Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement
When former Green Beret Robert K. Brown founded Soldier of Fortune in 1975, he had one very specific audience in mind: G.I.s who had returned from Vietnam only to realize that they felt more at home on the battlefield than they did in a society that widely shunned the war they represented.
“A lot of Vietnam veterans felt they weren’t given their due, so I wanted to promote the concept of giving them recognition,” Brown, 83, told Maxim in a recent interview. “We said our blood was just as red as anyone who fought in WWI or WWII or Korea, but that wasn’t the case in society at the time.”
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Brown, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel, was wounded in a mortar attack while serving with Special Forces in the central highlands of Vietnam in 1969. But it wouldn’t be the last time the scrappy Michigan-native saw combat.
As the editor of Soldier of Fortune, Brown traveled the globe pursuing what he appropriately dubbed “hardcore participatory journalism,” which often placed him and the freelance writers he employed (usually actual mercenaries) at the chaotic center of the stories they covered.
“We would create the story, gin up a lot of action, and then write about it for the glistening pages of our bad-boy magazine,” Brown explained in his 2013 memoir, “I Am Soldier of Fortune: Dancing with Devils.”
Six correspondents have been killed while on assignment for Soldier of Fortune in places like Burma, Angola, Nicaragua, and Sierra Leone, according to Maxim.
Soldier of Fortune’s readership reached its peak in the 1980s, when it had a print circulation of about 150,000. At the time, the magazine was notorious for its classifieds section, which advertised everything from tactical manuals and weaponry, to real-life guns for hire.
The families of several people allegedly killed by Soldier of Fortune hitmen famously sued the magazine in the mid-80s.
The magazine’s readership has dwindled significantly since its Reagan-era heyday. In April 2016, the magazine will fold its print edition, but will continue producing content for its website, sofmag.com, according to The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ partly attributes the decline in readership to the aging Vietnam Veteran population.
“We couldn’t cut a deal to sell just the print edition,” Brown told the WSJ. “We want to keep the brand going so we are transitioning entirely to the internet.” He added: “After we went to press with the last issue, it was like a humongous rock lifted off my back that I had been unaware of until it was removed.”
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.