The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

By 2020, the U.S. Air Force expects to have “directed energy combat weapons pods” on its jets. During the Air Force Association Air Space conference, the Air Force General with the most Air Force name ever, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, said “I believe we’ll have a directed energy pod we can put on a fighter plane very soon. That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is.”


The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
DARPA Air Force Laser Concept

The lasers will be a weapon against unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), missiles, and other aircraft, according to Gen. Carlisle. The Army, Marine Corps, and the Navy, thinks of lasers as a defensive weapon. The Army, Navy, and Marines’ laser weapons are designed shoot down incoming artillery shells, rockets, and drones, their objective is developing a defensive weapon to shoot down incoming high-speed ballistic and cruise missiles.

The Air Force’s ideas for laser tactics is actually much more aggressive then Gen. Carlisle would lead us to believe. Since directed energy weapons can shoot multiple shots at the speed of light on a single gallon of gas, the Air Force sees a nearly unlimited weapon, capable of taking out not only incoming missiles, but also their source.

“My customer is the enemy. I deliver violence,” Air Force Lt Gen. Brad Heithold, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, told an audience at a directed energy conference in August 2015. Heithold wants the chance to mount such a laser onto one of AC-130 gunships.

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
For the uninitiated, this is what the current gun on the AC-130 looks like.

Laser weapons are becoming much more compact and capable of being mounted on aircraft as small as a Predator drone. Portability is what makes the difference in battlefield development. Such a laser used to be the size of a passenger jet. The previous restrictively large sizes were based on their cooling methods. Liquid lasers that have large cooling systems can fire continuous beams, while solid state laser beams are more intense but must be fired in pulses to stop them from overheating.

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
It’s like Star Wars lasers vs. Star Trek lasers. So that debate might be settled soon too.

Now, General Atomics is field testing a DARPA-funded weapon it calls “High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System” (or HELLADS), which is roughly five feet long.

The actual HELLADS system doesn’t have video of tests yet but here’s a similar American-Israeli system being tested to take out incoming mortar rounds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=11v=LThD0FMvTFU

 

NOW: The U.S. military kindly asks you to trust its death robots

OR: The Navy’s new weapon system is a laser pointer on steroids

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Awesome memes from around the interwebs. Share your favorites on our Facebook page.


1. Look, when the Army started giving the Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle to more units, soldiers got excited about it (via Team Non-Rec).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

2. Being a boot is hard (via Devil Dog Nation).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Probably doesn’t even realize why his armor is so uncomfortable.

3. “Basic training is not nearly as much fun as I thought it would be.”

(via Air Force Nation)

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

4. Navy, this isn’t the reason we make fun of you …

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
… but it’s definitely a reason we make fun of you.

5. Do airmen do field exercises? If so, why?

(via Marine Corps Memes)

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
I mean, you park the planes at big ole bases anyway. Why go to the field?

6. You think your personnel manager is an a-shole?

(via Entertain Your Nerdy A–)

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Stormtroopers got you beat every time.

7. They’re so sweet and so, so bitter.

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Sure, you’re finally leaving, but that also means you’re putting your ruck back on.

8. Look, it’s fine to be a POG (via Army Nation).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
If you’re not infantry, stop playing like you are.

SEE ALSO: 9 reasons it’s perfectly fine to be a POG

9. Why malingerers are always so happy:

(via Military Memes)

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Wouldn’t it be great if the malingerers were all secretly Hulk-level strong? Instead of useless?

10. When your service has A-10s and F-22s, it’s hard to take your M-16 seriously (via Air Force Nation).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
But you should still carry it with you.

11. Which would you rather have:

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
The next three years of your life? Or a free soda?

 12. Car bumper stickers tell a story (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

13. “Sgt. 1st Class Smozart will be leading the 155mm howitzer crew through the 1812 Overture.”

(via Military Nations)

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

NOW: Troops pick which Army job is best

OR: This is the ultimate special operations weapon

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US officials warn that North Korea will test another missile soon

North Korea has made preparations for yet another missile test within the coming days, US officials have told Fox News.


“The test could come as early as the end of the month,” said an unnamed official. Another official told Fox that a US WC-135 Constant Phoenix “nuclear sniffer” plane would patrol the area to detect possible nuclear activity.

The Pentagon, as well as its Japanese and South Korean counterparts, has been closely monitoring North Korea after a string of high-profile and alarming moves within its nuclear infrastructure.

