Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down - We Are The Mighty
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Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down

A Jordanian police officer shot five people, including two U.S. security trainers, at the King Abdullah Training Center in Amman, Jordan on November 9th. Though not the dictionary definition of a “Green-on-Blue” attack, it does show a rise in these types of insider attacks against U.S. personnel. A Green on Blue attack is how NATO describes attacks on NATO and Coalition forces in Afghanistan by Afghan security forces. It’s important to remember that U.S. and Jordan have a long history of cooperation that predates 1991’s Operation Desert Storm.


Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
U.S. Marines and British airmen with 51st Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, search a building for threats as part of Exercise Eager Lion at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center in Amman, Jordan, May 15, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sean Searfus)

Green on Blue attacks, by their nature, are difficult to predict. They are damaging to morale, unit cohesion, and international relations. They sap public support for training missions from the people of the United States and cause a loss of credibility for U.S. allies. As the U.S. begins to increase its presence in Iraq to combat ISIS, the shift in Green on Blue tactics is troubling, considering the already-strained U.S. training missions in Iraq.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
A special operations team member with Special Operations Task Force West greets new Afghan Local Police recruits on their first day of training in Farah province (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Chadwick de Bree)

There are 91 incidents of Green on Blue attack in the Afghan War so far, with 148 Coalition troops killed and 186 wounded. 15% of all Coalition casualties in Afghanistan were Green on Blue attacks in 2012. Security measures were put in place to ensure NATO forces have overwatch when these attacks are likely to occur. The Long War Journal blog keeps a tally on Green on Blue attacks.

2015

April 8, 2015

An Afghan soldier kills a U.S. troop and wounds two more at the governor’s compound in Jalalabad. U.S. troops kill the gunman.

January 29, 2015

One Afghan soldier, a Taliban infiltrator working security, kills three U.S. security contractors and wounds one more at Kabul International Airport.

2014

Sept. 15, 2014:

An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF trainers in Farah province, killing a trainer and wounding another and an interpreter before being killed.

Aug. 5, 2014:

An Afghan fires on US officers at a key leader engagement at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City. U.S. Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene is killed and 16 ISAF personnel are wounded. The attacker was killed by Afghan soldiers.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chuck Hagel, and the U.S. assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Heidi Shyu, participate in singing the congregational hymn during a military funeral in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene. Greene is the highest-ranking service member killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)

June 23, 2014:

Two U.S. military advisers are wounded when an Afghan policeman shoots at them as they arrive at the Paktia provincial police headquarters in Gardez. The attacker is killed in return fire. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.

Feb. 12, 2014:

Two US soldiers are shot and killed with four wounded by two men wearing Afghan National Security Force uniforms in eastern Afghanistan. Several civilians are also wounded by crossfire. The two are killed by Coalition troops.

2013

Oct. 26, 2013:

A member of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) wounds two NATO troops in a firefight at a base on the outskirts of Kabul; the Afghan soldier is shot and killed during the clash. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack and appears to be a result of a dispute between Australian and Afghan troops.

Oct. 13, 2013:

A member of the Afghan National Security Forces kills a US soldier in Paktika province and wounds another. The Afghan escapes.

Oct. 5, 2013:

A local security guard kills a senior ISAF member in southern Afghanistan; the gunman is killed following the incident.

Sept. 26, 2013:

An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF troops in Paktia, killing an American soldier and injuring several others. The attacker is then shot and killed. The Taliban claimed the attack.

Sept. 21, 2013:

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier shoots up ISAF special forces in Paktia province, killing three and injuring one. The attacker is shot and killed.

July 9, 2013:

A “rogue” ANA soldier fires at Slovakian troops at Kandahar Airfield, killing one and injuring at least two more. The attacker was captured by Afghan forces. He later escapes from a detention facility and joins the Taliban.

June 8, 2013:

ANA soldiers kill two US soldiers and a civilian adviser in Paktika and wound three other Americans. One of the attackers is killed and another captured.

May 4, 2013:

An ANA soldier kills two ISAF troops in an attack in Western Afghanistan.

April 7, 2013:

An ANA soldier fires on Lithuanian soldiers in an armored vehicle at a post in the village of Kasi, wounding two Lithuanian soldiers. The attacker is captured and handed to the Afghans.

April 7, 2013:

Afghan Local Police fire on a US outpost after US troops attempted to arrest a Taliban commander visiting the ALP. No one is hurt.

March 11, 2013:

An Afghan Local Policeman fires on US Special Forces at a military base in Wardak province, killing two and wounding eight. The attacker and two Afghan policemen are killed.

March 8, 2013:

Three ANSF soldiers in an ANSF vehicle drive onto a US military base in Kapisa province, and fire on US troops and civilians, killing one civilian contractor and wounding four US troops. The three attackers are killed.

Jan. 6, 2013:

An ANA soldier fires on British and Afghan troops at Patrol Base Hazrat. He kills one British soldier and wounds six more. He is shot by Afghan security forces while fleeing. The Taliban take credit.

2012

Dec. 31, 2012:

Two ANA soldiers fire on Spanish troops as they patrol in Herat province; no one was killed or injured in the incident.

Dec. 24, 2012:

An Afghan policewoman kills a US civilian adviser inside the Interior Ministry building. The shooter is captured.

Nov. 11, 2012:

An Afghan soldier fires at British troops in Helmand province. One British soldier is killed and one wounded. The Afghan shooter is wounded.

Nov. 10, 2012:

Two Afghan soldiers fire at Spanish troops from the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Badghis province. The two Afghan soldiers are captured; one wounded. One Spanish soldier is wounded.

Oct. 30, 2012:

An Afghan policeman shoots and kills two British soldiers in Helmand province. The policeman escapes.

Oct. 25, 2012:

A “trusted” Afghan policeman kills two US soldiers at a police headquarters in Uruzgan province. The attacker escapes to join the Taliban.

Oct. 13, 2012:

An employee of the National Security Directorate kills a US soldier and a US State Department employee in a suicide attack in Kandahar province. Also killed in the attack were the deputy NDS chief for Kandahar and three other Afghans.

Sept. 29, 2012:

An Afghan soldier shoots at Coalition forces in Wardak province. One US soldier and a civilian contractor are killed and two US soldiers were wounded. Three other Afghan soldiers are also killed with several others wounded.

