A brief history of the Berlin Wall, "the monument to Communist failure" - We Are The Mighty
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A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”

As of 2015 the Berlin Wall has been down almost as long as it stood separating the German people. The wall built by the Communist German Democratic Republic (GDR – better known as East Germany) around the Western sectors of Berlin became a longstanding symbol of the divide between Western Capitalism and Eastern Communism during the Cold War. In the 28 years it stood, no place on Earth was so central to world events as Berlin and the reason for that is the Berlin Wall. Twenty-six years after its fall, it’s worth a look to see the how Cold War history played out surrounding such a central, divisive symbol.


After World War II, West Germany was occupied by France, England, and the United States, East Germany was occupied by the Soviet Union. Berlin, despite being deep in Soviet-occupied territory, was also partitioned in a similar way. After the Berlin Airlift ended a Soviet blockade — really an attempt to push the West out of Berlin through economic strangulation — fears of further drifts toward a full Communist state in the East prompted many to emigrate to West Germany in exponential numbers. These were mostly young, well-educated Germans whose flight became known as a “Brain Drain” of East German intelligentsia and workers. Only 61% of the East’s working age population remained. Something had to be done and what better way to make people want to stay in your country than by walling them in and threatening them with constant torture and execution?

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Memorial crosses of those killed by East Germany while trying to cross to West Germany

The borders around West Berlin were closed on August 13, 1961 as the Soviets tore up the streets, erected fences, and placed barbed wire. Families were suddenly split, jobs were lost and the United States had no official response. The U.S. didn’t actually think there was valid reason for its permanent erection. Then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “The Wall certainly ought not to be a permanent feature of the European landscape. I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is—it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to Communist failure.”

Erected in 1961, it was called the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” by the GDR, who placed rows of barbed wire a guard towers along the wall. It would soon become a symbol for the corruption and lack of freedom for those living in the Soviet Union-dominated Eastern Bloc, as the world recognized it as a true “Iron Curtain,” a means to keep East Germans from getting to West German freedom, instead of keeping West Germans out of the East Germany. It would be upgraded three times after its construction.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Robert Kennedy and Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt at the Berlin Wall

President Kennedy denounced its construction and appointed retired Army General Lucius D. Clay as Ambassador. Clay was the mastermind of the Berlin Airlift, former military governor of American-controlled Germany, nicknamed “the Kaiser” and was wildly popular with Berliners. Following Kennedy’s order to reinforce the Allied defenders of West Berlin, Clay ordered 1,500 men with vehicles and trailers from West Germany, through East Germany to West Berlin, where they were met by Clay and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson as a show of strength and a reassertion of the Allies’ access to Berlin.

In June, 1963, President Kennedy visited the Berlin for the first time with General Clay to reaffirm the U.S. dedication of support for West Germany and to remind the Soviet Union of that support.

Hundreds of East German died trying to get to freedom on the other side of the wall, thousands were successful in defecting across the wall. They would dig tunnels below the wall, flying hot air balloons, through the sewers, or just driving cars at max speed through weaker sections. One East German guard even drove his tank through the wall to defect. Western guards were not able to help defectors until they were on the Western side of the wall.

In 1988, the year before the Berlin Wall fell, Bruce Springsteen played the Berlin Wall in a concert organized by East German Communist authorities in an attempt to pacify East German youth. Communist authorities saw rock music as a “nefarious cultural weapon” (and for much of the music of the 1980’s, that assertion isn’t far off), so the concert was a surprising shockk to much of the world, most of all East Germans. Springsteen didn’t miss the importance of the event. After playing Born in the U.S.A. in front of 300,000 East Germans, he delivered a short speech in German:

“I’m not here for any government,” he began. “I’ve come to play rock and roll for you in the hope that one day, all the barriers will be torn down.”

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Springsteen in East Germany (wikimedia commons)

The crowd went wild. Sixteen months later, on November 9, 1989, the government of the German Democratic Republic, better known as East Germany, announced Germans living in the East would then be free to visit West Germany and West Berlin. That day, East and West Germans crowded the Berlin Wall, and systematically chipped away and demolished it.

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This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Raytheon


The U.S. Navy and numerous NATO partners are developing a new, high-tech ship defense weapon designed to identify, track and destroy incoming enemy anti-ship cruise missiles and other threats, service officials explained.

The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, or ESSM, is a new version of an existing Sea Sparrow weapons system currently protecting aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships and other vessels against anti-ship missiles and other surface and airborne short-range threats to ships, Navy officials said.

The ESSM Block 2 is engineered with what’s called an active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can achieve improved flight or guidance to its target by both receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals, said Raytheon officials.

The ESSM uses radar technology to locate and then intercept a fast-approaching target while in flight; the use of what’s called an “illuminator” is a big part of this capability, Raytheon officials said.

