on interviews with 1,408 consumers who submitted tips to the BBB between 2015 and 2018. The median losses reported by respondents was $600.

The study shows that about half of people who were contacted by scammers did not engage, detecting the fraud immediately. Meanwhile, 30% of respondents engaged and did not lose money, while 23% engaged and lost money to a scammer.


While scammers most frequently contacted potential victims using phone and email, relatively few people lost money from phone and email scams compared to scams on other platforms. By contrast, 91% of targets who were contacted by scammers over social media engaged, and 53% lost money. Similarly, 81% of respondents who encountered fraud via a website engaged, and 50% lost money.

Here are the scams that people fall for online, according to the study’s findings, ranked from least to most likely to separate victims from their money.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

(Sharon McCutcheon)

8. Fake tax collection scams

By this point, people are pretty good at sniffing out bogus tax collection scams, the study found.

The study’s authors define this scam as one in which “imposters pose as government tax collection agents and use threats of immediate arrest or other scare tactics to convince their targets to pay, often requesting that the target load money onto gift cards as payment.”

Fake IRS scams were one of the most highly reported types of grift in the study but had the lowest rates of engagement and people losing money — only 15% of respondents said they engaged with scammers, and only 3% reported losing money.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

(Photo by John Schnobrich)

7. Phishing scams

Of the respondents who reported phishing scams, 18% said they engaged and just 4% said they lost money.

“Phishing” is a catch-all term used to describe scammers who pretend to be a trusted person, like a banker, service provider, or mortgage company, in order to trick victims into sharing private information that can be used against them.

Despite their low rate of success, phishing scams were also among the most frequently reported types of scams, the study found.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

(Photo by Luis Villasmil)

6. Fake debt collection scams

Similar to fake tax collection, this scam hinges on grifters pretending to be debt collectors and harassing victims to pay debts that they don’t actually owe.

However, this approach was significantly more effective at fooling people than fake tax collection scams. According to the study, 38% of respondents who reported debt collection scams engaged with scammers, and 12% lost money as a result.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

(Photo by dylan nolte)

5. Phony sweepstakes, lotteries, and prizes

In this scam, grifters trick victims into believing they have won a sweepstakes or lottery but must first pay a fee up front in order to claim their prize.

This method has relatively high rates of successfully fleecing people: 59% of respondents who reported encountering phony sweepstakes engaged with scammers, and 15% lost money.

According to the authors of the study, this scam disproportionately impacts people who report living with financial insecurity.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

(Photo by Jp Valery)

4. Fake checks or money orders

Of the respondents who reported scams involving fake checks or money orders, 64% engaged and 22% lost money.

This convoluted scheme relies on scammers sending victims a fake check, getting them to deposit it, and then asking for some of the “money” back via wire transfer due to a supposed overpayment — hoping that banks don’t notice the check is fake until it’s too late.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

(Photo by Marten Bjork)

3. Employment scams

In this scam, grifters pose as potential employers and fool victims into thinking they’re being offered a job or considered for a position. From there, they trick victims into sending money to be spent on “training” or “equipment,” or carry out a fake check scam using a bogus paycheck.

This scam was one of the most successful at getting victims to engage. Of the respondents who reported employment scams, 81% engaged with scammers and 25% lost money

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

(Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters)

2. Fake tech support scams

Ironically, tech support scams typically take the form of an advertisement, email, or pop-up that warns users their computer may be infected with a bug or virus. Once users engage, scammers then pretend to be an IT professional and badger victims to hand over money in exchange for phony tech support.

While not as many users engage with this scam as with employment scams, it has a high success rate at getting victims to spend money. Of respondents who reported tech support scams, 64% engaged and 32% lost money.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

1. Online purchase scams

Online purchase scams were among the most highly reported and successful scams documented by the study, with 84% of respondents who reported online purchase scams engaging with them and 47% losing money as a result.

According to the study, these scams proliferate on websites like Craigslist, eBay, Kjiji, and other websites that directly connect sellers and buyers, and can take many forms.

