Britain's 'finest hour' started 75 years ago - We Are The Mighty
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Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
RAF pilots scramble to their fighters during the Battle of Britain.


The British knew the attack was coming, they just weren’t sure when. For months Hitler had made his intentions clear: He was going to invade the United Kingdom, and that invasion would start with an air assault.

And on July 10, 1940 that assault began. Phase One — known as Kanalkampf, German for “channel war” — focused on taking out shipping in the English Channel. The Royal Air Force was there to meet the Luftwaffe, and after the first day the box score was 13 to 7 in favor of the British — a surprising result for the outnumbered RAF. That day set the tone for the eventual outcome.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Spitfire makes a run on a German bomber.

The Germans had more qualified fighter pilots than the British, and their front line fighter, the Bf-109 Messerschmidt, was superior to the RAF’s Hurricane (which outnumbered the Spitfire in the inventory at the time) in speed and climb performance. However, the Hurricane had a superior turn rate and better firepower, and the British pilots used those elements to their advantage.

The air war wore on for several months, working it’s way over land as German bombers attacked both military and civilian targets. When it was finally over the RAF had lost 544 aircrew to the Luftwaffe’s 2,500. The damage to population centers like London took decades to repair, and the British repaid the favor by bombing civilian centers when the war moved east over Germany.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Damage to London after German bombing raid during Battle of Britain.

Overall, by preventing Germany from gaining air superiority, the British forced Hitler cancel Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Britain.

After a ceremonial “flypast” today over London, Squadron Leader Duncan Mason who participated in the flight told the BBC: “When you think of the Battle of Britain it was one of those pivotal moments of history, it ranks up there with Trafalgar, Waterloo.

“It’s actually not just about the RAF but the resilience of the nation showed in the face of enormous adversity.”

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Old and new mix during ceremonial ‘fly past’ over London marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously summed up the Battle of Britain with this quote: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” In the same speech to the House of Commons he also said, “”… if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”

Now: This Vietnam-era wounder warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’ 

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BB King was booted out of the Army for being a tractor driver

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago


Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King died today at the age of 89. King was renowned for his signature playing style and his singing voice. He was also one of the first blues “crossover” artists, making a big dent on the rock music charts with his cover of “The Thrill is Gone,” which became a hit for him in 1969. Over the years King shared the stage with many major acts including Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, and U2.

King was also a military veteran, although he only served for a short time. He was inducted into the U.S. Army toward the end of World War II but released immediately following boot camp after officials ruled him as “essential to the war economy” based on his experience as a tractor driver.

Here’s a great video about King’s life:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqUhdBAJfsk

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Navy fires fleet commander after string of ship collisions

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the United States Seventh Fleet, has been relieved of his command by Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the Pacific Fleet. The firing comes within days of a collision between the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and a civilian tanker east of the Straits of Malacca that left 10 sailors missing.


Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin. (US Navy photo)

According to a brief Navy release, Aucoin was relieved by Swift due to “a loss of confidence in his ability to command.” The release went on to say that Aucoin’s planned successor, Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, will assume command immediately. Sawyer was confirmed to the rank of vice admiral and appointed commander of the Seventh Fleet on June 5 of this year, according to the Congressional Record.

An earlier release by the Navy indicates the bodies of some of the missing sailors had been found.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer (US Navy photo)

Since May, there had been three collisions involving vessels in the Seventh Fleet. The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) collided with a South Korean fishing boat on May 9, with no casualties involved.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178), foreground, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) transit the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers)

On June 17, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was rammed by a container ship off Japan. Seven sailors were killed, and a number of others, including the ship’s captain, were injured in the incident. The captain, executive officer, and command master chief on that vessel were all relieved and will face non-judicial punishment.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart)

According to an official biography, Vice Adm. Aucoin’s Navy career included service in five aviation squadrons, command of the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk (CV 63), and over 150 combat missions. His awards include the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat Distinguishing Device.

Rear Adm. Sawyer, who will replace Aucoin, is a career submariner whose service included command of USS La Jolla (SSN 701) and Submarine Squadron 15. Prior to taking command of the 7th Fleet, Sawyer served as deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet.

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The Army’s new grenade has a split personality

Army engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are working on a new hand grenade design that will allow soldiers to choose between fragmentation or concussion effects.


