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John Oliver Explains Why We Should All Be Worried About the Recent U.S. Airstrike Against Syria

You can always count on John Oliver's Last Week Tonight to provide a thoughtful breakdown of any particular week's goings-on, and last week was no different, with the biggest story, of course, being Trump authorizing an air strike against a military target in Syria in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people. Check out Part One of the segment above, and Part Two below.

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Chelsea Manning Facing Ridiculous Additional Charges for June Suicide Attempt

It seem that the U.S. government is looking to punish Chelsea Manning for her suicide attempt from back in June.

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Male Marines Annoyed by “Crybaby” Gender-Neutral Language Express Their Point By Being Crybabies

Now that women are allowed to serve in all combat positions in the US military, it makes sense that each branch would start making their language, I dunno, gender neutral. Especially considering that even before women were serving in these position, one's job in the military was never being a man it was using a rifle, or driving a tank. Well, the US Marines are finally doing just that...and it's not making everyone entirely happy. But it's like, totally not a big deal.

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The Uniform as Costume: From McDonald’s to Drag Balls

A news story about a Taiwanese McDonald's branch wearing Taiwanese military uniforms as part of a new years campaign (other branches has Minion themes, zombie themes, etc.) made national news a few weeks ago.

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The US Military Thinks This Boston Dynamics Robot Is Too Loud to Use

The US military has been testing the use of this pack mule robot by Boston Dynamics, presumably with the hope that it would help share the load of all the heavy equipment that our armed forces carry with them in the field. Unfortunately, these robots are way too loud to use.

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All U.S. Military Combat Roles Will Finally Open to Women

In case you forgot that in 2015, we still don't even necessarily have legal gender equality let alone social, United States Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has announced that all U.S. military combat positions will finally open to women.

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Military Forcing Chelsea Manning to Adhere to Male Grooming Standards While Imprisoned

Apparently, being in prison isn't enough of a punishment. Nor is the threat of solitary confinement. Now, the military has denied Chelsea Manning's request to follow feminine grooming standards in military prison in what seems to be another attempt to humiliate Manning and disregard her transgender identity.

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The Navy SEAL Program Will Now Allow Women To Join

Following close on the heels of the announcement that two women just passed US Army Ranger training, the US NAVY Seal program announced that they'll now allow women a shot at making the grade as well.

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Pentagon Set to Remove Ban on Transgender Military Personnel

An estimated 15,000 transgender people are currently serving in the military. There's no current information on how many transgender personnel have been discharged for being trans.

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Rape Jokes in the Military? How About No?

[Trigger Warning] Brian Adam Jones is the editor-in-chief of Task & Purpose. He also happens to be a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

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Real Life Iron Man Armor Commissioned by US Military

Because people don't already have enough trouble distinguishing reality and fiction.

The US military has gotten it in their heads that the best way to support our troops would be to allow them to walk through a hail of bullets like Iron Man. We couldn't agree more.

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Modern Warfare: New Medal Announced For Drone Pilots, Military Computer Wonks

On Wednesday afternoon, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a new medal would be added to the roster of decorations for American soldiers -- the Distinguished Warfare Medal. Like most other medals, this one will be awarded to soldiers whose actions had a heroic impact on the battlefield. Unlike other medals, though, it won't require that the soldier have actually been on the battlefield, as the Distinguished Warfare Medal is meant to honor cyberwarriors, drone pilots, and others who serve their country remotely, sometimes without ever being involved in traditional combat. Learn more and get a look at the new medal below.

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Soldiers to Get Bomb Resistant Camouflage Face Paint

A new type of camouflage paint could protect soldiers in the field from the searing heat of bomb blasts. Developed by the University of Southern Mississippi at the direction of the Department of Defense, the paint replaces its traditional carbon base with silicone that is non-flammable and can absorb heat. The change means that just a thin layer of camouflage face paint could not only help soldiers escape detection, but prevent burn injuries and facial scarring from run-ins with explosives. The substance made its debut today at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.

