Articles

These are the high-tech 2-wheelers America's top troops ride into battle

For more than 100 years, troops have been zipping around combat zones on motorcycles. From early uses as transports for messengers plying the scarred landscape of Flanders in World War I, to steeds shuttling reconnaissance troops maneuvering for a low-profile look-see in Europe to today's special operations troops using specially-designed all-terrain dirt bikes in search of America's enemies, the military uses motorcycles for its specialized missions more than ever.


In fact, one of the first times U.S. troops used motorcycles in combat was when Gen. George "Blackjack" Pershing ordered Harley-Davidson J Series bikes to hunt down Poncho Villa in Mexico in 1914.

With their relatively light weight, high speed and endurance and energy efficiency, military motorcycles were proven time and again to be able to get troops to an objective when no other vehicle could — and get them out fast when things go sideways.

In the Great War, motorcycles were often used as transport for messengers and for medics to carry the wounded. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

These stealthy steeds were used in some novel ways during World War I, with the U.S. military fielding nearly 100,000 to troops fighting in Europe. These bikes were loaded with machine guns for attacking enemy trenches, deployed with gurneys to transport wounded and used as messenger and reconnaissance vehicles to pass vital information and spy on enemy formations.

World War II saw even more use for military motorcycles, with Harley Davidson dominating the market for U.S. troops. This time vehicle technology had progressed so much that the Jeep Willy eventually eclipsed the motorcycle for go-anywhere transport and the two-wheelers were used primarily for message delivery and scouting.

By the Cold War, communications technology and armored designs made tooling around the battlefield on a motorcycle a dicey proposition. But that's when America's secret warriors started casting their gaze toward the technology for low-viz operations.

An Air Force Special Tactics airman surveys a remote landing strip in his offroad motorcycle. (Photo from U.S. Air Force)

It's well known that the Marine Corps had a unit of motorcycle troops for decades and that Air Force Special Tactics troops like Combat Controller Teams used the two-wheelers for remote landing strip surveys and long-range transport. The commandos (and Marines) tended toward offroad or Enduro-style bikes, with all-terrain capability and durable suspensions.

Today's special operators are emphasizing hybrid technology that allows the bike to run on quiet electricity and recharge with a gas-fueled motor when stealth isn't as important. Two prototype bikes, the Silent Hawk by Logos and the Nightmare from LSA Autonomy, are part of an ongoing program run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to deliver commandos a truly flex-fueled motorcycle.

These high-tech bikes can run on just about any kind of fuel, including JP-8 jet fuel and propane, and can switch to a quiet electric motor for silent insertions. When the motor's running, the engine purrs at a whispery 80 decibels, about the same amount of noise as a vacuum cleaner.

While these bikes may still be a few years off before they're deployed to worldwide combat zones, special operations units are setting their sights on today's motorcycles that can go anywhere and are much easier to operate than standard ones.

An Air Force Special Tactics airman on a Christini AWD motorcycle. (Photo from U.S. Military)

A recent solicitation for industry from Air Force Special Operations Command calls for an order of Christini All-wheel Drive motorcycles for its special tactics teams. The Christini's AWD capability "adds an element of control and capability that is not available on other motorcycles with the exact same overall weight," the Air Force says.

The 450cc motorcycle uses a so-called "Rekluse" automatic clutch that allows the commando to stop at a moment's notice without stalling and continue on without going through restart procedures, delivering "the operator an extreme tactical advantage on the battlefield."

The Christini also has flex-foam run-flat tires that can take bullets and keep going "making a flat tire impossible," the Air Force says.

Clearly, from the pre-World War I Army to the most elite special operators of today, the motorcycle is here to stay as an option for stealthy, all-terrain transport to get troops where they're needed in any clime and place.

NOW WATCH: We take a ride with Navy vet and motocross machine Jacqueline Carrizosa:

Military Life

Female veterans pose on same ship that carried WW2 troops

Award-winning nonprofit Pin-Ups for Vets is releasing its 13th annual fundraising calendar to raise money for VA hospitals; ill, injured, and homeless veterans; deployed troops; and military families. The 2019 calendar, photographed on the iconic Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, features 19 female veterans decked out in World War II inspired fashion.

"Fans of Art Deco will appreciate the look of the upcoming calendar that reflects the vintage glamour of this 1936 cruise liner, now permanently docked in Long Beach, CA as a floating hotel," said Pin-Ups For Vets Founder, Gina Elise, who established Pin-Ups For Vets in 2006, as a way to honor the WWII service of her grandfather.

Gina Elise, Founder

Gina has devoted her life to giving back to the military community. To date, Pin-Ups For Vets has donated over $58,000 to help hospitals purchase new therapy equipment and to provide financial assistance for Veterans' healthcare program expansion across the United States.

The 2019 calendar is officially ready for pre-order at www.PinUpsForVets.com. All 2019 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar pictures were taken by Shane Karns Photography — and let me just tell you...he really nailed it.


Kirstie Ennis, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

From a linguist, to a Human Intelligence Collector, to a combat photographer, to a combat medic, to a motor transportation operator, to a heavy equipment transporter driver leading convoys in Iraq, to a helicopter door gunner in Afghanistan, these ladies also include an above-the-knee amputee veteran (Marine Corps veteran Kirstie Ennis — who, by the way, at the time of this publishing was climbing Mount Denali in support of Service to Summit to raise money for Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit organization that builds or modifies homes and gives them to veterans in need).

Julie Noyes, Army veteran

Army veteran Julie Noyes says, "It can be so difficult as a female service member to feel empowered in her beauty without feeling like she may betray the professionalism of her uniform when we only seek to be treated like our male counterparts. I feel that Pin-Ups for Vets does a superb job at raising money and awareness for our elderly, wounded vets and our currently deployed troops while also showcasing the class and beauty of female veterans without objectifying them. What Pin-Ups Vets Founder Gina Elise has done with this publication and non-profit is nothing short of empowering and inspiring."