It also features some other updates like an electronic fuse and an ambidextrous design that’s easier to throw.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Graphic: U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center)

The Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose grenade will be the Army’s first new hand grenade design in 40 years. It’s also the first time that soldiers will get a concussion grenade in about the same amount of time.

The ET-MP will feature a fragmentation setting which will work similarly to the current design, the M67, where an explosive charge creates shrapnel that flies at high speeds into enemy fighters.

A concussion mode will work in a similar way to the Army’s old MK3A2 concussion grenade. Concussion grenades work by overpressuring the surrounding air, causing a blast wave that can kill enemies in bunkers. The Mk3A2 also served in a limited role for blasting and demolition, a role the new grenade could be capable of as well.

The MK3A2 was retired in 1975 because of asbestos used in the design.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. Army Project Manager Close Combat Systems)

Concussion grenades are also good for killing enemies in the open. Concussion grenades usually have a 2 to 3-meter kill radius in the open while a fragmentation grenade is usually lethal for 5 meters or more.

The ET-MP will also feature a new, electronic fuse which provides a much more accurate timing mechanism, allowing the fuze to be accurate to microseconds. The M213 fuze used in current grenades is timed for 4-5 seconds but, due to variances in how long it takes the internal powder train to burn, can actually detonate in as little as 3 seconds.

As an added bonus, the grenade will work the same way for left and right-handed throwers. The M67 requires that left-handed soldiers prepare the grenade and throw it upside down.

The requirements for the new grenade were developed with input from active-duty troops and training cadre who instruct service members on how to use grenades.

The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is leading the research into the new design. The Project Manager Close Combat Systems, an agency that fields munitions and equipment for use by troops, is expected to receive the final grenade in 2020.

More information about the new grenade can be found in the ARDEC press release.

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Call it ‘Ma Deuce’ or 50-cal, the Browning M-2 machine gun is one bad mother of a weapon

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
The Browning M-2 heavy machine gun has served U.S. soldiers since the 1930s. (Department of Defense photo.)


It’s one of the longest-serving weapons in the U.S. arsenal, packing a punch that few forget whether they are firing the weapon or on the receiving end of its tremendous firepower.

The Browning M-2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun casts a long shadow over U.S. military history – and it holds a special place in the hearts of many soldiers.

Nicknamed “Ma Deuce” by World War II G.I.s, some who have fired the weapon consider it the mother of all machine guns.

“Witnessing the down-range effects of the .50-caliber bullet is an eye-opening experience,” writes Gordon Rottman, author of Browning .50-Caliber Machine Guns.  “There are few who can say they were wounded by a .50-cal. Those hit seldom say much more.”

First conceived during World War I, the Browning M-2 has been in production since 1933. Since then, it’s made history in the hands of some extraordinary fighting men.

A wounded Audie Murphy, one of America’s most decorated soldiers, fired one atop a burning tank destroyer and held off six Panzer tanks and 250 German soldiers for more than hour during a battle in Eastern France, an act of bravery that won him the Medal of Honor.

The long-range firepower of the Ma Deuce combined with its single-shot ability convinced legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock that he had an unusual but effective weapon. In 1967, Hathcock mounted a 10-power scope on an M-2, which he later aimed at a Viet Cong guerilla that he killed 2,500 yards away – a nearly one-and-a-half mile shot that remained the world record for longest sniper kill until 2002.

In 2003, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith climbed on top an armored vehicle and fired the 50-cal at more than 100 enemy soldiers that pinned down his platoon, saving the lives of his men. Killed during the fire fight, Smith received the Medal of Honor posthumously, the first awarded in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The technological terrors of World War I with its use of armor and airplanes convinced American Expeditionary Force commander Gen. John Pershing that the Army needed a heavy machine gun if it was going to keep pace with world militaries. Both the French and British possessed large-caliber machine guns like the Hotchkiss, but during World War I the U.S. inventory of machine guns only fired rifle-sized calibers.

Eventually, American weapons genius John Browning experimented with his existing M1917 .30-caliber machine gun design to develop a heavy machine gun that fired the .50-caliber round. By 1921, the Army adopted an experimental, water-cooled .50-caliber machine gun based on the Browning design that was the “father” of the Ma Deuce.

After Browning’s death, other weapons designers corrected flaws in the M1921 such as its lightweight barrel.  During the 1930s, the Colt Co. took over production of the weapon – but it was still essentially Browning’s original design and it gained the familiar designation of Browning M-2.

