A month before World War II, German-born genius Albert Einstein wrote a two-page letter that launched the US into a nuclear arms race against the Nazis.
In the 1939 letter, Einstein warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt that a massive nuclear chain reaction involving uranium could lead to the construction of “extremely powerful bombs of a new type” — the atomic bomb.
Einstein, a pacifist who fled Nazi Germany, learned that three chemists in Berlin were on the brink of perfecting a game-changing weapon after they used nuclear fission to successfully split the uranium atom. The reaction released an unprecedented amount of energy, capable of powering a massive bomb.
“A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory,” Einstein wrote to Roosevelt.
Two years later, and after multiple letters from Einstein, the US created the “Manhattan Project,” America’s plan to design and build the most devastating weapons ever produced up to that time.
Because he did not have a security clearance, Einstein didn’t work on the Manhattan Project. But his simple, eloquent formula E=mc2 appeared in physicist Henry DeWolf Smyth’s report, the first official account of the development of the atomic bomb in 1945.
Einstein’s letters played more of a role in the construction of the bomb than his equation. His formula showed that atomic bombs were theoretically possible, but the equation was irrelevant in the actual creation of a bomb.
Here is the letter that launched America’s A-bomb research:
And here’s President Roosevelt’s response to Einstein:
On August 6, 1945, the US dropped a 5-ton atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The blast killed 80,000 people immediately and leveled four square miles of the city.
Three days later, the US dropped another bomb on Japan’s Nagasaki, killing about 40,000 people instantly; thousands more would die of radiation poisoning.
Eight days later, Japan informally surrendered to the Allied forces, effectively ending World War II.
This new Navy tech aims to use lasers to fool air defense systems and missiles into thinking they see multiple aircraft or even a UAP for that matter–but the plan wasn’t to trick the world into thinking they were being visited by aliens.
America uses stealth technology not just to avoid detection, but to avoid being shot down after they’ve been detected. A recent patent filed by the U.S. Navy meant to increase the survivability of stealth aircraft might do just that, but if the system works the way it’s supposed to, it could just as easily be used to project images into the sky that would look and act a whole lot like the strange crafts depicted in UAP footage released by the U.S. military in recent years.
How can Navy tech be responsible for UAP sightings?
When talking military aviation, it’s not uncommon for many to think of “stealth” as a singular technology utilized to help advanced aircraft defeat detection. The truth, of course, is a lot more complicated than that. Stealth might be more accurately described as an approach to warfare, rather than a specific piece of gear. In order to leverage a stealth aircraft effectively, pains must be taken to limit the platform’s radar cross-section (from multiple angles), its infrared detectability (the amount of heat it releases), and to create a mission flight plan that keeps the aircraft operating to its advantage, rather than its detriment.
The truth is, many of America’s most advanced stealth aircraft aren’t actually invisible to radar detection at all. The intent behind stealth isn’t truly to go entirely unnoticed in many instances, but instead, to prevent an opponent from being able to effectively engage and shoot down your aircraft. To that end, even “stealth” platforms like the F-22 Raptor can actually be spotted on radar using lower frequency bands. Radar systems leveraged in this way can spot sneaky intruders, but they’re not good for establishing a weapon’s grade lock on anything. In other words, lower-frequency radar bands can be used to see stealth planes coming, but can’t be used to shoot them down.
However, coupling these sorts of radar systems with other forms of air defenses can make for a real threat for stealth aircraft. “Heat-seeking” missiles, which have been around since the 1950s and don’t rely on radar to engage targets effectively sniff out encroaching aircraft by following the infrared signature of the super-heated exhaust exiting the back of the jet. While design elements have been incorporated into stealth aircraft aimed at mitigating these infrared signatures, only so much can be done to hide the heat released by the chemical explosions we use to propel our combat aircraft.
So, even if America’s stealth planes were completely invisible to radar (which they aren’t), they still need to worry about infrared-driven missiles fired in their general direction either as a result of visual detection or low-band radar systems. Pilots go to great lengths to plan out their sorties prior to getting airborne to leverage their stealth aircraft most effectively. Limiting exposure to advanced air defense systems, operating at night to avoid visual detection, and employing strategies regarding altitude and angle of attack all play a role in maintaining a “stealth” profile.
