SIG Sauer Academy

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Viking Funerals

September 22nd, 2019

Like most military people, I believe in Valhalla. I have seen the 13th warrior and have always hoped to be in Valhalla when I die. The Vikings believed in an afterlife, and these were based on the religious beliefs they held. We have been learned about their practices by both archaeological and textual sources. The Vikings believed that it was possible to take their worldly possessions into the afterlife with them. So, an essential feature of Viking funerals was the grave goods. The Vikings believed that warriors who fell in battle would earn the right to enter Valhalla, an enormous hall located in Asgard, the domain of Odin. There, the fallen warriors would feast and fight until the arrival of Ragnarok. The dead needed to have their equipped so they could fight in the afterlife. There was more than one realm for the dead include Folkvangr (also for warriors), Helgafjell (for those who have led good lives), and Helheim (for those who died dishonorable deaths). This could be from laziness, old age, for example, to die in your bed with never doing anything good for your people. In Viking times, dying bravely was definitely the most honorable.  

One of the most essential objects required by a dead Norse was a warship. The Vikings were great seafarers, and they believed that ships would help provide them with safe passage into the afterlife. Although the warship played a prominent role in Viking funerals, there was no standard funeral., it was based on your status. The grave could also include slaves or thralls, and, in some cases, the widow would choose to be sacrificed to join her husband on the journey to Valhalla. It the Middle Ages a traveler named Ahmad ibn Fadlan gave the account of a funeral like no other. At the funeral for a Viking chieftain, he said it included a sacrificial female slave who was forced to drink copious amounts of alcohol, then she was raped by every man in the village as a tribute to the deceased. From there, she was strangled with a rope, stabbed by a matriarch of the village (known as the Angel of Death), then placed in the boat with her master and set on fire. The more polite Viking would bury people with stuff they had in life like a craftsman might be buried with his tools. A Viking woman might find her cloth-making equipment or cooking tools would follow her in the afterlife.  

Vikings Traveled to the Afterlife by Ship but Not by Sea

Thru out Scandinavia, Archaeology has discovered some Viking burial mounds that were meant to resemble ships. They used stones to outline the shape of what looks like small ships. Higher ranking Vikings, such as chiefs and kings, were even able to have actual ships accompany them into the afterlife. In some cases, the boats would be buried with its contents, while in others, they would be burnt before the burial. There is a widespread belief today that the Viking set the ships on fire before pushed out to sea, but I am sorry to say this, but there is no real proof that this has ever happened. So, no flaming arrows. Sorry

Apart from their ships, warriors entering Valhalla would be required to bring their weapons and armor, these objects were part of a Viking’s grave goods. Archaeologists have found blades as part of a Viking’s grave goods would usually be broken or bent. This was meant to symbolically signify the final death of the individual, as the Vikings believed that a warrior’s soul was linked to his weapon. Additionally, the destruction of the blade served as a deterrent to grave robbers. 

Grave goods also served to ensure that the deceased was satisfied in the afterlife. The Vikings believed that if the dead were not appeased, they could return as a Draugr (unfriendly ghost) to haunt the living. The undead could be blamed for everything that was going bad, from losing a battle or the crops not growing. If they thought a Draugr was up to no good, they would dig up the last people buried and look for signs of undead activity. When a Draugr was identified, the Vikings would rebury the body with more grave goods, assuming at the person had been a highly respected person in life. Sometimes they would go as far as to stake the body down to make sure it couldn’t get up again and lastly, they would chop off their head so as to kill it, very much like Dracula or the walking dead.  

When you died, there were two typical ways of dispose of the body, cremation or inhumation (cover you with a rock mound basically) (the ground was frozen most of the time, so the inhumation was the best way for them to bury someone)

There are typically two common ways to bury the dead, and the Vikings did practice both. The first method, cremation, is to burn the body, the ashes, could then be scattered, buried, or sailed out to sea. The second, inhumation was to bury the body in its current state under the ground, and then either place earth, dirt or stones on top of the body.

It was normal in Norse times to cremate the deceased body before a land or sea burial, a practice that had a significant reach to their afterlife. By cremating their dead, the Vikings believed the smoke would carry them to their rightful destination in the afterlife. Successful cremation required a scorching fire, hot enough to burn flesh and bone to ash and to achieve this a pyre was needed. The Vikings used pyres (basically a big pile of very dry wood that would burn at very high heat) (you know like the fire Luke used to cremate Darth Vader” his father”) to cremate their dead. Without the intense heat caused by a pyre, a typical fire would likely not burn the body completely. This could leave parts of the body remaining and is of course, not desirable.

A Viking sea burial.

