9 true facts about the 'Nuclear Club' - We Are The Mighty
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9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

The “Nuclear Club” is a term used informally in geopolitics for the group of nations who possess nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and limit the Nuclear Club to five members. A few countries declined to sign the treaty and have since joined the club.


Though the NPT restricts weapons tech, it does reserve the right of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology for any country, for things like energy production and medical and scientific advancements.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
A lot of energy.

Here are 11 more interesting facts about the world’s most exclusive (and potentially destructive) club.

1. There are eight, maybe nine, members controlling at least 15,600 warheads.

The list of confirmed countries with nuclear weapons includes the United States, Russia, France, China, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Israel may or may not have nukes, as they have a policy of making their weapons capabilities purposely ambiguous to the rest of the world.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

The first five are permanent members of the UN Security Council. The NPT treaty recognizes these states as weapons states. The latter four aren’t signatories to the NPT.

2. Five other countries host foreign nuclear weapons.

Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey host American nukes under NATO agreements. 30 other states use nuclear technology to generate energy under the terms of the NPT.

3. South Africa is the only country to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Bomb casings at South Africa’s abandoned Circle nuclear bomb production facility near Pretoria. These most likely would have accommodated a gun-type nuclear package for air delivery

From the 1960s through the 1980’s, apartheid South Africa pursued nuclear weapons. It was able to assemble six weapons with (alleged) help from Israel. Soviet spies discovered their capabilities, which the South Africans denied. When the apartheid government fell and the African National Congress (led by Nelson Mandela) was set to take power, South Africa dismantled its stockpile. It remains the only country ever to destroy its entire WMD program.

4. 59 other nations have the ability to construct nuclear weapons.

Apart from those already in the Nuclear Club, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, Japan, Uzbekistan, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, and Ukraine all have the technology and material needed for a weapon. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan have all had weapons programs in the past but openly shelved their efforts.

5. Maintaining the worldwide arsenal is a trillion-dollar business.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

Even twenty years after the end of the Cold War, the thousands of nuclear weapons cost the world more than $1 trillion per decade in upkeep costs.

6. By 2020, Pakistan will have the world’s third largest stockpile.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

An August 2015 report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center revealing Pakistan was ramping up production, with numbers as high as 20 per year. The report estimated that by 2020, Pakistan would have 350 warheads. The Pakistanis also tested a ballistic missile in December 2015 with a 560 mile range.

7. Nuclear nonproliferation success far outnumber failures.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

India and Pakistan developed nuclear warheads in 1998. In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the NPT and has since tested a number of weapons. At the time of the NPT signing, it was estimated that 20-30 countries would have nuclear weapons by 1985. Despite some proliferation setbacks, only three (maybe four) developed them.

8. Only two countries possess worldwide nuclear capabilities.

Only the United States and Russia have the ability to strike anywhere in the world, either through Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles or from submarine-based weapons. India and Pakistan have regional strike capabilities. The range of Israel’s and North Korea’s weapons are unknown.

9. Three countries actually inherited nuclear weapons.

Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited stockpiles following the fall of the Soviet Union. They returned the weapons to Russia and signed on to the NPT.

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This is how China plans to ‘defend the world’

Chinese President Xi Jinping on July 30 presided over a massive military parade from an open-topped jeep, declaring, “The world is not peaceful, and peace needs to be defended.”


And as China’s show of force demonstrates, Beijing may have the will and the strength to replace the US as the world’s defender of peace.

“Our heroic military has the confidence and capabilities to preserve national sovereignty, security, and interests … and to contribute more to maintaining world peace,” Xi said at the parade, one day after US President Donald Trump lashed out at Beijing for its inaction regarding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

China’s massive military modernization and increasing assertiveness have irked many of its neighbors in the region, and even as the US attempts to reassure its allies that US power still rules the day, that military edge is eroding.

China showed off new, mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles that it says can reach the US in 30 minutes, along with its J-20 stealth interceptor jets. And Xi inspected thousands of troops drawn from the 2 million-strong People’s Liberation Army on its 90th anniversary.

The historian Alfred McCoy estimates that by 2030, China, a nation of 1.3 billion, will surpass the US in both economic and military strength, essentially ending the American empire and Pax Americana the world has known since the close of World War II.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Sailors aboard the Chinese Navy destroyer Qingdao. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush.

But China could achieve this goal patiently and without a violent struggle. China has employed a “salami-slicing” method of slowly but surely militarizing the South China Sea in incremental steps that have not prompted a strong military response from the US. However, the result is China’s de facto control over a shipping lane that sees $5 trillion in annual traffic.

“The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025 and, except for the finger pointing, could be over by 2030,” McCoy wrote in his new book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.”

China’s J-20 jet also most likely borrows from stealth secrets stolen from the US through a sophisticated hacking regime. Though China hasn’t mastered stealth technology in the way the US has, the jet still poses a real threat to US forces.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Flypast of the Chengdu J-20. Wikimedia Commons photo by Alert5.

Meanwhile, the US is stretched thin. It has had been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years and in Iraq for 14, and it has been scrambling to curtail Iranian and Russian influence in Syria while reassuring its Baltic NATO allies that it’s committed to their protection against an aggressive Russia.

Under Xi, who pushes an ambitious foreign policy, China’s eventual supremacy over the US seems inevitable.

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7 craziest commando missions of World War II

World War II was an exciting time for special operations and commandos. The advent of airborne operations gave them a whole new angle of approach, and the sheer scale of the war guaranteed that they’d have plenty of chances to use their skills.