On the most basic level, scammers list items, collect payment from buyers, and then never ship the goods. Conversely, scammers will sometimes pay for items with a bogus check in order to ask for a refund for “accidentally” overpaying.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

DoD making steady progress on Space Force plans

Space is a crucial domain that the United States must continue to exploit and lead in, said Vice President Mike Pence at the fourth meeting of the National Space Council at Fort Lesley J. McNair on Oct. 24, 2018.

“Space is a warfighting domain, just like the land, air and sea,” Pence said. “And America will be as dominant there as we are, here on Earth.”

This is the basis for President Donald J. Trump’s creation of the United States Space Force, which would be the sixth branch of the military, the vice president said.


Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called this “the next and natural evolution” of America’s military. The new service “is absolutely necessary to ensure American supremacy in space,” he said. “The U.S. military is the best in the world in space, but our adversaries have taken note and are actively developing and fielding capabilities to potentially deny our usage of space in crisis or war.”

Space Force

Also pushing this is the growth in capacity and capabilities of the commercial space industry, which has moved forward in ways never imagined, Shanahan said. “President Trump has directed that a response to the threats from adversaries and the opportunities of commercial space be combined to generate a solution — the Space Force,” he said.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan.

The department will submit a legislative proposal in the coming weeks, and the deputy secretary called that “a significant lift.”

“The legislative proposal will embody our guiding principles, speed and effectiveness,” he said. “Speed in leveraging commercial space technology and resources. Speed in escaping red tape. Speed in fielding capabilities sooner. It will reflect our drive to be more effective — effective in maximizing how we are more integrated technically to unlock our ability to be united in our space operations. Effective in creating a solution, and then together — not singularly — leveraging the solutions across the enterprise. Effective in how we structure the Space Force.”

DOD is considering the cost of the venture.

Space Development Agency

The department is also working on the Space Development Agency. The agency will leverage technology, standards, and architecture to enable unparalleled integration, he said. “The effort now is on reconciling capabilities prioritized by the National Defense Strategy with the readiness of technology, anchored by our assumptions on how quickly we can scale,” Shanahan said.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the council that all members of the Joint Chiefs support the stand up of a combatant command for space. The command will focus DOD activities and the department’s development of doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures in the domain. The command will also focus discussions on “the authorities, responsibilities, and rules of engagement for conduct in space, for the conduct of defensive and offensive operations to protect our constellation, to fight our constellation, and to support our war fighters in all domains, and across all domains, as we protect our ability to deploy civil, commercial, and military space, to the benefit of the nation,” Selva said.

Seeking strategic advantage

This is needed, said Sue Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence. “The intelligence community applauds the redoubled emphasis on ensuring and protecting our strategic advantage in this domain that is so necessary to our national interests,” she said. “But it’s a strategic advantage that our adversaries and competitors would seek to diminish.

Intelligence analysts believe Russia and China continue to focus on establishing operational forces designed to attack U.S. space systems. “Space is a priority warfighting domain for them, as demonstrated by the creation of dedicated space organizations over the past several years,” she said. “Russian and Chinese destructive antisatellite weapons will probably reach initial operating capability in the next few years. And both these countries are advancing directed energy weapons technologies for the purpose of fielding anti-satellite weapons that could blind or damage our sensitive space-based optical sensors, such as those used for remote sensing or missile defense.”

Russia and China also continue to launch experimental satellites to advance counter-space capabilities. “If a future conflict were to occur involving Russia or China, either country would probably justify attacks against U.S. and allied satellites as necessary to offset any perceived U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil or commercial space systems,” she said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

New era of warfare on brink as Army robots take on more advanced obstacles

Some interesting implications are on the line with the success of new military robots. The U.S. Army has been experimenting with robots in hopes of creating a more competent unmanned instrument for battle. The robots took on a variety of complex tasks, each associated with a real-world battlefield application—like sorting through minefields and clearing anti-tank trenches. Not only were the robots successful, but they actually began to complete the tasks faster with each successive attempt. The exercises took place at Yakima Air Base (WA).


This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Some military robots have mundane uses like these LS3 “robot mules” designed to carry heavy gear and cargo.

The Yakima Air Base exercises were spearheaded by Lt. Col. Jonathan Fursman and Capt. Nichole Rotte of the 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion. The team was tasked with creating complicated breach obstacles (within the context of “a realistic and plausible scenario”) for the robots to overcome.

