Anyone who’s ever served in uniform has probably heard someone say the immortal line: “I would have joined the military, but…”
Lots of civilians make a trip to the recruiter with an eye toward military service, full of patriotic zeal and martial courage. But many pull out at the last minute and give their friends and family some song and dance about why they couldn’t commit.
No matter what excuse they give you for not signing on the dotted line, here are six real reasons recruiters tell us people decide not to join.
The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment is the Army’s official ceremonial unit. It escorts the president, conducts ceremonies honoring the Army and its fallen soldiers, and provides a 24-hour honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Known as the Old Guard, the unit has served the nation since 1784 and is expected to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and military bearing. Recently, Soldiers Magazine published a video by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jedhel Somera of the Old Guard in action during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Check it out below:
While the week-long exercise also featured anti-submarine warfare and other naval operations, most of the news coverage was of the Marines hitting the island. (In their defense, getting good footage of submarine battles is kinda tough).
Sure, pundits wrung their hands about the ramifications of a China and Russia conducting joint operations. But the fear may have been a bit overblown. After all, China participates in a lot of naval exercises with the U.S. as well.
The location and the activities in the exercise are important, though. Portions of the hotly contested South China Sea are claimed by a few nations, including the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. If China were to try to edge other countries off their claims by force, this is the exact exercise they would need to do to get ready.
And the Chinese marines do look good in the video below, working with landing craft, tanks, and air assets to quickly take and hold the island alongside their Russian counterparts in green. See more footage of them in the full video from War Leaks below:
A longtime saying in war is that artillery is the king of the battlefield.
But some artillery are better than others, but the best are those that can drive themselves to battle.
For a long time, all artillery was towed. First the towing as done by horses, then by trucks or other vehicles. But there was a problem. The artillery took a while to set up, then, when the battery had to move — either because troops advanced or retreated – or the enemy found out where the artillery was located, it took time to do that.
Fighter pilots say, speed is life.” Artillerymen would not disagree. Towed artillery had another minus: It had a hard time keeping up with tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.
The way to cut the time down was to find a way a howitzer could propel itself. The advantage was that these guns not only could support tanks and other armored units, but these guns often had an easier time setting up to fire. They could also be ready to move much faster, as well.
This ability to “shoot and scoot” made them much harder to locate.
Most self-propelled howitzers fire either a 152mm round (usually from Russia and China, but also from former communist countries like Serbia) or a 155mm round (NATO and most other countries). Often these guns are tracked, but some have been mounted on truck chassis, gaining a higher top speed as a result.
Some of the world’s best self-propelled howitzers include the American-designed M109A6 Paladin, the Russian 2S19, the South Korean K9 Thunder, and the German PzH-2000.
You can see the full list of the ten deadliest self-propelled howitzers in the video below.
During the Wild West, many towns popped up along the trail and eventually went on to become ghost towns. Military bases, though, have sometimes become “ghost bases” – abandoned and left to rot.
Some of these ghost bases are near cities like the Big Apple. Others, like Johnston Atoll, are pretty far off – a nice getaway spot, if not for the history of being used as a storage center for Agent Orange and other interesting stuff.
The climates can be very different – from the burning sands of Johnston Atoll to the frozen flatlands of North Dakota, where America briefly operated a ballistic-missile defense system known as SAFEGUARD.
One base in Croatia that once was home for almost 50 fighter jets was abandoned during the Yugoslav civil war of 1991 – and the wrecks are mostly used by folks seeking some adventure. That base still gets “official” use for law enforcement training.
A damaged runway at the Zeljava Air Base in Croatia. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
You can even check out one abandoned facility that will soon fall into the Pacific. No, not Johnston Atoll (it was a re-claimed coral atoll built over the years long before China did the same thing in the South China Sea), but instead the Devil’s Slide bunker on the California coast. A lack of maintenance and the natural process of erosion will eventually send this coastal-defense bunker tumbling from commanding heights and into the Pacific.
But if you want one “ghost base” that has captured imaginations worldwide, you can go to either the Ukraine or Siberia to see the Duga Radar Array – an early-warning system meant to detect American missiles. Or just pick up the video games “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and “Stalker” to see representations of the array used.
So, take a peek at this video that tells more about these and some other “ghost bases” – and tell us which “ghost base” you would like to know more about.