In the event a “heat-seeking” missile does find its way onto the trail of a stealth fighter like the F-22, the aircraft has the ability to deploy flares in an attempt to confuse the infrared-led ordnance. But flares offer an extremely limited form of protection in heavily contested airspace. Because of this, the general rule of thumb on combat sorties is simple: try to avoid situations where the enemy can lob missiles at you, and your chances of success increase dramatically.
However, in a large scale conflict against a technologically capable foe like China or (to a lesser extent) Russia, America’s stealth aircraft would face challenges unlike any they have in modern warfare, as our fleets of sneaky fighters and bombers came up against some of the most advanced air defense systems currently employed anywhere on the planet. In such a war, losses would be all but certain, and while America may employ more stealth aircraft than any other nation, our total numbers remain in the hundreds. So each stealth aircraft lost would truly be felt.
But new technology under patent by the U.S. Navy could shift the odds even further into the favor of stealth aircraft: leveraging lasers to produce plasma bursts that could trick inbound missiles into thinking they’ve found a jet to chase that would actually be little more than a hologram.
This technology has already been used to create laser-plasma balls that can transmit human speech. I’m going to be honest with you here, that sentence is as hard to wrap my head around as the writer as it probably is for you to grasp as a reader. Talking plasma balls?
Here’s a video from our friends at Military Times running down this cutting edge plasma technology:
Other applications for this laser system include use as a non-lethal weapon and even as a continuous flashbang grenade that could keep opponents in an area disoriented and unable to respond.
So, how does the Navy intend to leverage this sort of technology to make stealth aircraft even harder to hit? According to their patent, the laser system could be installed on the tail of an aircraft, and upon detection of an inbound missile, could literally project an infrared signature that would be comparable to a moving fighter jet’s exhaust out away from the fighter itself. Multiple systems could literally project multiple aircraft, leaving inbound missiles to go after the decoy plasma “fighters” instead of the actual aircraft itself.
These “laser-induced plasma filaments,” as researchers call them, can be projected up to hundreds of meters, depending on the laser system employed, and (here’s the part that’ll really blow your mind) can be used to emit any wavelength of light. That means these systems could effectively display infrared to fool inbound heat-seeking missiles, ultraviolet, or even visible light. Of course, it’s unlikely that the system could be used to mimic the visual cues of an actual aircraft, but it is possible to produce visible barriers between the weapon operator and the stealth aircraft emitting the laser.
This system could be deployed instantly, reused throughout a mission, and can stay at a desired altitude or location in mid-air; all things flares can’t do. With enough aircraft equipped with these systems (or enough systems equipped on a single aircraft) this method could be used to do far more than just protect jets. In the future, this approach could become a part of a missile defense system employed by Navy ships, carrier strike groups, or even entire cities.
“If you have a very short pulse you can generate a filament, and in the air that can propagate for hundreds of meters, and maybe with the next generation of lasers you could produce a filament of even a mile,” Alexandru Hening, a lead researcher on the patent, told IT magazine in 2017.
It’s likely that we won’t see this technology lighting up the airspace over combat zones any time soon, as there may well be years of research and development left before it finds its way into operational use. However, some have already begun scratching their heads regarding what it appears these laser-induced plasma filaments can do, and how that could explain the unusual behavior recorded in recently acknowledged Navy footage of unidentified aircraft being tracked on FLIR cameras by F/A-18 Super Hornet pilots.
It seems feasible that this technology could be used to fake just such a UFO or UAP sighting… but then, the earliest of these videos was produced in 2004, which would suggest far more advanced laser systems than the United States currently maintains were already in use some 17 years ago.
Could lasers have been used to fake UAP sightings? It seems feasible, but for now, the military’s focus seems set squarely on defensive applications for the patent.
Want to read more about groundbreaking patents filed by the U.S. Navy in recent years?
The Pentagon’s research and development shop is moving one step closer toward building a hypersonic space plane that could shuttle satellites or people into space in record time.