According to Defense News, these breaches included: anti-tank trenches, minefields, and razor wire. The robots also had to breach all of the obstacles while under fire while paving the way for a counterattack into enemy lines.

The exercise was also monitored by a quadcopter, deployed under the watch of the Alabama National Guard, to monitor the use of any chemical, nuclear, or biological agents used. Another separate unit, using an unmanned Polaris MRZR vehicle, shrouded the breach with a smokescreen that clouded the field and heavily impaired (human) vision.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

A “battlefield extraction assist” bot prototype designed to transport wounded soldiers.

At the very start of the breach, the U.S. Army robots used two NGCVs to lay down clear lines of suppression fire at the “enemy.” In a bizarre backward glimpse into the future of warfare, a humvee controlling yet another humvee—was equipped with a 7.62mm gun. This robot-meta suppression fire humvee (I’m sure the Army will come up with another alphabet soup acronym for these in the coming years) was accompanied by an M113 armored personnel carrier (actually controlled by a human).

While the “enemy” was hunkered down by suppression fire, two ABVs (assault breacher vehicles) took on the actual obstacles laid out by Fursman and Rotte. These ABVs were controlled by the Marines Corps (as it is quickly becoming apparent that manned robots should be clarified).

The initial ABV led the way and cleared a safe path through the minefield—leaving stakes in the ground to highlight a path of safety through the exercise for the other ABV.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Could we see robot infantry within the decade?

The second ABV used a blade to fill a tank trench and, once filled, led a clean path for allied forces to form an assault on the “enemy.”

According to Defense News, via Rotte, the initial breach exercise took “two and a half hours,” but the subsequent attempt took only two hours. The second, faster, attempt matches the same time frame it would take human soldiers to complete the same task. This leads us to the important question: are we on the brink of seeing robotic warfare replace boots on the ground?

The answer lies only in how quickly these machines can begin to operate efficiently and be productive on a mass scale. There were some hangups in the exercise, such as latency issues (lag, as gamers would call it), camera feed problems, and other hiccups. Reports indicate that none of these posed too much of an issue.

The unmanned machines were easy to control. Finding human soldiers to operate the machines isn’t necessarily a problem, as the machines in this exercise were all operated with a standard Xbox One controller—seeing as most members of the armed forces have trained themselves with the intricacies of an Xbox controller in their spare time.

So as unmanned operations become simultaneously more efficient logistically, and more simple practically—the idea of taking boots off the ground in place of robots isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when. If these exercises are any indication of the nearing of that all-important when—then we are well on our way to seeing a new era of battle in which casualties will be measured in gears and bolts.

MIGHTY HISTORY

VA Clinic renamed in honor of two World War II Veterans

The beat of the Native American drums reverberated through the halls of the clinic as Crow Nation drummers proudly sang a war song. The ceremony began with a Crow Nation prayer and the presentation of colors.

Hundreds were on hand to witness the long-awaited renaming ceremony of the Billings clinics for World War II Veterans Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last member of the Crow Tribe to become a war chief, and Benjamin Steele.

The Community Based Outpatient Clinic was renamed in honor of Medicine Crow and the Community Based Specialty Clinic was renamed in honor of Steele at the ceremony in February.


Honored heroes

Shirley Steele beamed with pride while talking about her late husband. He was born and raised in Roundup, Mont., and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940. He was a Bataan Death March survivor and prisoner of war for more than three years. He died in September 2016 at the age of 98.

Tiara Medicine Crow, granddaughter of Joseph Medicine Crow, a Bronze Star holder, talked about her love of her grandfather and all that he meant to the Crow Nation.

A.J. Not Afraid, grandson-in-law of Joseph Medicine Crow and chairman of the Crow Nation, spoke to his history and accomplishments.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

A.J. Not Afraid and a child performer attended the ceremony in traditional Crow Nation dress.

www.blogs.va.gov

Joseph Medicine Crow was born on the Crow Indian Reservation in eastern Montana. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1939. Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attain that level of education. Medicine Crow joined the U.S. Army in 1943. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service. He died in April of 2016 at the age of 102.

The photo at the top of this story is of Not Afraid and Shirley Steele.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Lists

6 types of troops you’ll meet at the armory

Trips to the armory are supposed to be as simple as picking up your weapon system, training with it in the field, cleaning it, and checking it back in.