Sept. 16, 2012:

An Afghan soldier fires on a vehicle inside Camp Garmser in Helmand province; six NATO troops and a foreign civilian worker are wounded in the attack.

Sept. 16, 2012:

Afghan policemen open fire on a group of Coalition soldiers in Zabul province, killing four and wounding two. The attacker is killed in an exchange with several other Afghan policemen wounded.

Sept. 15, 2012:

A member of the Afghan Local Police fires on a group of British soldiers in Helmand province, killing two and wounding two. The attacker was killed in a firefight.

Aug. 28, 2012:

An Afghan soldier shoots and kills three Australian soldiers in Uruzgan province. Two more Australian soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Aug. 27, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in Laghman province. The attacker was killed by ISAF soldiers.

Aug. 19, 2012:

A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police turns his weapon on a group of ISAF soldiers in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and wounding another.

Aug. 17, 2012:

An Afghan Local Police officer kills a Marine and a Navy Corpsman and wounds an ISAF soldier during a training exercise on an Afghan base in Farah province. He was killed in the ensuing firefight.

Aug. 17, 2012:

An Afghan soldier shoots and wounds two NATO soldiers in Kandahar province; the attacker is killed.

Aug. 13, 2012:

A policeman wounds two US soldiers in Nangarhar province. The attacker flees.

Aug. 10, 2012:

Three US Marines are killed and one wounded in an attack in Helmand province. The attacker was captured.

Aug. 10, 2012:

Three US soldiers are killed and one wounded in an attack by an Afghan Local Police commander and his men in Helmand province. The Afghan police commander flees.

Aug. 9, 2012:

US troops kill an Afghan soldier who was attempting to gun them down at a training center in Methar Lam district in Laghman province; two US soldiers are wounded.

Aug. 7, 2012:

Two Afghan soldiers kill a US soldier and wound three others in Paktia province before defecting to the Taliban.

Aug. 3, 2012:

An Afghan Local Policeman wounds one ISAF soldier at a base in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.

July 23, 2012:

Two ISAF soldiers are wounded in an attack in Faryab province. The attacker is killed by ISAF troops.

July 22, 2012:

A member of the Afghan National Police (ANP) kills three civilian trainers who worked for ISAF in Herat province, wounding another. The attacker is killed.

July 5, 2012:

Five ISAF are wounded by an Afghan soldier in Wardak province.

July 1, 2012:

Three British military advisers are killed and another ISAF member is wounded in an attack by an Afghan Civil Order policeman in Helmand province.

June 18, 2012:

An ISAF soldier is killed by “three individuals in Afghan Police uniforms” in the south.

May 12, 2012:

Members of the Afghan Uniformed Police kill two British soldiers and wound two more in Helmand province.

May 11, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills a US soldier and wounds two others in Kunar province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.

May 6, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills one US Marine and wounds another in the Marjah district of Helmand province. The gunman is killed by return fire.

April 26, 2012:

An Afghan commando kills a US Special Forces soldier and an Afghan interpreter in Kandahar province. The Commando is killed by returned fire.

April 25, 2012:

An Afghan Uniformed Policeman wounds two ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province.

April 16, 2012:

An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province; no casualties or injuries.

March 26, 2012:

An ISAF service member dies after a shooting in eastern Afghanistan.  He was shot by an alleged member of the Afghan Local Police. The attacker was killed by return fire.

March 26, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills two British troops and wounds another ISAF service member in Helmand province. The attacker is killed by return fire.

March 14, 2012:

An Afghan interpreter hijacks an SUV, wounds a British soldier, then attempts to run down a group of US Marines. The attacker crashes his truck and sets himself on fire.

March 2, 2012:

An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers at Camp Morehead in Kabul; no casualties.

March 1, 2012:

An Afghan soldier and a teacher open fire on NATO troops in Kandahar province, killing two and wounding two more, before being killed in returned fire.

Feb. 25, 2012:

An Afghan policeman guns down two US military officers in the Interior Ministry in Kabul before escaping.

Feb. 23, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills two US troops in Nangarhar province.

Feb. 20, 2012:

A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan and wounds two.

Jan. 31, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in Helmand province; the Afghan commander says it was an accident, but the shooter was detained.

Jan. 20, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills four ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. According to AFP, the attacker shot and killed four unarmed French soldiers and wounded another 15 at their base in Kapisa.

Jan. 8, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier and wounds three others in southern Afghanistan. The attacker is shot and killed by another US soldier.

2011

Dec. 29, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. The dead are two non-commissioned officers of the French Foreign Legion. The Taliban claimed the attack.

Nov. 9, 2011:

Three Australian soldiers are wounded when an Afghan soldier shoots them at an Australian base in Uruzgan province.

Oct. 29, 2011:

An Afghan army trainee fires at a forward operating base in Kandahar province being used to train ANA troops. He kills three Australian soldiers and one interpreter, wounding at least nine others.

Aug. 4, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier while dressed as a policeman in eastern Afghanistan.

July 16, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan after a joint patrol. The attacker runs away.

May 30, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan. The two were in guard towers. The Afghan flees the scene.

May 13, 2011:

Two NATO soldiers mentoring an Afghan National Civil Order brigade are shot and killed inside a police compound in Helmand province.

April 27, 2011:

A veteran Afghan air force pilot opens fire inside a NATO military base in Kabul, killing eight and a contractor.

April 16, 2011:

A newly recruited Afghan soldier who was a Taliban suicide bomber detonated at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman, killing five NATO and four Afghan soldiers. Eight other Afghans were wounded, including four interpreters.

April 4, 2011:

An Afghan soldier opens fire on ISAF vehicles in Kandahar province

April 4, 2011:

An Afghan Border Police officer in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, shoots and kills two US soldiers, then flees. ISAF reports on April 7 the attacker was killed when he displayed hostile intent after being tracked down in Maimana.

March 19, 2011:

An Afghan hired to provide security at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province shot six US soldiers as they were cleaning their weapons, killing two and wounding four more. The attacker was killed by three other US soldiers.

Feb. 18, 2011:

An Afghan soldier fires on German soldiers at a base in Baghlan province, killing three and wounding six others. The attacker was killed.

Jan. 18, 2011:

An Afghan soldier shoots two Italian soldiers at a combat outpost in Badghis province, killing one and wounding the other before escaping.