In an announcement on Wednesday, DARPA said that Boeing, which was selected for phase one of the project, would keep working on its advanced design for the Experimental Space plane (XS-1) program with additional funding for phases two and three.
While Phase One of XS-1 was more of a drawing board/concept phase, phases two and three are all about actually building a space plane and conducting flight tests, demonstrations, and hopefully, delivery of a satellite into orbit.
Here’s how DARPA describes what it hopes XS-1 may one day pull off:
The XS-1 program envisions a fully reusable unmanned vehicle, roughly the size of a business jet, which would take off vertically like a rocket and fly to hypersonic speeds. The vehicle would be launched with no external boosters, powered solely by self-contained cryogenic propellants. Upon reaching a high suborbital altitude, the booster would release an expendable upper stage able to deploy a 3,000-pound satellite to polar orbit. The reusable first stage would then bank and return to Earth, landing horizontally like an aircraft, and be prepared for the next flight, potentially within hours.
Since it’s DARPA, the project is focused on national security, and there’s no doubt the Pentagon could save plenty of money and time by launching satellites via a low-cost space plane. But the agency also notes in its announcement that another goal is to “encourage the broader commercial launch sector,” and it will release testing data out to companies who are interested during phases two and three.
So it looks like the military won’t be the only ones having fun flying planes into space, Mr. Skywalker.
DARPA has been behind a number of huge technological advances that have made their way to the private sector, like the Internet, a ton of the components of modern-day computing, and GPS, just to name a few.
“We’re delighted to see this truly futuristic capability coming closer to reality,” said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees XS-1. “Demonstration of aircraft-like, on-demand, and routine access to space is important for meeting critical Defense Department needs and could help open the door to a range of next-generation commercial opportunities.”
On Aug. 25, 1944, Paris was liberated from Nazi occupation.
In June 1940, Germany invaded France, and within two weeks, the French government fell and what remained signed an armistice with the Nazis, based in Vichy.
However, General Charles de Gauille and Free French units who refused to join the Vichy kept fighting the good fight.
Four years later, after the Allied invasion of Normandy, de Galle convinced Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower to employ the Free French 2nd Armored Division and 4th Infantry Division to liberate Paris, even though Hitler ordered that the city be leveled before allowing it to fall into Allied hands.
The German defenders went so far as to lay explosives under Parisian landmarks and bridges, but General Dietrich von Choltitz ultimately refused, claiming he did not want to go be remembered for destroying the “City of Light.”
Von Choltitz was arrested and formally surrendered Paris to de Galle, who would lead France intermittently until 1969.
During the war, Hitler spent three hours in Paris, but spent four years occupying northern France until Allied Forces liberated Paris. During his brief tour, he instructed friend and architect Albert Speer to take note of the city’s design to recreate similar yet superior German buildings.
“Wasn’t Paris beautiful?” Hitler reportedly asked Speer. “But Berlin must be far more beautiful. When we are finished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow.”
While sightseeing, Hitler also ordered the destruction of two French World War I monuments that reminded him of Germany’s bitter defeat. Thankfully, the Führer’s time in Paris — and on earth — came to an end.
The stark vision of the Four Chaplains with linked arms praying while their ship sank 78 years ago lives on. Today, we honor their courage, devotion and ultimate sacrifice.
It was two years after the United States entered into World War II. The Four Chaplains – who would leave an extraordinary legacy – boarded the SS Dorchester, all coming from completely different backgrounds but completely united in a commitment to bring spiritual comfort to their men.
Chaplain George Fox was a veteran of World War I, having served as a medic. He was highly decorated, having received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service. Fox had lied about his age and was just 17 years old when he left for war. When he returned, he finished high school and went to college. He was eventually ordained a Methodist minister in 1934. When war came calling, he volunteered to become an Army Chaplain. On the day he commissioned, his son enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Chaplain and Rabbi Alexander Goode earned his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1940, while finishing his studies to become a Rabbi – like his father before him. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he applied to the Army to become a Chaplain. In 1942, he was selected for Chaplains School at Harvard.
Chaplain Clark Poling was the son of a minister and was ordained as one for the Reformed Church in the late 1930s. After war broke out, he was called to serve. His own father had served as a Chaplain during World War I. He headed to Army Chaplains School at Harvard.