A YouTube video of Thunderbirds lead pilot Maj. Blaine “Deuce” Jones taking an F-16 for a joyride gives civilians a look at what flying a fighter is really like, and it’s awesome.
The short, called “Fly Amongst The Solo Thunder – USAF Thunderbirds” begins with Jones and crew chief Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ayivorh running through their preflight checklist to the perfect electronic dance music track.
Destin Sandlin, the former Army engineer behind the YouTube channel “Smarter Every Day,” shot video of see-through suppressors and then went through the video in slow motion, discussing exactly how these weapon accessories work to mask the location of a shooter.
Suppressors are often referred to as “silencers” in popular media, but that’s a misnomer that has been clearly debunked in the last few years. So let’s take a quick look at what it does instead of silencing the sound of the weapon.
When a weapon is fired, a pocket of cool air and powder is suddenly ignited, creating a massive stream of extremely hot gases that propel the round from the barrel. This process also creates an audible explosion that can alert everyone in the area as to where the shot came from.
Suppressors work by channeling the explosive gases through channels, often cut into a series of chambers, in such a way that the gases escape over a longer period of time, mostly after they’ve already cooled and returned to normal volume. This doesn’t eliminate the sound, but instead turns it from a solid single explosion to a sort of muted thunderclap with a short roll to the sound.
Typically, this process takes place inside a metal “can” that contains the suppressor, making it impossible to see the flow of the gases. But as this video shows, high-quality acrylic can serve the same purpose, allowing you to see the flow of the gases. The best example is the second demonstration in the video, and you can actually see the process in its stages.
First, the suppressor captures the gases leaving the barrel in a large chamber near the muzzle. But then, as that superheated gas is captured, the suppressor channels a lot of the gases over a diamond-patterned area which contains the heat until it dissipates. The gases don’t escape until after the bulk of the heat is gone, making the sound much quieter.
Of course, this process does have some drawbacks. First, a large amount of heat that would normally pass into the air is instead captured in a can near the barrel, increasing the amount of heat that remains in the barrel. This shortens barrel life and reduces how many rounds a shooter can fire in a short period of time without melting the barrel.
It can also affect the ballistics of the round fired and the accuracy of the shooter as it changes the flow of gases and adds weight to the barrel.
Secrecy is one of the best currencies in war, so it’s sometimes best for commanders to keep their best assets hidden from the enemy and the public. While the military has admitted that most the units on this list existed at some point, a lot of their missions were classified for decades before being disclosed to the public. For the units that are still operating, America still only gets glimpses into their activities.
When some renegade Navy SEALs discover the whereabouts of a treasure buried under 150 feet of water at the bottom of the Bosnian lake, they set out on a secret unauthorized mission to retrieve more than 300 million dollars of Nazi-stolen gold bars.
Have you ever wondered how the toughest competitors in the UFC would stack up against the military?
Well, you can stop wondering. A YouTube video called “UFC Fighters Experience Marine Corps Martial Arts” gives a look at what happened when five fighters — Marcus Davis, Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, (former Marine) Brian Stann, and UFC President Dana White — made the trek to Quantico, Virginia’s Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence, better known as MACE.
After seeing a morning demonstration of tactics and techniques, the fighters attempted a training lane used to test Marines for their ability to train with knives, bayonets, and fighting sticks. The fighters lost to the Marines. Badly.
Although to be fair, even former Marine Brian Stann had some trouble standing up to his fellow Marines who were experts in the Corps’ Martial Arts program.
When fired, the Apache’s 30mm machine gun is so intense it vibrates the pilot’s internal organs, teeth, and the retinas in their eyes — along with helicopter’s mechanical parts.
This Boeing-made helicopter can not only dish it out, but it can take a beating too.
The Apache’s crew station houses sophisticated ballistic-tolerant seats comprised of kevlar and ceramic. The aircraft’s fuel tanks also have a few special defense surprises for enemy grounds troops that are attempting to blow this fly fortress out of the sky.
The fuel tanks are ballistic-tolerant as well and capable of sealing up .50 caliber rounds trying to penetrate.
But the real tactical advantage is the tank contains nitrogen, which is a part of a unique system where it removes the oxygen out of the fuel tank so that the gas becomes another barrier level for incoming rounds.
At the end of some missions, the Apache’s crew has to fish out enemy bullets from the fuel tank. That’s what we call impressive.
Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to see what makes the innovative aircraft so dang special for yourself.