But even accounting for those things, operators on both sides of the war distinguished themselves with daring missions.

Here are eight of the craziest:

1. A costly canoe raid against German ships

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Photo: Royal Marines Museum)

The “Cockleshell Heroes” were a group of British Royal Marines assigned the task of launching from a submarine and canoeing miles up the River Gironde to place limpet mines against the hull of German ships. The mission hit problems almost immediately as canoes were lost to tide and river obstacles.

Only two of the original five made it to the Bordeaux-Bassens docks. The four men who crewed the canoes placed mines on a few ships, which damaged some commercial vessels. While the material damage was limited, it boosted British morale and forced the Germans to devote more resources to defense in a way similar to the U.S. Army Air Force’s Doolittle Raid.

2. The failed attempt to kill Erwin Rommel

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Photo: German Federal Archives)

Operation Flipper had the lofty goal of crippling an Italian headquarters and intelligence office as well as killing Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. The mission was beset by bad weather and the assault force that hit the German officer’s headquarters was smaller than planned.

Still, the British commandos broke into the headquarters building only to learn that Rommel had been delayed in Rome by his own weather problems. Only two raiders survived, but even Rommel admitted that it was a “brilliant operation.” He had the senior officer, British Lt. Col. Geoffrey Keyes, killed and buried with full honors and photos sent to the family.

3. Norwegian resistance destroys Germany’s nuclear stockpile, twice

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Photo: Public Domain)

A first attempt on the Norsk Hydro Plant, where radioactive heavy water was processed and stored, failed but the survivors and their reinforcements hit the plant on Feb. 28, 1943, despite suffering from starvation and exhaustion. They were able to blow the storage facilities, setting German nuclear research back by at least months.

Months later, a new stockpile of German heavy water was being transported on a ferry when the Norwegian Resistance attacked once again, sinking the ferry and ending Germany’s last best chance at a nuclear reactor or bomb. One man, Knut Haukelid, participated in both raids.

4. German paratroopers take the world’s strongest fort

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Fort Eben-Emael was arguably the world’s strongest fortress in May 1940, but it fell to 85 German paratroopers with the right plan. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

In 1940, the Belgian Fort Eben-Emael was arguably the world’s strongest fort. Constructed from 1932-1935, it was heavily armed and guarded by upwards of 800 soldiers. But Germany had to destroy or negate it to get the blitzkrieg into Belgium.

They did it in a single morning with 85 paratroopers. The men landed on the fort in gliders and quickly took hold of large sections of it, destroying or capturing the guns aimed at the countryside. When the rest of the German army arrived, the remaining defenders surrendered.

5. Benito Mussolini is rescued from a mountaintop retreat by German paratroopers

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Photo: Bundesarchiv)

In July 1943, Italian defeats turned the country against Benito Mussolini and he was exiled to a series of locations. A German commander was able to track the dictator to Gran Sasso, a mountaintop ski resort accessible only by cable car or glider. At 6,300 feet, it was too high even for an airborne assault.

German Capt. Otto Skorzeny led the glider assault. The paratroopers brought along an Italian general in the hopes that he would prevent a shootout. It worked. The Italian guards decided not to fight when the gliders crashed into the mountains and the paratroopers stormed out. Skorzeny and Mussolini departed on a small, high-altitude plane.

6. British commandos steal a German radar station

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Photo: Royal Air Force Squadron Leader A.E. Hill)

The insane plan for Operation Biting called for five groups of British paras to land in German-occupied France, capture a German radar station, and then make off with key pieces of the technology. The men landed under cover of darkness and quickly captured the building. They even managed to grab two technicians with intimate knowledge of the advanced German radar.

Paratroopers who missed their drop zone arrived late to destroy a German pillbox, a situation that almost ended with the withdrawing commandos being killed. Luckily, the men arrived in time to destroy the pillbox as it swept fire on the other commandos. The British escaped with their prize.

7. The British turn an entire ship into a bomb

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
The HMS Campbeltown sits on the lip of the Normandie dock after crashing into it. (Photo: German army archives)

Dubbed the “Greatest Raid of Them All,” the St. Nazaire Raid targeted the only German-held dry dock for heavy ships on the Atlantic that was accessible without passing German defenses. But the dry dock was heavily armed and far upriver.

The British sent a small flotilla of vessels led by the converted HMS Campbeltown. Sixteen were small motorboats, twelve of which were destroyed without reaching shore. But the Campbeltown managed to ram the gates of the dry dock. The Germans captured 215 of the 600 attackers and killed 169 more, but explosives hidden in the Campbeltown exploded the next morning, crippling the facilities.

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9 weapon systems that troops absolutely love

Troops in contact with the enemy have a few awesome weapons that they like to hear firing in support. Any weapon firing on the enemy is a good weapon, but these 9 have become hallowed in military culture.


1. M2 .50 cal machine gun

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Melissa Wenger

Quite possible the favorite weapon of troops from World War II to today, the .50 Cal is largely unchanged after over 90 years of service. It fires half-inch rounds at up to 550 rounds per minute, taking down low-flying aircraft, hostile infantry, and light vehicles.

It’s so reliable that after the Army began overhauling M2s in 2011, they found a weapon that served for more than 90 years and still fired perfectly.

2. AH-64 Apache

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: US Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel McClinton

One of the world’s premier attack helicopters, the AH-64 Apache can fly at over 173 mph, climb at 2,000 feet per minute, and carries Hellfire missiles, 30mm grenades, and 70mm rockets. Designed for an anti-tank role, Apaches are also great at covering and supporting infantry on the ground.