Chaplain John Washington was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1935, having served the church all his life in some form or another. When the war began, he received his appointment as an Army Chaplain.
All four men from different corners of the country and varied faiths, met at Harvard in 1942 and became friends. A year later they’d be on a ship together, all ready to serve.
On February 3, 1943, the civilian liner SS Dorchester, which had been converted for military service, was en route to Greenland with 902 military members, merchant marines and civilian workers. It was being escorted by Coast Guard Cutters Tampa, Escanaba and Comanche. It was a chilly morning as the new day began and the water temperature was hovering around 34 degrees with an air temperature of 36 degrees.
The Coast Guard alerted the captain of the Dorchester that U-Boats had been sighted and he ordered the crew to sleep in their clothes and life jackets. Most of them ignored it though, because it was either so hot down below or they couldn’t sleep well with the life jackets on.
At 12:55am, a German torpedo struck their ship.
A large number of men were killed instantly from the blast and many more critically injured. It knocked their power and communications out, leaving them unable to radio the other ships for support. By some miracle, the CGC Comanche saw the flash of light from the explosion and headed their way to help. They had radioed the Escanaba for added support, while the Tampa continued its escort of the fleet.
According to records, panic and chaos had quickly set in. Men began throwing rafts over and overcrowding soon set in, causing capsizing into the frigid waters. But four Chaplains became a light in the dark for the terrified men. They spread out throughout the ship comforting the soldiers and civilians, bringing order to the frenzy. As the life jackets were being passed out, they ran out.
The Four Chaplains took theirs off, giving them to the men.
Engineer Grady Clark witnessed the whole thing. Each Chaplain was of a different faith, but worked in unison to serve and save the men.
Despite their orderly work, the ship continued to sink. They helped as many men as they could. When it was obvious the ship was going down, the Chaplains linked arms and began praying together. It was said that the crew in the waters below could hear hymns being sung. Survivors would later report hearing a mix of Hebrew and Latin prayers, melding together in a beautiful harmony as they went under, giving their lives to save the rest.
Of the 902 men, only 230 survived.
Before boarding the ship and leaving to serve, Chaplain Poling asked his father to pray for him. The words were poignant and a deep insight to the character of the man he was and those he died alongside. He asked his father to pray “Not for my safe return, that wouldn’t be fair. Just pray that I shall do my duty…never be a coward…and have the strength, courage and understanding of men. Just pray that I shall be adequate.”
Although many fought for these brave men to receive the Medal of Honor for their bravery and heroism, the stringent requirements prevented it from happening. They all received the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross. In 1961, Congress created the Special Medal for Heroism, The Four Chaplains Medal. It was given to them and them only, never to be awarded again.
Radioman Sgt. Forrest Vosler thought he was going to die.
German fighters hit the B-17s and B-24s as they crossed the French coast, but it wasn’t that bad until they were over Bremen, Germany and Vosler’s Jersey Bounce and the rest of the 303rd Bomb Group began their runs. The flak was heavy. The formation’s escort fighters tried to keep the German fighters at bay, but the Luftwaffe pilots slipped into the contrails of the bombers and hit them from behind.
“As soon as we got over the target, they smashed hell out of us,” Capt. Don Gamble, commander of the 303rd Bomb Group said.
Vosler’s B-17 was able to complete her bomb run but by then, there were holes in one wing, an engine was ablaze, and the plane had been knocked out of formation. As she pulled out to head home, a 20mm shell hit the plane’s tail. Shrapnel flew through the body of the plane and Vosler was hit in both legs. He huddled in his radioman’s chair for a few minutes, “terribly scared” and feeling the blood run down his legs, before realizing, as he later said, “This is stupid… I’ve got to do something to protect myself or I’m not going to make it.”
Vosler, a western New York native, had volunteered for the Army Air Corps shortly after his nineteenth birthday, was picked for radio school and sent to Scott Air Field in Illinois and gunner school in Texas, then to England, and finally onto to Jersey Bounce for the Dec. 20, 1943 raid on Bremen factories.
At gunner school, he was told that, on a B-17, “everyone is a gunner.”
