Watch this NASA video zoom in on a nebula 4,000 light years away - We Are The Mighty
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Watch this NASA video zoom in on a nebula 4,000 light years away

These NASA Hubble Space Telescope images compare two diverse views of the roiling heart of a vast stellar nursery, known as the Lagoon Nebula. The images, one taken in visible and the other in infrared light, celebrate Hubble’s 28th anniversary in space.

The colorful visible-light image at left reveals a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust. This dust-and-gas landscape is being sculpted by powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds unleashed by a monster young star. Located at the center of the photo, the star, known as Herschel 36, is about 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. This hefty star is 32 times more massive than our Sun and 40,000 degrees Kelvin. Herschel 36 is still very active because it is young by a star’s standards, only 1 million years old.


These NASA Hubble Space Telescope images compare two diverse views of the roiling heart of a vast stellar nursery, known as the Lagoon Nebula. The images, one taken in visible and the other in infrared light, celebrate Hubble’s 28th anniversary in space.

The blistering radiation and powerful stellar winds (streams of subatomic particles) are pushing dust away in curtain-like sheets. As the monster star throws off its natal cocoon of material, it is suppressing star formation around it.

However, at the dark edges of this dynamic bubble-shaped ecosystem, stars are forming within dense clouds of gas and dust. Dark, elephant-like “trunks” of material represent dense pieces of the cocoon that are resistant to erosion by the searing ultraviolet light and serve as incubators for fledgling stars.

The star-filled image at right, taken by Hubble in near-infrared light, reveals a very different view of the Lagoon Nebula compared to its visible-light portrait. Making infrared observations of the cosmos allows astronomers to penetrate vast clouds of gas and dust to uncover hidden gems. Hubble’s view offers a sneak peek at the dramatic vistas NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will provide.

Lists

Here are the 9 scenarios from Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’

The Art of War by Sun Tzu is an ancient classic. There are free versions of the masterpiece available everywhere, from Wikipedia to Amazon, but let’s face it: Sometimes, depending on the translation, it can be hit-or-miss in terms of readability. It was written in the 5th century BC, after all.


Thankfully, there’s an alternative. On YouTube, someone’s been distilling the essence of this military classic. Each chapter has its own video.

The video here discusses one of the most important aspects of war: terrain. If you’ve seen the 1993 movie Gettysburg, you might remember the early portion of the film where John Buford recognizes the terrain that would dominate the battlefield, to wit, Cemetery Ridge. As history shows, Buford tactically deployed his troops, buying time for the Union to take control of Cemetery Ridge. With that control, they eventually won the battle, marking the last time that the Confederate Army invaded the North. Combined with the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the defeat of the South was only a matter of time.

Union General John Buford (Library of Congress photo)

Battles can be won or lost depending on how land is used. These are the 9 terrains, as described by Sun Tzu, that can dramatically influence the tide of battle.

9. Dispersive Ground

This is defined as territory you control at the start of the war. Sun Tzu advises never fighting here, simply because battles are destructive. Make the mess on the enemy’s territory. Joan of Arc used what Sun Tzu called the proper strategy for this terrain by always taking the fight elsewhere.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

8. Facile Ground

This is the initial portion of enemy territory. When you’re in this space, keep moving. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

7. Contentious Ground

This is ground that can provide a force with a serious advantage in a battle. The aforementioned Cemetery Ridge and its effect on the Battle of Gettysburg is a prime example of contentious ground. You want to identify this terrain and defend it.

1st Minnesota at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 2, 1863. (Painting by Don Troiani courtesy of the National Guard)

6. Open Ground

This is ground where you (and the enemy) can move easily. Think the deserts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. You don’t want to try to block the enemy, because any attempts can be easily outmaneuvered. Saddam Hussein made that mistake in Desert Storm.

5. Ground of Intersecting Highways

This is where three or more countries meet. In this situation, make like a contestant on Survivor or Big Brother and form alliances. The one who’s left out… well, you wouldn’t want to be them.

4. Serious Ground

When you’ve gone deep into enemy territory, leaving fortified cities behind, you’re in a serious situation. Your best bet is to just loot, plunder, and then get out.

Art looted by the Nazis during World War II. (U.S. Army photo)

3. Difficult Ground

As it suggest, this is very tough terrain to travel through. Think forests, mountains — that sort of stuff. This is ground you just want to march on through. These are places where guerrillas can wreak havoc, so be cautious.

2. Hemmed-In Ground

This is also called a ‘chokepoint.’ A prime example is the pass at Thermopylae, where King Leonidas and 300 Spartans famously held off the Persian Army. In this case, your best bet is to come up with a stratagem (or find someone who’s willing to betray the other side).

1. Desperate Ground

This is terrain where you can’t exactly retreat. Your only strategy is to fight — and it will likely be a battle to the death.

 

Lists

Chris Kyle’s 10 most definitive American weapons of all time

Chris Kyle, formerly a Navy SEAL, was America’s top sniper of all time with 255 kills, displacing Adelbert Waldron, who racked up 109 kills with the 9th Infantry Division in the Vietnam War. He’s earned so much recognition that his autobiography, American Sniper, became a hit Hollywood blockbuster. But before his untimely death, he had finished a second book, in which he listed the ten firearms that helped define America’s history. Here are the picks he made for his book, American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms.