However, rarely does that timeline progress as seamlessly as troops would like. For all the newbie Boots out there who’ve never stepped foot inside the secured weapons compound, know that it’s a place where you’ll encounter an interesting cast of characters, all of whom claim the occupation of armorer.


The one who can find a single speck of dirt in your rifle

Some armorers like to stick their dirty pinky fingers inside your rifle only to magically discover that your bolt assembly has a greasy smudge on it. This guy isn’t him. Instead, he sticks a clean, sterile Q-tip inside and somehow manages to find the only grain of dirt left on your rifle — and rejects you.

Son of a b*tch!

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Cpl. Miguel A. Garcia works on a weapon before heading out to help teach the Ghanian Army on armory procedures and weapons maintenance.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Meghan J. Canlas)

The one who knows everything about weapons

It’s almost like they were born inside the Remington or Colt manufacturing plant because this troop is an absolute genius when it comes to firearms. Even if they’re a Boot, the senior enlisted staff respects this guy or gal.

That one sh*thead who is always cranky

We don’t know who or what puts this armorer in a lousy mood, but they seem to be in one every time you encounter them. Although you do your best to prevent angering them further, there’s no cheering them up.

It’s as if one of their general orders is to always be a d*ck to those who come within walking distance of the armory window.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

They’re around… somewhere…

The one that was supposed to deploy with your unit, but now works at the armory.

Believe it or not, some troops will put in request after request to transfer to a different job to avoid deploying. Oftentimes, they get sent to work at the armory if they have a basic understanding of weaponry. One day, you’ll stroll up to the armory to check out a rifle, and there they are — it’s that guy from your unit, who’s now working window.

We all know they weaseled their way out of serving with the rest of the troops because they’re scared.

It happens.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Sgt. Christopher R. Garcia explains the weapons capabilities to a group of cadets with El Camino High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

(Photo by Cpl. John Robbart III)

The one who gets forced to give hip-pocket classes

It’s simple: some troops have a knack for teaching, others don’t. Typically, nobody’s paying attention to these hip-pocket classes anyway. Troops just want to go to the field and blow something up.

MIGHTY TRENDING

B-52s flew over disputed areas in a challenge to the Chinese military

The US has reportedly made a bold move in countering Beijing’s growing dominance in the South China Sea by flying B-52 nuclear-capable bombers over disputed islands — and it shows how the US and China may rapidly be approaching a showdown.

The flight of the B-52s, reported by CNN but denied by the Pentagon, follows China landing nuclear-capable bombers of its own on the islands and years of Beijing ignoring international law to bully its neighbors and seize control of the waterway that sees trillions in annual shipping and holds untold billions in natural resources.


It also follows Defense Secretary Jim Mattis calling out China at a conference in Singapore, according to CNN.

“China’s militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island,” Mattis said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping swore at the White House with former President Barack Obama in 2015 that he would not militarize the islands, and continues to claim the islands have not been militarized despite the obvious presence of military equipment.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
Chinese President Xi Jinping

China now calls claims that the islands are militarized “ridiculous,” but Mattis wasn’t having that.

“The placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” said Mattis.

The B-52s reportedly flew within 20 miles of the Spratly Islands, which China claims for itself and has built military facilities on. But Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan also claim the islands, and China has repeatedly made a show of refusing to let international courts settle the matter.

The US has a lot of experience taking down small islands

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
A WWII-era US battleship fires its deck guns.
(U.S. Navy photo)

Earlier in June 2018, a top US general asserted the US military’s power to act against threats to international order, saying “the United States military has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific, taking down small islands.”

In another rhetorical shift, the US military renamed its Pacific command “Indo-Pacific command” to emphasize India and advance a vision of the Pacific not dominated by China.

But China shows no sign of stopping its march to domination of the valuable waterway, recently using its navy to block out the Philippine navy from feeding its own troops on one of its holdings in the South China Sea.

China’s dominance meets US resolve

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
A B-52 Stratofortress takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to participate in an exercise scenario.u00a0The aircraft, aircrew and maintainers are deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., as part of the continuous bomber presence in the Pacific region.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mahmoud Rasouliyan)

In meetings with Vietnam and the Philippines, China has been understood to threaten force against the smaller countries if they undertake activity in their own, legally claimed waters.