Vosler moved to one of the Bounce’s empty guns and began firing, knocking off chunks of a fighter’s wing with his first burst. He kept firing and when his goggles steamed up, he flipped them back to continue. Just then, another 20mm shell hit the Bounce. Vosler was knocked away from his gun, sustaining multiple small wounds and more serious ones in his hand and chest.
“He was shrapnel from his forehead to his knees, everywhere,” Ball Turret Gunner Ed Ruppel recalled, “There was blood all over him.” Vosler could see blood pouring through his right eye. The blood, he found out later, had been inside the eye.
“I [thought] I had lost the whole side of my face… I thought I only had half a face,” he said.
“I became very content, very calm, very collected,” he said. “I no longer feared death, [and] I slowly realized that if God didn’t want to take me at that particular point, then I had to go on and do the best things I could do.”
Almost blind, he returned to his gun until the Jersey Bounce cleared Bremen and then began trying — by touch — to fix the radio that had been damaged in the fighting. Pilot Lt. John Henderson took the Bounce as low as he dared, and the crew busied itself throwing out anything they could to lighten the craft — including damaged guns, ammunition boxes, and seats. As they scoured the plane for material to jettison, Engineer Bill Simpkins passed the radio room where Vosler was working.
“I looked him right in the face,” Simkins said, “and I saw there was stuff dribbling down his right cheek from his eye. He was in a daze, groggy, visibly shook up. He wasn’t normal.”
As the Bounce cleared the French coast and flew over the North Sea, Vosler, having fixed the radio, began sending an SOS and then a holding signal so rescuers could find the plane. With England in sight, Lt. Henderson put down in the water. As the crew climbed out on the plane’s wings, Vosler grabbed wounded tail-gunner, George Buske, who was slipping into the water and held him until a raft could be deployed.
Vosler spent the next several months in the hospital, part of that time completely blind.
He lost his right eye, but he survived.
Eight months later, in August 1944, he received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for, as his citation says, “extraordinary courage, coolness, and skill… when handicapped by injuries that would have incapacitated the average crewmember.”
Senator Daniel Inouye served in WWII and was seriously injured while attacking a German position along a ridge in Tuscany. He stood to throw a grenade into a machine gun nest, when one of the gunners shot him in the stomach. Inouye ignored the wound and killed the machine gunners with his Thompson SMG.
Instead of getting out of combat, Inouye continued the attack and destroyed a second machine gun nest before collapsing from blood loss. After collapsing, Inouye crawled toward a third machine gun nest to continue the assault. As he prepared to throw another grenade, a German RPG severed his right arm. He used his left hand to remove the live grenade from his dead right arm and tossed it into the machine gun nest.
After destroying three German positions, being shot in the stomach, having an arm severed by an RPG, and nearly being blown up with his own grenade, Inouye got up and ran around the ridge, shooting at the remaining Germans with his left hand. He continued to do so until he was shot in the leg, fell off the cliff, and was knocked unconscious at the bottom.
When he awoke in a hospital, his friends told him what he had done. He replied, “No. That’s impossible. Only a crazy person would do that.”
The Kiowa Native Americans have a strong and proud warrior culture. Their enemies feared and respected them on the battlefield. In fact, the most decorated Native American in United States military history is a Kiowa.
Pascal Cleatus Poolaw was born on Jan. 29, 1922 in Apache, Oklahoma. In 1942, he joined his father and two brothers in the military to fight in WWII. Upon completing basic infantry training, Poolaw was sent to the European theater.
On Sep. 8, 1944, Poolaw was assigned to the 8th Infantry Regiment’s M Company near Recogne, Belgium. There, his unit launched an attack on German forces. Despite heavy enemy machine gun fire, Sgt. Poolaw led his company forward while hurling grenades at the German positions. Although he was wounded during his assault, Poolaw did not waiver. For his actions, he was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star — the first of many. His Silver Star citation noted, “Due to Sergeant Poolaw’s actions, many of his comrades’ lives were saved and the company was able to continue the attack and capture strongly defended enemy positions. Sergeant Poolaw’s display of courage, aggressive spirit and complete disregard for personal safety are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”
After WWII, Poolaw stayed in the Army and served again in Korea. On Sep. 19, 1950, Sgt. First Class Poolaw and his company made an attack on an enemy position. However, they were halted by intense enemy fire. Poolaw volunteered to lead a squad in a flanking assault on the enemy’s perimeter. With Poolaw at the front, the American counterattack hit the enemy hard and fast. Through intense hand-to-hand combat and absolute determination, Poolaw successfully led his squad and routed the enemy, earning him his second Silver Star.