Related: How China could potentially stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III

Most recently, Japan detected two missile launches in North Korea that exploded “within seconds” after takeoff, CNN reported. Before that, North Korea tested a “saturation attack” — a salvo of four missiles meant to overwhelm US and allied missile defenses — with much more success.

Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, told Business Insider that North Korea’s ultimate intention with its nuclear program is to create a thermonuclear weapon that can hit the mainland US.

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

The increased pace of tests in 2017 shows North Korea is perhaps more serious than ever about hitting this goal, which it is increasingly moving closer to achieving.

Meanwhile, the US has openly floated military action against North Korea, which experts tell Business Insider could easily cost millions of lives and result in the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II.

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13 funniest memes for the week of April 7

Tomahawks are flying, tensions are rising, and we’re just over here collecting memes and giggling. Here are 13 of our favorite funny military memes from this week, starting with a little shout out to the ships that conducted the strikes:


1. Congrats to the Navy for getting to set off some fireworks last night (via Weapons of Meme Destruction).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
But y u no shoot more?

2. Digital security is important (via Team Non-Rec).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
ISIS is coming for you with stock photos of models.

ALSO READ: The only time the Soviet Union officially fought the US was in brutal air combat

3. Navy Capt. Bender got the hookers out before the NCIS raid began (via Military World).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Best. Cruise. Ever.

4. You’ve got to earn that nap time by holding up that book she’s going to read to you (via Decelerate Your Life).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

5. If it’s stupid but it works … actually, this is still stupid (via Coast Guard Memes).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Would love to the new safety briefing when this goes awry.

6. Poor Jody never gets any respect (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
#JodiesServeToo

7. Grade-A, Tier-One killers (via Devil Dog Nation).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Just make sure they’re home before dark.

8. Every paratrooper’s spirit animal on a Saturday jump (via Military World).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Unless it’s a Chinook, Sherpa, or foreign jump. Then, it’s all smiles all around.

9. Shut up, POG (via Pop smoke).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
POGs who wish they weren’t POGs are 1,000 percent more likely to call people POGs than an infantryman is.

10. Yeah. This is worth the next four years of my life (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Career counselors are basically Mephistopheles made flesh (Google it, then print one out and tape it to the career counselor’s door).

11. “Potato” isn’t too shabby (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

12. Good ol’ National Training Center (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
So many great memories there.

13. You’ll never run faster than when you’re told you don’t have to run that morning (via The Salty Soldier).

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
One word. One syllable. So many feelings.

popular

11 best-ever nicknames of military leaders

A lot of people get nicknames in the military, usually something derogatory. But not these guys. These 11 military leaders got awesome nicknames by doing awesome stuff.


Here’s what they are and how they got them:

1. Group Capt. Sir Douglas “Tin Legs” Bader

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
(Photo: Royal Air Force photographer Devon S A)

Group Capt. Sir Douglas Bader was a Royal Air Force hero of the second World War known for his exploits in the air and frequent escape attempts as a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany. He did all of this despite the fact that he lost his legs in 1931 in an air show accident. He was drummed out of the service due to disability but returned when Britain entered World War II. He wore two prosthetic legs and earned his insensitive but inarguably awesome nickname.

2. Capt. Michael “Black Baron” Wittmann

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Capt. Michael Wittman was an evil Nazi with an awesome nickname. (Photo: German military archives)

 

Michael Wittman was an SS-Hauptsturmführer, the SS equivalent of an army captain, in command of a tank crew in World War II. From his time as a young enlisted man to his death as a captain, he was known for his skill in tanks and scout cars. As the war ground on, Wittman became one of the war’s greatest tank aces, scoring 138 tank kills and 132 anti-tank gun kills.

He was recognized with medals and a message of congratulations from Adolph Hitler. He was giving the nickname “The Black Baron” as an homage to the World War I flying ace, “The Red Baron,” Manfred Von Richtofen.

3. General of the Armies John “Black Jack” Pershing

 

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
(Photo: US Army)

General of the Armies John “Black Jack” Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces through World War I and became one of America’s highest ranked officers in history, second only to President George Washington.

Pershing’s nickname was originally a horrible epithet given to him by students while he instructed at West Point. They angrily called him “[N-word] Jack” in reference to his time commanding a segregated unit. The name was softened to “Black Jack” and has become a part of his legacy.

4. Gen. Norman “The Bear” Schwarzkopf

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
(Photo: US Army)

 

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf is probably best known for his leadership of Desert Storm. He sported two colorful nicknames. He didn’t like the most famous one, “Stormin’ Norman,” probably because it alluded to his volatile temper. But he seemed to have a fondness for his second, “The Bear,” an allusion to his 6ft., 4in. height and nearly 240-pound size.