When the US challenges Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, or any country’s excessive maritime claims (the US challenged 22 nations in 2016), it usually does so with a US Navy destroyer.

If the US flew nuclear bombers across the island, that would mark a clear escalation and perhaps the beginning of US military actions matching its rhetoric.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Sebastian Stan stars as US official who risked his career to honor a fallen hero in ‘The Last Full Measure’

Airman 1st Class William “Pits” Pitsenbarger was a Pararescueman during the Vietnam War. Less than a year after receiving orders, he would go on to fly nearly 300 rescue missions and save over 60 men before sacrificing himself to aid others during one of the most brutal battles of an already harsh war. When offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of the combat zone, Pits stayed behind to protect the lives of others and was later killed by Viet Cong snipers.

The Last Full Measure is the long-awaited story of how the men he saved would try to procure him the Medal of Honor — and the dark reason why the American government resisted.

Check out the final trailer, released today:


“The sacrifices of the fallen will never be forgotten,” intones Christopher Plummer, who plays the father of William Pitsenbarger. The Last Full Measure, written and directed by Todd Robinson, also stars Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and William Hurt.

“Todd Robinson’s riveting drama chronicles one man’s sacrifice and valor on the battlefield, and we believe it also highlights an aspect of American patriotism overdue for recognition. Everyone should know about William Pitsenbarger’s bravery and life, and it’s a privilege to bring this film to theaters where it should be seen,” said Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff, as reported by Deadline.

Pits was initially posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, becoming the first enlisted Airman to receive it, before it was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

William “Pits” Pitsenbarger

(U.S. Air Force photo)

Medal of Honor Citation

“Airman First Class Pitsenbarger distinguished himself by extreme valor on April 11, 1966 near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, while assigned as a Pararescue Crew Member, Detachment 6, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On that date, Airman Pitsenbarger was aboard a rescue helicopter responding to a call for evacuation of casualties incurred in an on-going firefight between elements of the United States Army’s 1st Infantry Division and a sizable enemy force approximately 35 miles east of Saigon. With complete disregard for personal safety, Airman Pitsenbarger volunteered to ride a hoist more than one hundred feet through the jungle, to the ground.

On the ground, he organized and coordinated rescue efforts, cared for the wounded, prepared casualties for evacuation, and insured that the recovery operation continued in a smooth and orderly fashion. Through his personal efforts, the evacuation of the wounded was greatly expedited. As each of the nine casualties evacuated that day were recovered, Pitsenbarger refused evacuation in order to get one more wounded soldier to safety. After several pick-ups, one of the two rescue helicopters involved in the evacuation was struck by heavy enemy ground fire and was forced to leave the scene for an emergency landing. Airman Pitsenbarger stayed behind, on the ground, to perform medical duties.

Shortly thereafter, the area came under sniper and mortar fire. During a subsequent attempt to evacuate the site, American forces came under heavy assault by a large Viet Cong force. When the enemy launched the assault, the evacuation was called off and Airman Pitsenbarger took up arms with the besieged infantrymen. He courageously resisted the enemy, braving intense gunfire to gather and distribute vital ammunition to American defenders. As the battle raged on, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to care for the wounded, pull them out of the line of fire, and return fire whenever he could, during which time, he was wounded three times. Despite his wounds, he valiantly fought on, simultaneously treating as many wounded as possible.

In the vicious fighting which followed, the American forces suffered 80 percent casualties as their perimeter was breached, and airman Pitsenbarger was finally fatally wounded. Airman Pitsenbarger exposed himself to almost certain death by staying on the ground, and perished while saving the lives of wounded infantrymen. His bravery and determination exemplify the highest professional standards and traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Air Force.”

He was also posthumously awarded the rank of Staff Sergeant. Other awards and medals include the Air Force Cross, the Airman’s Medal, and two Purple Hearts. His name can be found on Panel 06E Line 102 of the Vietnam Wall.

