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A Handful Of Lucky Soldiers Are Already Rocking The Army’s Newest Laser Weapon Downrange
The Army’s Stryker-mounted laser, built to zap enemy drones out of the sky, just took a major step towards combat.
Artillery soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment are currently getting intensive training on how to laser-blast drones out of the sky to field-test specially modified Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles outfitted with a Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany in recent weeks. The training comes less than a year after the Stryker-equipped MEHEL was unveiled during a field test at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and is believed to mark the first practical deployment of laser weaponry by infantry soldiers overseas.
While the 5kW laser system isn’t quite strong enough to incinerate enemy fighters, it’s a big improvement over last year’s test at Ft. Sill, which wowed with a 2kW rig. It’s also big step towards both the Army’s $118 million goal of fielding a 50kW laser as part of short-range air defense systems (SHORAD) in the next five years, and the Space and Missile Defense Command’s long-term moonshot goal of a 100kW death ray — projects that make up just a small part of the Pentagon’s directed energy aspirations.
A 5 kilowatt laser sits on a Stryker armored vehicles called the Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser (MEHEL), during the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, April 5, 2017.U.S. Army/Monica K. Guthrie
The Army has been promoting the living shit out of its nifty new laser trucks, but the location of the new training in Germany is most intriguing. Ever since U.S. Army Europe identified a major SHORAD gap in Eastern Europe after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Pentagon has been racing to deploy upgunned combat vehicles to NATO countries as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Indeed, the 2nd Cav that’s testing the MEHEL system was also the first to receive 80 new Stryker ICVs rocking the 30mm cannon, plus an additional 87 Strykers with the CROWS-J Javelin system, to minimize troop exposure to enemy fire.
Where the Pentagon once envisioned the Stryker MEHEL downrange in Iraq and Syria to counter the “flying IEDs” and explosive-laden drones born from ISIS’s frightening “industrial revolution in terrorism,” the blows to the terror network in urban strongholds like Mosul and Raqqa, and the recentering of the U.S. military’s global footprint, means the future of laser warfare may be conventional, waged in the crowded skies above a battlespace.
One of the drones shot down by a MEHEL-equipped Stryker in April at Fort Sill during MFIX-17.U.S. Army/Monica K. Guthrie
To that end, the MEHEL won’t be the only new Stryker soldiers enjoy in the coming months: The Army is also eyeing the fledgling Stryker Maneuver SHORAD Launcher, or Stryker MSL, outfitted with an Avenger launcher turret that hosts an arsenal of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
But in the meantime, those lucky 2nd Cav soldiers will just have to spent their spare time — as Army officials said during the MEHEL test at Fort Sill last year — “absolutely [blowing] lots of stuff up” with lasers.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.