In his autobiography, he described his wife as “Mrs. Bear” and he named one of his dogs “Bear” as well.

5. Lt. Gen. James “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin

 

 

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
U.S. Army

Lt. Gen. James Gavin is probably best known for the same achievement that gave him his nickname, commanding one of America’s first airborne units and literally writing the book on airborne operations, FM 31-30: Tactics and Technique of the Air-Borne Troops.

Even after he rose to the rank of general officer ranks, he kept conducting combat jumps with his men. He landed in Normandy as a brigadier general and jumped in Operation Market Garden as a major general, earning him another nickname, “The Jumping General.”

6. Gen. Sir Frank “The Bearded Man” Messervy

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Imperial War Museum

Gen. Sir Frank Messervy was a successful cavalry officer in the British Indian Army in both World Wars and later served as the first commander of the Pakistan Army. In garrison, he had the appearance of a stereotypical, well-groomed Englishman. But he famously neglected to shave during battles, leading to a thick beard when he was engaged for more than a few days.

7. Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
U.S. Marine Corps

 

One of the greatest heroes of the Korean War, Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller tried to join World War I but the conflict ended just before he could ship out. Instead, he fought in anti-guerilla wars, World War II, and the Korean War. But for all of his battlefield exploits, he received a nickname for his physical appearance. His impeccable posture and large frame made him look “chesty,” so that became his name.

8. Maj. Gen. Smedley “The Fighting Quaker” Butler

 

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
U.S. Marine Corps

Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler was born into a Quaker family in Pennsylvania in 1881. Despite the Quakers’ aversion to violence, Butler lied about his age to become a Marine Corps second lieutenant in 1898, developed a reputation for being fierce in a fight, and made his way to major general while receiving two Medals of Honor in his career.

Butler also received a brevet promotion to captain when he was 19 for valorous action conducted before officers were eligible for the Medal of Honor. In recognition of his huge brass ones, his men started calling him “The Fighting Quaker.”

9. “The Constable” Gen. Charles de Gaulle

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Wikimedia Commons

Gen. Charles de Gaulle was the highest ranking member of France’s military in World War II and led Free French Forces against the Nazis after the fall of France.

De Gaulle gained the nickname “The Constable” on two occasions. First, in school where he was known as the “Grand Constable.” After the fall of France, the nickname was bestowed anew when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called him “The Constable of France,” the job title of ancient French warriors who served Capetian Kings until the 10th century.

10. Staff Sgt. William “Wild Bill” Guarnere

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Photo: US Army

Staff Sgt. William Guarnere fought viciously against the Germans as a paratrooper in Europe and gained a reputation for it, leading to his nickname “Wild Bill” and his portrayal in Band of Brothers.

Because of his exotic last name, he also gained the unfortunate nickname of “gonorrhea.”

11. Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

 

Brig. Gen. Francis Marion was best known for leading guerilla fighters through the woods and swamps of the southern colonies during the American Revolution. After repeatedly being harassed by Marion and his men, the British sent Col. Banastre Tarleton to hunt him down.

Marion evaded Tarleton over and over again. When a 26-mile chase through the swamps came up empty, Tarleton complained that he would never find that “swamp fox” and the name stuck.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The bravery of America’s first paratroopers will blow your mind – Video

America’s airborne forces did some truly amazing things during World War II — a conflict that marked the apex of airborne warfare.


American (and British) paratroopers in units like the 82nd Airborne Division wreaked havoc on the Nazis in World War II — particularly during the invasions of Sicily and Normandy.

After watching these badasses do their thing in the video below, it’s hard to imagine that Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted to disband the airborne units after Sicily.

We not only get a look at the paratroopers who helped kick in the door of “Fortress Europe,” but also their weapons: The M1 Garand, the M1A1 Thompson submachine gun, the M1 Carbine, the M3 Grease Gun.

While the show does not explicitly cite the Rule of the LGOPs, the phenomenon’s existence is very strongly implied.

Which of those weapons would you jump into action with? Let us know in the comments!

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Here is the science that goes into MRE recipes

There is an ebb and flow with a troop’s love, hate, and pure apathy toward eating Meals, Ready to Eat.


Either you score the new Chicken Burrito Bowl or you get stuck with a veggie option so foul no amount of salt can help cover the taste. It usually goes from the “Oh cool! MREs!” feeling, to then despising the concept of eating from the same 24 brown bags for months, and finally gets beaten into a state of pure Stockholm Syndrome where you get used to and enjoy them again because it’s technically food.

