Is the bayonet an obsolete weapon?
At the third and final presidential debate Monday night, Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of reducing the number of ships in the U.S. Navy. President Obama responded, "Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets." Does the U.S. military still use bayonets much?
Yes. All Marines learn to use bayonets during their basic martial arts training. Some of this training takes place on the Bayonet Assault Course, upon which Marines are unleashed to bayonet everything in sight. Learning proficiency in basic bayoneting techniques is part of qualifying for a tan belt, which is required of every recruit. Marines are expected to learn to attach and remove the bayonets from their rifles quickly, so that they might swiftly initiate a charge.
While the bayonet dates to the 17th century, it has evolved through technological innovations over the years. In 2003, the Marine Corps replaced its standard-issue bayonet with a longer, sharper model, the OKC-3S. The new model, designed by New York's Ontario Knife Co., was also more effective when brandished as a hand knife - not to mention more ergonomically correct. Perhaps more vitally, the blades were also better able to pierce body armor, a concern particular to modern warriors. More than 120,000 bayonets were commissioned to supply one to each Marine, at an estimated price of $36.35 each, or $4,362,000 total. In addition to potential use in hand-to-hand combat, bayonets are said to be useful for keeping prisoners under control and for "poking an enemy to see whether he is dead."
The Marines aren't the only branch of the military to equip its soldiers with bayonets. The Army issues the M9 bayonet knife, which has been in use since the 1980s, but troops have moved away from the detachable knives in recent years. In 2010, the Army began to scale back on bayonet drills in favor of calisthenics, perhaps a wise move given that the soldiers rarely carry bayonets on their rifles, and since the last U.S. bayonet charge was in 1951. Others, however, have still found use for the bayonet charge in recent years. Just last month a British soldier was honored for a bayonet charge on the Taliban that he led in 2011. This charge was reminiscent of another British bayonet charge in Basra, Iraq, in 2004. In 2011, Col. Moammar Gadhafi was also reportedly killed by a bayonet stab to the rear.
While the use of the bayonet is rare, the use of horses is even rarer. The military still maintains the historic 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the division's horse detachment still sometimes mounts up for the occasional charge - but these charges tend to take place only as part of parades, historical ceremonies, and fairs.
Is the bayonet an obsolete weapon?
Researchers tackle mystery of how some snakes can fly
Flying snakes sound like creatures from a bad B-movie, but these serpents are elegant gliders that have evolved a special skill that sets them apart. In two new studies, engineers have used simulations to try to decipher how the wingless reptile manages to remain airborne despite its lack of flight appendages.
VIDEO: A panoramic view from atop One World Trade Center
NBC's Today Show aired footage from a year-long project by TIME magazine to capture a 360-degree moving image from atop One World Trade Center, the 1,776-foot structure in New York City that is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
Staples to close 225 stores as online competition hurts sales
Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office-supplies chain, will close as many as 12 percent of its North American stores and cut as much as $500 million in costs as online competition continues to hurt sales.
Frigid U.S. weather means highest power prices since '08
Freezing temperatures gripping the eastern U.S. will result in the highest electricity prices in six years for consumers in Boston, Dallas and San Francisco.
Do flu shots cause runny noses?
The vaccine used in the study is similar to FluMist, of which 13 million doses were distributed in the United States this year. The work helps explain why runny noses were an occasional aftereffect of FluMist in clinical trials.
Polar vortex may prove to be a powerful pesticide
The deep freeze, with arctic blasts from the polar vortex, has put invasive insects on ice in dozens of states. That includes the emerald ash borer, a pretty bug that does ugly things to ecosystems it invades.
Red-light cameras click less as towns get Orwell off roads
The shutters clicked, the grainy photos were sent to the red-light violators and St. Louis raised $4.1 million last year. Now the vehicular version of "Candid Camera" may be ending, as it has in other U.S towns and cities.
Does your insurance plan cover self-inflicted injuries?
Dealing with a suicide or attempted suicide is stressful enough. Some health plans make the experience worse by refusing to cover medical costs for injuries that are related to suicide or an attempt - even though experts say that in many cases such exclusions aren't permitted under federal law.
Actually, that asteroid did not nearly hit Earth
The Internet lit up with reports last week that a big rock was on a path to nearly strike the Earth on Monday night, Feb. 17. This was not true. But it made for a grabby headline. As in: "An Asteroid Will Almost Hit the Earth Tonight" (from Motherboard).
Data breach hits Target's profits, but that's only the tip of the iceberg
In its first financial release since the December breach that enabled the theft of millions of customers' payment data, Target said profits fell 46 percent and that the breach had already cost the retailer $17 million. The final tally will be bigger, the company said, but it's unclear by how much.
- More Features Headlines
- Researchers tackle mystery of how some snakes can fly