3. TOW Missile

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided or wireless-guided missiles are great against armored and fortified targets at a range of nearly three miles. There are portable launchers that can be carried by infantry, and the missiles can also be mounted on helicopters and vehicles.

4. Carl Gustav

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: US Army Sgt. Justin Morelli

The M3 Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle can fire a number of different rounds to destroy tanks, bunkers, or infantry formations. Originally fielded in the U.S. by Special Operations Command, the Army bought it for conventional units because it had better range and firepower than the more common AT-4.

5. A-10

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
BRRRRRT Forthcoming. (DARPA Photo)

Seriously, troops love the Warthog. This flying tank-buster operated by the Air Force was built around a 30mm gatling gun, but it can also carry and precisely deliver bombs, mines, rockets, and missiles. The A-10 is so popular that airmen secretly made a video praising it to help save it from the Air Force chopping block.

6. Mortars

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo/US Army

When infantry soldiers are under attack, they don’t want to wait for close air support or artillery strikes. Mortars give infantry units the opportunity to drop 60mm and 81mm rounds directly on the enemy without calling for help. Army efforts to reduce mortar weight are making them even more popular.

7. Mk. 19

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Edward G. Martens

The Mk. 19 automatic grenade launcher fires 40mm grenades at targets nearly a mile away. Against infantry, each grenade kills targets within 5 meters of its impact and wounds people within 15 meters. It can even punch through some armored personnel carriers and many light vehicles.

8. M-134 minigun

Adopted during the Vietnam War, the M-134 fires between 2,000 and 6,000 7.62mm rounds per minute through six barrels. It was designed for helicopters to use in suppressing enemy troops, and it still chews through infantry formations today.

9. M1 Abrams

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo Credit: US Army Gertrud Zach

The M1 Abrams is the main battle tank of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army. It carries a 120mm smoothbore main gun and can be fitted with machine guns from 5.56mm up to .50 cal. The almost 70-ton tank can race across the battlefield at over 40 miles per hour.

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These 6 tweaks could make America’s military better without breaking the bank

Pentagon budgets are shrinking (or growing at a smaller rate than they had during the previous few decades). And while there’s not a lot of money to procure new weapons systems, the threats to the nation aren’t going away. The U.S. military still has a job to do. There are no bucks, but the American public still expects Buck Rogers.


Here are six improvements — “tweaks,” if you will — to existing platforms that would improve military readiness without breaking the increasingly small bank:

1. An internal gun for the F-35B/C variants of the Lightning II

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes)

The Air Force’s F-35A has a gun — the GAU-22, a 25mm Gatling Gun, with 182 rounds. The GAU-22 is based off the AV-8B’s GAU-12, and it gives the F-35A an offensive edge. But the F-35B and F-35C don’t have an internal gun (only a gun pod with 220 rounds).

The same situation existed with the F-4 Phantom – probably America’s first real joint strike fighter, which saw action during the Vietnam War with the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. As Navy ace (and convicted congressional felon) Randy Cunningham noted in his memoir, Fox Two, the lack of a gun cost him kills.

2. The Penguin anti-ship missile for the MH-60R Seahawk

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
MH-60R fires a Hellfire missile. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

This chopper is an advanced version of the SH-60B. Equipped with a choice of lightweight torpedo (either Mk 46, Mk 50, or Mk 54), and Hellfire missiles, it serves as additional eyes and ears for surface combatants. But the Hellfire has only a 20-pound warhead and a range of about five nautical miles.

The SH-60B, though, had the Penguin anti-ship missile. This weapon had a 265-pound warhead and a range of 15 nautical miles. In other words, it can handle bigger targets – and would be very useful additions to the MH-60R’s arsenal.

3. More bomb capacity for the B-1B Lancer

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

While the B-1B already has the largest bombload of any American combat plane, it could have even more. Presently, it has a bomb bay that can hold 84 Mk 82 500-pound bombs. The venerable B-52 can only carry 51 such bombs. In other words, the B-1 can deliver about 60 percent more hurt to the bad guys.

But it could be even more. The B-1B, when designed, had the capability to carry up to 14 cruise missiles or 44 more Mk 82s on external pylons. Restoring those external pylons would give the B-1 50 percent more firepower.

4. Harpoon launchers for the Flight IIA and III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Flt I Burke class destroyer shoots a Harpoon missile. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

While the Flight IIA and Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are very capable vessels in anti-air warfare and anti-sub warfare. But the earlier Flight I and Flight II versions of this destroyer have something the later ships don’t: A pair of Mk 141 launchers for Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Boeing’s latest version of the Harpoon has a range of 130 nautical miles and a 300-pound warhead. The Mk 141 launchers don’t take up a lot of space, and it never hurts to have more anti-ship firepower as China and Russia are adding modern ships to their naval arsenals.

5. Laser-guided bombs for the B-2 Spirit

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
B-2 dropping a JDAM GPS-guided bomb. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

What more could you want on America’s most advanced bomber in service? The B-2 Spirit has stealth technology and the ability to deliver precision-guided weapons including the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, as well as nuclear weapons – excuse me, “special stores.” It’s also expensive – a flyaway cost of just over $700 million per plane caused the production run to stop at 21 airframes.

That said, they have a couple of gaps in their capabilities. All of the B-2’s weapons are either dumb bombs or GPS-guided. So, perhaps the best upgrade they could get would be to give the B-2 the ability to drop laser-guided bombs like the GBU-24 and to use Harpoon anti-ship missiles and the Standoff Land-Attack Missile, giving them more options to target ships like the Chinese Type 52C destroyer.