Jan. 15, 2011:

An Afghan soldier argues with a Marine in Helmand, threatens him, and later returns and aims his weapon at the Marine. When the Afghan soldier fails to put his rifle down, the Marine shoots him.

2010

Nov. 29, 2010:

An individual in an Afghan Border Police uniform kills six ISAF soldiers during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan; the attacker is killed in the incident.

Nov. 6, 2010:

Two US Marines are killed by an Afghan soldier at a military base in Helmand province. The shooter flees to the Taliban.

Aug. 26, 2010:

Two Spanish police officers and their interpreter are shot dead by their Afghan driver on a Spanish base in Badghis province. The shootings set off a riot outside the base; shots were fired at the base and fires were set. Officials say 25 people were wounded. The attacker was shot dead by other Spanish officers.

July 20, 2010:

An Afghan soldier kills two US civilian trainers at a training base in northern Afghanistan. One NATO soldier is wounded. The attacker dies.

July 13, 2010:

An Afghan soldier kills three British troops in Helmand province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.

2009

Dec. 29, 2009:

An Afghan soldier fires on NATO troops preventing them from approaching a helicopter. He kills a US soldier and injures two Italian soldiers before being injured by NATO troops’ return fire.

Nov. 3, 2009:

An Afghan policeman shoots and kills three UK Grenadier Guards and two members of the UK Royal Military Police; six other British troops are severely wounded alongside two Afghans. The incident occurred while the soldiers were resting after a joint patrol.

Oct. 28, 2009:

An Afghan policeman fires on American soldiers during a joint patrol in Wardak province, killing two and injuring two more before fleeing.

Oct. 2, 2009:

An Afghan policeman kills two American soldiers in Wardak province.

March 27, 2009:

An Afghan soldier shoots and kills two US Navy officers in Balkh province. According to theMilitary Times, the attacker also wounded another US Navy officer. The attacker then fatally shot himself.

2008

Oct. 18, 2008:

An Afghan policeman standing on a tower hurls a grenade and fires on a US military foot patrol as it returned to a base in Paktika province, killing one US soldier. The U.S. returns fire, killing the policeman.

Sept. 29, 2008:

An Afghan policeman fires at a police station in Paktia province, killing one US soldier and wounding three others before being shot himself.

MIGHTY CULTURE

21 injured after explosion, fire breaks out aboard Naval ship

Early Sunday, a fire broke out below decks on the USS Bonhomme Richard which is currently docked in her home port of San Diego.


The fire was reported to be as a result of an explosion below deck, possibly originating in the hangar bay of the amphibious assault ship. The first reposted call went out around 10am and was later expanded to a three-alarm call for the San Diego Fire Department.

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Injuries have been reported for 17 sailors and 4 civilians, but no details have been confirmed.

The Bonhomme Richard, named after Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones’ famous ship, is primarily used to embark, deploy and land elements of a Marine assault force in amphibious operations by air, landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles. It can also act as a light aircraft carrier. The ship was commissioned in 1998 and San Diego became its home port in 2018. She has deployed numerous times in support of Operation Iraq Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and was part of humanitarian efforts in during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

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Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
The Department of Defense’s first F-35 aircraft flying with an F-16 fighter jet above Destin, Florida | U.S. Air Force photo


The Air Force F-35 is using “open air” ranges and computer simulation to practice combat missions against the best Chinese and Russian-made air-defense technologies – as a way to prepare to enemy threats anticipated in the mid-2020s and beyond.

The testing is aimed at addressing the most current air defense system threats such as Russian-made systems and also focused on potential next-generation or yet-to-exist threats, Harrigian said.

Air Force officials have explained that, looking back to 2001 when the JSF threat started, the threats were mostly European centric – Russian made SA-10s or SA-20s. Now the future threats are looking at both Russian and Chinese-made and Asian made threats, they said.

“They have got these digital SAMS (surface-to-air-missile-systems) out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate. being able to replicate that is not easy,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Director of the F-35 Integration Office, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Surface threats from air defenses is a tough problem because emerging threats right now can see aircraft hundreds of miles away, service officials explained.

Furthermore, emerging and future Integrated Air Defense Systems use faster computer processors, are better networked to one-another and detect on a wider range of frequencies. These attributes, coupled with an ability to detect aircraft at further distances, make air defenses increasingly able to at times detect even stealth aircraft, in some instances, with surveillance radar.

While the Air Force aims to prepare for the unlikely contingency of a potential engagement with near-peer rivals such as Russia or China, Harrigian explained that there is much more concern about having to confront an adversary which has purchased air-defense technology from the Russians or Chinese.

Harrigian explained that the F-35 is engineered with what developers call “open architecture,” meaning it is designed to quickly integrate new weapons, software and avionics technology as new threats emerge.

“One of the key reasons we bought this airplane is because the threats continue to evolve – we have to be survivable in this threat environment that has continued to develop capabilities where they can deny us access to specific objectives that we may want to achieve. This airplane gives us the ability to penetrate, deliver weapons and then share that information across the formation that it is operating in,” Harrigian explained.

While training against the best emerging threats in what Harrigian called “open air” ranges looks to test the F-35 against the best current and future air defenses – there is still much more work to be done when it comes to anticipating high-end, high-tech fast developing future threats. This is where modeling and simulation play a huge part in threat preparation, he added.

“The place where we have to have the most agility is really in the modeling and simulation environment – If you think about our open air ranges, we try to build these ranges that have this threats that we expect to be fighting. Given the pace at which the enemy is developing these threats – it becomes very difficult for us to go out and develop these threats,” Harrigan explained.

The Air Force plans to bring a representation of next-generation threats and weapons to its first weapons school class in 2018.

In a simulated environment, F-22s from Langley AFB in Virginia could train for combat scenarios with an F-35 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, he said.

The JSF’s Active Electronically Scanned Arrays, or AESA’s, the aircraft is able to provide a synthetic aperture rendering of air and ground pictures.  The AESA also brings the F-35 electronic warfare capabilities, Harrigian said.

Part of the idea with F-35 modernization is to engineered systems on the aircraft which can be upgraded with new software as threats change. Technologies such as the AESA radar, electronic attack and protection and some of the computing processing power on the airplane, can be updated to keep pace with evolving threats, Harrigian said.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Lockheed Martin photo

Engineered to travel at speeds greater than 1,100 miles per hour and able to reach Mach 1.6, the JSF is said to be just as fast and maneuverable at an F-15 or F-16 and bring and a whole range of additional functions and abilities.