Whatever your personal experience will be, the minds at Ameriqual, Sopakco, and Wornick have all crafted a very specific meal under very specific guidelines.

Whichever meal you are tossed usually contains an entree, side, cracker or bread, spread, dessert, a beverage, Flameless Ration Heater, and accessories. Every MRE also needs to have a constant 1,250-calorie count, have 13 percent protein, 36 percent fat, and 51 percent carbohydrates, and make up one third of the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals.

Finally, each box of MREs must have a shelf life of at least 18 months in above 80°F conditions, three years below. This has been the constant ever since it’s inception in 1975 and standard issue in 1986.

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Dr. Rahman receiving the Meritorious Civilian Service Award for developing the MRE. And yes. His last name does sound like the instant noodles. There. That is now a thing you will remember.

One of the more impressive creations in the MRE is the Flameless Ration Heater. Water activated, the pouch quickly reaches heats that can warm up an eight ounce ration within minutes. Simply put the food pouch inside the bag, lean it against a rock or something, and you’re ready to eat.

Heating or cooking your food raises the caloric value of the food you’re eating, giving you more energy.

Whatever you do, do not take two of the heaters, empty a tiny Tabasco sauce into a bottle of water, add the heaters and water to about the half way point, seal it, shake it, then toss it somewhere.

It’s a dick move and your squad will call you out for your douchebaggery. This is because the heat and fumes decompress within the bottle to the point of exploding.

There is also the First Strike Ration, a compact, eat-on-the-move ration that is designed to be half the size and a third of the weight while giving troops the nutritional intake of an entire days worth of food.

The Combat Feeding Directorate developed this after they noticed troops would “field strip” their MREs of unwanted and burdensome extra items, like boxes, accessory packs, heaters, and bags. The total calorie count of an FSR comes to 2,900 calories.

The actual menu changes year to year. 2017 changes are no different.

Thankfully, they’re removing “Rib shaped BBQ Pork Patty,” that fried rice thing, chicken pesto pasta, ‘Hooah!’ bars, and the wheat snack bread (which only the power of the Jalapeno Cheese Spread could make edible). The replacements actually sound delicious (like the previously mentioned Chicken Burrito Bowl) and are even more thought out.

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
(Comic by Maximilian at Terminal Lance)

I can see the successor of the most coveted MRE item: caffeinated teriyaki beef sticks. Julie Smith, senior food technologist at Combat Feeding Directorate of the Natick Soldier, Research, Development and Engineering Center said of the alternative to beef jerky “Typically, when we do evaluations, we get feedback from the war fighter that they want to have more beef jerky varieties. It’s such a high sodium item, however, that we have to be careful in how to include it in the menu.”

There is also the new version of the pound cake. It’s now fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids which research shows is great for muscle recovery and resiliency — all without affecting the taste of one of the better desserts in the MRE.

Far off into the future, Jeremy Whitsitt, the Deputy Director at Combat Feeding, says that one day there will be the ability to monitor an individual’s nutritional needs and -essentially- “print out a bar or a paste specifically designed for that soldier to return them to nutritional status.” He continues: “We’re laying the groundwork now through research and development to get us to that point.”

In the meantime, we can still hold out for the Pizza MRE. No timeline on its release, but it’ll be after they can work out the bread going brown after six months in 100°F.

Combat Feeding Directorate – ARMY M.R.E Research from Votary Media on Vimeo.

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A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Airmen 1st Class Diego Rojas-Rodriguez, far left, and Rolando Rodriquez, center left, speak to members of the 341st Comptroller Squadron mobile finance team at Malmstrom Air Force Base.


Where did the thrift savings plan come from and why do you need it?

In the beginning there was work; and then people died. Back in the day, American civilians simply worked until they couldn’t work anymore, and then they either relied on family to care for them, or they passed away. In the mid 1800s, a couple of companies took a look at the military’s retirement system and decided to give it a try.

The Thrift Savings Plan as we know it came into effect long after the civilian version of retirement due to the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986. The TSP is the public sector’s version of the 401(k) that was established under the Revenue Act of 1978.

But the TSP was not the military’s first pension plan. According to Pension Research Council, pensions for the military predate the Constitution, but the U.S. Navy and Army struggled to manage pension funds — so much in fact that the new government had to bail them out at least three separate times.