Less than a year later, on April 4, 1951, Master Sgt. Poolaw earned a third Silver Star. During an attack near Chongong-ni, one squad of Poolaw’s platoon became trapped by enemy mortar and machine gun fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, Poolaw exposed himself and charged across open terrain at the enemy, firing his weapon as he progressed. The solo assault drew the enemy fire off of Poolaw’s squad and they were able to move to a more advantageous position. In addition to his two new Silver Stars, Poolaw also earned another Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Service Cross in Korea.
In 1952, Poolaw returned to the states. After serving another 10 years in the Army, he retired. However, the Vietnam War brought the Kiowa warrior out of retirement.
By 1967, all four of Poolaw’s sons were in the military. Pascal Cleatus Poolaw Jr. was wounded by a landmine in Vietnam and lost his right leg. When the youngest of Poolaw’s sons, Lindy, was drafted, Poolaw re-enlisted in the Army to fight and keep Lindy off the front lines. However, by the time the elder Poolaw reached the point of departure on the West Coast, Lindy had left for Vietnam just the day before.
Poolaw deployed to Vietnam as the 1st Sgt. of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. On Nov. 7, 1967, his unit conducted a search and destroy mission near the village of Loc Ninh. There, Poolaw and his men were ambushed by a numerically superior Viet Cong force. He immediately sprung into action and led a squad to lay down a base of fire, bearing the brunt of the attack. Under a hail of bullets and rockets, Poolaw moved amongst his troops, ensuring they were in proper fighting positions and returning effective fire.
During the engagement, Poolaw pulled wounded men back to safety despite being wounded himself. As he assisted one of his wounded soldiers, Poolaw was struck by an RPG and killed. His fourth Silver Star citation states, “His dynamic leadership and exemplary courage contributed significantly to the successful deployment of the lead squad and undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.” Poolaw was also posthumously awarded his third Purple Heart.
Shortly before his death, Poolaw wrote a letter home explaining that he rated his job as more important than his own life. His wife, Irene, echoed this sentiment in her eulogy for Poolaw at the Fort Sill Post Cemetery.
“He has followed the trail of the great chiefs,” she said. “His people hold him in honor and highest esteem. He has given his life for the people and the country he loved so much.”
Over the course of three wars, Poolaw earned 42 medals and citations including the Distinguished Service Cross, four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars for valor and three Purple Hearts—one for each war.
Let’s face it. As 2016 has shown, we live in a dangerous world.
Furthermore, there are real problems and challenges at the Pentagon, like $125 billion in “administrative waste” over the last five years.
In less than a month, a new team takes charge, which is to be lead by retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to serve as Secretary of Defense.
So, what are some of the challenges that “Mad Dog” and his team will face?
1. Getting the nuclear house in order
Most of America’s strategic delivery systems are older than music superstar, sometime actress, and veteran serenader Taylor Swift.
Of the two that are younger than her, only one isn’t “feeling 22” as the hit song puts it. In fact, in some case, very outdated tech is being used. How outdated? Try 8-inch floppy disks in an era when a micro SD card capable of holding 128 gigabytes costs less than $40.
Don’t get us wrong, most civilian employees at the Department of Defense do a lot of good. But as the active duty military dropped from 1.73 million in Sep. 2005 to just under 1.33 million in Sep. 2016, the civilian workforce increased from 663,866 to 733,992, according to Pentagon reports.
California Republican Rep. Ken Calvert noted in a Washington Examiner op-ed that the ratio of civilian employees to uniformed personnel is at a historical high.
