David Leffler is a contributing writer for Task & Purpose. The son of an American war historian and the grandson of a Vietnam veteran, David’s interests range from international politics to homegrown American tech.
In late January, Mansoor Shams, a 34-year-old former Marine corporal, was running through Seattle-Tacoma National Airport when a woman stopped him. She wanted to talk about the whiteboard sign he was carrying. “I’m a Muslim and a U.S. Marine,” it read in thick red and blue marker. “Ask anything.” He had considered erasing the message. As a Muslim, he’d never felt especially comfortable in airports. But the woman had a big smile on her face. She just wanted to give Shams a high five.
Thirty years ago, Harley-Davidson purchased the rights to Armstrong, an English motorcycle manufacturer that had supplied bikes to armies around the world. A few years later, Harley officially announced its arrival into military market with the release of one of the rarest, fastest combat motorcycles ever built: the 1999 MT500.
It’s a story as old as the internet itself: Boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, boy asks girl to wire him thousands of dollars and then vanishes off the face of the earth forever. Well, at least that’s the experience many people have had since the rise of internet dating and the online scams that have followed. By far one of the most successful schemes involves American service members. Well, not real ones. But people pretending to be them.
The Army is the latest organization to venture into the realm of driverless cars, joining the likes of Tesla, Google, Audi, Uber, and many others in tech’s most popular sector. Unlike its corporate counterparts, though, Army leadership isn’t investing in this industry to make morning commutes easier or allow people to chow down burgers in the driver’s seat. They’ve got bigger goals in mind.
Beginning in 2001, Norway’s top special operations unit, the Forsvarets Spesialkommando, or FSK, played a tip-of-the-spear role in Operation Enduring Freedom, often working alongside Delta Force and Navy SEAL operatives. However, the FSK, like many all-male Western military units operating in predominantly Muslim countries, found itself disadvantaged when it came to one pretty major aspect of counterinsurgency: dealing with the local female population.