Overall, the Air Force plans to buy 1,763 JSF F-35A multi-role fighters, a number which will ultimately comprise a very large percentage of the service’s fleet of roughly 2,000 fighter jets.  So far, at least 87 F-35As have been built.

4th Software Drop

Many of the JSF’s combat capabilities are woven into developmental software increments or “drops,” each designed to advance the platforms technical abilities. There are more than 10 million individual lines of code in the JSF system.

While the Air Force plans to declare its F-345s operational with the most advanced software drop, called 3F, the service is already working on a 4th drop to be ready by 2020 or 2021. Following this initial drop, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops in two year increments in order to stay ahead of the threat.

The first portion of Block IV software funding, roughly $12 million, arrived in the 2014 budget, Air Force officials said.

Block IV will include some unique partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained.

Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet.  A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

In terms of weapons, Block IV will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air dropped bombs able to destroy targets on the move.

The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions.

These emerging 4th software drop will build upon prior iterations of the software for the aircraft.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb) JSF program officials said.

Following Block 2B, Block 3i increases the combat capability even further and Block 3F will bring a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
An F-35B dropping a GBU-12 during a developmental test flight. | U.S. Air Force photo

The AIM 9X is an Air Force and Navy heat-seeking infrared missile.

In fact, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided air-to-air missile for the first time recently over a Pacific Sea Test Range, Pentagon officials said.

The F-35 took off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and launched the missile at 6,000 feet, an Air Force statement said.

Designed as part of the developmental trajectory for the emerging F-35, the test-firing facilities further development of an ability to fire the weapon “off-boresight,” described as an ability to target and destroy air to air targets that are not in front of the aircraft with a direct or immediate line of sight, Pentagon officials explained.

The AIM-9X, he described, incorporates an agile thrust vector controlled airframe and the missile’s high off-boresight capability can be used with an advanced helmet (or a helmet-mounted sight) for a wider attack envelope.

F-35 25mm Gun

Last Fall, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter recently completed the first aerial test of its 25mm Gatling gun embedded into the left wing of the aircraft, officials said.

The test took place Oct. 30, 2015, in California, Pentagon officials described.

“This milestone was the first in a series of test flights to functionally evaluate the in-flight operation of the F-35A’s internal 25mm gun throughout its employment envelope,” a Pentagon statement said several months ago.

The Gatling gun will bring a substantial technology to the multi-role fighter platform, as it will better enable the aircraft to perform air-to-air attacks and close-air support missions to troops on the ground.

Called the Gun Airborne Unit, or GAU-22/A, the weapon is engineered into the aircraft in such a manner as to maintain the platform’s stealth configuration.

The four-barrel 25mm gun is designed for rapid fire in order to quickly blanket an enemy with gunfire and destroy targets quickly. The weapon is able to fire 3,300 rounds per minute, according to a statement from General Dynamics.

“Three bursts of one 30 rounds and two 60 rounds each were fired from the aircraft’s four-barrel, 25-millimeter Gatling gun. In integrating the weapon into the stealthy F 35Aairframe, the gun must be kept hidden behind closed doors to reduce its radar cross section until the trigger is pulled,” a statement from the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter said.

The first phase of test execution consisted of 13 ground gunfire events over the course of three months to verify the integration of the gun into the F-35A, the JSF office said.

“Once verified, the team was cleared to begin this second phase of testing, with the goal of evaluating the gun’s performance and integration with the airframe during airborne gunfire in various flight conditions and aircraft configurations,” the statement added.

The new gun will also be integrated with the F-35’s software so as to enable the pilot to see and destroy targets using a helmet-mounted display.

The gun is slated to be operational by 2017.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New nuclear cruise missiles could go on the Zumwalt destroyer

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) includes a long-term plan that could put nuclear cruise missiles aboard the new Zumwalt class (DDG 1000) of stealthy Navy destroyers, according to the commander of U.S. Strategic Command.


Air Force Gen. John Hyten, StratCom chief, said the plan to develop a new, low-yield nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM, or “Slick-em”) would not be limited to using ballistic submarines as the sole launch platform, as many assumed when the NPR was endorsed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis early February 2018.

“It’s important to know that the NPR, when it talks about the Sea-Launched Cruise Missile, does not say ‘Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile,’ ” Hyten said in a Feb. 16, 2018 keynote address in Washington, D.C., at the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Also read: The Navy has new, long-range ship killer missiles for the Zumwalt

In response to questions, he said, “We want to look at a number of options — everything from surface DDG 1000s into submarines, different types of submarines” for the SLCMs.

“That’s what the president’s budget has requested of us — to go look at those platforms, and we’re going to walk down that path,” Hyten said.

The USS Zumwalt, the first of three new stealthy destroyers billed by the Navy as the world’s largest and most technologically advanced surface combatants, experienced numerous cost overruns in construction and problems in sea trials. It also broke down while transiting the Panama Canal in 2016.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during first at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic. (U.S. Navy)

The second ship in the Zumwalt class, the Michael Monsoor, had to cut short sea trials in December 2017 because of equipment failures.

The NPR called for the development of two new, low-yield nuclear weapons — the SCLM and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Hyten said the U.S. will be modifying “a small number of existing submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads to provide a prompt, low-yield capability, as well as pursuing a modern nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile in the longer term.”

He added, with some regret, that both are necessary to enhance U.S. deterrence against growing tactical and strategic nuclear threats from Russia and China.

“I don’t have the luxury of dealing with the world the way I wish it was,” he said. “We, as a nation, have long desired a world with no or at least fewer nuclear weapons. That is my desire as well. The world, however, has not followed that path.”

New developments with the Xian H6K strategic bomber, a version of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine bomber, has given China a nuclear triad of bombers, land-based missiles, and submarines “for the first time,” Hyten said.

Related: Why the new Zumwalt destroyers’ guns won’t work

He also cited repeated statements from Russian President Vladimir Putin about modernizing his own nuclear force and developing a new generation of low-yield weapons. “Russia has been clear about their intent all along,” he said.

In the question-and-answer period at National Defense University, an official from the Russian Embassy in Washington challenged the general’s assessment of the threat posed by his country.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Vladimir Putin.