1. Kentucky Long Rifle

During the era of the American Revolution, the typical arm for an infantryman was a musket, like the famous Brown Bess. These smoothbore muskets had an effective range of anywhere from 50 to 100 yards. The Kentucky rifle doubled that range, easily. While its rate of fire was slower, British troops didn’t do so well when their officers were taken out early.

The Kentucky Rifle allowed American militia to engage the Redcoats at twice the distance of the effective range of the Brown Bess. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Antique Military Rifles)

2. Spencer Repeating Rifle

The muzzle-loaded musket gave way to the muzzle-loaded, rifled musket by the time of the Civil War. In 1860, though, Christopher Spencer developed a rifle that used a metallic cartridge. The Spencer Repeating Rifle held seven rounds. Only 100,000 of these rifles got to Union troops, but the rifle made a big difference at Gettysburg, where Union cavalry used it to great effect.

The Spencer Repeating Rifle provided a firepower advantage over the rifled musket. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Hmaag)

3. Colt Single-Action Army: ‘The Peacemaker’

As the old adage states, “God made all men – Sam Colt made ’em equal.” The Singe-Action Army was one of the first mass-produced revolvers to make use of the metallic cartridge. It provided cowboys with portable firepower for self-defense. It also was, sadly, used by outlaws, like Butch Cassidy.

The Colt Single-Action Army revolver gave cowboys, soldiers, and outlaws hand-held firepower. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Hmaag)

4. Winchester Model 1873

This rifle was, arguably, “the gun that won the West.” It was a reliable rifle, and the lever-action allowed its user to fire 14 rounds very quickly. It also was chambered for the same round used by the Colt Single-Action Army, which not only provided ease of logistics for a rancher but added more range and accuracy as well.

Theodore Roosevelt holding a Winchester rifle. The Winchester 1873 could fire the same round as the Colt Single-Action Army. (1885 photo by George Grantham Baine)

5. M1903 Springfield

This rifle replaced the “trapdoor” Springfield and Krag-Jorgenson rifles, giving American troops a rifle that used smokeless powder. It really came into its own with the arrival of the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, which added accuracy due to the advanced shaping of its bullet.

Marines with M1903 Springfield rifles, which they used to devastate German forces at Belleau Wood. (DOD photo)

6. Colt M1911

This pistol has been the icon of American GIs since World War I. It still hangs around today within some special operations units. Unlike most pistols of its time that used 9mm rounds (or weaker ones), its .45 ACP round could stop an enemy soldier cold.

7. Thompson Submachine Gun

The gun that “made the Twenties roar” earned its reputation in the hands of Al Capone’s thugs. It packed the same .45 ACP punch as the M1911, but it had a bit more range. Over 1.5 million were made, and the gun’s firepower made it a favorite of the American GI.

A Marine of the 1st Marine Division draws a bead on a Japanese sniper with his Tommy gun as his companion ducks for cover. The division is working to take Wana Ridge before the town of Shuri. Okinawa, 1945. (USMC photo)

8. M1 Garand

While the United States Army adopted the M1903 to simply maintain parity with the rest of the world, the M1 Garand gave American infantryman an advantage. This time, it allowed rapid follow-up shots. This rifle was praised by many, including George S. Patton. Its one drawback, a “ping” sound that told people that it needed to be reloaded.

Two soldiers take time to clean their M1 Garand rifles on Bougainville. (US Army photo)

9. .38 Special Police Revolver

The .38 Special didn’t become a primary service weapon (it was passed out to pilots as part of their survival kit in some cases), but it was the first gun that was a standard-issued sidearm for police officers. While the revolver is not used often today, it has become an icon.

The .38 special revolver, like this Smith and Wesson Model 10, became a standard sidearm of police officers. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Cdcarpeti)

10. M16 Rifle

This rifle changed the way rifles were made. Prior to its introduction, rifles usually were made with wood and heavy steel, but the selective-fire M16 used plastics, composites, and aluminum. When it entered service, it came in two and a half pounds lighter than the M1 Garand but held almost four times as many rounds in a detachable magazine. The hotly-debated AR-15 bears a resemblance to the M16, but it is only capable of semi-automatic fire — civilian sales of the M16 have been strictly regulated since 1934.

The M16 was first introduced in 1956 and, since then, has served. The selective-fire rifle has been strictly regulated under laws dating from 1934. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Offspring 18 87)

Which guns do you think have helped define American history? Let us know in the comments.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Burning 50,000 pounds of fuel per hour: Aerial refueling from a fighter pilot

The development of aerial refueling was one of the greatest leaps in fighter lethality. A fighter, just like any aircraft, consists of hundreds of tradeoffs—cost, payload, speed, stealth, size, weight, maneuverability, the list goes on and on. But, the Achilles heel of fighters has always been their fuel consumption.

At the heart of a modern jet like the F-16 or F-35 is an afterburning turbofan engine. The turbofan part is similar to an airliner, however the afterburner is a special section fitted to the aft-tailpipe that injects fuel and ignites it, similar to a flame thrower. This rapidly increases thrust, however the tradeoff is that it burns fuel at an incredible rate.


Members of the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron engine test facility, run an F-15 Eagle engine at full afterburner while checking for leaks and any other issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

I remember flying in an F-16 in afterburner while supersonic over the Yellow Sea and looking down to see a fuel-flow rate of over 50,000 lbs per hour. To put that into perspective, that’s similar to a fire-hose operating fully open—and that’s just a single engine, a twin-engine jet such as the F-15 or F-22 can double that. The problem is, topped off, I could only carry 7,000 pounds of fuel which was enough for me to fly at that fuel-setting for less than 10 minutes.