The classic configuration of the Ma Deuce is a belt-fed, air-cooled, recoil-operated machine gun. Its size alone makes it look formidable: It is nearly six-feet long and weighs 84 pounds without its tripod, 128 pounds when tripod mounted.

It fires up to 550 rounds per minute, but it can be set to fire single shots. Because of the weapon’s design, the ammo belt can be fed from either the right or left after a few adjustments to the gun.

What’s more, the 50-cal has the potential to let the gunner “reach out and touch someone.” The weapon’s effective range is 6,000 feet, but its maximum range is four miles.

Both the Army and the Navy loved the M-2 and by World War II it was everywhere: Mounted on tanks as a coaxial gun, placed in aircraft to shoot down enemy fighters, mounted on a tripod so GIs and Marines could lay down suppressive and covering fire, and placed on board naval vessels as an anti-aircraft gun.

There was even a holy terror nicknamed “the Kraut Mower,” the M-45 Quadmount. Originally designed as an anti-aircraft weapon, it was four Ma Deuces in an armored housing mounted on a halftrack.

But as the war progressed, innovative soldiers discovered it was a hellishly effective anti-personnel weapon.  For example, if a machine-gun nest or a sniper pinned down Allied troops and the M-45 was nearby, they would have it open fire on the German position.

The barrage of .50-caliber rounds would simply mow down the building or tree and its German threat – hence, the weapon’s nickname.

The Browning M-2 has its weaknesses. If the gun’s barrel overheats a new barrel needs to be installed on the weapon. The gun will malfunction violently if a barrel change is not performed exactly right, and the task was often a finicky and time-consuming job.

M-2 malfunctions caused by improperly performed barrel changes injured dozens of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan before the Pentagon approved adoption of a “quick change” kit in 2012 that allows a barrel replacement without manually resetting the weapon, according to a Department of Defense report for Congress.

Its weight and tendency to vibrate the gunner’s body can make it awkward to use. But it is a powerful weapon that can dominate any tactical situation.

And that’s why the ‘Ma Deuce’ will be on battlefields for years to come.

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Japan’s new subs could use the same batteries as your cell phone

Imagine your cell phone battery – on an immense scale. That will be what helps power the next generation of Japanese submarines.


According to a report by TheDrive.com, Japan has chosen to use lithium-ion batteries for the follow-on to its Soryu-class submarines. The Soryu-class vessels are considered to be among the best diesel-electric boats in the world, with six 21-inch torpedo tubes and the ability to hold up to 30 torpedoes or UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, according to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World.”

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) submarine Hakuryu (SS-503) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled port visit, Feb. 6. While in port, the submarine crew will conduct various training evolutions and have the opportunity to enjoy the sights and culture of Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Christy Hagen)

For all the considerable capabilities of the Soryu-class vessels, they — like all diesel-electric submarines — have long faced a problem: While they are very silent when running off batteries, eventually the batteries run out – just like anyone with a portable electronic device has found out to their chagrin at one time or another.

To avoid being stuck somewhere bad, they use diesel engines to recharge the batteries. But the submarine either must surface (and become visible and vulnerable), or use what is called a “snorkel” at periscope depth. The snorkel is not much better – diesel engines are noisy, and making noise is a good way for a submarine to be located and killed.

The Soryu-class submarines use the Stirling diesel engine – a form of air-independent propulsion. The problem is that this is a bulky system and takes up space. They also have to take the oxygen down in the form of liquid oxygen.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) submarine Hakuryu (SS-503) visits Guam for a scheduled port visit. Hakuryu will conduct various training evolutions and liberty while in port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey Jay Price)

TheDrive.com notes that the use of lithium batteries and diesel engines in a conventional layout (replacing the traditional lead-acid batteries) would provide many of the same endurance advantages as the air-independent propulsion, but in a much more compact package.

This means the submarine can go longer between charges – which won’t take as long, either. There will be tactical advantages, too, like allowing the sub to go faster underwater.

One disadvantage of using the lithium-ion batteries has to be kept in mind. Just ask the owners of certain Samsung products. A compilation of the more… spectacular failures is in this video below.

Still, when one considers the space savings that will come from using giant cell phone batteries in a conventional plant, adding fire-suppression technology might not be too hard. That challenge will be a small price to pay when compared to what the new batteries will give.
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This is how Gen. Dunford is working on ‘difficult issues’ with China

The top US military officer told his Chinese counterpart August 15 that the US and China have “many difficult issues” to work through, during a visit that comes amid tensions over North Korea’s missile program, Taiwan, and China’s claims in the South China Sea.


Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the remarks at the opening of a meeting with Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s joint staff department.

US officials say Dunford’s visit aims to create a mechanism for improving communication between the sides, especially on sensitive issues such as North Korea. Dunford and Fang signed an agreement committing the sides to that goal, with the details to be discussed during talks in Washington in November.

Fang said Dunford’s visit was a key part of efforts to expand dialogue between the US and China as agreed by President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, when they met earlier this year.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
People’s Liberation Army Gen. Fang Fenghui. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen.

To that end, China has arranged a series of important meetings and visits to help Dunford “know more about our military, (boost) our cooperation, and build up our friendship,” Fang said.

Dunford responded that the US considered the meetings important to making progress on areas of disagreement, without citing any specific examples.

“I think here, we have to be honest — we have many, many difficult issues where we don’t necessarily share the same perspective,” Dunford said.

“I know we share one thing: We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues,” he added, saying that with the guidance of political leaders “we are going to make some progress over the next few days.”

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

This is the highest-level meeting between the two countries’ militaries since Trump and Xi met in Florida in April.

The US delegation will be flying to the northeastern city of Shenyang on August 16 to observe an exercise staged by the People’s Liberation Army’s Northern Theater Command. Fang cited the event as being among the measures aimed at building mutual trust and understanding.

While the sides agreed several years ago to establish a hotline between the Pentagon and China’s defense ministry, that mechanism has never gone into operation. US officials say they’ve attempted to use it, but that the Chinese side has never answered their requests.

The Chinese and US militaries have joined in naval exercises off the coast of Hawaii and other limited multinational drills mainly aimed at dealing with humanitarian disasters. They’ve also tried to improve mutual trust through agreements on dealing with unexpected encounters at sea.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
US Navy and Republic of Singapore ships in the South China Sea. US Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Angela Henderson

Despite those, China deeply resents the presence of the US Navy in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims virtually in its entirety.

Last week, China expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” with the US over the Navy’s latest freedom of navigation operation in which a warship sailed past one of China’s man-made islands.

Dunford is visiting South Korea, Japan, and China after a week in which Trump said he was ready to unleash “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten the US.

In a phone call with Trump on August 12, Chinese President Xi said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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6 reasons why the guys from ‘The Hangover’ are like an Army unit

The internet has previously noticed that the guys from “The Hangover” bear certain similarities to a military unit, but these guys function a lot more like an Army unit than drunk civilians have any right to. Here are six reasons why “The Hangover” is really about bad soldier stereotypes.


Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

1. The lieutenant is only there because the commanding officer said he should be and he screws everything up.

For the eight of you who haven’t seen the movie, “The Hangover” centers around a group of guys who lost their friend, Doug (labeled “The CO” in the meme), and have to find him before his wedding.

How did they lose their friend? Alan, “The lieutenant,” roofied them. Alan is the brother of the bride and so Doug said he should be allowed to come. Two other characters tell Doug he should leave Alan behind, but the Doug insists on bringing him. Alan repays this kindness by attempting a blood pact and then drugging the group.

2. The senior enlisted is obsessed with the paperwork and is always on his phone.

Stu, the “Senior Enlisted,” wants to keep everything under the radar and so he is obsessed with the paper trail. He wants to use cash rather than credit cards, needs to get his marriage annulled and out of the public record, and is always on his phone lying to his girlfriend.

Extra bonus: Stu fits the worst enlisted stereotypes in a few additional ways. He eloped with a stripper/escort at a chapel with military discounts and he constantly tries to sound more important than he is (calling himself a doctor when everyone insists he go by dentist).

3. The CO thinks everyone will follow the rules despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

Doug picks up the rest of the pack in a Mercedes his future father-in-law loaned him. On the way to the hotel, he seems to honestly believe that everyone will act like responsible adults. He even gives some ground rules for the car even though it’s clear his friends can’t be trusted.

At this point, Alan has revealed he can’t go within 200 feet of a school or Chuck E. Cheese. Phil, “The Enlisted,” has screamed profanities in a neighborhood and is currently drinking in the car. Stu, “The Senior Enlisted,” has asked the team for their help lying to his girlfriend so she won’t know they went to Vegas. Doug goes right on trusting them, even after Alan discusses a plan to count cards and Phil tricks Stu into paying for a villa on the strip.

