Policy: US Military Can Now Shoot Down Drones

The Department of Defense has signed off on a new policy that allows US Military installations to shoot down and civilian or personal drones that pose a threat.

Navy spokesman Capt. Davis stated, the US Military “retain the right of self-defense when it comes to UAVs or drones operating over [them,]” said Davis. “The new guidance does afford the ability to take action to stop these threats and that includes disabling, destroying and tracking.”

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This does not give the US Military the complete ability to shoot down any trespassing drone and it specifies that the drone must first pose a threat prior to engagement.  In many cases, the US Military shares airspace with civilians and drone use will be allowed as per the FAA guidelines.

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The new policy will affect 133 military installations around the US.

Top apps for operational fitness

In our last blog, we discussed some of the apps we recommend/use for a military/tactical lifestyle and we figured a good follow up would be some of the apps we use to keep in operational shape.  Tactical or operational fitness encompasses a lot of different aspects to include strength, flexibility, speed, and stamina.  This type of fitness tends to lead to a more rounded “tactical athlete” but also requires a lot of up-keep.  That being said there are some great apps to use to help get you there.

Strength:

Wendler 5 / 3 / 1 Program

The Wendler log focuses on building four key component lifts to include your bench, back squat, deadlift and military press (or whatever lifts you choose.)  The program goes off Wendler’s 5 / 3 / 1 mesocycles with an automatic calculation of your one-rep max based of  your performance during a daily AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) with a prescribed weight.  The app also has an upgraded feature (which we recommend) that offers a whole host of supplemental programs.  The app tracks your progress with graphs based on your performance.  All in all this is one of the most tailored apps we have used and is excellent for increasing your overall strength.

 

Endurance:

Runmeter GPS

One of the biggest aspects of tactical fitness is the ability to move long distances either running or rucking.  While this app is created for civilians it has a great crossover into the operation world.  The app accurately tracks your movement, whether it be rucking, running, biking or just walking.  While many apps out there do the same, this one offers a comprehensive graph that shows your improvement over time with an unlimited storage template.  The app will record things like pace, time, weather, stop times, steps, route, terrain and more.  In addition, the app has configurable training zones, interval times and targets.  Finally, the app does a great job of keeping you on pace with announcements of your pace, time, distance, speed, elevation and heart rate.  All in all, if you are training up for a selection/school or just want to maintain your endurance level, this is the most all in one endurance app you will find.

Flexibility:

Sworkit

Stretching is probably the most overlooked aspect of fitness and also one of the most important.  It is usually seen as something you knock out really quickly before and or after a workout but ends with boredom.  For us, we need someone to tell us what to stretch and for how long, that’s where Sworkit comes in.  The app is great for giving you a step by step stretch guide for your choice of body region.  The app has a pilates section which we could care less about but the other sections are spot on.  It comes with videos on how to properly stretch, stretch timers and will synch to your healthy app if you’re into that sort of thing.

Where there is no gym:

Military personnel often find themselves in locations with limited fitness equipment.  Over the years we’ve found a few apps that focus on using just your body weight and actually offer a decent workout.

30 Day Squat Challenge

So before you pass this off as a sorority girl’s app hear us out.  We did this app after being challenged by a girlfriend and it actually offers some crushing leg workouts.  You can start the app off either easy or advanced and the advanced mode on its own will do a proper job of noodling your legs and giving you some cardio.  The workouts take anywhere between 10-20 minutes and as the app suggests are done daily.  We will admit that a few of the workouts are a little weird but we modified them with our own variations.

Special Forces PT Test

 

Pushup Counter and Trainer

The Pushup Counter and Trainer is another good bodyweight progression plan app aimed at strengthening your pushups.  The company offers other similar apps for building your pull-ups and sit-ups.  This app does a good job of slowly building you up to your desired pushup max.

Overall Tactical Fitness:

SOFLETE

If you’re looking for an all in one fitness app SOFLETE is probably your best bet.  They offer a number of different programs tailored to your desired outcome.  In addition, the app has movement explanations as well as contact with online coaches.  The fitness portion was developed by individuals who have been through various SOF schools and know what it takes to maintain an operational fitness level.