6. Bushmaster cannon for the M1126/M1127 Stryker

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
(Photo: U.S. Army)

The Stryker’s proven itself in combat operations during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The M1126 and M1127 have a remote weapons station that can use an M2 heavy machine gun or a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher.

But now, it could be asked to help fight Russian aggression against NATO allies. Here it has a problem. The Stryker is outgunned by the BMP-3 or BTR-90, Russia’s most modern infantry fighting vehicles. The former has a 100mm gun and a 30mm coaxial cannon. The latter has a 30mm cannon and an AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank missile.

So, to give the Stryker a better chance in a fight against the Russians, the best option would be to give it the same chain gun that the M2 and M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles carry: the 25mm Bushmaster cannon.

These six weapons systems serve with our troops – and have done so with excellence. But some small improvements to each of them would give our troops even better odds on battlefields around the world.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jorge Salazar reacts to scoring a point in the gold medal wheelchair rugby match during the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Fla. May 11, 2016.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
DoD photo Edward Joseph Hersom II

Members of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” perform an aerial demonstration during the Shaw Air Expo and open house, “Thunder Over the Midlands” at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 21, 2016.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kelsey Tucker

ARMY:

An Army flight medic, assigned to the Arizona National Guard and currently attached to U.S. Army Europe, assembles an M4 carbine, while a thick cloud of smoke limits his visibility during the stress shoot portion of the Multinational Battle Group-East’s Best Warrior Competition held on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, May 21- 22, 2016.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Duval

Soldiers assigned to 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, fire an M777A2 howitzer during an exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, Jan. 29, 2016.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Evan M. Cain

NAVY:

NEW YORK CITY (May 25, 2016) – Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) man the rails as the ship pulls in for 2016 Fleet Week New York. The event, now in its 28th year, is the city’s time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services. The weeklong celebration has been held nearly every year since 1984.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julie Matyascik

GULF OF ADEN (May 23, 2016) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Chase Coker launches an AV-8B Harrier II, attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced), off the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
U. S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jose Jaen

MARINE CORPS:

Lance Cpl. Zach King, left, and Cpl. Derick Sammonek, assaultmen with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, brace themselves as an 60mm mortar exits the tube of an M224 mortar system as part of sustainment training during Exercise Eager Lion, May 15, 2016. Exercise Eager Lion 2016 is a bilateral, scenario based exercise with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the U.S., designed to exchange military expertise and improve interoperability among partner nations.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Paris Capers

Marines endure light debris from a UH-1Y Venom helicopter at a landing zone outside of Robertson Barracks, Northern Territory, Australia, on May 20, 2016. Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin simulated causality evacuations with a UH-1Y Venom helicopter. MRF-D is a six-month deployment of Marines into Darwin, Australia, training in a new environment. The Marines are with Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, MRF-D and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, MRF-D.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

COAST GUARD:

Two Response Boats-Medium from Station New York underway for fleet week NYC security.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
US Coast Guard photo by PA3 Iannazzo-Simmons

Two Response Boats-Medium from Station New York escort the USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) as she passes under the Verrazano Bridge for the fleet week NYC Parade of Ships.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
US Coast Guard photo

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13 funniest military memes for the week of Aug. 11

Don’t worry, destroying North Korea will wait long enough for you to take a bathroom and memes break. Here are 13 of the funniest military memes floating around, here just in time to help you relieve yourself before the Super Bowl of war:


13. This leader started as a slave racing pods across the desert. Now he’s here (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
We can all learn something from him.

12. It opens the cans; it pours the cans. Don’t make this complicated, sailors (via Shit my LPO says).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
It’s not your job to decide what it and is not a green bean.

ALSO SEE: Russia just deployed the ‘Terminator’ to Syria, and you’ll be shocked to see what it can do

11. Gonna need more beers before PT (via Decelerate Your Life).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
When it takes about half a case to make it to formation, it’s time to get out.

10. Larger casualty radius but you’ve got to throw a lot more of them for 360 degrees of effects (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
The Army might be waiting another couple of years for that Beretta replacement.

9. Most uncomfortable way to realize what your brother has been doing in the garage all night (via Weapons of Meme Destruction).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
But hey, at least you now know.

8. Correction: You got them ON one truck (via Air Force Nation).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Good luck at your next duty station. Maybe leave some stuff at the lending closet when you have to PCS again.

7. When the young guys realize why the veterans still buy hard copies of their magazines:

(via The Salty Soldier)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Hope you kept the driftwood, Morty.

6. Don’t care how long the contract is or how long the school is, create a dragon pilot MOS and I’m there (via U.S Army W.T.F! moments).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
And if Trump makes it happen, #TrumpDaenarys2024.

5. Well, at least the weak links have been identified, now (via Coast Guard Memes).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Sort of impressed if he can jump rope in those boots for very long, though.

4. The humvee is uncomfortable, but it’s boats that really hate this game (via Air Force Nation).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
“Don’t worry, we’ll get you there saf—” “CUT SLING LOAD!”

3. So, if I just stay in this toxic environment for 15 more years, I can be one voice asking it to be less evil, please?

(via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Or I can work at a website? Making memes jokes on Fridays and then playing video games all weekend?

2. #ThatDD214Life (via Decelerate Your Life)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
#SquadGoals

1. “Oh, really, first sergeant? In the commander’s humvee, you say?”

(via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

It’s memes day!


And do you have memes you want to see included next week? Hit us up on Facebook.