Hyten responded, “We listen very closely to what your president says, and then watch closely” through a variety of means to see Putin’s thoughts put into action. “We have to consider those a threat.”

Earlier, he said, “Our adversaries are building and operating these strategic weapons, not as a science experiment, but as a direct threat to the United States of America.”

In an address preceding Hyten’s, Pentagon policy chief David Trachtenberg said that the new NPR developed for the Trump administration should not be seen as a divergence from the 2010 NPR adopted by the Obama administration.

More: Watch Russia test fire a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile interceptor

“Contrary to some commentary, the Nuclear Posture Review does not go beyond the 2010 NPR in expanding the traditional role of nuclear weapons,” said Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.

“The goal of our recommendations is to deter war, not to fight one,” he said. “If nuclear weapons are employed in conflict, it is because deterrence failed, and the goal of the 2018 NPR is to make sure that deterrence will not fail.”

However, “it is clear that our attempts to lead by example in reducing the numbers and salience of nuclear weapons in the world have not been reciprocated,” Trachtenberg said.

Russia and China have made clear their intentions to “expand the numbers and capabilities” of their nuclear arsenals, he said.

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Israel’s F-35s may have already flown a combat mission against Russian air defenses in Syria

Israel received three F-35s from the US on Tuesday, bringing its total inventory of the revolutionary fighter up to five, but according to a French journalist citing French intelligence reports, Israeli F-35s have already carried out combat missions in Syria.


In the Air Forces Monthly, Thomas Newdick summarized a report from Georges Malbrunot at France’s Le Figaro newspaper saying Israel took its F-35s out on a combat mission just one month after receiving them from the US.

Malbrunot reported that on January 12 Israeli F-35s took out a Russian-made S-300 air defense system around Syrian President Bashar Assad’s palace in Damascus and another Russian-made Pantsir-S1 mobile surface-to-air missile system set for delivery to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Related: F-35s will take part in NATO drills

Israel has repeatedly and firmly asserted its goal to make sure weapons cannot reach Hezbollah, a terror group sworn to seek the destruction of Israel.

In March, Israel admitted to an airstrike in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “when we know about an attempt to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah, we do whatever we can to prevent this from happening, provided we have sufficient information and capabilities to react,” according to Russian state-run media.

However, the other details of the story seem unlikely. The only known S-300 system in Syria is operated by the Russians near their naval base, so hitting that would mean killing Russian servicemen, which has not been reported at all.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Land-based S-300 surface-to-air missile launchers | Creative Commons photo

Also, as Tyler Rogoway of The Drive points out, the Pantsir-S1 air defenses would certainly bolster Hezbollah in Lebanon, but Israel wouldn’t be under immediate pressure to destroy this system. Their jets have advanced air defense suppression and electronic warfare capabilities that limit the threat posed by the Pantsir-S1, and make it unlikely that they would risk F-35s to attack them.

Also read: 3 reasons why Airwolf is more badass than the F-35

But parts of the French report hold up. There was an airstrike on January 12 at Mezzeh air base, where the French report said it took place. The BBC reports that the Syrian government accused Israel of a strike at that time and place.

Jeff Halper, author of War Against the People, a book that looks at the military ties between Israel and the US, told Al Jazeera that Israeli pilots may be the first to see combat action in the F-35.

“Israel serves as the test-bed for the development of these kinds of new weapons,” said Halper. “The F-35 will be tested in the field, in real time by Israel. The likelihood is that the first time the plane is used in combat will be with Israeli pilots flying it.”

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Israeli Air Force

Indeed the F-35’s stealth abilities remain untested, and only in a heavily contested environment could the F-35 really meet its match. In the past, F-35 pilots have complained that surface-to-air threats are not advanced enough to provide realistic training, and the Air Force has run short on adversary services to provide enough competition to really prove the F-35’s capabilities.

In the case of the S-300, experts have told Business Insider that it would take a stealth jet like the F-35 to safely take them out.

While the details remain sketchy and wholly unverifiable, Halper’s “test-bed” assertion has certainly been true of US-Israeli defense projects, like missile defenses, in the past. Rogoway also noted Israel’s history of rushing new platforms to the front lines as possible supporting evidence.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Could Israel have flown combat missions in the F-35 one month after receiving it? | U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw

On Wednesday night, Syria’s government again accused Israel of an airstrike near Damascus International airport.

Short of taking responsibility for the attack, Israeli officials said it was a strike on Hezbollah targets, which they support.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Israeli Army Radio: “I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel’s policy to act to prevent Iran’s smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Iran. Naturally, I don’t want to elaborate on this,” according to the BBC.

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USAF engineers fixed ISIS damage to vital airfield in prep for Mosul fight

It’s not like ISIS didn’t know the attack on Mosul was coming. After all, Mosul is one of the last major cities in Iraq that the group holds. So the radical Islamic fighters prepared for the battle that is now raging on the outskirts of Mosul by doing a few things, including destroying the runways at the vital Qayyarah West Airbase, Iraq.


Qayyarah West sits within Iraq’s Ninawa Province to the south of Mosul and is an obvious logistics base for an attack on the city.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Timothy Williams, assigned to the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group, operates a jackhammer on a runway during repair operations at Qayyarah, West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 7, 2016. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The same day that Iraqi forces captured the airfield in July, bloggers and journalists immediately predicted the role the base would play in the coming fight against ISIS.

There was just one major problem. According to a story by Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lemmons, ISIS had systematically destroyed the runways at Qayyarah West with explosives and heavy machinery for two years.

The C-130, one of the military’s most versatile cargo planes, needs at least 3,000 feet of safe runway to make an assault landing. Even then, the short runway lowers the available total weight with which aircraft can land or takeoff.

So the Air Force needed to take a base with no usable runways and get it ready to take in tons of cargo in a short period. A team of engineers from the Air Force flew to the base to attempt the task. They undid two years of ISIS destruction in only three weeks.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
A U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules waits to unload logistical supplies in support of the fight for Mosul at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016. This is the second aircraft to land there following completion of repairs to the runway after Da’esh damaged it. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The Air Force deployed a small team to assess the damage, then sent the full team to begin repairs. Over the three-week period, the airmen judged which parts of the runway were unsafe for operations, cut out those sections of asphalt, and then fixed just those spots.