Stew Smith Fitness E Book

 

 

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Top Military/Tactical Apps

WICK SCIF

 

WICKR SCIF

Wickr SCIF is also available by Wickr Enterprises and offers users the ability to set up a secure chat room.  The communications are secure, end to end and users can even handout set-up keys to ensure the user on the other end is verified.  All communications are encrypted in transit and deleted upon delivery and each transmission has a unique key that would take one trillion years to decipher (according to Wickr).  This is a great app for anyone in need of secure comms on their iPhone for either in-country operations or even conducting business matters that are sensitive in nature.

WICKR ME

WICKR ME

Wickr Me is the personal app developed by Wickr and is a great platform for one on one texting.  Just like Wickr SCIF the connection is secure end to end, texts delete after your designated time and each message is encrypted with a different key.

Theodolite

Theodolite

Theodolite is a great app for a wide variety of missions.  The screen allows you to take a photo of an object (building, intersection, target, etc.) and it will record position, altitude, bearing, range, and inclination.  In addition, theodolite combines a compass, GPS, map, photo/movie camera, rangefinder, and two-axis inclinometer.  These tools can be used for anything from military operations to engineering and camping/hunting.

TacNav

TacNav

TacNav is a great tool for any service member.  The app allows you to select a location, give an ETA, draw a sector sketch, take a photo with map data, find your location’s weather and light data and a whole host of other features.

 

Surefire Shot Timer

Surefire Shot Timer

The Surefire Shot Timer by Surefire, LLC is a great backup shot timer or a great app to get if you’re looking to shoot on a budget.  The time comes with the ability to record your shots, has a delayed start and par-times.  While the app can have issues at times it is still a great backup.  We use it to practice at home while dry-firing with the delayed start time and par-times.

Ballistic Advanced

Ballistic Advanced

The Ballistic Advanced app is arguably the most accurate ballistic apps on the market.  The app contains over 5,000 commercial and military load data, the ability to link to your Kestrel, one-touch atmospheric correction, a target log, a heads up display and the world-renowned JBL ballistics.  This app is perfect for snipers, designated marksman or long range enthusiasts.

Sun Surveyor

Sun Surveyor

The Sun Surveyor app was originally developed for photographers but it has some great tactical applications.  The app tells you sun, mood, and light data to include the locations of the sun/moon rise/set.  This sort of data is key for mission planning.

 

iSurvive

iSurvive

iSurvive offers a one-touch message service that sends pre-constructed messages to your preferred contacts.  This allows you to send your position as well as any pertinent information to your trusted rescue contact. The phone also continues to record your location to your contact as long as you keep the map active.  In addition, the phone will flash morse code emergency signals.

Top apps for operational fitness

 

Army Ranger Handbook

Army Ranger Handbook

This app contains the Army Ranger Handbook, SH 21-76.  The Army Ranger Handbook is a key book for all military personnel.

SOFLETE

SOFLETE

Our boys over at SOFLETE have created one hell of an app.  The app offers workouts designed for the tactical community as well as comprehensive shooting programs.  These workouts and programs are created by SOF personnel with a deep knowledge of what it takes to be an effective operator.

Special Forces PT Test

Blackwater Guard’s Murder Conviction Thrown Out

On Friday, the US Court of Appeals threw out the murder conviction of one Blackwater employee from 2007.  The other three guards convicted of manslaughter also had their sentences overturned.

The US Court of Appeals called for a review of the three guard’s sentencing who were all given 30-year jail terms for manslaughter and for committing a felony with military-style weapons.  The US Court of Appeals also stated that Mr. Slatten’s murder conviction must be tried separately from the other three guards.

This case has been ongoing since 2007, through multiple courts and prosecutions.  In 2008 a judge threw out the case after he found the prosecution had used inadmissible evidence in court.  In 2013 the case was reopened through a federal appeal and the four guards were found guilty in 2014.  This is now another step in the ongoing case and will be brought to court again as the individuals are retried/sentenced based on the findings of the US Court of Appeals.

Through the appellate proceeding, judges found that the three guards convicted of manslaughter were given cruel and unusual punishment by being tried for committing a felony with use of a military weapon.  This law was originally designed to give tougher sentencing to drug cartels using high powered weapons to commit drug crimes.  In addition, the court found Mr. Slatten, accused of manslaughter, did not fire the first shot that kicked off a gun-fight resulting in the deaths of civilians which was the prosecution’s original finding.

The case became a topic of international controversy as political heads looked to make amends with the Iraqi government.  The families and the attorneys of the convicted showed gratitude towards the court’s findings.  “We remain hopeful that all four of these men will be home where they belong sooner rather than later, but this was not the firm step in that direction that we had hoped or that the law required,” said Mr. Slough’s wife.

