The historic rainfall and devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey are still wreaking havoc on residents of Texas, but not in the way you’d expect. Residual standing water has turned communities across the Gulf Coast into swampy cesspools of liquid waste, perfect for breeding mosquitoes.
Don’t worry, though: the Air Force is on it.
When the Texas Department of State Health Services realized that mosquitoes would begin breeding like wildfire, it called in the 910th Airlift Wing to treat Harris, Liberty, and Montgomery counties with airborne insecticides in an aerial campaign against the bloodsucking bugs, according to ABC 13 News.
As of Sept. 8, Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing, stationed at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, is now flying modified C-130 cargo planes on “aerial spray mosquito” missions, attacking them in the dead of night. While that may sound silly, this business is no joke — and the reservists, like the mosquitoes themselves, are out for blood.
"Basically, these bugs fly at night and with us being able to trail and prepare and be able to fly with night vision goggles, we have increased the kill rate, if you will, of these insects," Lt. Col. John Boccieri with the 910th Airlift Wing told ABC 13.
By Sept. 16, the Wing,, treated roughly 3.73 million acres, ABC 13 reported.
Health officials are hoping this effort will curb the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, which sickened more than 37,000 Americans in 2016, according to Vector Disease Control International.
Of particular concern is Zika, the illness that sparked anxiety in the tropics in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, Texas saw reports of 323 cases of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that causes microcephaly (smaller heads as a result of disrupted brain development) in fetuses, Reuters reported, and the state has seen 71 cases so far this year alone. And that was before Harvey rocked the coast.
Sitting water across Texas could create a health crisis if left untreated. The spray missions will likely cover upwards of 7 million acres, according to WKBN 27. In the meantime, state officials have advised locals to wear long sleeves and pants to avoid being bitten. But with Gulf Coast temperatures still hovering in the high eighties, it seems unlikely that anyone’s going to take that advice.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."