1. “Billy Mays here for the full metal jacket!” (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

2. Should’ve studied (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
If he had scored any lower, he might’ve had to join the Army.

SEE ALSO: The 17 most hardcore WWII Air Corps Bomber Jackets

3. You have your chain of command, the NCO support channel … (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
… and then you have the guys who actually make decisions.

4.  Junior enlisted can’t get no respect (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

5. When you’ve spend just a little too much time at home (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

6. A clean ship is a safe ship (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
You don’t want to see what happens when you skip painting.

7. “Mom, really, I love you. It’s just …” (Via Out Of Regs)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

8. See? This is why you’re supposed to leave the post after you retire (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Come on. You’re caught. Just salute.

9. Sure. It’s funny when he shows up at berthing with all those tacos (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

10. Purell. Nearly as good as inspections at keeping recruits awake (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Veterans know to just mix dip with their energy drinks.

11. They’re going to take on a lot of water when they pull out of port.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Probably less likely to damage a World War II monument though.

 12. How about a date with democracy?

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

13. No matter how many times you tell them, this still happens.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Side note, does that pilot in the foreground know how to curl his fingers at the position of attention? Or does an NCO need to go correct him?

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13 of the best military morale patches

Morale patches are patches troops wear on their uniforms designed to be a funny inside joke, applicable only to their unit or military career field. They are usually worn during deployments, but the wear of morale patches is at the discretion of the unit’s commander.


The patches often (not always) make fun of a depressing, boring or otherwise specific part of the job.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

These patches have been around since the military began to wear patches. They are collected and traded by people, both military and civilians, who come across them. Some are more popular than others, but they are usually a lot of fun.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

The “Morale Stops Here” patch is pretty popular and is actually repeated by units the world over. It’s really funny the first time you see it.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

This is an old one, a throwback to the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command days. “To forgive is not SAC policy” is widely attributed to famed SAC commander Curtis LeMay.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

For the benefit of the uninitiated, CSAR stands for Combat Search And Rescue.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

Having the Kool-Aid Man as your unofficial mascot is funny enough, but making his hand the lightning-shooting gauntlet in the old SAC emblem is clever.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

The JSTARS (or Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System) have a descriptive patch here – as they operate out of trailers at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar (in the military, being deployed here is also known as “doing the Deid”).

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

This is a U.S. Navy patch from Vietnam. The “yacht” is a junk – a historically widespread type of ship used in China and around Southeast Asia. The Tonkin Gulf is where the Vietnam War (or more specifically, the U.S. involvement in it) really ignited.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

More from Vietnam. By the end of the 1960’s, the rift between those who served in Vietnam and the perception of the war back home hit its peak.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

As the Cold War intensified and the threat of nuclear war seemed more and more unavoidable, the young enlisted and officers whose role in the annihilation of Earth’s population probably felt more than a little stressed.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’

The tradition continued, well into Desert Storm. If you have morale patches that make others laugh or are highly prized, please post in the comments.

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Medal Of Honor Hero Kyle Carpenter Just Gave An Inspiring Speech That Everyone Should Read

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’


Former Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter gave a powerful speech to his fellow veterans of the Battle of Marjah recently that everyone should take the time to read.

Also Read: 4 Reasons Why Going To War Gives Veterans An Edge Over Their Civilian Peers 

Carpenter, who received the Medal of Honor last year for jumping on a grenade to save his friend’s life during the battle, told his fellow Marines that “it’s your medal” at a reunion on the five-year anniversary of Operation Moshtarak last week at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

“With this short amount of time I have to speak to you tonight, I couldn’t possibly sum up the historical battle of Marjah,” Carpenter said in his speech, according to a transcription from Hope Hodge Seck of Marine Corps Times. “I am comforted, though, by the fact that the men in this room don’t need a summary because you were right there beside me. You felt the incredible heat of a 100 percent humidity day and the cool waters of a muddy canal. You felt the weight of 100 pounds of gear, ammo and water at your back, the weight of knowing as Marines we are and forever will be the first line of defense for our loved ones, our nation and above all, freedom.”

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Kyle Carpenter and Nick Eufrazio

The Battle of Marjah involved 15,000 American, Afghan, Canadian, British, and French troops in the largest joint operation up to that point in the Afghan war. The effort to wrestle the key town of Marjah from the Taliban took NATO forces nearly 10 months, according to ABC News.

“I stand here today extremely proud of you all. I’m proud of the job you did in the face of what most cannot even fathom. I am more than honored to call you friends, fellow Marines and brothers,” Carpenter said. “You stand as an example for others and for what’s best for not only our nation but the rest of the world.”

In his speech, Carpenter did not reference his incredible example from Nov. 21, 2010, when he jumped on a grenade while providing rooftop security at a small outpost. “I only remember a few moments after I got hit,” Carpenter told me previously when I interviewed him for Business Insider. “But nothing before.”

He was severely wounded — as was his friend Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio — but both survived. While Carpenter lost his right eye and took shrapnel throughout his face and lower body, his recovery has been nothing short of remarkable.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: The White House

Carpenter continued (via Marine Times):

Be proud of who you are. Be proud of what you did in that country. You are alive today and have been blessed with this opportunity of life. Don’t waste it. Live a life worth living, full of meaning and purpose, and one that will make the fallen who are looking down on us proud.

Marines, I’m proud to have worn the same uniform as you.

Never forget that when no one else would raise their right hand, you did. You sacrificed and became part of our nation’s history and our Marine Corps legacy for taking part in the historical battleground of Marjah. Thank you so much. I really do appreciate it.

Marine Corps Times has the full speech. It’s definitely worth a read.