Despite early issues with managing pension funds, the Army and the Navy continued to offer them as a means to attract and retain men in the services.

Eventually corporate America got on board and started to adopt its own retirement system modeled after the public pension system offered by the American military.

The private pension system was designed to reward line workers (those who worked in factories or on production lines) for years of service to one company. This worked both to the advantage of the individual as many skills were not transferable outside of a specific industry, and to employers because it guaranteed most of their employees would be loyal to them.

There were two problems with the way the pension system was set up: companies had to figure out how much money every year to set aside based on the number of employees they had, and many companies mismanaged that money just as the military had a century prior.

Thus, the 401(k) Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, was born by an act of Congress in 1978. With this system, employers agreed to set a predetermined amount of money aside, and employees agreed to manage it themselves.

As a result of the remodeling of the private pension system, our modern day public pension (the Thrift Savings Plan) was designed nearly a decade after the private pension plan.

So why do you need a TSP? Regular military retirement pay was never intended to fully provide for normal retirement.

The TSP was designed to supplement retirement pay, and while it is optional for military members, it makes money sense to set aside funds throughout your career to supplement the retirement pay that was never intended to fully financially support you.

In short, the TSP makes sense, and you should have one.

For more information on the TSP, you can check out the Thrift Savings Plan website.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the Army’s new ‘360 Invictus’ attack helicopter

Bell has unveiled its proposed single-rotor design for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), a cutting-edge helicopter that may be optionally manned.

The ‘360 Invictus’ helicopter will be loaded with a 20 mm cannon and integrated munitions launcher able to carry Hellfire missiles or rockets. It will be able to adapt for future weapons integration in order to fight in urban environments, according to Bell.

Bell showcased its design to reporters at its facilities in Arlington, Virginia on Oct. 1, 2019.


“The Army realized that they absolutely do need a smaller aircraft that’s … able to operate in urban canyons as well as out in mixed terrain,” said Jeffrey Schloesser, executive vice president for strategic pursuits at Bell.

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon

Bell ‘360 Invictus’ rendering.

(Bell)

Schloesser said the 360 Invictus has high-cruise speeds, long-range capabilities and advanced maneuverability, all intended to help it dominate a future battlespace.

“We have a solution that can accomplish those missions, but it’s also the lowest-risk, and therefore probably the lowest-cost aircraft, to be able to accomplish [that],” Schloesser said.

Keith Flail, vice president of advanced vertical lift systems, said the agile helicopter’s first flight is expected in the fall of 2022. It should be able to fly at speeds greater than 180 knots true airspeed, or more than 200 miles per hour; the aircraft will also have a supplemental power unit that can boost the aircraft’s speed in flight.

Loosely based on Bell’s 525 Relentless rotor system, the fly-by-wire computer flight control helicopter will be made in partnership with Collins Aerospace which will deliver a new avionics hardware and software suite. “[Collins] also has the ability to integrate capabilities with the MOSA, or modular open system architecture, onto the aircraft,” Flail said.

Some observers at Oct. 1, 2019’s event remarked how the streamlined, lightweight fuselage design of the 360 Invictus resembled the body of a shark, particularly the vertical canted ducted tail rotor, designed for optimized lift and propulsion.

“As we’re in the wind tunnel, as we’re looking at performance, as we’re looking at drag, everything on the aircraft, we’re very confident that we have a good story on … that design target,” Flail said.

In April 2019, the Army awarded Bell, a subsidiary of Textron, the contract to begin prototype and design work; but the company must compete against four other firms before the service downselects its options to move forward with its future helicopter.

They are: AVX Aircraft Co. partnered with L3Harris Technologies; Boeing Co.; Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky; and Karem Aircraft.

Currently, the Army is developing FARA and the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) along with other airframes as part of its larger Future Vertical Lift initiative, or FVL.

FVL, the Army’s third modernization priority, is intended to field a new generation of helicopters before 2030.

Flail said that Bell will have a full-scale model of its FARA design, which fits inside a C-17 Globemaster III for transport as well as a 40-foot CONEX box, at the annual Association of the U.S. Army show later this month.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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How Many Ships Does The US Navy Really Need?

The Air Force will have lasers on planes soon
Photo Credit: DoD


How many ships does the U.S. Navy need to accomplish its goals? Tough to say. Sometimes it feels as though all I do is count ships and airplanes for a living. You’d think there would be no simpler chore than toting up rival navies’ strength and calculating who wins and who loses in sea combat. After all, it’s elementary-school arithmetic. But you would be wrong. Estimating relative naval strength is harder than tallying up numbers of hulls, airframes, and munitions.