The reason we’re able to sacrifice fuel for incredible speed and maneuverability is because we can refuel in the air. The Air Force has over 450 airborne tankers, which are specially modified passenger aircraft that are filled with fuel. The backbone of our tanker fleet, the KC-135 Stratotanker is based on the Boeing 707, which amazingly has been flying aerial refueling operations since the 1950’s.

A 401st Tactical Fighter Wing F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft as another F-16 stands by during Operation Desert Storm. (USAF Photo)

When we need fuel, we’ll pull up slightly behind and below the tanker. The tanker will then extend it’s boom, which is a 50 foot long tube with small flight control surfaces on it. The boomer, who sits in the back of the aircraft, then steers the boom using those control surfaces into the refueling receptacle of our aircraft.

Once contact is made, a seal forms and fuel starts transferring at several thousand pounds per minute. We’ll then continue to maintain that precise position using director lights on the bottom of the tanker until we’re topped off. The amount of time it takes depends on how much fuel is transferred, but generally takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

A U.S. Air Force pilot navigates an F-35A Lightning II aircraft assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing into position to refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 336th Air Refueling Squadron over the northwest coast of Florida. (USAF photo by MSgt John Nimmo Sr.)

Aerial refueling is a common part of most missions. When we take our jets to different exercises around the country, we’ll use tankers so we can fly nonstop. Tankers also allow us to double our training during a flight—we’ll fly our mission, refuel, and then fly it again. When we deploy, tankers allow us to cross vast swaths of ocean in one hop—I remember topping off 10 times on my way to Afghanistan. But, the most critical benefit of air refueling is it allows us to project and sustain air power.

Tankers allow us to fly indefinitely. Even if I was running my power settings as efficiently as possible, I could only stay airborne for about two hours, which translates into a combat radius of just a few hundred miles. That’s not nearly enough range to project power into another country and return home. With a tanker though, our combat radius can extend into the thousands of miles—we’re primarily limited by pilot fatigue.

(USAF Photo)

By breaking the fighter range problem into two components—a fighter and a tanker— engineers were able to massively increase the performance and relevance of fighters in combat. A single formation of fighters can have a near strategic level impact on the battlefield.

Make sure to check back in two weeks for an in-cockpit play-by-play of how we rejoin with the tanker and refuel at 350 mph.

Want to know more about life as a fighter pilot? Check out Justin “Hasard” Lee’s video about a day in the life of a fighter pilot below:

Air Force Fighter Pilots | Ep. 5: A Day In The Life Of An Air Force Fighter Pilot

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Articles

That time a surfacing Russian sub slammed into an American spy submarine

A submarine surfacing can happen pretty fast. And pretty violently.


Even at its calmest and slowest pace, that’s still almost 9,000 tons of titanium-hulled, nuclear-powered Russian sub coming at you at 8 miles per-hour.

Russian subs get much bigger than this.

In February 1992, the crew of the USS Baton Rouge was probably pretty surprised to find out their secret spy mission had been uncovered. How it was discovered was both surprising and entirely by accident, recounted in a paper from MIT’s Defense and Arms Control Studies Program.

The Baton Rouge was assigned to monitor the Russian Navy near the port city of Murmansk. The Soviet Union fell just a few months prior, but the U.S. Navy was still very interested in what the nascent – but still formidable – former Soviet Navy was up to.

All was going well off the coast of Murmansk as the Baton Rouge conducted its mission silently and unnoticed, until the crew was rocked by an impact from outside the boat. A Russian Sierra I-class sub, the Kostroma, collided with Baton Rouge from below as the Russian sub was trying to surface.

The American’s hull was scratched and had tears in its port ballast tank. The Kostroma’s conning tower slammed into the American sub at 8 miles per-hour as the Russian moved to surface. Its sail was crushed from the impact.

(Russian Navy photo)

Embarrassing? Yes. Deadly? Thankfully no. Both American and Russian subs get much bigger and much heavier the Sierra I-class Kostroma and the Los Angeles-class Baton RougeBoth can carry nuclear-capable cruise missiles, but neither were equipped with those weapons at the time.

After ensuring neither submarine required assistance both returned to port for repairs. In 1995 the U.S. Congress determined that repairing the Baton Rouge would be too costly and the boat was decommissioned.

The Kostroma underway (Russian Navy)

The Kostroma, however, returned to active service – with a kill marker, celebrating the defeat of the Baton Rouge

Articles

This unstoppable artillery bombardment doomed Nazi Berlin

In what is sometimes described as the largest artillery bombardment in history, the Soviets opened the road to Berlin in 1945 at the Battle of Seelow Heights with a massive barrage that saw over 9,000 Soviet guns and rockets firing along a front approximately 18.5 miles long. That’s one artillery piece every 11 feet.


Like this, but more cannons. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

The Seelow Heights defenses were a mere 35 miles from Berlin and were the last truly defendable position before Berlin.

Estimates vary about the exact number of shells and rockets fired in the wee hours of April 16, but some think that as many as 500,000 shells were fired in the first 30 minutes. The German defenders, counting reserves held near Berlin, totaled less than 150,000 men.