NOW: This Hero Saved Six Soldiers From A Burning Vehicle While He Was Drenched In Fuel 

OR: 10 Photos That Capture The Military Experience 

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Here are the winners of the 2014 US military photographer awards

A panel of judges in Fort Meade, Maryland have made their selections for the 2014 Military Photographer awards.


The judges have handed out awards to military photographers for their amazing work in ten different categories including Sports, Pictorial, and Combat Documentation (Operational). The judges have also named the overall best military photographer for 2014.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Vernon Young was selected as the Military Photographer of the year. His photos ranged from evocative portraits of Afghans to scenes of US forces training before deployment.

“Recon Patrols” (First Place: Combat Documentation, Operational)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: SGT Harold Flynn

Soldiers assigned to Palehorse Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Calvary Regiment move over rough terrain during Operation Alamo Scout 13, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 10, 2014. The operation was a joint effort between Palehorse troops and the Afghan National Army’s 205th Corps Mobile Strike Force to conduct reconnaissance patrols in villages around Kandahar Airfield.

“Wounded Warrior” (Second Place: Combat Documentation, Operational)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: SSgt Perry Aston

Casualties airlifted by an Afghan Air Force C-130 Hercules from a Taliban attack on Camp Bastion, are offloaded on Dec. 1, 2014 at Kabul International Airport. The Afghan military successfully repelled the attack on the camp after receiving control of the base from coalition forces a month earlier.

“Afghan Gunner” (Third Place: Combat Documentation, Operational)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
TSgt Jason Robertson

An Afghan Air Force (AAF) Mi-17 aerial gunner fires an M-240 machine gun while flying over a weapons range March 13, 2014, near Kabul, Afghanistan. US Air Force Airmen from the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing/NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan flew a night-vision goggle training mission with an AAF aircrew to further increase the operational capability of the AAF.

“Night Fire” (First Place: Combat Documentation, Training)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Pfc. Nathaniel Newkirk/US Army

US Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire a 120 mm mortar during a tactical training exercise on Camp Roberts, Calif. on Jan. 30, 2014. 

“Land Nav” (Second Place: Combat Documentation, Training)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Sgt. Marcus Fichtl/US Army

Sgt. Timothy Martin, a native of Waipahu, Hawaii, wheeled vehicle mechanic, Company B, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, prepares to conduct night land navigation during the brigade’s 3-day-long Soldier and NCO of the Year competition at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, on April 23, 2014. 

“Dustoff! Dustoff!” (Third Place: Combat Documentation, Training)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Corey J. Hook/USAF

US Army Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Squadron 17th Regiment are picked up by a blackhawk helicopter after participating in a survival, evasion, resistance and escape exercise during Decisive Action Rotation 14-09 at the National Training Center on Aug. 13, 2014. Decisive action rotations are reflective of the complexities of potential adversaries the US military could face and include training against guerilla, insurgent, criminal and near-peer conventional forces.

“Drown-proofing” (First Place: Feature)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/USAF

Members of the Special Tactics Training Squadron enter a pool with their hands and feet bound. The drown-proofing exercise teaches students to remain calm in the water during stressful situations, skills that may prove vital during real-world operations.

“Retiring the colors” (Second Place: Feature)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Senior Airman Jordan Castelan/USAF

Three 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen secure the American flag during the sounding of retreat on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on June 27, 2014.

“Down and Dirty” (Third Place: Feature)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: SSgt Vernon Young/USAF

Staff Sgt. Kyle McGann, Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, climbs into a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle during EOD blast-pit training on March 16, 2014. Blast pit training prepares EOD technicians to handle detonations by practicing procedures and communications for real-world responses.

“The Reach” (First Place: Illustrative)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Airman 1st Class Devin N. Boyer/USAF

As the military’s despcription of this photo puts it, “Family and friends can be important influences in helping someone get treatment for mental health issues. Reaching out and letting them know you are there to help them is the first step.”

“Cyber Deception” (Second Place: Illustrative)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Airman 1st Class Devin N. Boyer/USAF

Per the military’s description: “Social media opens doors for meeting new people. However, are the people you meet who they say they are? The internet allows predators to use deception to take advantage of their victims.”

“The face of domestic violence” Third Place: Illustrative

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Senior Airman Rusty Frank/USAF

This illustration is meant to show the effects of domestic violence. According to the Family Advocacy Program, more than 18,000 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2013.

“The Thunder Returns” (First Place: News)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr./USAF

The US Air Force Thunderbirds fly the Delta formation over Falcon Stadium during the US Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony on May 28, 2014. 

“Remembering” (Second Place: News)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric R. Dietrich/US Navy

US Air Force Master Sgt. Tiffany Robinson, assigned to 449th Air Expeditionary Group, kneels in front of a battlefield cross following a Memorial Day ceremony at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, on May 26, 2014. The cross was created with combat gear representing each of the five US military branches, in commemoration of fallen service members.

“Coast Guard Memorial Day Weekend Rescue” (Third Place: News)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Chief Petty Officer Lauren Jorgensen/US Coast Guard

Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Zartman of Coast Guard Station Mayport, Florida, pulls 10-year-old Nmir Ali Mahmoud toward a Coast Guard boat while rescuing him, his father and another man who were stranded aboard their 21-foot boat after running it aground on top of a jetty near Mayport, May 24, 2014. 

“Out of the Sea” (First Place: Pictorial)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/USAF

A 22nd Special Tactics Squadron Airman climbs a ladder into a CH-47 Chinook helicopter hovering over the ocean on June 20, 2014. 