The current ESSM missiles use what’s called a semi-active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals bounced off the target by an illuminator; the ESSM Block 2’s “active” guidance includes illuminator technology built onto the missile itself such that it can both receive and send important electromagnetic signals, Navy and Raytheon officials explained.

Block 2 relieves the missile from the requirement of having to use a lot of illuminator guidance from the ship as a short range self-defense, senior Navy officials have said.

A shipboard illuminator is an RF signal that bounces off a target, Raytheon weapons developers have explained.  The antenna in the nose in the guidance section [of the missile] sees the reflected energy and then corrects to intercept that reflective energy, the Raytheon official added.

The emerging missile has an “active” front end, meaning it can send an electromagnetic signal forward to track a maneuvering target, at times without needing a ship-based illuminator for guidance.

“The ESSM Block 2 will employ both a semi-active and active guidance system.  Like ESSM Block 1, the Block 2 missile, in semi-active mode, will rely upon shipboard illuminators,” Navy spokesman Dale Eng, Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

Also, the missile is able to intercept threats that are close to the surface by sea-skimming or diving in onto a target from a higher altitude, Navy officials explained.  The so-called kinematic or guidance improvements of the Block 2 missile give it an improved ability to counter maneuvering threats, Navy and Raytheon officials said.

ESSM Block 2 is being jointly acquired by the U.S. and a number of allied countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. All these countries signed an ESSM Block 2 Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, designed to solidify the developmental path for the missile system through it next phase. The weapon is slated to be fully operational on ships by 2020.

“The ESSM Block 2 will be fired out of more than 5 different launching systems across the NATO Seasparrow Consortium navies.  This includes both vertical and trainable launching systems,” Eng added.

U.S. Navy weapons developers are working closely with NATO allies to ensure the weapon is properly operational across the alliance of countries planning to deploy the weapon, Eng explained.

“The ESSM Block 2 is currently in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase. The ESSM Block 2 will be integrated with the various combat systems across the navies of the NATO Seasparrow Consortium nations,” Eng said.

The ESSM Block 2 weapon is part of what Navy officials describe as a layered defense system, referring to an integrated series of weapons, sensors and interceptors designed to detect and destroy a wide-range of incoming threats from varying distances.

For instance, may ships have Aegis Radar and SM-3 missiles for long-range ballistic missile defense. Moving to threats a litter closer, such as those inside the earth’s atmosphere such as anti-ship cruise missiles, enemy aircraft, drones and surface ships, the Navy has the SM-6, ESSM, Rolling Airframe Missile and SeaRAM for slightly closer threats.  When it comes to defending the ship from the closest-in threats, many ships have the Close-In-Weapons System, or CIWS, which fires a 20-mm rapid-fire Phalanx gun toward fast approaching surface and airborne threats.

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Air Force kills the lights at Hawaii station to save endangered birds

The U.S. Air Force will reduce exterior lighting at a Hawaii facility to help protect endangered and threatened seabirds there.


The Air Force agreed to reduce lighting at a mountaintop radar facility on the island of Kauai, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. After the announcement, the Center for Biological Diversity said it no longer intends to sue the Air Force.

The nonprofit conservation group says the threatened Newell’s shearwater and Hawaiian petrel are attracted to bright lights at night, which can cause crashes onto the ground and sometimes death.

The center believes lights at the Kokee Air Force Station caused more than 130 birds to fall out of the air in 2015, including Hawaiian petrels, endangered band-rumped storm petrels and Newell’s shearwaters. Most of them died, the center said.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Exterior lighting at Kokee AFB. (Photo by USFWS)

The Kokee Air Force Station was founded in 1961 to detect and track all aircraft operating near Hawaii.

The Air Force has taken steps to try to reduce the bird losses over the years, including switching from white and yellow exterior bulbs to green ones in 2013, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Air Force also said in June 2016 that it had agreed to turn off outside lights from April through December, when birds are going to and from colonies.

But the Center for Biological Diversity threatened legal action at the end of June 2016, saying the Air Force was violating the Endangered Species Act by not updating its formal consultation about seabirds with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The center said the Air Force reinitiated the consultation and agreed to ongoing protective measures in response.

The Air Force is “committed to protecting the threatened and endangered bird species that frequent the area around Mt. Kokee Air Force Station,” Col. Frank Flores wrote in an email to The Star-Advertiser.

Flores is the commander of the Pacific Air Forces Regional Support Center, which provides oversight for Kokee Station.

“We have collaborated closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services over the years on this issue. We take environmental stewardship very seriously and will continue to partner with USFWS to protect these species,” Flores wrote.

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Why Lady Gaga’s halftime show made America’s top commandos so nervous

A senior commander of America’s top special operations units is worried that small commercially-available unmanned aerial vehicles pose an increasing threat to his commandos on operations around the world.