Another kind of burial was for the Vikings to sail their dead out to sea. This practice often involves the burning of the ship before the dead are cast out. Many believe that the body was cremated before the ship was sailed. Either way, it was common for the dead’s goods to travel with them out into the water. This type of burial was not common however and was likely reserved for sea captains, noble Vikings and the very wealthy. In old Norse times, boats would have taken months to construct and would not have been wasted without valid cause or a suitable amount of status. Some woman held high statues also. One of the most extravagant boat burials honored two women, who likely died around 834 A.D. Known as the “Oseberg ship,” it’s one of the most well persevered Viking artifacts ever found. While the Vikings were known for the craftsmanship that went into their vessels in general, the size and detail of the Oseberg were above and beyond. Seventy feet long and nearly 17 feet wide, the ship had 15 oars on each side, a pine mast more than 30 feet high, and was spacious enough to fit 30 people. You go girls.

Typically, the Vikings would wait for seven days before the celebration. This day would be marked with the drinking of ale, which signified the passing of any property from the deceased. After this celebration, the heir would truly claim their inheritance. The exact rituals of Viking funerals are challenging to say, (so maybe flaming arrows) as they kept minimal written accounts of their lives and deaths. Regardless of how the body was disposed of, a few rituals remained almost constant. The body was draped in new clothes explicitly prepared for the funeral, and a ceremony was held featuring songs, chants, food, and alcohol. Death rituals are designed to help those left behind come to terms with the loss. Many have survived but slightly modified over the centuries. Looking at what we do today when someone dies today. It is very close to the Viking funnerals. We put them in their uniform, sometimes we give them things for the afterlife, swords, tomahawks, alcohol and we drape them in cloth, but it is our flag, the symbol of our tribe and nation. I would never compare us to the Vikings, as they had no rules and did what they wanted to do. But a lot of the warrior spirit of them is in every person that goes to fight and defend their brothers.

Black Diamond – Distance Wind Shell

September 22nd, 2019

The Distance Wind Shell features Green Theme Technology Breathable Water Protection, an all-new environmentally friendly PFC-free DWR. It packs down and stows into its chest pocket with a carabiner clip loop, so you can attach it to your harness during fast and light missions that require emergency protection if the weather breaks.

You Never Know Where They’ll Show Up

September 22nd, 2019

Dan K sends another shotout from the medieval Genua fortress in the Sochi mountains.

Air Combat Command Discusses 16th Air Force as New Information Warfare NAF

September 21st, 2019


Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command commander, discussed the designation of the 16th Air Force as a new information warfare numbered air force Sept. 18 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference in National Harbor.

ACC will integrate 24th Air Force and 25th Air Force capabilities into a new organization under a single commander who will be responsible for providing information warfare capabilities to combatant commanders with the speed to match today’s technological environment.

“By having cyber and all the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools together, one of the things it allows me to do is build a collection plan in advance before I do something and am able to have better information to support better decisions for our warfighters,” he said. “The Air Force is not going to run independent information warfare campaigns, but we’ll build those, organize, train and equip tools for combatant commanders.”

The heritage of 16th Air Force pays tribute to a group of highly decorated Airmen with a history of continued excellence in joint warfighting, strategic deterrence and military partnerships. During the Balkans air campaigns in the 1990s, the 16th Air Force pioneered efforts in the way the Air Force conducts intelligence operations, setting the foundation for operating in a continuously evolving information environment.

“We want to arm our leaders with options they can use that are proportional to the things that peer adversaries are doing,” he said. “We think we can present more robust teams with better intelligence support behind them and present some information ops options, which we have some game at already, but to improve that and be able to offer it on a larger scale to more combatant commanders at once.”

Activating 16th Air Force emphasizes the organization’s continued excellence in addition to its early use of integrated information systems and emerging technologies, such as remotely piloted aircraft. Just as the 16th Air Force made history bedding down the RQ-1 Predator at Taszar, Hungary, to provide enhanced ISR capabilities in the Balkans, it will soon make history again in the expanding arena of information warfare.

“The activation of 16th (Air Force) will synchronize the mission areas of ISR, electronic warfare, cyber and information operations capabilities,” said Holmes. “This integrated capability will provide multi-domain options to component and combatant commanders around the globe.”

The 16th Air Force will be located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, where ACC will hold an activation ceremony later this year.

By Staff Reports, Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Soldiers Test New Combat-Focused Marksmanship Qualification

September 21st, 2019

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — Similar to the implementation of the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), the Army is now changing how Soldiers qualify with their weapons, making individual weapons qualification more combat focused beginning October 2019.

Soldiers across the 25th Infantry Division with varying skill levels prepared for the new marksmanship standards by conducting a pilot program to assess current installation support capabilities at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

The new four-phase course will now feature standing firing positions. Soldiers are issued four 10-round magazines to engage 40 pop-up targets from the four shooting positions. Soldiers start in the standing position then go to the prone unsupported, then prone supported, kneeling supported and finally the standing supported position. Soldiers utilize a barricade and will have 8-10 second intervals to change magazine and positions.

The new course will replace the current marksmanship qualification course with one that requires Soldiers to engage targets faster and to operate as they would during an enemy engagement.

“The old qualification did not help in combat situations, so they incorporated magazine exchanges and position changes by yourself to represent combat,” said Staff Sgt. Tadeysz Showers, assigned to the 25th Sustainment Brigade. “No matter the military occupational specialty (MOS), any MOS can teach a Soldier how to do this new weapons qualification.”