There was $125 billion of “administrative waste” over the last five years. That money could have bought a lot of gear for the troops. This needs to be addressed as soon as possible, with Iran and China, among other countries, getting a little aggressive. The DOD’s business is to fight wars, and a little refocusing on military manpower might be needed.
3. Acquisition Reform
It is taking longer to deliver weapon systems to the troops, and they are getting more expensive.
Do we have to look to the 1970s for acquisition reform? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
The Air Force announced the B-21 Raider earlier this year. But it might not be in service until the mid-2020s at the very earliest — and the B-52 isn’t getting any younger. The F-35 has taken almost 15 years to reach an initial operational capability after the winner was chosen in 2001.
By comparison, Joe Baugher notes that the F-111 took about five years from the selection of General Dynamics to the first planes reaching operational squadrons — and that drew controversy back then.
4. Cyber warfare
With some of the hacks that have gone on, it’s amazing that so many people find this a snoozer. Keep in mind, this October, a massive cyberattack cost companies over $110 million — enough to buy a F-35B.
And the Pentagon needs to tighten its defenses — this past June, over 130 bugs were found when DOD offered “bug bounties” to so-called “white hat” hackers. While it’s nice a lot of the bugs were found… did the “white hats” miss any?
5. Old Equipment
Age isn’t just striking the nuclear force. Many of the systems used for conventional warfare are old as well. In a commentary for the Washington Examiner, Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) noted that many F-15 Eagle fighters are over 30 years old. To put this into context, take a look at how old three music superstars are: Taylor Swift is 27, Ariana Grande is 23, and Ke$ha is 29. It’s past time for recapitalization.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency held a massive scavenger hunt in the nation’s capitol to collect data on how to find dirty nuclear bombs planted by terrorists.
Participants in the scavenger hunt, mostly ROTC cadets and midshipmen from the nearby Naval Academy, were playing a game to find a geneticist who was “mysteriously abducted.” But they carried cell-phone sized sensors that sniffed out radioactive material as they moved around the city for hours, allowing DARPA to test the ability of the sensors to search for a covert nuke.
The sensors, part of DARPA’s SIGMA program, are low-cost gamma and neutron radiation sniffers that are networked with smartphones so they can relay information to a central point.
Before this scavenger hunt, DARPA had only tested up to 100 sensors at a time. But the network of sensors is supposed to provide coverage of entire cities or regions, allowing law enforcement to search for and find stolen or smuggled nuclear material before it can be used in a weapon.
In a real attack, police would need to scan vast areas using hundreds or more sensors. So, the Nov. 10 test featured 1,000 sensors feeding their information into the program’s software.
The scavenger hunt scenario was developed to keep the cadets and midshipmen engaged as they carried the devices around Washington, D.C., for hours. Even larger tests are planned for 2017 and DARPA partners hope to push the final version of SIGMA to local, state, and federal police in 2018.
Dirty bombs are conventional explosives with nuclear material mixed in or layered on top of the main charge. The nuclear material does not significantly add to the total blast force of the weapon, but it is spread over a large area to frighten residents and to force a costly and time-consuming cleanup process.
Dirty bombs are easier to make than standard nuclear devices, and the government has worked to prevent a dirty bomb terrorist attack for years.
Sebastian Junger is not a military veteran. He makes that clear, but he sure sounds like one. Maybe it’s because he’s covered conflict zones
from Sierra Leone to Nigeria to Afghanistan as a journalist. It’s safe to say he’s seen more conflict than many in the United States military.
If there’s an expert on modern warfare and the long-term effects of those who live it, that person is Sebastian Junger.
He sees war and its effects through the lens of an anthropologist. This not only gives him the perspective to look back on his homecoming—and the homecomings of U.S. troops—to see the problems and abnormalities with how societies deal with their combat veterans, it allows him to put those ideas into words. Some words returning and transitioning veterans may not have ever known to use.
“We try hard to keep combat at a distance,” he says in the new
PBS documentary Going to War. “But when we talk about war, we talk about what it means to be human.”
In Going to War, Junger and fellow author Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War) examine the paradox of fighting in combat: how the brotherhood and sense of purpose contrast with the terror, pain, and grief surrounding the violence and destruction. It starts with the training. Whenever young men (and now women) are placed in a situation where they would be fighting for their lives, the training would diminish perceptions of the individual in favor of the group.