Following the battle, Pitsenbarger’s fellow PJ’s and soldiers who he saved in combat embarked on an over 30 year effort to upgrade his Air Force Cross to a Medal of Honor. In the trailer, William Hurt, who plays a fellow PJ, describes the situation as “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Finally, in 2000, Pitsenbarger received the Medal of Honor in a cermony attended by his parents, fellow veterans and the Secretary of the Air Force. The Last Full Measure will release in theaters on January 24th, 2020.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy ships will get powerful lasers to zap incoming missiles

During the course of covering the five entries for the Navy’s FFG(X) program, much has been made of the light armament of the littoral combat ships. They are limited to what are essentially point-defense systems, specifically, the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile. This missile has a range of about five nautical miles, and usually comes in launchers holding 11 or 21 missiles.


Now, the RIM-116 is joined by the Mk 15 Phalanx as the major point-defense systems on U.S. Navy ships. But there are some drawbacks that one has to keep in mind with these systems: they both have a finite supply of ammo (albeit the Phalanx’s ammo issues are not as bad as the RIM-116’s), and their limited range means that the ships may take some damage when the missile is stopped by those systems (albeit not as much as it would take from a direct hit).

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile has a range of five nautical miles, but the launcher can only hold so many rounds.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary Granger Jr.)

One of the ways that those drawbacks will be addressed is from a system called HELIOS. According to materials obtained from Lockheed at the 2018 SeaAirSpace expo in National Harbor, Maryland, this sea-based directed-energy weapon could either replace both of these systems or help supplement them.

Lasers would bring the best of both the RIM-116 and Phalanx systems for just about any warship. They would offer the extended range of a system like the RIM-116 (possibly a little more), and they would have almost no limits on the ammo (just keep the juice flowing!). This is a good thing for something like the littoral combat ship.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

The Mk15 Phalanx carries more ammo than the launchers for the RIM-116, but has a much shorter range.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Weinert)

Lasers have been used to guide bombs in the past, and the United States tested an airborne laser on a 747 for a number of years before the plane was dismantled. Still, it may be that when it comes to beating missiles headed for ships, BRRRZAP could replace BRRRRRT or a missile launch in the near future.

popular

10 Celebrities who died in 2020 you probably didn’t know were veterans

With 2020 finally in the rearview, we can take a moment to reflect on some of the notable public figures we lost. The year saw a lot of famous people pass away, some to COVID-19, some to natural causes, and others to tragedy. While their fame came from careers in music, sports, arts, and entertainment, here are 10 celebrities you probably never knew were veterans. 

Regis Philbin

Known lovingly as “the hardest-working man in show business,” Regis Philbin gained international fame as the host of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? Known for his friendly demeanor and natural gift of banter, Philbin — Regis to his fans — led a long television career. Before his start in television, he earned a degree in sociology from Notre Dame. Upon graduating, he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and served as a supply officer on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado from 1953 to 1955. Philbin, who still holds the Guinness World Record for the most hours on US television, died of heart disease in July 2020. 

John Prine

Considered the Mark Twain of songwriting, John Prine is heralded as one of the greatest American singer-songwriters of all time. His lengthy career as a musician was preceded by a stint in the US Army. Prine was drafted during the Vietnam War but spent his service in Germany “drinking beer and pretending to fix trucks.” Following his service Prine began his musical career, earning the respect of musical giants such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Prine holds the unique honor of being the first singer to be invited to perform at the Library of Congress. He is the winner of two Grammys as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award, and is currently up for two more Grammys. Prine died from COVID-19 in April 2020. 

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Sean Connery

Sean Connery was the first actor to portray the fictional spy James Bond, and many would argue he has yet to be surpassed in that role. Before he starred as 007 and in notable movies like The Untouchables, The Rock, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Hunt for Red October, Connery was a sailor. Born in Scotland, he enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of 16. He served aboard the HMS Formidable from 1946 to 1949. At the time of his death in October 2020, Connery was an Oscar winner, a Golden Globe winner, and a knight. 

Ian Holm

Science fiction and fantasy fans will recognize Ian Holm for his roles in Alien and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Holm was born in England in 1931 and began his acting career early. His career in the arts was briefly suspended following World War II when he was called upon for National Service. Holm served in Austria where he attained the rank of lance corporal. After several years in the British Army, Holm picked up his acting career, eventually starring in movies such as Chariots of Fire, Hamlet, The Fifth Element, and The Aviator. Holm died in June 2020 of Parkinson’s disease. 