4. The junior enlisted causes a lot of the chaos but takes none of the responsibility.

As the meme noted, the enlisted guy does all the work. But he shouldn’t really complain since he caused most of the chaos after they woke up in the hotel. When the group finds out they stole a cop car, he drives it onto a curb, turns the lights on, and uses the speakers to hit on women. After the cops catch up with them, he gets the group shocked with stun guns. While visiting a chapel, he leaves a baby in a hot car, telling the others, “It’s fine. I cracked the window.”

5. The lieutenant won’t stop asking dumb questions and saying stupid things.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEXyeWPfZZ4

Alan just can’t find his way in the world, much like a new lieutenant. He asks the hotel receptionist if the hotel is “pager-friendly.” He gives an awkward, prepared speech before he roofies the group. When he learns Stu accidentally gave away his grandmother’s “Holocaust ring,” Alan tells the group he “didn’t know they gave out rings at the Holocaust.”

6. CO can’t solve problems without help from the unit.

Doug, like a bad commander stereotype, can’t get stuff done without his unit. For most of the first movie, he is trapped on the roof of a hotel. It’s revealed that he tried to get help by throwing his mattress off the roof. That’s a good start, but he was up there for more than 24 hours. He was fully clothed with a sheet but didn’t yell for help, turn the sheet into a flag, or use the sheet to prevent his serious sunburn. He could’ve gotten attention by cutting an air conditioning hose, or at least tried to get back inside through the access door.

NOW: The 16 best military movies of all time

AND: 69 painful mistakes in ‘Basic’ –the worst Army movie ever

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The most genius military strategies ever

Strange as it may seem (though maybe not so much, considering America’s basic love of all things military), today’s generation of kids probably know more about military strategy than many generals of a hundred years ago. Why? In a phrase: “Video games.” From World of Warcraft to Halo, Modern War to Fallout 4, gamers these days get quite the education in military strategy well before they’re old enough to attend West Point.


Maybe that’s kind of a natural thing for a nation that proudly boasts the largest and most powerful military in human history. All things considered, it shouldn’t be that weird. And yet somehow, we bet you’ll be surprised by exactly how many of these classic military strategies you already know. You might not know the names of the strategies themselves, or the history behind them. But you’ll probably find at least half of these strategies oddly familiar.

Vote up the most genius military strategies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.

The Most Genius Military Strategies Ever

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Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

If you were wondering about why China didn’t bother to show up to that hearing at the Hague on their South China Sea island claims — when their boycott of the process only made the adverse ruling a guarantee — well, now you know why.


China, like Cersei Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” had no intention of accepting the consequences for their failure to take part.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
China’s military installations in the South China Sea create a huge area that could possibly be turned into an air identification and defense zone. | CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal and CBSNews.com, China has deployed weapons to at least seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, despite a promise from Chinese president Xi Jingpin.

The report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative noted that satellite photos showed various anti-aircraft weapons on the islands. These join the 10,000-foot airstrips on the islands, which have operated J-11 Flankers. Two such locations in the Spratly Islands are Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, located about 650 nautical miles from the northernmost point of Hainan Island.

China has landed airliners on those islands – and if you can land airliners, you can land other sorts of heavy aircraft, like tankers, airborne radars, and H-6 Badger bombers like the one used to assert China’s “nine-dash line.”

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Fiery Cross Reef air base. This air base and others could help bolster China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaonang. (Image taken from Google Earth)

In essence, China has turned these islands into unsinkable, albeit immobile, aircraft carriers. China’s J-15, for instance, has a combat radius of about 540 nautical miles, according to GlobalSecurity.org. By getting those unsinkable aircraft carriers, the J-15s (as well as J-11 and J-16 Flankers in the Chinese inventory) can now carry more weapons, and less fuel, and spend more time dogfighting their adversaries.

When combined with China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, these bases greatly increase the striking power of the Chinese in the region. The Liaoning, like its sister ship, the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov, has a very limited aircraft capacity (about 18 Su-33 Flankers or MiG-29K Fulcrums for the Russian carrier, and a similar number of J-15 Flankers for the Chinese ship).