“If you have people acting individualistically in a combat unit, the unit falls apart and gets annihilated,” Junger says. “So you need them to focus on the group. The training, beyond firing a weapon, is an attempt to get people to stop thinking of themselves.
This is not just the U.S. military. This is every military around the world.
The United States is “orders of magnitude” more capable than most. What the U.S. is having trouble dealing with is what comes after its veterans return home and then to civilian life. For returning vets, sometimes the problem is returning to an unearned hero’s welcome.
Only about ten percent of the military will ever see combat. Those who don’t still get the welcome home, but feel guilty for feeling like they never did enough to earn that accolade.
For those who were in combat, the experience of being shot, shot at, and watching others get killed or wounded is a traumatic experience that our increasingly isolated society doesn’t handle well.
When veterans leave the military, separation becomes a more apt term than we realize. Our wealthy, individualistic modern society rips military veterans from their tribal environment while they’re in the military and puts them back into a cold, unfamiliar and far less communal world.
Junger thinks a fair amount of what we know as PTSD is really the shock of a tribal-oriented veteran being put in an individualized environment.
“Going to War did a fantastic job of capturing the experience of fighting in a war and then coming home,” Junger says. “For me one of the most powerful moments wasn’t even on the battlefield.
Junger goes on to describe what, for him, is the most poignant story out of a slew of emotional, true stories of men fighting nearly a century of wars:
“A young man, a Marine describing his final training, a ruck march. They had heavy packs and the guy had an injury so he couldn’t walk very well. Another guy comes along and carries his pack for him, so the second guy is carrying 160 pounds maybe, and says ‘If you’re not gonna make it across the finish in time, then neither will I. We’re gonna do it together or fail together.’ And that is the central ethos to men in combat in the military.”
Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.
The events of September 11, 2001 changed the United States of America as we know it. However, its impact on foreign countries is often overlooked. When the Twin Towers fell, people all around the world mourned the loss of innocent life.
On that infamous day, Daan van der Steijn was just 3 months old. His mother was feeding him at home in Deurne, The Netherlands when the attacks happened. Of course, Daan was too young to remember any of it at the time.
Ten years later, the van der Steijn family was watching the documentary 102 Minutes That Changed America on Dutch television. The viewing became an annual tradition on the anniversary of 9/11 to commemorate the tragedy. By that age, Daan was more able to comprehend the gravity of the terror attacks. Moreover, he was able to appreciate the heroics of the first responders who climbed the towers and charged into the smoke and rubble.
The van der Steijn family is a firefighting one. Daan’s great-grandfather, cousin and two more relatives served or currently serve as firefighters. With the added personal connection, Daan began brainstorming ideas to pay tribute to the victims and heroes on 9/11.
In 2016, Daan settled on an idea. The 14-year-old had become a talented woodworker and artist. He put these skills to use building a replica of the World Trade Center Plaza as it stood before 9/11. The project took Daan four years, 10,000 hours, and $10,000 of his own money to complete. He spent 30 hours alone typing the 2,977 names of the people killed on 9/11 plus the six who died in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993, which line the base of the memorial.
Though the project required an incredible amount of time, money, and hard work, Daan was determined to complete it. “The tragedy touched me deeply and it seemed unreal to see two passenger airplanes fly into the World Trade Center and kill that many people,” he recalled. “I wanted to create a project as a memorial to all that passed away.”
In 2019, upon the completion of his memorial, Daan reached out to local partners in the Netherlands to tour it. Appearing first in Daan’s hometown, the exhibit went to several Dutch cities before it began its American tour in 2021.
The American tour coincides with the 20th anniversary of the attacks and is partnered with Honor365, a resource and referral service dedicated to combating veteran and first responder suicide. The exhibit was featured across the country before heading to New York for the 9/11 anniversary.
In 2020, Daan began his own firefighter training at the Dutch Firefighter Academy. Using the same motivation and dedication that he used to build his 9/11 memorial, Daan is on track to become an official firefighter in 2022.
Feature Image: Daan van der Steijn with his 9/11 memorial (Honor365)