“Sky Miles” (Second Place: Pictorial)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Gunnery Sgt. Ezekiel R. Kitandwe/USMC

A US Marine assigned to Echo Company 4th Reconnaissance Battalion rappels out of a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter at Camp Upshur, Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico Va., July 17, 2014. The training exercise was part of a week-long jump, dive, breach, and shooting package conducted around MCB Quantico.

“Assault overwatch” (Third Place: Pictorial)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Spc. Steven A. Hitchcock/US Army

US Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment prepare to lay cover fire for the assault element advancing on the objective during task force training on Fort Hunter Ligget, Calif. on Jan. 23, 2014. 

“Survivor” (First Place: Picture Story)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young/USAF

Staff Sgt. Chantel Thibeaux was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2014 during her very first class as an Air Force technical school instructor. With the support of her family, she was able to fight through a disease that claims the lives of thousands each year. As a US Air Force technical school instructor, Thibeaux has been charged to train the next generation of dental assistants. 

“Becoming “Semper Fidelis”” (Second Place: Picture Story)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez/USAF

US Marine Corps female recruits endure and conquer the Crucible, one of the toughest challenges a recruit will face during their 3-month boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., on Sept. 10, 2014. The women used teamwork, grit, and perseverance to earn the title of Marine and their emblem: the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.

“Tenderfoot” (Third Place: Picture Story)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Mass Communication Specialst 3rd Class Siobhana McEwen/US Navy

Per the military’s description, “Farrier Henry Heymeiring has been shoeing horses for more than 40 years, and describes the trade as an art. The foundation of Heymering’s art is his love of the animal. A man of few words and many smiles, Heymeiring’s smiles truly convey his passion for his work.”

“Loud and Clear” (First Place: Portrait)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo/USAF

US Air Force Staff Sgt. Nadia Rowell, health services management journeyman, 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Pope Army Airfield, N.C., stands for a portrait outside the aeromedical evacuation crew tent at Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La., March 15, 2014. Service members at JRTC 14-05 are educated in combat patient care and aeromedical evacuation in a simulated combat environment. 

“Game Time” (Second Place: Portrait_

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Senior Airman Daniel Hughes/USAF

A player for the Fort Dorchester High School Football team yells to motivate players in a hostile regional game against Bluffton High School at Bluffton High School Stadium, Oct. 24, 2014. 

“The Army Chaplain” (Third Place: Portrait)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts/USAF

A Polish World War II re-enactor portrays an army chaplain with the 106th Infantry Division in the same forest the 106th fought in 70 years previously during the Battle of the Bulge, on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. 

“Beyond” (First Place: Sports and Photo Of The Year)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/USAF

US Air Force Capt. Sarah Evans jumps rope in a gym in San Antonio, Texas. Evans was diagnosed with cancer while deployed to Afghanistan and was medically evacuated back to the United States where her leg was amputated.

“Roar” (Second Place: Sports)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. Demotts/USAF

AFNORTH’s Eliska Volencova reacts with teammates Erica Balkcum and Emma Rainer after coming back from 10 points to defeat Hohenfels 22-19 in the DODDS-Europe basketball championships Division III semi-final game Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.

Untitled (Third Place: Sports)

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Senior Airman James Richardson/USAF

Cheerleaders from the University of Missouri gather prior to the start of the game against the University of South Carolina Sept. 27, 2014 in Columbia, S.C. Missouri won, 21-20.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Vernon Young won photographer of the year for the following photos: “Timing” …

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young/USAF

A US Army soldier swings a golf club after duty on March 29, 2014.

“A Deeper Connection” …

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young/USAF

US Army Staff Sgt. Damion Kennedy shares a laughs with a local Afghan man as he provides overwatch for a base detail project on April 8, 2014.

“Low Pass” …

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young/USAF

US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Josh Martin, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, Mi-17 aerial gunner, provides rear security on a Mi-17 helicopter over Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 31, 2014. 

“Faces of Afghanistan” …

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young/USAF

An Afghan man spends a moment alone inside the Afghan National Army (ANA) military planning room prior to serving tea to soldiers on June 11, 2014. The Afghan man provides drinks and cleaning supplies to soldiers as they transition in and out of the ANA command section. 

More From Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

NOW: These Striking Photos Show The True Nature Of America’s Veterans 

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Geopolitical Expert: ‘China is at virtual war with the United States’

Last month’s massive breach of federal employees’ data allegedly at the hands of Chinese hackers, made public Thursday, indicates a treacherous new reality in the global cyber game.


“It’s very serious indeed,” geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, the founder of Eurasia Group, told Business Insider.

“China’s offensive cyber capabilities have consistently surprised the United States in terms of breadth and sophistication of attacks.

“The latest attacks revealed yesterday show millions of existing and former US government employees with their private data now in the hands of the Chinese state.”

The Obama administration has refrained from making any official statements about China’s role in the attack on the Office of Personnel Management, since it is still so difficult to trace a data breach back to its original source.

An unnamed official told Reuters that information taken includes security clearance information and background checks going back decades.

“This is deep. The data goes back to 1985,” the official said. “This means that they potentially have information about retirees, and they could know what they did after leaving government.”

Reuters notes that the Office of Personnel Management “conducts more than 90% of all federal background investigations, including those required by the Department of Defense and 100 other federal agencies.”

The data includes details about the private lives of more than 4 million US government workers.

These federal employees “are the people who hold US secrets,” national security expert Douglas Ollivant explained to Business Insider, referring to the employees’ varying levels of government security clearance.