The division marksmanship pilot program was led by the Lightning Academy Senior Instructor Staff Sgt. Daniel Martin and three other instructors through preliminary marksmanship instruction (PMI), Engagement Skills Trainer (EST), and qualification tables on a standard pop-up range.

In the current qualification course, Soldiers take instructions from the range tower, such as when to change magazines and firing positions. “Now, the qualification only has commands to begin the qualification and when it has ended,” said Martin. “The four 10-round magazines will be in your kit, and you will transition your position and conduct magazine changes on your own without any commands from the tower.”

“The new qualification saves time,” said Showers. “The old qualification took about 20 minutes, this one takes about four minutes to execute and is much faster paced.”

The course is set to become the Army-wide standard for rifle marksmanship. Qualification implementation begins October 2019.

“The new qualification is more challenging, but a lot more realistic,” said Martin. “Some Soldiers have never conducted magazine exchanges on their own without being told when to on the line during the Automatic Record Fire. The course is helping the Army become more efficient in urban combat scenarios.”

“Soldiers start by receiving a series of classes on how to properly zero the rifle, whether it’s a bare rifle or with optics,” said Showers. “Soldiers received classes on laser bore sight, Minute of Angle (MOA), zeroing process, windage, ballistics, and also received EST training and practiced position changes before going to a live range.”

The new weapons qualification maintains the same score requirements as the current system to pass in each category; Soldiers must hit 23 targets out of 40 to qualify. Soldiers must hit 23 to 29 targets for a Marksman rating, 30 to 35 for Sharpshooter and 36 to 40 to qualify for Expert.

“This new weapons qualification is more combat oriented with changing positions, changing magazines and engaging the targets,” said Sgt. Octavius Moon assigned to the 25th Sustainment Brigade. “This will help Soldiers shoot better as well as make ranges faster and have more Soldiers qualified. It helps Soldiers become more knowledgeable about their weapon as well.”

By SGT Sarah Sangster

Zero Tolerance Knives ZT0223 Available

September 21st, 2019

As you may have seen back ’round the time of Blade Show (see SSD coverage here), Zero Tolerance Knives recently released the ZT0223. A Tim Galyean design, the new folder takes its inspiration from what is obliquely referred to as a “classic military knife” (read, Ka-Bar), but the ZT knife is a folder, “…making it easy to EDC and ready for every task you ask it to take on.”

Details are as follow;

The blade is clip-point style with heavy jimping along the spine and a cutout to decrease weight. CPM 20CV blade steel offers exceptional hardness and wear resistance to take and hold a sharp edge, toughness to resist impact, and—with the highest level of chromium of any high-vanadium steel—excellent corrosion resistance. For an extra measure of blade protection, ZT adds black DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating, ceramic bead blasted for a non-glare finish.

The titanium handle is also DLC coated and bead blasted to extend the matte look. The 0223 has a sturdy titanium frame lock with a hardened steel lockbar insert for reliable lockup. ZT’s KVT ball-bearing system, combined with a highly ergonomic flipper, make the 0223 quick and easy to open, too. The 0223’s earth brown G10 handle scales are reminiscent of the original military knife’s stacked leather handle. Our G10 scales wrap around to the top of the handle and meet in the middle to provide a comfortable and secure grip—as well as helping to keep debris out of your knife.

The pocketclip is left/right reversible and made of bent steel with a black Teflon® finish. The bronze-anodized titanium tube spacer in the handle is secured by two custom screws. A series of decorative holes drilled in the ricasso of the blade echo the jimping along the spine and add to the subtle details of this remarkably handsome knife.

The ZT0223 full product sheet can be found online here; on IG @ztknives.

Specs include:
                    Made in the USA
                    Manual open, KVT ball-bearing system
                    Frame lock, with steel lockbar insert
                    Reversible clip (left/right, tip-up)
                    Steel: CPM 20CV, DLC coating
                    Handle: Titanium, DLC coating, earth brown G10 
                    Blade Length: 3.5 in. (8.9 cm)
                    Blade Thickness: 0.156 in. (0.4 cm)
                    Closed Length: 5 in. (12.8 cm)
                    Overall Length: 8.6 in. (21.8 cm)
                    Weight: 4.7 oz. (134 g)

Read up on all the knives here on SSD

Law Tactical – Gen-3HK Folding Stock Adapter

September 20th, 2019

Law Tactical’s Gen-3HK folding stock adapter is made specifically for use with Heckler & Koch’s proprietary receiver extension on the HK417, MR762, MR308, M110A1 and the G28.

To use, simply push the single-button release to fold the stock. To fire, move the stock back to its full-length configuration, and the adapter automatically locks into place.

Available now, only at Brownells.

Improved CADPAT Undergoes Testing in Petawawa

September 20th, 2019

Canadian troops are putting the new CADPAT colorscheme through its paces. DND plans to transition from the current woodland arid shades to a single pattern in the future.