“We show up, clear the debris out, get all the junk and everything out of there,” Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Charles told a military journalist. “Then we dig down, if we have to, until we hit hard surface ground.”

Once the engineers found hard surface, they ensured everything was level and firm, then rebuilt the section of runway from the ground up. And the airmen completed their work just in time. The first C-130s arrived on Oct. 21, less than a week after the Iraqi Army began their offensive to retake Mosul.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The repaired runway provides a more robust logistical capability for the invasion, allowing more ammunition and other supplies to fly in. And Qayyarah West has served the coalition in other ways as well, such as housing the American Paladins providing artillery support to the Iraqi advance.

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Army Legend Hal Moore Dies at 94

Legendary retired Army Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” Moore of “We Were Soldiers” fame died Feb. 10. The commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Ia Drang was days short of his 95th birthday.


Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down

According to a report by the Opelika-Auburn Tribune, Lt. Gen. Moore had suffered a stroke on the evening of Feb. 9 and was “hanging tough,” according to a family member.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Then-Lt. Col. Hal Moore and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley in Vietnam. Plumley died in 2012.

Moore gained immortality from the book, “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young,” co-written with reporter Joe Galloway, about the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. The book was used as the basis for the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers,” in which Academy Award-winning actor Mel Gibson portrayed Moore.

Moore served 32 years in the Army after graduating from West Point, and his decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross and four Bronze Stars.

According to an official after-action report, the three-day battle left 79 Americans killed in action, and another 121 wounded. None were left behind or missing after the battle. American forces killed 634 enemy troops, and wounded at least 1,200.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Soldiers of the U.S. Amry 1/7th Cavalry disembark from a Bell UH-1D Huey at LZ X-Ray during the battle of Ia Drang. (US Army photo)

While preparing to film the epic movie — which made over $78 million at the United States box office, according to Box Office Mojo — Gibson would develop a deep friendship with Moore. This past summer, while headlines noted that Gibson and Vince Vaughn had eaten at Hamilton’s, an Auburn-area restaurant, what hadn’t been known then was that Moore’s family had recommended the eatery to the A-list superstars.

Below, here are some of the more iconic moments from “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson as Hal Moore.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The insane story of a Russian aircrew’s daring escape from a Taliban prison

In August, 1995, a series of events occurred that would just seem implausible today. A Taliban MiG fighter intercepted a Russian Airstan Ilyushin Il-76TD, forcing it to land at Kandahar International Airport in the middle of a nationwide Civil War. The crew and its passengers were taken prisoner by the Taliban. They were held for a year while the Russian government tried to negotiate their release with the help of a U.S. senator

The 1990s were a crazy time. Even with our post-9/11 goggles off, it seems inconceivable that any number of the above could happen – just try to imagine these crazy things:

  • A Taliban MiG fighter
  • Forcing a Russian plane to land
  • Russian government negotiating
  • A U.S. Senator helping Russia

It’s all true, of course. In 1994, the Taliban exploded out of Kandahar and, by the time of this incident, controlled much of the country south of Kabul. When the Airstan plane was flying over, the Taliban were still deadlocked against the Afghan government of the time, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani.

It must have been an awkward ask for Rabbani, who spent years fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, only to ask them for weapons in trying to keep it away from other Afghans.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
TFW you lose Afghanistan and have to ask for help from the people you took it from.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down

Even Jiffy Lube makes you keep the keys on the dashboard, guys.

The Airstan Ilyushin Il-76TD was carrying a load of 30 tons of weapons from Albania bound for the legitimate Afghan government when it was intercepted by a Taliban MiG-21. It was an old fighter, even in the 1990s, but was still enough to bring down the Ilyushin II.

Upon landing, the crew of seven was taken into custody by the Taliban — but the story doesn’t end there. As negotiations between the Russians and the terrorist group began to stall, American Senator Hank Brown stepped in to facilitate the talks, not only buying the Russians time, but also the crew. It didn’t hurt that the Taliban wanted some of their people freed in exchange for their prisoners.

For over a year, the Russian aircrew prepared for their daring escape. Brown managed to get the Taliban to agree to let the Russian Airstan crew maintain their captured aircraft to ensure it was in working order when the time to take off finally came. Brown visited the crew and let them know they would be maintaining it.

But not only did the crew perform its routine maintenance, they also slowly but surely prepared it for their flight home. They finally got their big chance one day, just over a year after being captured. When half of the Taliban who regularly guarded them left the group to attend evening prayers, the crew tricked the others into leaving their weapons outside the plane.

They overpowered the remaining three guards and started the engines.

By the time the Taliban noticed the plane was getting ready for take off, it was already taxiing down the runway. They tried to block their takeoff using a fire truck, but to no avail, the Russians were airborne well ahead of the truck’s position on the runway. The Taliban missed catching the escaping Russians by a mere three to five seconds.

The crew had done the impossible and the Taliban were not able to scramble intercepting aircraft in time to catch them.


They left Taliban airspace as fast as possible and set course for the UAE. By the time they landed, Russian President Boris Yeltsin was waiting by the phone to congratulate them. They made it home to Russia shortly after. The crew is said to celebrate their escape from the terrible event like a second birthday. The Taliban are brutal to prisoners, and the crew of the Airstan Ilyushin Il considered the entire country a prisoner of the terror group.

“My heart really goes out to these people. I’ve seen what a poverty-stricken and miserable standard of living they have. They’re still fighting because they’ve nothing left to lose,” a member of the crew told the BBC.

Their daring escape was the subject of a Russian film, Kandagar, in 2010.

Articles

Can Russia make its missiles invisible?

С-400_«Триумф»


Russia wants to hide its most sophisticated air defense missiles from U.S. spy satellites and spy planes by using containers that block the emission of electromagnetic pulses caused when operating electronic equipment, a Russian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Citing an anonymous Ministry of Defense source, the Russian newspaper Izvestia said the S-400 Triumf (NATO designation: SA-21 Growler) and the newly developed S-500 Promethey will receive special containers designed to the block side electromagnetic interference (EMI). The missiles, their launchers, radar units, command vehicles, and other vehicles essential to the weapons systems will be placed in the containers.

The article also described “booths” that could house personnel. All of the containers would be in different lengths and weights sufficient to hold vehicles and men.

They could be installed on the launcher’s chassis or transported by trucks and trains. Some of the containers have already entered mass production, while other types are currently being tested, according to the article.