And it’s harder by an order of magnitude.

That’s because high-seas competition is not a game of Battleship, an enterprise governed by rules and artificial constraints. Unlike the board game, sea combat doesn’t pit fleets of identical size and firepower against each other on a featureless oceanic battleground with fixed boundaries. Seldom are commanders intimately familiar with an adversary’s order of battle. No one exchanges fire in orderly fashion. Each side tries to pile up comparative advantages in numbers, capability, land-based fire support, and tactical excellence—biasing the outcome in its favor.

Few victors fight fair.

The multifaceted, ambiguous, impassioned nature of maritime war explains why experts still bicker about controversies such as how strong the Soviet Navy was. If the science isn’t settled about how an erstwhile foe matched up—if we can’t predict how some past conflict would have turned out, even after the facts are in—how likely are we to gauge future opponents’ strength accurately? How likely are we to calibrate our naval strength precisely, buying just enough forces and manpower to overcome foes without wasting taxpayer dollars?

Not very. And the consequences of discovering a shortfall could be dire. Better to field surplus capability rather than run a deficit that’s exposed only amid the din of battle—too late, in other words.

That rule—err on the side of excess naval power—applies in peacetime and wartime alike. Let’s look at peacetime nautical diplomacy first. Deterrence is the peacetime U.S. Navy’s chief purpose. After the navy faces down aggression, it does the wonderful things navies can do with freedom of the sea. Showing the flag in foreign seaports, alleviating human misery following natural disasters or other emergencies, scouring the sea of unlawful trafficking—such worthwhile endeavors depend on free use of the global commons.

Deterrence demands physical might, to be sure, but it’s about more than tabulating numbers of ships and warplanes. It’s about issuing threats and flourishing the wherewithal to follow through on them. Henry Kissinger defines deterrence as amassing heavyweight capabilities, displaying the resolve to use them, and convincing an opponent we have the resolve to use those capabilities should he defy our will. That’s a product, not a sum: if any factor is zero, so is deterrence.

It behooves naval officials and officers intent on deterrence to drive up those three variables—capability, will, belief—as high as possible. To impress rivals with one’s material prowess, heed a proverb from strategist Carl von Clausewitz: “The best strategy is always to be very strong; first in general, and then at the decisive point.” Sounds a bit like buy low, sell high, right? It’s common sense. Want to win a test of strength? Hie thee hence to Gold’s Gym and make yourself musclebound!

But like all good proverbs, this one’s at once simple and profound. Creating strong forces—making the nation’s military “very strong,” to repeat Clausewitz’s words—is the province of society and government. Lawmakers and government officials decide what kind of navy toprovide and maintain, and how abundantly to furnish it with manpower, equipment, and armaments. Once a fleet is fitted out, mustering sufficient might at the decisive place and time to stare down or vanquish adversaries becomes the province of sea-service commanders.

Deterrence, then, demands both forces in being and the artistry to harness them for operational and strategic effect. In a sense this is what Clausewitz calls a “war by algebra,” a passionless struggle whereby the correlation of forces determines the result. It’s war by the numbers. Whoever boasts the most and most potent implements of war tends to prevail—chiefly by persuading the opponent and bystanders the outcome would be a foregone conclusion were battle joined.

Or as strategist Edward Luttwak puts it, the victor in peacetime encounters is whoever observers think would have won in wartime. How can Washington convince onlookers it would win? Well, it could field a U.S. Navy of unchallengeable size and capability. A big, capable navy can deter even if the bulk of the fleet is dispersed, remote from hotspots, or both. The United States, that is, can discourage mischief if would-be aggressors know U.S. commanders can bring overbearing combat power to bear.

Virtual deterrence comes with a world-beating navy—if you can afford one. Let’s say a local antagonist outmatched an American naval detachment—say, the Japan-based Seventh Fleet. Deterrence might hold anyway if the antagonist were certain that the remainder of the U.S. Pacific Fleet would soon fight its way into the theater to reverse the result. If it were clear that any victory would be fleeting, he might refrain from provocative actions in the first place. Why bother?

Short of constructing an unbeatable navy, naval officials could concentrate an outsized fraction of a lesser fleet on the expanses that matter most. That would mean setting priorities among theaters, exercising the self-discipline to stick with them, and telegraphing them to foreign audiences that need deterring. It would also mean admitting that some theaters matter less, and letting allies and partners in secondary theaters know they’ll have to make do without Big Brother. Trying to be all things to all friends around the world is a hard habit to break for a superpower.