A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Drones aren’t just for killing tangos in Pakistan anymore. (YouTube Screenshot: Aerial Videos Photos)

During a conference on special operations hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association in Maryland, the deputy commander of Joint Special Operations Command — which oversees some of the United States’ most secretive operations using Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and other clandestine units — said the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 5 deepened his concern.

“I’m sure many of you saw the Super Bowl halftime show where Lady Gaga was at the top of the stadium and … there was that interesting pattern in the sky that … was a formation of quadcopters, or drones, that were lit and were making that pattern in the sky,” said JSOC deputy chief Air Force Maj. Gen. Greg Lengyel during the Feb. 14 conference.

“A ‘swarm’ used for entertainment purposes. There’s many other purposes that that can be used for as well,” he added.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Deputy JSOC commander Maj. Gen. Greg Lengyel worries that commercial drones can easily be turned into military ones. (US Military photo)

During Gaga’s show, 300 specially-built drones illuminated with colored LEDs created a pattern of an American flag and a Pepsi logo in the sky above Houston’s NRG Stadium. Dubbed “Shooting Stars,” the drones were built by Intel for light shows and are programmed to fly into specific patterns.

That problem as Lengyel sees it, is that such drone technology is readily available to America’s terrorist adversaries and puts his forces at risk.

“It is a vulnerability to a military that has not been attacked from the air by enemy forces since the Korean War,” Lengyel said. “And now we run the risk of being attacked from the air by enemy forces by a drone you can get off the discount shelf at TJ Max.”

According to Pentagon officials, U.S. and Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State militants in both Syria and Iraq have been targeted by terrorist drones. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Feb. 7 that Iraqi forces fighting in Mosul have encountered small drones dropping grenades from the sky “at least once a day.”

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
A captured ISIS drone on the battlefield. (Photo from Iraq Ministry of Defense)

Several months ago, Defense officials claimed ISIS flew an IED-rigged drone into an Iraqi basecamp that was was detonated when soldiers tried to recover it. Dubbed “Trojan Horse” drones, senior commanders have been looking for ways to counter low-tech UAVs on the battlefield.

“We expect to see more of this, and we’ve put out procedures for our forces to be on guard for this,” one commander said, adding that U.S. troops and others have downed many drones harassing coalition troops with small arms fire and electronic means, “with varying levels of success.”

Some companies have created drone-killing systems cobbled together from former IED-hunting components. But others believe ultimately the way to shoot down low-cost drones is with other low-cost drones.

“We’ve made incredible advances in UAS technology that we can exploit, as well as our adversary is exploiting,” Lengyel said.

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The Air Force will no longer fire three volley salutes at veteran funerals

When a veteran or member of the armed forces dies, he or she is entitled to a ceremony that includes the presentation of a U.S. flag to a family member and a bugler blowing Taps. Most of the time, there is a three-volley rifle salute if requested by family members. But now, if the deceased served in the Air Force, the three-volley salute is not an option because the Air Force can no longer support riflemen for funeral services for veteran retirees.


A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Staff Sgt. Sean Edmondson and other new honor guard members exit the field after the funeral ceremony at the honor guard graduation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Seven member services for retirees included six members to serve as pall-bearers, a six member flag-folding detail, and a three riflemen to fire the salute. Veteran’s funerals now only receive the services of two-member teams, who provide a flag-folding ceremony, the playing of taps, and the presentation of the flag to the next of kin.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(U.S. Air Force Photo)

“To me, without the 21-gun salute, it just does not make it complete a proper military burial,” veteran Wayne Wakeman told Honolulu’s KHON 2 News. “I think because of sequestration or the lack of funds or whatever excuse they’re giving, that they had to hit the veterans.”

Wakeman is correct in supposing the cut is due to sequestration, the 2013 automatic federal spending cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
The RAF Mildenhall Honor Guard performs a three-volley salute during the Madingley American Cemetery Memorial Service in Cambridge. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Rose Richeson, from the Secretary of the Air Force’s Public Affairs Press Desk, told We Are The Mighty the policy of restricting the funeral honor is an Air Force-wide requirement.

“The requirement is consistent with  DoD policy which require a minimum of two personnel,” Richeson said. “Any number of personnel above two that is provided in support of military funeral honors is based on local resources available.”

A three-volley salute is the correct term for what is commonly (though mistakenly) referred to as a 21-gun salute. There are often seven riflemen, totaling 21. The origin of the three-volley funeral honor lies elsewhere, according to the Tom Sherlock, an Arlington National Cemetery Historian. A 21-gun salute is reserved for Presidents of the United States or visiting heads of state.