For comparison, the massive Allied assault on the Gustav line in Italy in 1944 featured “only” 2,000 guns firing 174,000 shells over 24 hours. The British bombardment at the Battle of the Somme in World War I boasted 1,537 guns which fired 1.5 million shells over 4 days. The Soviet crews at the Seelow Heights could have hit that total in about 90 minutes.

Russland, Angehörige der Waffen-SS-SS-troops-in-Russia German SS soldiers relax on their vehicle. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

Unfortunately for the Russian soldiers, their generals followed Soviet military doctrine nearly to the letter, and the Germans had grown used to their tactics. Anticipating a Soviet bombardment, the German generals had pulled most of their men back from the first defensive lines and reduced the number of men in the second lines.

“As usual, we stuck to the book and by now the Germans know our methods,” said Colonel General Vasili Kuznetsov, a Russian commander. “They pulled back their troops a good eight kilometers. Our artillery hit everything but the enemy.”

So a Soviet bombardment with three times as many shells as there were defending troops managed to obliterate one line of trenches, damage another, but kill very few of the defending troops. It also left German mortars, machine guns, tanks, and artillery emplacements.

A Russian T-34 tank burns during World War II. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

The Soviets continued the battle with a rolling barrage that did begin softening the German army positions. But, by that point, Soviet tanks and infantry were struggling to get through the soft ground around the Ober River which had been flooded and turned to marshlands.

The German weapons which had survived the artillery bombardment were able to inflict heavy losses on the attacking Soviet columns.

Sowjetisches_Ehrenmal_Seelower_Höhen-Seelow-heights-soviet-memorial A memorial to the Soviet troops who fought at Seelow Heights now stands at the location of the battle. (Photo: H. der Löwe CC BY-SA 3.0)

But the Soviet numbers were simply too much for the German defenders. Over the next few days, the Russians lost approximately 33,000 men while inflicting 12,000 casualties on the Germans. But Russian planes took the skies from the Luftwaffe and the army brought up the artillery, allowing them to force their way forward with tanks and infantry.

Despite the heavy losses, the Red Army took the Seelow Heights on April 19, 1945, and launched its final drive to Berlin. Soviet troops surrounded the city and forced their way in. German leader Adolf Hitler killed himself on April 30 and Germany surrendered on May 8.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This scrapped game could’ve been the most accurate portrayal of Fallujah

Making a video game based on historical events often means navigating the fine line between creating an experience that’s consistently engaging to the player without trivializing the gravity of the real event. This is especially true of military conflicts.

Battlefield 1’s single player campaign did a terrific job of this, giving the player the warning of, “you are not expected to survive” before tossing them into the grim reality that is WWI trench warfare.


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Other games, however, use the backdrop of the invasion of Normandy as yet another arena in which players can “360 No Scope” each other.

Then, you have Atomic Games’ controversial Six Days in Fallujah, which was slated to be a highly accurate representation of what the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines encountered in November, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Shortly after it was announced to the public in 2009, it was dropped by its publisher and is now nothing more than a “what if” of gaming.

As much as I love the FPS genre, most games lack the raw emotional connection that Six Days in Fallujah promised to offer.

(Atomic Games)

The developers at Atomic Games took their project very seriously. Every aspect of the game was created based on interviews with over 70 individuals, including the U.S. Marines who fought there, Iraqi civilians, war historians, senior military officials, and even former Iraqi insurgents.

The game was a far cry from typical first-person shooters that reward players for sprinting around the map, spraying bullets at the bad guys. Instead, it was said to have been more like a survival-horror game. Every minor decision made in the game would have lasting effects on player’s experience. Additionally, the game was built on an astounding engine that allowed for a 100% destructible environment — bullet holes left in walls from a previous skirmish would exist into perpetuity.

The game’s director, Juan Benito, told GamePro Magazine that giving players a taste of the horror, fear, and misery experienced by real-life Marines in the battle was a top priority.

“These are scary places, with scary things happening inside of them. In the game, you’re plunging into the unknown, navigating through darkened interiors, and ‘surprises’ left by the insurgency. In most modern military shooters, the tendency is to turn the volume up to 11 and keep it there. Our game turns it up to 12 at times, but we dial it back down, too, so we can establish a cadence.”

I mean, ‘Breach’ wasn’t terrible, but you could tell there wasn’t much heart put into the game.

(QC Games)

In Six Days in Fallujah, you would’ve followed a young Marine who was attached to the 3/1 Marines. Throughout the game, you’d encounter factual skirmishes that involved actual Marines and insurgents that were present at that given moment, based off accounts from those who were actually there. The Marines to your left and your right in those skirmishes were to be the actual Marines — which also meant that those who died in real life would die at the same moment in game. This, as you can imagine, was met with extreme controversy.

The game was being created to honor their fallen service members, but public condemnation proved too great and too universal, so it was dropped within the month by Konami — for very valid reasons.

After the publisher dropped out, the game’s director quietly left along with much of studio’s staff. The remaining assets were hobbled together to create the the sub-par Breach in attempt to recoup on the time invested in the doomed title. The president of Atomic Games promised that Six Days in Fallujah would eventually see the light of day.

You know — if it updated its graphics to be comparable with modern games.

(Atomic Games)

Cases can be made for and against the game, but one thing is for certain: it would’ve offered something vastly different to gamers. In 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released and multiplayer lobbies were filled brim with screaming pre-teens. It was just five years since the Second Battle of Fallujah, which might’ve been too soon, but it definitely would’ve been a grim reminder of the true horrors of war in an industry too-often trivialized it.