Naumika Kumar, Navy Veteran

"I will always be thankful to the Navy. I met my husband in the Navy who is also a veteran now and I graduated from National University with Master's Degree in 2012 as well. I am happy to see there are organization such as Pin-Ups For Vets who are doing so much to support the military and Veterans. I am happy that I got an opportunity to be part of the organization."

Patti Gomez, Army veteran

Patti is a veteran of the United States Army, where she proudly served in the New York Army National Guard as a 35M (Human Intelligence Collector) of the 42nd Infantry Division, located in Glenville, New York. She volunteered to attend JRTC in Fort Polk, Louisiana, alongside the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in July 2016. She also trained at Warfighter at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, with her unit in October 2017. Patti attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and attended Advanced Individual Training at the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

"Pin-Ups for Vets is an incredible organization with an important mission. Being a part of a nonprofit that helps veterans and empowers women at the same time is truly an honor and one that I couldn't pass up when I was asked to be a part of the 2019 calendar. As the reigning Mrs. New York America, my platform is veteran organizations — and Pin-Ups for Vets is truly among the best of them!"

Check out that cover image!

The 2019 calendar can be purchased at: www.PinUpsForVets.com or by check to: Pin-Ups For Vets, PO Box 33, Claremont, CA 91711.

Articles

This Microsoft training fast tracks veterans into sweet tech careers

Solaire Brown (formerly Sanderson) was a happy, gung-ho Marine sergeant deployed in Afghanistan when she realized her military career was about to change. She was tasked with finding the right fit for her post-military life – and she knew she wanted to be prepared.

Injuries sustained during mine-resistant vehicle training had led to surgeries and functional recovery and it became clear Brown would no longer be able to operate at the level she expected of herself as a Marine.

Like many of the 200,000 service members exiting the military each year, Brown knew her military training could make her a valuable asset as an employee, but she was unsure of how her skills might specifically translate to employment in the civilian world.

Enter Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), a program Microsoft started in 2013 to provide transitioning service members and veterans with critical career skills required for today's growing technology industry.

Keep reading... Show less

This is what we know about Area 51

Area 51 is a restricted site in Nevada with an almost cult-like mythology surrounding it. Some people claim it's a standard military operation site, but others swear that it within its gated walls exists proof about extraterrestrial life.

Before we get into public knowledge, I want to throw in my thoughts on this. I was an intelligence officer in the Air Force and I maybe shouldn't post this on the internet but my final assignment was in a place that rhymes with Rational Maturity Agency, and while the government definitely does some cool classified work there, I can say with high confidence that no one would be able to keep aliens a secret. At least not the kinds of aliens we tell stories about. Maybe Area 51 has some petri dishes of extraterrestrial amoebas...but I really doubt it.

You can even see Area 51 on Google Maps. (PS: Just south of Area 51 is a place called "Sugar Bunker" and a brothel called "Alien Cathouse" — two locations I find much more shady and secretive than any military base.)

Keep reading... Show less
Articles

This band hires vets — especially when they go on tour

As veterans re-enter the civilian workforce, many struggle to make the transition. This is why opportunities (ahem — touring with famous heavy metal bands) for employment are so important. Five Finger Death Punch has made it a mission to offer such opportunities.

Keep reading... Show less

Here's the origin of the respected battlefield cross

Troops die in battle — it's an unfortunate fact, but it's the nature of the job. Countless men and women have sacrificed themselves to protect their fellow service members, their friends and family back home, and the lifestyle we enjoy here in the U.S.

"Battlefield crosses" were created to honor the fallen. A deceased troop's rifle is planted, barrel-first, into their boots (or, in some cases, the ground) and their helmet is placed atop the rifle. Like all things military, this cross is part of a long-standing tradition — a tradition that has evolved since its first use on the battlefields of the American Civil War.

Despite the fact that it's called a cross, there's no single religious ideology attached to the practice.

Keep reading... Show less

4 workouts that burn the most calories per hour

Service members have busy schedules, so it can be challenging to carve out time enough to burn those calories. Most of us exercise for about an hour each time we put on our PT gear. Typically, those workouts consists of a multi-mile run alongside our squadmates.

After the PT session, many troops call it a day, but other service members are looking to get as jacked as possible as quickly as they can — which leads us to the burning question:

Which workouts burn the most calories in the least time?

Keep reading... Show less
Military Life

Why the 'Good Cookie' isn't a guaranteed medal

The Good Conduct Medal is one of the easiest medals an enlisted troop can earn. It's an award given to enlisted personnel for every three years of "honorable and faithful service." During times of war, the GCM can given out at one year of good service and can be posthumously awarded to service members killed in the line of duty.

But the GCM isn't the same as a service stripe, which is given to soldiers every three years, Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen every four years, and is never given to airmen. To earn a GCM, you need to keep your nose clean (or don't get caught doing something you shouldn't) for three years. If you're a solider, boom, that's an instant 10 promotion points.

Keep reading... Show less
GEAR & TECH

This workhorse of Army aviation is over 40 years old

The UH-60 Black Hawk has been a mainstay of the United States Military since it was first delivered in 1978. This highly versatile helicopter has since served with all five branches of the armed services and has even found a home with other agencies, like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well.

The primary purpose of the Black Hawk is to haul troops — at least 11 of them — but it's also very capable of hauling cargo — it can support 9,000 pounds hanging from a cargo hook. Versions of this helicopter also serve as medevacs, in command and control capacities, and as support to special operations forces. Some even pack a lot of firepower and take to the skies as gunships.

Keep reading... Show less