 

 

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The 7 everyday struggles of women in the military

Being in the military means keeping up with grooming standards. Being a woman in the military means keeping up with grooming standards of the military and society. While there is a lot of press around sexual harassment and assault in the military, and it is a real problem, there are plenty of other aspects to being a female in uniform. It also means plenty of trash talk, confusion, and humorous adventures dealing with men in the line of duty.


Throughout any career in the military, there are plenty of gripes that come from the lowest of privates to the highest of generals. Females, though, have a special set of complaints which develop over the course of their careers. Here are seven basic things women learn during their service.

1. Keeping your hair in regs is harder than it looks

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(U.S. Coast Guard Training Video)

While the buzzcuts and high-and-tights adorn the heads of many men in the military, attempting to keep long, thick hair in a perfect sockbun is hardly the equivalent. Gel, hairspray, bobby pins, socks, hair ties, and prayers go into each bun, which often has to be fixed throughout the day.

2. Morale items can end up sapping your morale

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Female drill instructors at a Marine Corps basic training graduation practice (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Vincent White)

Many woman in the military own a ton of t-shirts and sweatshirts bearing branches and units, just like their male counterparts. Wearing these in public, women will often get asked if their boyfriend is in the military. The look on people’s faces when you politely correct them is always priceless.

3. Haters gonna hate

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group puts on her helmet before taking her first flight in the F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson)

Snide comments come with being a woman in the military, but sometimes the questions leave you speechless. Things like “Aren’t women in the Army lesbians?” or “They let you fire a real gun?” or even “Green and tan aren’t really flattering on you.” The questions are rooted in discrimination against women who serve, but many women take the questions in stride and use it as a way to teach someone about what it’s really like to serve.

4. There are many, many more grooming standards

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Joslyn Kelly from Fairfax, Virginia, shares her #WhyIServe statement from USS George Washington (CVN 73). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro/Released)

Makeup is accepted throughout the military, but regulations demand a “natural look.” Servicewomen across the branches become experts at the “no-makeup makeup,” with natural lips, eyes, and cheeks. Even if no one can tell, keeping a bit of your femininity in uniform is crucial to staying sane, especially on long duty weekends. Along with extreme makeup, nail color on the hands is not authorized, many relish in pedicures with beautiful colors. Even behind heavy combat boots, a rainbow of shades of nail polish can be found.

5. You never stop proving your value

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Maj. Lisa A. Jaster carries a fellow soldier during the Darby Queen obstacle course at the U.S. Army’s Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. (U.S. Army photo)

Every new person has to prove themselves but now that combat roles are open to women, there is a new level of proving yourself as the first generation of women in jobs that have been exclusively for men over the last hundred years. Trying to prove yourself as a .50 cal gunner as a petite woman is hardly easy, but the women who do it will pave the way.

6. Nothing issued off the rack actually fits

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Spc. Arielle Mailloux gets some help adjusting her protoype Generation III Improved Outer Tactical Vest from Capt. Lindsey Pawlowski at Fort Campbell, Ky. (U.S. Army photo)

Combat equipment, such as body armor, was developed and sized with men in mind. Many women have found themselves unable to fit in the smallest sizes of some flak jackets and bulletproof vests, not to mention the uncomfortable fits that were meant for more square body types.

7. “If the military wanted you to have kids . . .”

Women with children are often faced with criticism, accused of abandoning their children while deployed or being unfit parents for choosing work over families. One writer went so far as to say that women in the military were punished for being both mothers and serving in the military. The stigma of a woman not staying home with her husband and children is more visible in the military than anywhere else, with pressure from both civilians and from their own peers.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Jeannie Leavitt, the first U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in 1993 (U.S. Air Force photo)

Despite all of the challenges, it is rewarding to be a part of the proud line of women who have served in the military, whether as a part of the WAVES, WAGS, and SPARS of WWII or today as sailors, soldiers, Marines, coasties, and airmen.

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The Army needs to keep soldiers so badly, it’s offering $90K bonuses

Struggling to expand its ranks, the Army will triple the amount of bonuses it’s paying this year to more than $380 million, including new incentives to woo reluctant soldiers to re-enlist, officials told The Associated Press.


Some soldiers could get $90,000 up front by committing to another four or more years, as the Army seeks to reverse some of the downsizing that occurred under the Obama administration after years of growth spurred by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The enlistment campaign was driven by Congress’ decision late last year to beef up the size of the Army, echoing the spirit if not quite the extent of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to significantly increase military staffing and firepower.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
US Army Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

Last fall, Trump unveiled a plan that would enlarge the Army to 540,000 soldiers. Army leaders back the general idea, but say more men and women must be accompanied by funding for the equipment, training, and support for them.

Under the current plan, the active duty Army will grow by 16,000 soldiers, taking it to 476,000 in total by October. The National Guard and the Army Reserve will see a smaller expansion.