The gaming community has matured vastly in the last decade. Games like Valiant Heart and This War of Mine have all been based on the realities of war. Games like Arma III and Rainbow Six: Siege have all taken mature, realistic approaches to how modern shooters should play out.

If or when the game does eventually find its footing and a pathway to release, it’ll likely find support withing the military-veteran community — as long as the game doesn’t, even for a second, make light of the seriousness of the Second Battle of Fallujah.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Dumb military rules I absolutely hate

“KEEP OFF THE COMMANDER’S GRASS.”

But why?

The military loves its rules and regulations. There are books upon books upon books filled with governance on everything from how to dress to how to stay alive. It’s a good thing, even if it is really obnoxious. The military is supposed to be a standardized, uniformed, disciplined unit, after all.

But there’s always someone who takes it too far.


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If someone told me to PT in the grass, my first reaction would be to wonder if it was a trap.

1. “Don’t walk on the grass.”

Sometimes, when humans and other animals take a shortcut over vegetation, they wear it down, eventually killing what’s underfoot and making a trail. This looks unsightly on a well-groomed lawn. If that were the reason troops are prohibited from walking on the grass, I could get on board. Seems logical enough: Don’t ruin the foliage.

But that’s not what this is about.

I once saw a guy get ripped apart because he stepped off the walkway to tie his shoe. He made the logical choice to not block foot traffic and correct a safety concern and some first sergeant took it upon himself to stomp over and start screaming at the guy for “walking on the commander’s grass.”

The military doesn’t really issue explanations along with their rules, so everyone has a different explanation as to why troops can’t walk on the grass on base. The consensus seems to be that it’s unbecoming. Some say that taking a shortcut is symbolic and antithetical to military motivation and commitment.

There’s also a “shut up and color” mentality in the military — follow orders and don’t ask questions. I get that troops need to follow orders during combat, but there has to be some flexibility when it comes to the military environment. We also need troops to be problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and, you know, confident, mentally-sound human beings.

Yelling in someone’s face over an understandable train of thought? Dumb.

“…unless you’re Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

2. “Keep your hands out of your pockets.”

According to the Navy, “While in uniform, it is inappropriate and detracts from military smartness for personnel to have their hands in their pockets.”

That sounds like an opinion to me — a dumb opinion.

You know what detracts from military smartness? Cold hands.

“But Shannon, you could wear gloves!”

It’s not that f***ing cold. It’s just kinda cold.

Or maybe it isn’t cold at all. It’s just comfortable to stand with your hands in your pockets. It allows you to roll your shoulders back and open your chest and lung cavity with minimal effort. Sure, it’s more casual. And I’m not condoning a formation of warriors shoving their hands in their pockets before battle, but on a lazy Tuesday afternoon in the middle of Oklahoma, why not I say?!

Besides, if it’s good enough for Chesty Puller AND THESE OTHER HEROES, then it’s good enough for me!

Air Force Master Sgt. Vincent Brass, a first sergeant at the time, made the argument that there should be no standard too small to enforce because there is a danger in picking and choosing which standards are mandatory.

I will grant Sgt. Brass this but I would argue that this is why it’s so important to stay mindful about the rules we create — and why it’s important to evolve as a service.

Which leads me to… yet another dumb rule.

Related: 21 pictures of U.S. military legends with their hands in their pockets

The Thunderbirds: proving you can be professional, awesome, and standardized — even if you’re protecting your vision.

3. “No ear or eye protection in formation.”

This one really pisses me off: regulating ear and eye protection in formation.

You know why humans wear ear muffs in cold weather? Because lower temperatures can decrease blood circulation and cause ear pain and headaches.

Furthermore, you can get develop frostbite in 40-degree Fahrenheit weather, depending on the wind.

So, let’s say it’s, oh I don’t know, 0700 on a chilly January morning in South Korea. Outside, you’re looking at an average temperature of 15 degrees. Even if the wind is only blowing a paltry 5 miles an hour, you can develop frostbite in under 10 minutes. Meanwhile, you’re standing in formation waiting for some general to show up for the “fun run” when your Deputy Squadron Commander yells at you for wearing ear protection, saying you’re a disappointing officer and a bad leader.

Well you know what, Colonel? You’re a disappointing officer and a bad leader because you don’t take care of your people! Sorry no one else brought ear muffs and we aren’t all gonna look the same for the general. Maybe the rest of the formation is more afraid of getting yelled at by you than they are concerned about taking care of themselves — but that’s not me.

You know why humans wear sunglasses? To protect our eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. If we don’t protect our eyes, we can get cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium. Those conditions all impair our vision, if you’re not familiar.

The United States Department of Defense knows this, which is why service members are allowed to wear sunglasses that meet regulation while in uniform. But some commanders still don’t think they should wear them in formation. Air Force regulations AFI 36-2903 specifically prohibits wearing sunglasses in formation unless someone has a note from a doctor.

Well, I think it’s clear by now that I think it’s more important to protect people than it is to maintain uniformity, but hey, I get that standing in straight lines is an ancient if antiquated thing for the military to do — so why not just make it mandatory to protect yourself outdoors?

The bottom line is that it is dumb to reprimand someone for protecting themselves when there is no legitimate downside to it.

May as well be terrorists.

Bonus: “Don’t walk and talk on the phone in uniform.”