That alone cannot stand up to a United States Navy aircraft carrier (carrying 36 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 10 F-35C Lightnings). The islands also provide alternate bases, to avoid those embarrassing splash landings that are common with the Kuznetsov.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. | Russian MoD Photo

However, these island bases, if each had a squadron of J-11, J-15 or J-16 Flankers, suddenly change the odds, especially if the Philippines refuse to host land-based fighters. Now, the Chinese could have a numerical advantage in the region against one carrier group, and inflict virtual attrition on the United States Navy.

The forward bases have caused concern from other countries, like the Philippines.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area, which is not good,” the Philippine defense secretary told CBSNews.com.

The Philippines have been trying to modernize their forces, including with the recent purchase of a dozen KA-50 jets from South Korea, and the acquisition of second-hand Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters from the U.S. Coast Guard.

They still are badly out-classed by Chinese forces in the region.

The U.S. Navy has conducted freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. In one of the recent operations, the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) “conducted routine operations” while transiting the region, which is claimed by China. Navy surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft in the region had had a series of close calls with Chinese fighters, including an Aug. 2014 intercept where a J-11 came within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) man the rails while pulling into Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, during a Naval Engagement Activity with the people of Vietnam, Oct. 2. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Allen Michael McNair)

Tensions with China increased when President-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen after winning the Nov. 8 presidential election. Trump had taken a tough line on trade with China during the campaign.

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CIA veteran: The Obama administration does not understand how to fight ISIS

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago


The Obama administration isn’t capable of fighting the type of war necessary to defeat the Islamic State, a former CIA official told The Hill.

“I don’t think they understand the kind of war they need to fight,” Henry Crumpton, a former CIA official who led teams in Afghanistan against the Taliban, told the publication. “They’re waging the war they want to fight but not the one that will lead to success.”

The Obama administration’s efforts against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have been aimed at propping up the Iraqi government in Baghdad while conducting airstrikes against jihadist targets throughout Iraq and Syria.

The US has also expressed support to use the Shiite-dominated Iraqi central government to channel arms and other forms of aid to Sunni tribal fighters and members of the Kurdish militia.

But the US has refused to directly assist groups outside the Baghdad government for fear of stoking sectarianism within the country. The Obama administration has also pledged not to send combat troops to Iraq and not to expand the US’ on-the-ground military presence beyond small deployments of military advisers and trainers.

Crumpton, who joined the CIA in 1981, believes this limited support is insufficient when facing an enemy like ISIS. In his view, the US needs a greater military and intelligence footprint in Iraq if it wants to fully dismantle the militant group.

“You have to have an intelligence presence on the ground. It really is a question of deep intelligence and empathy,” he told The Hill. This would allow the US to conduct a larger number of precision strikes against the group while also better anticipating its future moves.

A more robust intelligence network would also allow the US to understand the political dynamics at the ground level. This information could be leveraged to form alliances and work toward political solutions among Sunni tribes disgusted with both ISIS and the central Iraqi government.

US airstrikes against ISIS are also becoming less effective because the group has changed its tactics. It now houses prisoners within its main buildings and is increasingly fighting within densely populated civilian areas. These new practices are aimed at deterring airstrikes, as the US is reluctant to take actions that would harm civilians.

ISIS’ adaptive tactics, coupled with US reluctance to become more deeply involved in the conflict, has led to a cold streak in the fight against the group. In May, ISIS seized the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi, just 77 miles from Baghdad. At the same time, the Iraqi military has proved less and less capable of fighting the group.

SEE ALSO: Everyone should see these powerful images of wounded vets

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

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ISIS attacked US forces in Syria in a complex and coordinated attack

U.S. forces in southern Syria came under attack by Islamic State militants around midnight local time on April 8, joining with local partner forces to repel the assault in an hours-long fight that required multiple airstrikes and left three U.S.-backed Syrian fighters dead.


U.S. special-operations advisers were on the ground near the al-Tanf border crossing when a force of 20 to 30 fighters with the Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL, attacked in what a U.S. Central Command spokesman called a “complex and coordinated” attempt to take the base from the coalition.

Also read: Here’s how the U.S. hit that Syrian airbase

“U.S. and coalition forces were on the ground in the area as they normally are, and participated in repulsing the attack,” said Air Force Col. John J. Thomas, a spokesman for Central Command, according to the Associated Press.

“There was close-air support that was provided, there was ground support that was provided, and there was med-evac that was supported by the coalition,” Thomas added. No Americans were killed or wounded.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Marines train for attacks like this. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Prado)

“Clearly it was planned,” Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon. “The coalition and our partner forces had the resources to repulse that attack. A lot of them wound up being killed and the garrison remains controlled by the people in control before being attacked.”