To meet the mandate, the Army must find 6,000 new soldiers, convince 9,000 current soldiers to stay on, and add 1,000 officers.

“We’ve got a ways to go,” Gen. Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, said in an interview at his office in Fort Bragg, N.C. “I’m not going to kid you. It’s been difficult because a lot of these kids had plans and their families had plans.”

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Gen. Robert Abrams. US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill

In just the last two weeks, the Army has paid out more than $26 million in bonuses.

The biggest hurdle, according to senior Army leaders, is convincing thousands of enlistees who are only months away from leaving the service to sign up for several more years. Many have been planning their exits and have turned down multiple entreaties to stay.

“The top line message is that the Army is hiring,” said Maj. Gen. Jason Evans, who recently became the service’s head of Human Resources Command.

Evans said the Army was expanding “responsibly with a focus on quality,” insisting there will be no relaxation of standards.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
US Army National Guard photo by Pfc. Andrew Valenza

It is a clear reference to last decade, when the Army eased recruitment rules to meet combat demands in Iraq and Afghanistan. At their peak, more than 160,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq and about 100,000 were in Afghanistan. To achieve those force levels, the Army gave more people waivers to enlist, including those with criminal or drug use records.

The Army vows it won’t do that again, focusing instead on getting soldiers to re-enlist. Money is the key.

The Army’s $550 billion base budget, approved by Congress last month, will provide money for the financial incentives. The latest round of increased bonuses, which became effective less than two weeks ago, are good for at least the next month.

Cyber posts, cryptologists, or other intelligence or high tech jobs with certain language skills are particularly rewarded. They can get between $50,000 and $90,000 by agreeing to serve another three to five years. Army special forces can also qualify for top level incentives. But more routine jobs — such as some lower level infantry posts — may get nothing, or just a couple of thousand dollars.

The new bonuses have triggered a spike in re-enlistments, said Mst. Sgt. Mark Thompson, who works with Army retention policies, saying there have been more than 2,200 since May 24.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(Photo: U.S. Army Capt. Charlie Emmons)

The Army is about three-quarters of the way to its goal for re-enlistments. But meeting the ultimate target is difficult because the remaining pool of soldiers is comprised of people who “have said no for a long time,” Thompson said.

Normally, he said, about a third of eligible soldiers re-enlist each year. This year, the goal requires nearly three-quarters signing on for more years.

In some cases, the personal touch can help.

Across Fort Bragg from Abrams’ office, deep in the woods, soldiers from an 82nd Airborne Division unit are conducting a live fire exercise. While evaluating the troops, Col. Greg Beaudoin, commander of 3rd Brigade, also is doing his part to meet the re-enlistment objective.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Photo courtesy of US Army

“I don’t think he knows what he wants to do yet in life,” Beaudoin said of a soldier on his staff that he urged to re-enlist. “So I told him, ‘Here is an opportunity. Just extend for a year until you figure it out. The army is offering you an opportunity. Take your time to figure out what you want to do.'”

Beaudoin said he thinks up to a fifth of his soldiers may stay on, crediting the bonuses for making the choice more attractive.

But the clock is ticking.

“Time is our biggest challenge,” Evans said.

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The 12 most important places on an aircraft carrier, top to bottom

The U.S. Navy’s Nimitz Class aircraft carriers are some of the most powerful weapons systems known to man, floating cities that can take strike warfare capability to the far reaches of the planet, places unreachable by other military assets.  With an embarked air wing these carriers are manned by 5,500 sailors (and a few Marines) and home base for more than 80 airplanes.


Here are the places that make these 97,000 ton ships work:

1. Pri-fly

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Scott)

Pri-fly (short for ‘primary flight control’) is also known as “the tower.” Pri-fly is where the Air Boss sits and controls all of the goings-on on the flight deck as well as the airspace within a 10-mile radius of the carrier.

2. Bridge

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Officer of the Deck briefs the commanding officer on the bridge of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The bridge is a few levels below Pri-fly in the carrier’s superstructure. The bridge is where the Captain sits along with the navigator and all of the officers of the deck and the rest of the watch team charged with steering the ship and staying away from hazards. During flight ops it’s the bridge team’s responsibility to keep a favorable flying wind across the flight deck.

3. Flight deck

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kyle D. Gahlau)

The Navy likes to refer to the flight deck as “4.5 acres of sovereign and mobile American territory.” The flight deck is where aircraft launch courtesy of steam catapults and land — one every minute — with the assistance of steel arresting cables. The movement around the flight deck is choreographed by the “handler” in Flight Deck Control who manages the limited real estate and makes sure aircraft get where they need to be either to fly or get worked on.

4. Ready rooms

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Flight briefs are conducted in ready rooms, but these spaces are also where squadron aviators congregate to discuss other business or to relax and watch a movie.