Final dumb rule of this rant: While walking in uniform, use of personal electronic media devices, including ear pieces, speaker phones, or text messaging, is limited to emergencies or when official notifications are necessary.

Sigh.

I could see the argument for not walking while holding a phone up to your ear — it gets weird with saluting.

I can definitely see why troops deployed to combat zones shouldn’t walk around using their devices — they need to be vigilant and nimble.

But stateside… walking with a headset… come on.

Come on.

Come on.

What’s the argument there?

Until someone can give me a good one I’m calling it: DUMB.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The FBI released their files on Bigfoot

Ever since its inception in 1908, the FBI has been tasked with investigating the sorts of mysteries that keep Americans up at night. From foreign espionage to bank heists, the FBI has earned a global reputation for its investigative prowess for a reason; but despite all their training, resources, and pedigree, even the FBI’s most capable sometimes fall short of finding their suspect. Of course, when the suspect is Bigfoot, it seems a bit more excusable.

Back in 1976, Bigfoot was, well, big. Less than ten years after the Patterson-Gimlin footage took the country by storm with what certainly looked like a living, breathing, ape-monster trudging through the California woods, the Sasquatch had become a fixture at the box office. Theaters all across the country showed films like “Curse of the Bigfoot” and “The Legend of Bigfoot,” along with at least two other ape-man features that year, and even an episode of the “Six Million Dollar Man” had a Bigfoot cameo.

But the most intriguing place Bigfoot popped up in 1976 wasn’t on screen; it was in a file folder at the FBI.


Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film slowed down and stablised

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Not everyone in the Bigfoot game back in 1976 had a Hollywood address. Just like today, Bigfoot had a fervent scientific following already scouring the North American forests for any evidence of the missing primate. One of the most respected in the field at the time was Peter Byrne, who served as the director of the Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition in The Dalles, Oregon.

Byrne got his hands on a small patch of hair attached to a bit of skin that was supposedly from the ape-man himself, but soon realized that he and his team lacked the capability to conclusively determine the hair’s origin. So Byrne made the decision to send the sample to a reputable third party for analysis: the FBI.

His letter was received by Jay Cochran Jr., Assistant Director of the FBI at the Scientific and Technical Services Division. Cochran started by explaining to Byrne that the FBI isn’t in the business of chasing down unusual hair samples from the woods unless there was some kind of crime involved, but, because of the unique scientific implications, he was willing to make an exception.

Hair samples sent into the FBI for testing

(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

The FBI files on Bigfoot contain a number of letters between Byrne and FBI officials from that point forward, as Byrne prodded the FBI to take his sample (and pursuit) seriously. Byrne forwarded clippings of articles from large media outlets like the New York Times to show that not only did he have a reputation as a legitimate researcher, but the American people had a vested interest in solving the Bigfoot mystery. Finally, the FBI responded to Byrne with the results of their analysis.

“The examinations included a study of morphological characteristics such as root structure, medullary structure, and cuticle thickness in addition to scale casts. Also, the hairs were compared directly with hairs of known origin under a comparison microscope,” Cochran wrote to Byrne.

“It was concluded as a result of these examinations that the hairs are of the deer family origin.”

Letter from Jay Cochran, Jr. to Howard Curtis

(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Cochran returned the sample with the letter, though, according to Byrne, he never received that final bit of correspondence. Because he was traveling at the time, the letter was sent to the executive vice president of the Academy of Applied Science, an organization Byrne’s Bigfoot Information Center maintained close formal ties with. Byrne was presented with the results earlier this week by the Washington Post, and reacted as though the FBI’s conclusion was entirely new to him.

That may well be true, as the files were only uploaded to the FBI’s website this week, though the documents were actually declassified years ago and have been publicly available on websites like The Black Vault ever since.

Of course, it’s impossible to say if the FBI maintains any other files on Bigfoot, but at least for now, it seems the North American ape-man has eluded authorities once again.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia detains retired Marine on espionage charges

The family of a U.S. citizen being held by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) over suspected spying says he is innocent and was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

Paul Whelan, a retired Marine, was last heard from on Dec. 28, 2018, according to a statement from his family, obtained by RFE/RL on Jan. 1, 2019.

His failure to contact his family “was very much out of character for him,” the statement said.


“We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected,” it added.

Whelan, 48, could face between 10 to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Russian officials did not disclose any details of his alleged involvement in espionage.

David Whelan told RFE/RL in a direct message via Twitter that his brother “has a corporate security role” with BorgWarner, a U.S.-based supplier of automotive parts and components.

Brother of accused spy speaks out

www.youtube.com

BorgWarner said in a statement sent to RFE/RL on Jan. 1, 2019, that Paul Whelan was the company’s global security director. It added that he is responsible for overseeing the company’s facilities in Auburn Hills, Michigan, “and at other company locations around the world.”

BorgWarner has 60 manufacturing sites in 18 countries, but none of them are listed as being in Russia.

A spokeswoman for BorgWarner told RFE/RL that the company “does not have any facilities in Russia.”

Russia’s state-owned conglomerate Rostec said in 2013 that its truckmaker, KamAz, had a long record of collaboration with a subsidiary of BorgWarner known as BorgWarnerTurboSystems.

David Whelan told AP in a Jan. 1, 2019 interview that his brother had been to Russia “several times” before and was helping a former U.S. Marine friend of his plan a wedding with a Russian woman.