“This year we plan to obtain containers intended particularly for the latest anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems including the S-500,” the anonymous source said. Izvestia described him as a Ministry of Defense specialist involved in creating electronic warfare systems.

Russian officials say that once deployed, the S-500 will be capable destroying aerial targets including hypersonic cruise missiles as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles and near-space targets such as nuclear warheads.

The S-400 is currently one of the most sophisticated surface-to-air missiles in the world, capable of targeting multiple threats hundreds of miles away. The Russian military first deployed S-400 in 2007; last year in November, the Russian government sent S-400 batteries to Khmeimim Air Base in Syria in response to the shoot-down of a Su-24M bomber by a Turkish F-16 fighter.

Russian propaganda sources such as the on-line magazine Sputnik and the Kremlin’s Instagram newsfeed tout the news as a way for the missiles to become “invisible.”

The article is vague about the technical details behind the containers. It says the containers have special coatings and sophisticated equipment that prevents the escape of EMI.

If it works, the containers could thwart the five super-secret Orion spy satellites which are designed to collect signals intelligence for the U.S. government from geosynchronous orbits above the Earth. Also, the U-2 spy plane is known to carry highly sensitive SIGINT gear capable of detecting EMI.

But “invisible”? That’s a stretch.

Both missile systems are big and they require support vehicles and personnel. Even in containers, it might still be possible for drones, spy planes, and satellites to photograph them –  even if the containers are disguised in some way – because they’ll stand out like a sore thumb because of sheer size alone.

Heat from the containers might also give their presence and contents away to the right equipment.

That said, there is historical precedent for concern about this development at Pentagon and in the intelligence community.

In 1962, the Soviets deployed intermediate-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and approximately 80 nuclear warheads to Cuba during Operation Anadyr. The discovery of the launch sites for some of those weapons led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the Cold War superpowers ever came to actual nuclear war.

One of the methods employed by the Soviets was the use of shipping containers and metal sheeting to mask the weapons transfer from the Soviet Union to Cuba while on board cargo vessels. The containers blocked the missiles from view; the metal sheets blocked infra-red surveillance that could have revealed the missiles.

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Lone Survivor’ Navy SEAL went ‘John Wick’ on the guys who killed his dog

It was a regular April night around the Luttrell home near Huntsville, Texas. It had been five years since Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell fought the 2005 firefight with the Taliban that was portrayed in the film Lone Survivor. Since then, he received a Yellow Labrador puppy to help him recover from the unseen wounds of the war. He named the pup Dasy, an acronym of the names of his fellow SEALs — the ones that didn’t survive the battle.


A shot rang out throughout the area of the house. Luttrell sprang into action, grabbed a 9mm pistol, checked to see if his mother was alright, and then ran outside to check on Dasy. He found the puppy at the end of a trail of blood.

“When I saw she was dead, the only thing that popped into my head was, ‘I’ve got to take these guys out,'” Luttrell told NBC News.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down

Dasy was just four years old when gunmen shot and killed her.

(Marcus Luttrell)

He then spotted a suspicious vehicle nearby and tried to sneak up on it with a 9mm pistol. When he was 25 yards away, the car left — and Luttrell hopped in his pickup in hot pursuit.

“I saw my dog in a ditch and two men standing outside the car,” Luttrell said. “I could hear them laughing.”

He called the local emergency line and warned the 911 operator that he was chasing the men who killed his dog.

“I told them, ‘You need to get somebody out here because if I catch them, I’m going to kill them,'” Luttrell told the operator, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The Navy Cross recipient stayed on with the emergency operator as he chased the gunmen across three Texas counties in a 40-mile, high-speed chase. Luttrell was still recovering from a recent surgery but it didn’t stop him from attempting to catch the fleeing suspects.

Dasy was more than just a therapy dog to Luttrell. The four-year-old dog helped Luttrell at a time when he wasn’t talking about what happened and had trouble sleeping. Dasy wasn’t just a pet, she was like a daughter to the former SEAL.

Luttrell’s pickup truck couldn’t keep up with the car in which the suspects fled the scene, but the Texas Rangers eventually stopped the vehicle, arresting two of them for cruelty to a non-livestock animal and the driver for not having a license. According to the Rangers, the shooting was the latest in a series of five dog killings in an area Luttrell describes as “the middle of nowhere.”

When Luttrell arrived on the scene, he immediately confronted the suspects, demanding to know which of them murdered Dasy. According to Luttrell, they started talking smack.

“Marcus is trained to do certain things; he fell back on his training,” a Texas Ranger told NBC News. “I wouldn’t advocate to the general public to do what he has done — to follow them at that rate of speed.”
Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down

Luttrell and his new therapy dog, Rigby.

(Marcus Luttrell via Facebook)

Alfonso Hernandez and Michael Edmonds were convicted in 2012 of shooting Dasy with a .357 pistol that night. The conviction was later upheld by a Texas appellate court. Edmonds turned on Hernandez, pleading guilty and testifying against him. Edmonds received five years probation while Hernandez received the maximum sentence, two years confinement and a ,000 fine.

Luttrell said losing Dasy was a huge setback in his life but he soon had another therapy dog in his life, another Yellow Lab named “Rigby.”

Articles

6 times America went to war since 9/11

The Trump administration opened a new military front April 6 when it ordered dozens of cruise missiles against a Syrian air base, adding to a growing list of recent U.S. military forays.


A look at where the United States has fought in the 21st century:

1. Afghanistan

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
U.S. Special Operations personnel take cover to avoid flying debris as they prepare to board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a mission in Kunar province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 25, 2012. (Dept. of Defense photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Weiss, U.S. Navy)

After al-Qaida attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. led an invasion of Afghanistan that ousted the Taliban. Though the U.S. and NATO formally ended their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the war — now in its 16th year — drags on.

Some 8,400 American troops are deployed in Afghanistan, where they train the country’s military and perform counterterrorism operations.

2. Iraq

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
An M2A2 Bradley in action during a mission in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force)

Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and toppled Saddam Hussein. Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011 after failing to reach an agreement with Baghdad to leave a residual U.S. force behind.

But the U.S. sent troops back three years later after the Islamic State group, a successor to al-Qaida in Iraq, seized Iraqi territory and sought to declare an Islamic caliphate.

3. Drone Wars

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Predator drone strike.