5. Paralofts

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

The paraloft is where the aviators’ flight gear like helmets and survival vests is stored. This is the final stop for crews before they walk one level up to the flight deck.

6. Crew berthing

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(U.S. Navy photo by Tim Cook)

Sleeping quarters cram as many as 96 sailors together, but still provide a bit of privacy and a place to get away from the stress of the workday.

7. CVIC

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass)

The carrier’s intelligence center is where classified mission planning takes place. Intelligence officers give aviators the latest details about the enemy’s whereabouts and weapons systems status using state-of-the-art hardware and software.

8. CATCC

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
( U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Ronald A. Dallatorre)

The Carrier Air Traffic Control Center is where controllers sit at radar displays and guide airplanes safely back to the ship just like controllers do for airliners at civilian airports.

9. Hangar bay

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
( U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class Dwayne S. Smith)

The hangar bay is where airplanes are parked for major maintenance and where gear is staged, including ordnance. Things get from the hangar bay to the flight deck on one of the three huge elevators along the edge of the carrier.

10. Mess decks

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst)

Sailors have to eat, and a good carrier’s supply department takes pride in serving chow that’s nutritious and delicious. Mess decks have a variety of offerings to suit the tastes of entire crew, everything from corndogs to surf and turf.

11. Medical

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Dental officer and assistant perform a procedure on a crew member aboard the USS George Washington (CVN 73). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Carriers have impressive medical resources, including surgical and dental facilities.  (Need a vasectomy? The ship’s surgeon has got you covered.)

12. Reactor spaces

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Nimitz Class carrier’s two reactors are what puts the nuke in nuclear power. This amazing energy source allows the carrier to sail for up to 25 years before refueling.

 

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This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

There aren’t many places in the world where you can’t order a glass of American whiskey, sing along to the latest Top 100 song, or watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Hell, North Korea may be the only country in the world where you can’t easily buy a Coke.


American culture made its mark throughout the world, for better or worse. And it turns out, American troops are some of the country’s best cultural ambassadors.

It’s a time honored tradition for soldiers to “Americanize” Local Nationals where ever they go. The ice cream man in Baumholder, Germany, never failed to get a laugh out of my unit whenever he would use our slang through his thick German accent. The carpet salesman in Afghanistan kept up with the latest superhero films far more than any of us did. And Kuwaiti workers would clean out Porta-Johns, rocking blue jeans.

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The nations that U.S. troops have partnered with have had their economies grow drastically. One of the best places in the world to see this is in post-war Japan.

America provided a “Security Umbrella” to its former enemy, letting the island nation to focus more of its GDP on manufacturing and reentering the international marketplace. Today, Japan is the fourth largest export economy, with it’s top export going to the United States.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Flyer for the Hell Fighters Band

As America shed it’s isolationist ways and entered World War I in Europe, the world got a glimpse of what we’ve been up to on the other side of the ocean. When stationed in Paris, African American soldiers brought with them jazz, swing, and ragtime music.

The soldiers, between conflicts, would perform their new style in music halls. French crowds went crazy for it. Lieutenant James Reese Europe and his Harlem Hellfighters traveled all across France and quickly became one of America’s first international celebrities.

Related: Here are 5 things the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ did that cemented their place in history

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
U.S Army photo by Staff. Sgt Kwadwo Frimpong

One nation that had plenty of American influence is South Korea. South Korean technology has boomed in recent years and has helped spawn K-Pop (The genre of music that gave the world Gangnam Style) and Hallyuwood (Korean film industry).

This East Asian country had U.S. troops stationed there since the ’50s. All males between age 18 and 35 have been conscripted for a mandatory two year obligation. With this, many of the Republic of Korea Army soldiers are also sent to train and serve with the U.S. Army.

KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army) soldiers form strong bonds of friendship with their American counterparts. Through this program, many Koreans learn of American culture and vice-versa.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Guerra

No matter where US troops are sent, they are sometimes the first actual interactions locals have with Americans. Some places refuse to serve Americans, others welcome them with open arms.

As long as you’re not a jack a–, you’ll be embraced. Even if you are brash, just be funny.

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China’s largest arms maker is trolling Russia’s slick new battle tank

To much pomp and circumstance, Russia revealed its newest generation of battle-tank to the world during the annual Victory Day Parade in Moscow in the beginning of May.


A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Vitaly V. Kuzmin

Embarrassingly for Moscow, it’s new third-generation T-14 tank — hailed as surpassing all other Western tanks — ran into mechanical problems and broke down during a rehearsal of the Victory Day Parade.

Not missing a chance to show up its competition, Chinese arms giant Norinco released a press release in May through the WeChat messaging service that threw shade over the entirety of the Russian tank industry — while simultaneously praising its own VT-4 tank.