On the morning of the day he was detained, Paul Whelan had given a tour of the Kremlin museums to a group of wedding guests, his brother said. He failed to show up for the wedding on the evening of Dec. 28, 2018.

David Whelan said his absence led the family to fear he had been in a car accident or perhaps mugged, and were searching the Internet for news about “dead Americans in Moscow.”

The U.S. State Department has said it knows about “the detention of a U.S. citizen by Russian authorities” and had been formally notified by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The State Department said on Dec. 31, 2018, that it had requested consular access to Paul Whelan and expected “Russian authorities to provide it.”

David Whelan said in the AP interview that his family was told by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that it has been unable to speak with Paul Whelan.

David Whelan said his brother had previously worked for Kelly Services, an international office-staffing company that does have offices in Moscow, and had been to Russia on business and to visit friends he had met on social-media networks.

Paul Whelan reportedly had a page on the Russian social-media site VKontakte on which he writes messages in basic Russian.

David Whelan said his brother was stationed in Iraq several times with the U.S. Marines and has been living in Novi, Michigan.

The announcement of Whelan’s detainment came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow remains open to dialogue with Washington in a New Year’s greeting to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Relations between the United States and Russia remain strained over a raft of issues including Russia’s role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, its alleged meddling in elections in the United States and elsewhere, and the poisoning of a Russian double agent in Britain.

At the end of November 2018, Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, citing tensions after Russian forces opened fire on Ukrainian Navy boats before seizing them and capturing 24 Ukrainian sailors.

The detention of Whelan comes weeks after Russian Maria Butina pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin.

The Kremlin has denied that Butina is a Russian agent and has organized a social-media campaign to secure her release.

In the past, Russia has arrested foreigners with the aim of trading prisoners with other countries.

In his annual year-end news conference on Dec. 20, 2018, Putin said Russia would “not arrest innocent people simply to exchange them for someone else later on.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

These photos from an F-22 ‘Elephant Walk’ are pretty cool

Some really cool photographs of two dozen F-22s from the 3rd Wing and 477th Fighter Group taxiing in close formation with an E-3 Sentry and a C-17 Globemaster III during a Polar Force exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, were posted online on Mar. 26, 2019. Both types are based at JBER.

The aircraft staged what is known as an “Elephant Walk”, a kind of drills during which combat planes (including tankers) taxi in close formation in the same way they would do in case of a minimum interval takeoff, then, depending on the purpose of the training event, they can either take off or return back to their parking slots.


What is particularly interesting in the photos of the exercise at JBER, is the fact that, along with the Raptors, also a Sentry took part in the “walk”.

F-22 Raptors from the 3rd Wing and 477th Fighter Group participate in a close formation taxi, known as an Elephant Walk, March 26, 2019, during a Polar Force exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

3rd Wing’s F-22s and E-3s often team up during QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) launches triggered by Russian long-range bombers flying in the vicinity of the Alaskan ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone). This is what we wrote in 2017 about such “combined scrambles”:

Launching the AEW along with the fighters is a “tactics” that allows the Air Defense to extend the radar coverage and to better investigate the eventual presence of additional bombers or escorting fighters flying “embedded” with the “zombies” (as the unknown aircraft are usually dubbed in the QRA jargon). At the same time, the presence of an E-3 allows the Raptors to improve their situational awareness while reducing the radar usage and maximizing as much as possible their stealth capability (even though it must be remembered that F-22s in QRA usually carry fuel tanks that make them less “invisible” to radars).

A long range sortie is not easy to plan. Even more so a strike sortie: the bomber are not only required to fly inbound the target (TGT) and reach a convient position to simulate the attack and weapons delivery, they also need to take in consideration many other factors. First of all “what is your goal?” Do you want to train for a realistic strike? Or do you want to “spy” or show your presence or posture?

Other factors are distance from own country, opponent’s defense capability, minimum risk routing according to the threats, presence of DCA (Defensive Counter Air), supporting assets, etc.

Usually, during a strike sortie, bombers are considered the HVA (High Value Asset), the one that must be protected. For this reason during the planning phase they are always escorted by fighter and protected by the Ground to Air threats by means of SEAD/DEAD (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses), EW (Electronic Warfare) and everything is needed to let them able to hit their targeted.

An F-22 Raptor takes off after Raptors from the 3rd Wing and 477th Fighter Group participated in a close formation taxi, known as an Elephant Walk, March 26, 2019, during a Polar Force exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

However, escorting a strategic bomber is not always possible (nor convenient): considered their limited range, the presence of the fighters would heavily affect the long range planning, requiring support from multiple tankers along the route.

For this reason, although the Russians visit the West Coast quite often, they usually are not escorted by any fighter jet (as happens, for instance, in the Baltic region, where Tu-22s are often accompanied by Su-27 Flankers).

However, it’s better to be prepared and trained for the worst case scenario and this is probably the reason why NORAD included an E-3 AEW in the QRA team: to have a look at the Tu-95s and make sure there was no “sweep” fighters or subsequent “package”.

The configuration of the F-22 aircraft involved in the Elephant Walk at JBER is also interesting as the stealth jets carry underwing tanks: that is the standard external loadout both in case of QRA launch and for ferry flights and forward deployments.

After taking the shots, the aircraft cleared the runway, taxied back to the threshold of RWY24 and took off in sequence.