Under Obama, the U.S. dramatically increased the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, to launch counterterrorism strikes without the need for a large U.S. military presence on the ground. The CIA and Defense Department have launched strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, some of them covert.

Intense criticism from civil liberties advocates led Obama to create legal parameters for drone use that he hoped future presidents would respect. At least 117 civilians were killed from 2009 to 2016 by drone strikes outside of traditional warzones, the U.S. intelligence community has said. Other estimates place the toll higher.

4. Libya

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
A quick reaction force with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response prepares to depart Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, in support of a military assisted departure from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Maida Kalic)

The U.S. and European allies launched an air campaign in Libya in 2011, aiming to prevent atrocities by strongman Moammar Gadhafi against Arab Spring-inspired opponents. The bombing campaign toppled Gadhafi, but Libya slid into chaos and infighting. The Islamic State group later gained a foothold.

The U.S. has continued to carry out airstrikes in Libya that Washington says has diminished the number of IS extremists operating there.

5. Islamic State Group in Iraq and Syria

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
U.S. Marines with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), on Fire Base Bell, Iraq, fire an M777A2 Howitzer at an ISIS infiltration route March 18, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis)

After IS captured a wide swath of Iraq and Syria in 2014, Obama announced the U.S. could target the group “wherever they are.”

The U.S. started sending small numbers of military advisers to help Iraq’s weakened military fight IS. The number has crept up to around 7,500 U.S. troops. IS has lost much of its former territory.

In Syria, the U.S. has conducted airstrikes against IS since 2014. More recently, the U.S. has dispatched growing numbers of special operations forces to assist Kurdish and Arab forces fighting IS. Roughly 500 U.S. fighters are in Syria, plus additional, “temporary” forces that rotate through.

6. Syria

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) is one of the two warships to fire 59 BGM-109 Tomahawks at the Syrian airfield on April 6, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo)

Even while fighting IS in Syria, the U.S. has avoided wading into Syria’s civil war by directly confronting Syrian President Bashar Assad — until now. On April 6, U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea launched some 60 Tomahawk missiles at an air base in response to a chemical weapons attack blamed on Assad’s forces.

The strikes mark the first direct U.S. attack on Syria’s government, which has waged a six-year civil war against opposition groups. It also puts the U.S. into a de facto proxy battle with Russia’s military, which is on the ground in Syria and has propped up Assad.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy is still fully invested in its railgun tech

Following a flurry of reports in December 2017 predicting the Navy’s $500 million electromagnetic railgun experiment was dead on arrival, the chief of Naval Operations told lawmakers in March 2018 that the death of the program was greatly exaggerated.


“[We are] fully invested in railgun; we continue to test it,” Adm. John Richardson told the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense during a hearing on Navy and Marine Corps budget issues. “We’ve demonstrated it at lower firing rates and … shorter ranges. Now we have to do the engineering to, sort of, crank it up and get it at the designated firing rates, at the 80- to 100-mile range.”

Also read: The Navy’s deck guns are getting a hypervelocity upgrade

Richardson was responding to a question from Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who expressed concern about the proven capability of the Navy’s railgun weapon, which has yet to leave its test site at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Virginia.

“My understanding is these weapons can fire projectiles at extremely high speeds with a range exceeding a hundred miles once fully operational,” Ryan said. “I know China has demonstrated a capability for shipboard railguns, and I’m just concerned, again, that maybe we’re falling short here.”

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Particle debris ignites as a test slug exits the Office of Naval Research 32 MJ Electromagnetic Railgun laboratory launcher located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. (Photo by US Navy)

Photos showing what appears to be a railgun mounted on the Chinese landing ship tank Haiyang Shan emerged in February 2018. The evidence of what appears to be deployable Chinese railgun technology came to light following a handful of reports indicating the Navy’s own gun development program was losing steam.

Related: Why your next battle buddy might be a robot armed with a railgun

Business Insider reported in December 2017 that the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities office was shifting research efforts from the railgun, which uses electromagnetic energy to shoot large projectiles at speeds of up to 4,500 miles per hour, to broader high-velocity projectile study.

The Navy has never acknowledged a loss of interest in railgun technology, however. July 2017, officials with the Office of Naval Research told reporters that the power behind the gun would be increased to 32 megajoules over the summer, giving the weapon a range of 110 miles.

In testimony released March 7, 2018, Richardson indicated the weapon had yet to reach that range in spite of predictions.

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
An electromagnetic railgun prototype on display aboard the joint high-speed vessel USS Millinocket. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop)

“That involves a number of technologies,” he said. “The barrel itself is probably the limiting case, the engineering on that, the materials required to sustain that power pulse, and the heat and pressure that’s involved in launching those projectiles. And we’re doubling down on that.”

Engineers have found the gun’s barrel wears out rapidly when metal projectiles are fired at the blistering rates the railgun’s technology delivers. Another unresolved issue is the power source for the gun; currently, only the new three-ship Zumwalt class of class of mega-destroyers is reportedly capable of supplying the electromagnetic charge needed to operate the gun. The Navy wants to deploy a version of the railgun aboard smaller-sized destroyers.

More: This stunning video shows how fast a railgun can shoot

While Richardson acknowledged the challenges and said Navy brass were “very conscious” of reported Chinese achievements in railgun technology, he maintained the service was still invested in the program.

“As a benefit, too, of the program — the railgun program, we have developed a projectile — high-velocity projectile, which is actually usable across the fleet in a number of different applications, not only in the railgun,” Richardson said. “And so, it’s a very fruitful program that we continue to invest in.”

Articles

Watch how Marines get these savaging rocket launchers ready to destroy faster

The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System can fire 6 rockets at targets as far as 298 miles away. A group of HIMARS trucks firing together can wipe out entire enemy bases, a mission the Army actually conducted in Desert Storm.


Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down
Screenshot: US Marine Corps

But the rocket system is heavy and can only move as quickly as the operators can drive them. Lately, the Marines have been experimenting with how to get HIMARS to the battle more quickly, establishing operational capabilities that they refer to as “air raids” by driving them off of C-17s or C-130s or using amphibious craft to deliver them in “sea raids.”

As part of Exercise Balikatan, an annual exercise between the Philippines and the U.S., the Marines took their HIMARS to that country and fired practice rockets. Watch the video and see how they quickly got the artillery systems to the country and into the fight:


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