Wilford Brimley

The man known the world over for pronouncing diabetes as “diabeetus” had a long acting career before the infamous health commercials. Brimley was a character actor remembered for roles in The China Syndrome, The Thing, Cocoon, and The Natural. Before his giant mustache ever graced the silver screen, Brimley served in the US Marine Corps. He dropped out of high school in order to enlist during the Korean War. Brimley spent his entire enlistment in the Aleutian Islands and attained the rank of sergeant before being honorably discharged.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Bill Withers

The voice behind hits like “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” was plagued with a stutter early in life. Bill Withers, the three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, enlisted in the US Navy at age 17. It was during his nine years of service as a sailor that Withers was able to overcome his speech impediment and begin singing publicly. Following his death in March 2020, Withers was awarded the Lone Sailor Award for naval veterans who have used their time in service to lead successful post-military careers.

Tom Seaver

Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver holds a record shared with only one other pitcher for having 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts, and an earned run average under 3. One of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball, Seaver also served eight years in the US Marine Corps Reserve. Seaver spent his active time aboard Marine Corps base Twentynine Palms as a basic supply man. Following his military service, Seaver played on four Major League Baseball teams. 

Fred Willard

Starring in films like Anchorman and Best in Show, Fred Willard was a comedic actor best known for his off-color jokes. Prior to a career in comedy, Willard attended the Kentucky Military Institute. Upon graduating, Willard served in the US Army and was stationed in Germany. He went on to have a successful career in both film and television. 

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
Fred Willard in April 2008. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jerry Stiller

Jerry Stiller is best known for his roles on sitcoms Seinfeld and The King of Queens as well as being half of the comedy duo Stiller and Meara with his wife of 60 years, Anne MearaHis successful acting career often depicted him in fatherly roles, but he is also known for being the actual father of comedy legend Ben Stiller. Before hitting it big in comedy, he served in the US Army during World War II, stationed primarily in Italy, where he claimed to have spent most of his time playing football. Stiller left the service and used the GI Bill to become one of the first people to earn a degree in speech and drama from Syracuse University. He died in May 2020 and will be remembered for a career that covered the stage, film, and television. 

Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford, aka “The Chairman of the Board,” spent 16 years playing for the New York Yankees. By the time he retired from baseball he was a 10-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion. In 1951, after two years as a promising rookie for the Yankees, Ford left the Major League to serve in the US Army during the Korean War. Following his enlistment, Ford returned to the Yankees and went on to make baseball history. Ford pitched 45 shutouts and holds the record of fourth-best winning percentage in all of baseball. 

While 2020 saw a long list of celebrities pass away, these are a few who chose to serve their country before, or even after, they were famous. A more complete record includes Kirk Douglas, Carl Reiner, Brian Dennehy, Don Shula, Joe Louis Clark, and Billy Joe Shaver. The seemingly endless list just goes to show how many Americans still value service to the nation, and more importantly how time spent serving others can help prepare for a life pursuing other ventures. You never know how many people standing on stage, taking the pitcher’s mound, or wielding a paintbrush once donned a uniform. Each of the celebrities on this list made history in their own right but remained humble about their military careers, leaving many fans unaware they ever served.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The fall of Soviet Russia hysterically explained through memes

The reign of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (or USSR) came to a screeching halt in 1991. After 68 years of reign, the collective of socialist countries were dissolved and reformed into new borders and republic entities.

This month, we look back on the August Coup, when Soviet Communists failed their takeover, and eventually, to the dissolution to the Soviet Union as a whole.


Take a look at the best memes we found commemorating this important event in world history.

1. A little light reading

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(Know Your Meme)

2. Pick up the phone!

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(Reddit)

3. Not I, WE.

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(Memecenter)

4. What’s good for the goose…

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(me.me)

4. What to do… what to do…

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(imgflip)

5. Ctrl+Alt+Delete

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(Makeameme)

6. Nothin’ but a memory

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(Tumblr)

7. At least a burrito is good

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(Ballmemes)

8. Big brother bear

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
(Reddit)

4. Google it

This is why Soviet cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space

Ice Age baby is actually to blame after all.

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