As already reported a recent “Elephant Walk”, also involving about two dozen F-22s, took place at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, on Feb. 28, 2019.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

Articles

This flying tank destroyer had a much bigger gun than the Warthog

The A-10 is justifiably celebrated for its tank-killing prowess.


After all, it destroyed 987 tanks and a metric buttload of other Iraqi stuff during Desert Storm, and its GAU-8 got a lot of use, including some Iraqi helicopters who felt the BRRRRT! But the Air Force once planned for a tank-buster with a gun that made the A-10’s GAU-8 look puny.

The Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly was intended to be a close-air support plane to bust up tanks and bunkers in front of the infantry. Beechcraft, ironically, is best known for civilian planes like the King Air.

Beechcraft XA-38 (S/N 43-14407) in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

To accomplish that mission, it was given a powerful armament. In the nose was a pair of M2 .50-caliber machine guns and a powerful T15E1 75mm automatic cannon. It had a pair of twin .50-caliber turrets as well (one on the top, one on the bottom), and the ability to carry up to 2,000 pounds of bombs, according to MilitaryFactory.com.

Yeah, you read that right. The Army Air Force in World War II was developing a specialized tank-buster that was two and a half times bigger than the GAU-8. Of course, a 75mm gun had been used on variants of the B-25, but the XA-38’s gun was essentially a semi-auto.

A parked XA-38, with the barrel of the T15E1 prominently visible. Makes the GAU-8 looks like a cute popgun doesn’t it? (U.S. Air Force photo)

The plane had a top speed of 376 miles per hour, a range of 1,625 miles, and a crew of two. With all that performance, it had a lot of promise when it first flew in May of 1944. But that promise was never seen by the grunts on the ground.

The XA-38 project never got past the two prototypes, because a different aviation project took up all the engines that the Grizzly was designed to use. The Wright GR-3350-43 engines were needed by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, which in 1944 was needed to bomb Japan.

One prototype was scrapped, while the other’s fate remains unknown.

Articles

7 longest range sniper kills in history

These 7 snipers reached out and touched the enemy from a long way away:


1. The British sniper who nailed three 1.53-mile hits

UK (Ministry of Defence photo)

Cpl. of Horse Craig Harrison was providing sniper support in a firefight between his buddies and Afghan insurgents. Near the end of the three-hour battle in Nov. 2009, Harrison spotted the enemy machine gun team that was pinning everyone down. He lined up his sights on the targets that were over 1.5 miles away.

Each shot took 6 seconds to impact. He fired five times. Two shots missed but one round ripped through the gunner’s stomach, another took out the assistant gunner, and the last one destroyed the machine gun.

2. A Canadian sniper who took out a machine gunner in Operation Anaconda

Photo: Canadian Army Cpl. Bruno Turcotte

During Operation Anaconda, the bloody hunt of Afghan militants in the Shahikot Valley in Mar. 2002, Canadian Cpl. Rob Furlong was watching over a group of U.S. troops and saw an insurgent automatic weapons team climbing a ridge 1.5 miles away. His first two shots narrowly missed but the third broke open the gunner’s torso and left him bleeding out on the ground. The shot barely beat out Master Cpl. Arron Perry’s shot discussed below.

3. Another Canadian sniper in Operation Anaconda who took out an observer from nearly the same distance

Photo: Canadian Army 3 PPCLI Battle Group Cpl Lou Penney

Canadian Master Cpl. Arron Perry was also supporting U.S. troops in Operation Anaconda when he spotted an enemy artillery observer 1.43 miles away. Perry took aim at the observer and nailed him. Perry held the record for world’s longest sniper kill for a few days before Furlong beat it.

4. The Ranger whose longest-American kill is still mostly secret

Photo: US Army Capt. John Farmer

Sgt. Bryan Kremer was deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Ranger Battalion in Mar. 2004 when he took a shot from 1.42 miles away and killed an Iraqi insurgent. The details of the battle have been kept under wraps, but his Mar. 2004 shot is the longest recorded sniper kill by an American.

5. The Marine legend who set the world record with a machine gun

Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock is one of the most respected names in the Marine Corps and set the record for longest kill in 1967 with a machine gun. The record stood for 35 years before Perry beat it.

Hathcock had an M2 in single-shot mode with a scope mounted on the top. He saw a Vietcong soldier pushing a bike loaded with weapons and took two shots. The first destroyed the bike and the second killed the soldier.

READ MORE: This Marine made history’s 5th longest sniper kill with a machine gun

6. The South African sniper who recorded hits from 1.32 miles while killing six officers in a day

Photo: US Marine Forces Reserve Cpl. Jad Sleiman

A South African battalion deployed in a U.N. brigade fought viciously against the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the Battle of Kibati, an unnamed South African sniper killed six M23 officers in a single day in Aug. 2013. His longest kill that day was an amazing 1.32-mile shot.

7. The Army sniper who tagged Taliban who walked into his personal firing range

Photo: US Army Cpl. Bertha Flores

Snipers sometimes fire at different objects on the battlefield to collect information about how their rounds move through the air at a given location. Spc. Nicholas Ranstad had been firing at a boulder near his position, leaving a small trail of white marks on the rock.

In Jan. 2008 he was lucky enough to spot four Afghan insurgents standing in front of his normal target. The men were 1.28 miles away, but standing in the spot that Ranstad had the most experience firing. His first shot narrowly missed, but his second killed one of the fighters. The other three bugged out.