So much for the factors that muddle the process of fleet design. How big should the inventory be for peacetime purposes? Well, the number of hulls counts most in a war-by-algebra, whether they’re on scene or over the horizon. It conveys power and resolve. The more numerous fleet holds the advantage in a contest for political impressions. But size and even capability aren’t everything. Luttwak observes that a ship’s outward appearance can augment or detract from its political impact—especially its impact on lay audiences.

A fighting ship festooned with guns and missile launchers may make a political sensation, then. Its more lethal peer may underwhelm if its combat punch resides in flat, unobtrusive vertical launchers embedded in its decks. Ho, hum.

How much is enough, then? There’s no fixed rule or ratio. The quantity of assets, their fighting power measured in objective terms, and how darned awesome they look all shape the outcomes of peacetime showdowns. The narrower the U.S. Navy’s margin of superiority along any of these axes, the smaller its chances of deterring mischief. The more, better, and more impressive its platforms, the easier it is to make an antagonist a believer.

Next time we’ll return to this topic, considering how many ships the navy needs in times of strife.

James Holmes is Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College and coauthor of Red Star over the Pacific, an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of 2010. He is RCD’s new national security columnist. The views voiced here are his alone.

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A Drunken Intel Employee Crashed A Drone Into The White House Lawn

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Photo: US Secret Service


Don’t drink and drone.

A drunken employee of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency lost control of his friend’s drone over the White House on Monday, where it crashed into the lawn, The New York Times reported.

Also Read: How The US Military Is Countering The Rise Of Enemy Drones 

The unnamed NGA employee — whose work does not involve unmanned aerial vehicles — was off-duty at the time and self-reported the incident to the Secret Service the following day.

NBC News has more:

Law enforcement officials say an employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency turned himself in after losing track of the drone while testing it in bad weather. He said he did not realize the unmanned aerial device landed at the White House until he saw news reports the next morning.

President Obama was not present at The White House during the incident, as he is currently traveling in India. When asked about the drone which he said you can “buy in Radio Shack,” Obama pushed for drone regulations.

“You know that there are companies like Amazon that are talking about using small drones to deliver packages … There are incredibly useful functions that these drones can play in terms of farmers who are managing crops and conservationists who want to take stock of wildlife.” Obama told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “But we don’t really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it.”

NOW: The Pentagon Is Developing A Dirt Bike That Barely Makes A Sound 

OR: 21 Jaw-Dropping Photos Of The US Coast Guard In Alaska 

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Here’s the tactic that makes China’s espionage activities so effective

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Photo: Youtube.com/NTDTV


As the US still attempts to formulate a response to China’s massive hack of the US government’s Office of Personnel Management — a breach that affected some 22 million people, including federal employees with security clearances — the massive size and scope of Beijing’s intelligence gathering operations continues to come into focus.

Unlike other nations, China uses a broad array of both professional and citizen spies to gather data, Peter Mattis explains for War On The Rocks.

As Mattis describes it, the first level of Chinese intelligence-gathering resembles that of just about any other government. A Ministry of State Security carries out surveillance of targets within China and monitors potential threats, while the Ministry of Public Security has control over China’s national databases and surveillance networks.

China also has various levels of military intelligence organizations within the People’s Liberation Army. Most of the operatives for these organizations are also based in China, although Mattis notes that “defense attachés and clandestine collectors do operate abroad.”

This also isn’t all that different from how countries normally operate. The US has some 17 intelligence agencies, several of which are organized under branches of the military. They weren’t under the oversight of a single Director of National Intelligence until 2005.

Where China begins to differ from other nations is its use of operatives who aren’t intelligence professionals and who may technically be outside Beijing’s already sprawling security sector. According to Mattis, Chinese media agencies and their foreign-based journalists have likely collected non-classified data on such sensitive topics as foreign governments’ stances towards Tibet or the South China Sea. These journalists then file reports directly to the Central Committee in Beijing.

“Although most Chinese journalists are not intelligence officers and do not recruit clandestine sources, good journalists can provide information that is not publicly available, but also not classified,” Mattis writes.

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Photo: Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

Mattis also describes “market incentives for economic espionage:” The process by which Beijing facilitates the theft of intellectual property from other countries by providing state support for their cover activities.

In July of 2014, Canadian authorities arrested a Chinese entrepreneur at the request of the FBI. The entrepreneur, Su Bin, and two China-based accomplices hacked into the networks of Boeing and other US defense contractors from 2009 to 2013.