Third Attempt to Convict Blackwater Guard Slatten

Is your messaging service secure?

Whether you’re running drugs, conducting an operation on behalf of the United States or just want to keep your information private and secure, it’s important to know what service to use.

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In today’s world, there are a number of messaging services and there is no doubt that some are better than others for ease of use or for their various features.  But it is important to know what information can be seen by others.  Below is a chart that shows what some of the common messaging services offer in the way of security.  This audit is continually updated and conducted by eff.org.

Encrypted in transit? Encrypted so the provider can’t read it? Can you verify contacts’ identities? Are past comms secure if your keys are stolen? Is the code open to independent review? Is security design properly documented? Has there been any recent code audit?
WhatsApp YES YES YES YES NO YES YES
Facebook Chat YES NO NO NO NO NO YES
iMessage YES YES NO YES NO YES YES
SnapChat YES NO NO NO NO NO YES
Skype YES NO NO NO NO NO NO
Wickr YES YES YES YES NO NO YES
Text Secure YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
Hushmail YES NO NO NO NO NO NO
Silent Text YES YES YES YES YES YES  YES

At the end of the day, you should always use proper OPSEC when using any device.  But it’s good to know what apps are more secure than others.

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The (current) Longest Sniper Shot In History

By Dominic Oto

Canadian Sniper’s 2.1 mile shot in Iraq Shatters the World Record

A sniper with Canada’s Special Forces in Iraq has shattered the world’s longest confirmed kill shot in military history. A member of Joint Task Force Two, Canadian Special Operations Forces (CANSOF), killed an ISIS insurgent from a distance of 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles). Joint Task Force Two is training Kurdish forces to fight ISIS.

The shot was fired from a Macmillan TAC-50 Sniper Rifle set on a high-rise tower. The bullet took under 10 seconds to reach the target. The ISIS fighter was attacking Iraqi soldiers.

The smashed the previous world record held by a British sniper Craig Harrison, who killed a Taliban insurgent at a distance of just under 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in November 2009.  Harrison used a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle. The Canadian commando’s shot topped that record by 1,000 meters.

The Canadians had previously held another record for the longest confirmed sniper kill in combat. Corporal Rob Furlong hit an Afghan insurgent at 2,430 meters (1.4 miles) in March 2002. Furlong shot was with the same rifle the other Canadian sniper used- a.50-caliber McMillan Brothers Tac-50 rifle, loaded with Hornady A-MAX 750 grain very-low-drag bullets.

To put this into perspective, I want to talk about how difficult this shot is. Precision rifle shooting and long-range is very hard work. These extreme ranges are attainable with lots of practice and a little bit of luck.

Snipers serving overseas in combat situations don’t have the luxury of lots of time. These extreme distance shots are very, very difficult. An operational sniper has to take a lot of things into consideration. One of the big advantages that military snipers have is the proper equipment. Some of that equipment is a high-powered laser range finder with ballistic software and wind meters that all help them in getting the perfect shot. The proper equipment and proper training can produce amazing results like a 2-mile sniper shot.

Like a NASCAR winner, you can be the best racecar driver in the world, but It takes a lot of time and practice to get to that level of proficiency. The proper tools like an excellent racecar make you a successful NASCAR driver. The same is true for snipers. The technology and the man behind the gun make almost impossible sniper shots happen. Top of the line equipment, excellent training, and a dedicated sniper all make it happen. Let’s discusses the difficulty of the shot and the importance of the shooter’s team.

A good sniper needs to have a certain number of skills. For a sniper to be effective he has to be part of a good team. As important as the sniper on the gun is the spotter. The spotter relays important information to the sniper. Using high-end HD spotting scopes allows spotters to see in low light and at high magnifications.  That information helps the sniper to determine elevation and windage for his scope.

Technology can get only get you so far on an incredible shot like that one. At 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles), certain atmospherics cannot be diminished. The wind and terrain play a part in a shot that far out. In the end, a little bit of luck was involved. Advances in rifles and optics have made marksmanship better, but it all comes down to the skill and the essential of fundamentals great precision shooting.

About the author:

Oto holds a BS in History from Oregon State University and a MMA in Military History from American Public University. He served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Company Commander and Staff Trainer to the Afghan National Army. He was wounded once and decorated three times. Oto is an Infantry Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.