Unsung heroes is a series where Task & Purpose editors recognize stories of extraordinary heroism from the post-9/11 military, but in light of recent events in Canada, and the details emerging from Ottawa, we’ve decided to do something a bit differently this week.
On Oct. 22, a gunman shot and killed a Canadian soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was on guard at the national war memorial. He then quickly headed for parliament, undoubtedly set on more bloodshed.
He didn’t get far. The gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was shot dead by the sergeant-at-arms for the Canadian parliament, Kevin Vickers.
The sergeant-at-arms for the parliament is a largely ceremonial role. Vickers leads the daily parade into the House of Commons chamber, dressed in ceremonial garb and carrying a gilded mace.
But once the shots rang out, Vickers went to his office to retrieve his pistol, then found and confronted the gunman, killing him.
A Canadian Broadcast Corporation video below shows Vickers moments after that shooting, dressed in his uniform, calmly holding the pistol at his side as he searches for more threats.
There’s nothing ceremonial about Vickers’ background. He spent nearly three decades in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police prior to this appointment. He has worked toward stopping sex trafficking and has even guarded the Queen of England.
And now Vickers is a national hero. Check out what happened this morning when he led the daily parade into the House of Commons chamber. The entire parliament erupted in applause. The 58-year-old, 6-foot-4-inch grandfather nods to the crowd and shows emotion in the face of recognition. Have a look:
Islamic state members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 18, 2019. (Reuters/Rodi Said)
NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The Islamic State appeared closer to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a civilian convoy left the besieged area where U.S.-backed forces estimate a few hundred jihadists are still holed up.
U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing walk to waiting family members and friends after stepping off of a C-130J Super Hercules at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 17, 2018 (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)
The U.S. Air Force has issued new guidelines for active-duty, reserve and National Guard airmen who are considered non-deployable, and officials will immediately begin flagging those who have been unable to deploy for 12 consecutive months for separation consideration.
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.