Bin allegedly stole data for 32 different US projects, including data related the F-22 and the F-35 fighter jets, as well as Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane. US authorities believe Bin and his colleagues tried to sell the stolen intelligence to state-owned companies within China.

China’s People’s Liberation Army also carries out cyber attacks and cyber espionage against US companies in order to help boost the Chinese economy. In particular, Chinese hackers have been proven to have stolen US trade secrets related to nuclear power, metal, solar production, and the defense industries.

In addition to using civilians to gather non-classified but sensitive material, Beijing has also facilitated a process for Chinese academics to gather potentially sensitive technological information, and built up institutions capable of rapidly building upon technological espionage gains.

For instance, the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC) catalogues foreign scientific publications, facilitates graduate programs for research around the world, and supports the professional development of academics throughout the country. This centralization of technological information has played an important role in China’s rapid modernization, and sources tell Mattis that ISTIC likely reduced the cost of scientific research by 40-50%, while cutting research time by upwards of 70%.

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

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6 things you didn’t know about sick call

“Hydrate, take Motrin and change your socks.”


Chances are you’ve heard this advice at one time or another. Service members visit sick call with issues ranging from upper respiratory infections to needing to have a toenail removed. With over 130 military installations located throughout the world, every soldier, airman, sailor or Marine has medical care readily accessible. 

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If the troop in question needs to go to medical that day without an appointment, he or she is going to end up in an urgent care center commonly known as “Sick Call.” Here are six things you probably didn’t know about sick troops and the care they need to get back to work.

1. Thermometers 

You’re sitting on a patient table when a medical technician tells you to say “AHHHHHHH” before sticking a blue-handled thermometer under your tongue. But did you ever wonder why it was color coded?

The military purchases dual-function thermometers which are typically red and blue. The blue one is assigned to take your oral temp, where the red draws the short end of the stick and gets shoved up where the sun doesn’t shine. Not to fear, rectal temperature checks are primarily used on heat causalities.

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(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Christopher L. Clark)

Better hope the nurse isn’t color blind because … that would suck. The photo above shows a member of the medical staff using the right color. A+.

2.  The “Feared Medical Condition Not Demonstrated”

Believe it or not, this is a real medical diagnosis. If you were to open your medical record right now and saw this term printed one or more times, chances are you were a “sick call commando.”  This isn’t the commando label you want to have.

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“Feared Medical Condition Not Demonstrated” is a polite way to inform other medical professionals they didn’t find anything wrong with you physically. You can try and tear out the paper from your record, but unless it was hand written, it’s in the computer system. For-ev-er.

3. “One Chief Complaint Only”

For those who don’t know, a “chief complaint” is the term used for the reason you showed up to medical. “I have a headache and I think I broke my foot.” From my direct experience working alongside seasoned doctors, some stated to the patient they weren’t allowed to treat more than one medical condition at each encounter. It’s also bull.

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This is regularly used as an excuse to get rid of you. You would likely have come back the next day for the second issue or visit the ER. Good thing Tricare covers both.

4. On The Job Training

Medical clinics commonly use the ideology of “show one, do one, teach one.” The doctor shows a new medic/corpsman/tech how to perform a procedure, they repeat it on another patient in front of the doctor, then go off and show someone else how to perform it. Sounds like a pretty good plan right? It was pretty darn helpful and a confidence builder for the lower enlisted.

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This type of training isn’t that rare, even in the civilian sector. What is rare is how many different procedures junior enlisted were allowed to perform “under doctor supervision” – who were usually warming up their afternoon coffee.

5. Service Connections

When the VA gathers its data to process your compensation claim, it may seem hard to believe, but they don’t hire a team of private detectives and Harvard-trained doctors to conduct an extensive investigation to ensure that you get the top rating you deserve.

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Mind. Blown.

After submitting your claim, the VA board wants proof your condition was a result of your time on active duty. Missing sick call and other medical documents can cause a massive delay in reaching your service connection settlement. Cover your six and make copies of your copies.

6. Legal

You may remember the day when you walked into the Military Entrance Processing Command and signed your service contract. A proud day.

What you made not have realized is that those papers you signed included The Feres Doctrine.

The Feres Doctrine is a 1950s-era rule that protects the federal government from its employees collecting damages for personal injuries experienced in the performance of their duties. So if a military doctor screws up on you, you can’t sue the government, but they can charge you with an Article 108 (destruction of government property) for getting a new tattoo or a sunburn.

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