“And now the hackers likely have access to blackmail-able levels of information, such as the employees’ passports, Social Security numbers, history of drug use or psychological counseling, foreign contacts, etc.”

Whether the attack was state-sponsored remains to be seen, but few doubt that the stolen personnel data will ultimately end up in the hands of the Chinese government.

“This is a really big deal,” Ollivant added. “Some might consider it an act of war.”

Further, the alleged hack is part of Beijing’s evolving cyber-espionage operation.

“Having a large database of personal information on key individuals that have access to critical infrastructure or classified information gives China an advantage in whatever agenda they have,” Mark Wuergler, a senior cybersecurity researcher at Immunity Inc., told Business Insider.

“By breaking into one organization it points in the direction of the next juicy target to siphon data from, or add to, an arsenal of leverage over a superpower,” Wuergler said.

The Chinese are masters of the long game, Wuergler added, and Chinese hackers have been known to infiltrate servers and maintain their access for a year or more to quietly spy on their targets.

“They are really good at what they do, and when they break into something it’s not just smash and grab,” Wuergler said, noting that hackers in the OPM network had been there for months before they were even detected.

According to Wuergler, a “complete overhaul” of the network and systems we use today would be needed to deter attacks like this in the future.

As Bremmer sees it, however, such efforts at deterrence would be largely futile given China’s determination to remain embedded in American networks.

“There’s no effective defense against these attacks and, as we’ve seen, there’s also no effective deterrence,” he said. “China isn’t trying to engage in ‘integrity’ attacks against the US — they don’t want to destroy American institutions and architecture as, after all, they’re hugely invested in American economic success.”

That said, Bremmer added: “We should be very clear: China is at virtual war with the United States, and the threat is far higher than that of terrorism, which gets the lion’s share of attention — and, in the post-9/11 world, funding.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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A tornado just took out this nuclear apocalypse-proof Air Force jet

When the US Air Force took delivery of its four E-4B Nightwatch ‘doomsday’ jets, they made sure the small fleet was capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust, its occupants safe and sound within its protective cocoons as they carried out their mission of directing the US military in the aftermath of the end of the world.


As it turns out, the Nightwatch may be able to survive a nuclear blast in the air, but the forces of nature are a different matter altogether.

On June 16, a pair of E-4Bs, currently known as “Advanced Airborne Command Posts,” found themselves sitting in the path of a tornado while parked at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. Though both aircraft were pulled into hangars, their tailplanes still sat somewhat exposed and suffered the wrath of the tornado, taking enough damage to keep them grounded and inoperable.

A number of RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, also parked at Offutt at the time, were affected by the storm but were quickly repaired and returned to service.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
An E-4B refueling in-flight. This capability allows Nightwatch to remain airborne for days at a time (Photo US Air Force)

The extent of the damage is unclear, though it’s probable that these two aircraft will be out of service for the time being as the Air Force and Boeing both evaluate and determine a course of action to repair them. The two remaining Nightwatches were away from Offutt at the time — one undergoing an overhaul, while the other is currently operational.

The tailplane of the Nightwatch does house one of its mission systems — a 5-mile long antenna which can be spooled out the rear of the aircraft while in-flight. This antenna allows the battle staff aboard the E-4B to communicate with the US Navy’s ballistic missile submarines while they’re underway. It’s definitely likely that this part of the aircraft, known as the Trailing Wire Antenna, sustained some damage during the storm.

The E-4B, formerly known as the National Airborne Operations Center, entered service with the Air Force in the 1970s, replacing older EC-135J “Looking Glass” aircraft, as “doomsday planes” — command posts that allow members of the US National Command Authority to stay in touch with the military during a catastrophic event. Each Nightwatch is equipped with an advanced communications suite that facilitates this, allowing it to virtually contact anything connected to a phone line in the entire world.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
SECDEF James Mattis disembarks from an E-4B while on an official overseas trip (Photo US Air Force)

Today, Nightawtch serves as the Secretary of Defense’s official transport, ferrying him across the world on state-sponsored trips to foster good relationships with American military partners. Because of its communications abilities, the E-4B allows the SECDEF to remain constantly up-to-date on US military activity no matter where he is, even while flying.

The Air Force recently tendered a $73 million contract to support the E-4B’s expansive communications systems over the next seven years, though it’s possible that the service could potentially consider retiring all Nightwatch jets in the coming years in favor replacing them with newer aircraft with lower operating costs. The current hourly operating figure for a single E-4B is estimated to be at least $159,529 per hour.

Above the heavy financial burdens of flying these converted Boeing 747s, the small fleet is getting harder to support due to its age. The Air Force projects that by 2039, all E-4Bs will have maxed out their lifetime flying hours, necessitating a follow-on aircraft to carry out the same mission on behalf of the Air Force and NCA.

9 true facts about the ‘Nuclear Club’
An E-6 Mercury launching from Offutt AFB. Mercuries are tasked with a similar mission type to the E-4B (Photo US Air Force)

In May, the Air Force announced it would spearhead a joint program with the Navy to seek a replacement for the E-4B and the Navy’s E-6 Mercury. The E-6 is a continuation of the Looking Glass program, and shares a similar role with the Nightwatch fleet, though its mission is more popularly known as TACAMO, short for “Take Charge And Move Out.”

This project will see the Air Force and Navy unite their airborne command post assets under a fleet of identical nuclear-proof aircraft with next-generation communication and sensor systems. There’s no word just yet on whether or not America’s upcoming fleet of doomsday aircraft will be tornado-proof as well, however.

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