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Giant Touchscreen Tablet Could Be Used By Military Commanders

In an attempt to replace the stereotypical map-table with figurines and one of those little, miniature push-broom thingies, the company AAI has developed a giant touchscreen tablet that could allow commanders to give orders to troops on the ground the same way you pick the angle you want to launch your bomb bird.

The tablet is two feet by three feet and uses collected surveillance information to show a map of the war-zone that is as accurate and up to date as possible, including simple stuff like terrain and structures, but also the location of friendly and enemy troops. The enemy troops part won't always be perfect, of course; the tablet does not allow you to disable the fog of war function.

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Iraqi Militants Want You to Know They Have Robots Too

During the campaign in Iraq, the U.S. Military has been using all kinds of high tech wizardry, including spy drones and bomb robots, as a nation like the U.S. tends to do. In response, Iraqi militants have released an unbelievably well-produced video to show that they're not just rubbing sticks together over there; they've got robots too.

The video comes from the Ansar al-Islam extremist group and shows them working on all kinds of projects. The first half of the video shows men in kafiyas making silencers, drilling circuit boards while the latter half shows some impressive accomplishments: a Mythbusters-eqsue remote controlled car (like, an actual car) and a robotic machine gun tripod that aims and fires autonomously. With U.S. troops set to pull out for realz by December, taking their robots with them, this doesn't bode well for the state of affairs in Iraq, unless of course, you side with the militants.

Video after the jump.

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Marines Trying Out iPads Instead of Pounds Upon Pounds of Maps

Not too long ago, United Airlines decided it would be prudent to equip its pilots with iPads. Now it seems that the Marines are following their lead. Currently, when marines call in for air-strikes, they radio coordinates to pilots who look them up. Sounds simple enough, but at the moment, these pilots usually have somewhere between 60 to 80 pounds of maps they have to go through. With the use of iPads in the field however, pilots can have less map-mass to deal with and troops on the ground can have much more map-data.

The idea has been in the works for a while now. Initially pilot, Capt. Jim Carlson, unhappy with the state of map-affairs, started messing with his personal iPad and found out that connecting pilots with ground troops was exceedingly easy. At first, higher-ups were not entirely ready to trust intel to commercial devices -- despite the fact that the maps were not classified -- but considering the recent purchase of $20,000 of tablets and tablet accessories, they seemed to have come around.

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U.S. Military to Create Fake Social Media Accounts En Masse

The U.S. Military is about to get into the business of lurking on forums and hanging around social media sites in a big way. Central Command (Centcom) is teaming up with a company called Ntrepid on software that will allow military users to create and manage multiple fake-but-convincing social media accounts, "replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent." The military says these sockpuppet accounts will support "classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US." The Huffington Post reports:

These false online personas, also known as "sock puppets," would be equipped to seem like real people while entering online discussion through blogs, message boards, chats, and more. With a false persona, a user could discredit opponents, or create the semblance of consensus.
The military claims that the software will not, however, be used on U.S.-based audiences or sites like Facebook and Twitter. (Huffington Post via TechDirt | Contract between Centcom and Ntrepid)

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American Military Hoping Someone Will Harness the Power of Bioluminescence

The US Military might not be looking to make veteran Marines glow with an eldritch green light, but they are looking into making other things glow by borrowing tricks from fireflies and plankton. And by "looking into" we mean funding university studies with grants. The big deal about bioluminescence is that it creates light without creating heat, making it invisible to infrared and other heat-seeking tech. Possible applications include "creating biodegradable landing zone markers that helicopters can spot even as wind from their rotors kicks up dirt," making "'friend vs. foe' identification markers and security systems, and methods to track weapons and supplies on the battlefield." And also being totally cool.

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Meanwhile at DARPA: Nuclear Reactor Powered by Human Waste in the Works

DARPA, the advanced military research unit within the U.S. government that's used its heavy funding to tinker with telepathic spies, cyborg moths, and immortal synthetic organisms -- and which, of course, played a big part in inventing the Internet -- is at it again: Now, they're working on developing portable nuclear reactors powered by human waste.

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