“Ultimately the attackers were killed, defeated, or chased off,” Thomas said.

U.S. forces at al-Tanf, on Syria’s southern border with Jordan and Iraq, had initially withdrawn to avoid potential retaliatory action after the U.S. strike on an Assad regime airfield in western Syria.

The attack came from ISIS fighters disguised as U.S.-backed rebels, carrying M-16 rifles and using vehicles captured from U.S.-supported rebel groups. They struck first with a car bomb at the base entrance, which allowed some of the attackers to infiltrate the base. Many of the ISIS fighters were wearing suicide vests.

“Around 20 ISIS fighters attacked the base, and suicide bombers blew up the main gate, and clashes took place inside the base,” Tlass al-Salama, the commander of the Osoud al Sharqiya Army, part of the U.S.-backed moderate rebel alliance, told The Wall Street Journal.

Salama’s force sent reinforcements to the base, but they came under attack from other ISIS fighters.

Related: Mattis warns Syria against using chemical weapons again

U.S. special-operations forces and their Syrian partners who had moved out of the base quickly returned, and they initially repelled the attack on the ground in a firefight that lasted about three hours.

Coalition pilots also carried out multiple airstrikes amid the fighting, destroying ISIS vehicles and killing many of the terrorist group’s fighters.

“It was a serious fight,” a U.S. military official said April 10. “Whether or not it was a one-off, we will have to see.”

U.S. special-operations forces had been training vetted Syrian opposition troops at al-Tanf for more than a year. The Syrian opposition fighters in question were operating against ISIS in southern Syria and working with Jordan to maintain border security.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
A fighter with the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces sits atop a vehicle before a battle. (Photo from SDF via Facebook)

The pullback from al-Tanf to safeguard against reprisals was just one step the coalition took in the aftermath of the U.S. strike on Shayrat airfield, which was believed to be the launching point for a chemical weapons attack on a Syrian village April 4.

The coalition also reduced the number of air missions it flew, out of concern Syrian or Russian forces would attempt to shoot down U.S. aircraft. The U.S. presence in Syria has increased in recent months, as Marines and other units arrive to aid U.S.-backed fighters.

ISIS may become more active in southern Syria as U.S.-backed forces close in on Raqqa, the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital located in northeast Syria. Top ISIS leaders have reportedly fled the city in recent months.

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World War III nearly started when the Soviet premier was banned from Disneyland

When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited America in Sep. 1959, the trip was meticulously planned. One day of the trip was devoted Hollywood and filled with visits to movie studios, a lunch with Hollywood icons, and a tour to Disneyland.


Walt Disney was going to show Khrushchev around the park himself. He even planned to show off his navy for the Soviet premier.

Unfortunately, the Disneyland visit was canceled due to security concerns among city leaders and State Department planners. The Americans seemed to hope that tours of 20th Century Fox Studios and a lunch event filled with movie stars would keep the premier from complaining about Disneyland.

But the 20th Century Fox President Spyros P. Skouras put the Soviet leader in a bad mood. Skouras made jokes about an old quote of Khrushchev’s that said that communism would bury capitalism.

Khrushchev was enraged by the Fox president’s comments and said, “If you want to go on with the arms race, very well. We accept that challenge. As for the output of rockets –well, they are on the assembly line. This is a most serious question. It is one of life or death, ladies and gentlemen. One of war and peace.”

And then the enraged Khrushchev was told he wouldn’t be able to visit the happiest place on earth. Instead of enjoying his time with Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Shirley MacLaine, he gave an angry speech asking why he couldn’t go to Disneyland.

“What is it?” Khrushchev asked. “Do you have rocket launching pads there? I don’t know. What is it? Is there an epidemic of Cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken hold of the place that can destroy me? And I say, ‘I would very much like to go and see Disneyland.’ For me, such a situation is inconceivable.”

Despite the rocky events in Los Angeles, Khrushchev’s visit was a success. By the end of the trip, Americans’ perception of the leader had improved and journalists were reporting positively on his interactions with U.S. citizens.

Khrushchev and President Dwight Eisenhower had a summit at Camp David where they agreed on the need for peace and planned for Eisenhower to tour the Soviet Union.

This goodwill between the leaders was reversed in May 1960 after an U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, and the Cold War dragged on for decades.