“The T-14’s transmission is not well-developed, as we saw through a malfunction taking place during a rehearsal before the May 9 parade. By comparison, the VT-4 has never encountered such problems so far,” Norinco wrote over WeChat, as translated by China Daily. “Our tanks also have world-class fire-control systems, which the Russians are still trying to catch up with.”

The WeChat article also dismissed Russian tanks as being too expensive and not worthy of the investment, as compared to Chinese tanks.

“Another important issue is the price – the T-14 is reported to have a price as high as that of the United States’ M1A2 Abrams. … Why don’t buyers consider Chinese tanks that have well-developed technologies and equipment as well as much-lower prices?”

According to China Daily, the VT-4 can compete with any “first-class tank used by Western militaries,” such as the US M1A2 Abrams or the Russian T-14.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

However, as The Diplomat notes, the Chinese tank industry has been developed from licence-built technology originating in Russia. As such, the VT-4 is at least largely modelled off of previous generations of Russian tanks whereas the T-14 includes entirely new Russian engineering designs.

In any case, neither the VT-4 nor the T-14 have yet to enter mass-production, as The Diplomat notes, and most analysis of the two tanks is based upon prototypes of the vehicles. In this case, Norinco’s snark is nothing more than an intelligent marketing campaign to draw attention away from the Russian tank industry and support Chinese arms exports.

In the 2010-2014 time period, Beijing rose to become the world’s third largest weapons exporter, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), narrowly edging out Germany and France from the top three.

h/t Bloomberg

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

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How the US went from a bunch of colonies to super power in under 10 minutes

For those Americans interested in U.S. history and how the rise of American power affected global politics, have we found a gem for you.


A big hint: it involved purchasing land. Also, there were some invasions.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
I’m sure there are caissons in there somewhere.

Also Read: This mistress tried to get the future President to back Germany in WWI

American foreign policy has come a long way, evolving from the country from the foundation of the American experiment in democracy to the global superpower as we know it. Military and economic power at home not only affect how America sees the world and deals with other nations but also how those countries interact with the U.S.

Many of us know America is a country founded on war with the idea that we, if left to our own devices, could co-exist peacefully with the world and be a responsible player on the world stage. For the most part, we were right. Our early, limited wars we fought with a sense of necessity – to keep the seas free for American merchants to conduct trade and to affirm our independence from the British Empire.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
The British agreed to back off so long as Andrew Jackson was confined to one continent.

But not every American politician was content with this philosophy.

If the United States had kept every country it invaded, purchased every territory it negotiated, and acquired all the land ever proposed by American politicians, it might span the globe today. Countries like the Philippines, Iceland, Nicaragua, Cuba, and territories like Greenland have all caught American’s attention at some point.

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
America has a wandering eye. (Quartz – qz.com)

Politicians met with mixed success on acquiring these lands, of course. But the 20th century brought with it great power and great responsibility.

The digital news website Vox made this outstanding explainer video on just how we came from a confederation of colonies to a global superpower – and what might be next with the incoming President, who is known to think a little different.

Watch the video below, and visit Vox’s YouTube page for more. There’s a lot of great history there.

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See what it was like to fight in a WWII Sherman tank

The Sherman tank of World War II is both legendary and infamous. It was selected for World War II by Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. himself, America’s first tank officer and a pioneer of armored strategy.


The traits for which Patton loved the Sherman, its speed and agility, ease of transport, and decent gas mileage, made it a general’s tanks. The tanks could reliably be manufactured in large numbers and easily be deployed into transport.

 

A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”
American M4 Sherman tanks advance during fighting in the European Theater of World War II. (Photo: Public Domain)

But the tradeoffs that made those traits possible came at a cost of what crews wanted in tanks. Their speed and gas mileage came from — relative to most of their German counterparts — light guns and armor. The Sherman’s engine was designed for aviation use and was light and powerful but used a more flammable fuel than other tanks of the era.

So, while the Sherman could support friendly infantry and annihilate enemy infantry, they were vulnerable to attack from enemy armor.

The war in Europe was therefore a nightmare for the tank crews who fought their way east from Normandy. They fought in cramped quarters, had to desperately vie for close shots on the flanks and rears of German tanks, and often had to reinforce their own armor with items stolen off the battlefield.

Get a look at what the crews in World War II Shermans had to live with in the video below:

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Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones

The Army is preparing to configure Abrams tank prototypes able to control nearby “robotic” wing-man vehicles which fire weapons, carry ammunition and conduct reconnaissance missions for units on the move in combat, service officials said.


Although still in the early stages of discussion and conceptual development, the notion of manned-unmanned teaming for the Abrams continues to gain traction among Army and General Dynamics Land Systems developers.

Algorithms are progressing to the point wherein they will be able to allow an Abrams tank crew to operate multiple nearby “wing-man” robotic vehicles in a command and control capacity while on the move in combat.

Also read: New Abrams protection system can detect, track and destroy enemy projectiles

Army researchers, engineers and weapons developers are preparing to prototype some of these possibilities for future Abrams tanks, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout warrior in an interview.

“As I look to the future and I think about game-changing technologies, manned-unmanned teaming is a big part of that. There’s a set of things that we think could be really transformational,” Bassett said.

This kind of dynamic could quickly change the nature of landwar.

Autonomous or semi-autonomous robotic vehicles flanking tanks in combat, quite naturally, could bring a wide range of combat-enhancing possibilities. Ammunition-carrying robotic vehicles could increase the fire-power of tanks while in combat more easily; unmanned platforms could also carry crucial Soldier and combat supplies, allowing an Abrams tank to carry a larger payload of key combat supplies.

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US Army photo

Also, perhaps of greatest significance, an unmanned vehicle controlled by an Abrams tank could fire weapons at an enemy while allowing the tank to operate at a safer, more risk-reducing stand-off range.

As unmanned vehicles, robotic platforms could be agile and much lighter weight than heavily armored vehicles designed to carry Soldiers into high-risk combat situations. By virtue of being able to operate without placing Soldiers at risk, tank-controlled ground drones could also be used to test and challenge enemy defenses, fire-power and formations. Furthermore, advanced sensors could be integrated into the ground drones to handle rugged terrain while beaming back video and data of enemy locations and movements.

“You don’t need armor on an auxiliary kit,” Michael Peck, Business Development Manager, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Manned Abrams tanks, therefore, could make use of advanced thermal sights, aided by robotic sensors, to locate and destroy enemies at ranges keeping them safe from enemy tank fire. Sensor robots could locate enemy artillery and rocket positions, convoys and even some drones in the air in a manner that better alerts attacking ground forces.

Land drones could also help forces in combat breach obstacles, carry an expeditionary power supply, help with remote targeting and check route areas for IEDs, Army and General Dynamics statements said.

Some of the early prototyping is being explored at the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, Warren, Mich.

Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley has consistently emphasized that manned-unmanned teaming and autonomy central to the Army’s preparations for the future, Bassett explained.

“The Chief has been really candid with us that what whatever we build for the future has that concept in mind that we are laying the architectures in that will support that,” he added.

Thus far in the Army, there are both tele-operated vehicles controlled by a human with a lap-top and joystick as well as platforms engineered with autonomous navigation systems able to increasingly perform more and more functions without needing human intervention.

For instance, TARDEC has developed leader-follower convoys wherein tactical trucks are engineered to autonomously follow vehicles in front of them. These applique kits, which can be installed on vehicles, include both tele-operated options as well as automated functions. The kits include GPS technology, radios, cameras and computer algorithms designed for autonomous navigation.

Also, the Army has already deployed airborne manned unmanned teaming, deploying Kiowa and Apache helicopters to Afghanistan with an ability to control the flight path and sensor payload of nearby drones in the air; in addition, this technology allows helicopter crews to view real-time live video-feeds from nearby drones identifying targets and conducting reconnaissance missions. Autonomy in the air, however, is much easier than ground autonomy as there are less emerging obstacles or rugged terrain.

Air Force Navy Robotics

The Army is by no means the only service currently exploring autonomy and manned-unmanned connectedness. The Air Force, for instance, is now developing algorithms designed to help fighters like the F-35 control a small fleet of nearby drones to conduct reconnaissance missions, test enemy air defenses and carry ammunition.

In similar fashion, Navy engineers are working on an emerging fleet of Unmanned Surface Vehicles able to create swarms of attacks small boats, support amphibious operations by carrying supplies and weapons and enter high-risk areas without placing sailors at risk.

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Lockheed Martin photo

These developments represent the cutting edge of technological progress in an area known as “artificial intelligence.” Among other things, this involves the continued use of computers to perform an increasingly wider range of functions without needing human intervention. This can include gathering, organizing or transmitting information autonomously.

The technological ability for an autonomous weapons system to acquire, track and destroy a target on its own – is already here.

Pentagon doctrine is clear that, despite the pace at which autonomous weapons systems are within the realm of realistic combat possibilities, a human must always be in-the-loop regarding the potential use of lethal force. Nevertheless, there is mounting concern that potential adversaries will also acquire this technology without implementing the Pentagon’s ethical and safety regulations.

At the same time, despite the promise of this fast-emerging technology, algorithms able to match the processing power of a human brain are quite far away at the moment. Engineering a robotic land-vehicle able to quickly process, recognize, react and adjust in a dynamic, fast-changing combat environment in a manner comparable to human beings, is a long way off, scientist explain. Nonetheless, this does not mean there could not be reasonably short-term utility in the combat use of advanced autonomous vehicles controlled by a nearby Abrams tank crew.

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