The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines - We Are The Mighty
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The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines


The U.S. Navy has sleek new vessels called Littoral Combat Ships but they are not very good at one of their primary missions: Finding mines.

The problem stems from the ship’s Remote Minehunting System (RMS) and Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMW), an underwater drone that is supposed to seek out mines. Key phrase: supposed to.

From Vice:

“Recent developmental testing provides no statistical evidence that the system is demonstrating improved reliability, and instead indicates that reliability plateaued nearly a decade ago,” the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOTE), Dr. Michael Gilmore, noted in an August 3 memo. In other words, $700 million down the drain, and there’s no way to prove it’s any less likely to break than it was a decade ago.

The system has come under harsh criticism from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The senators slammed the RMMW as unreliable and pressed the Navy to consider alternatives, which they outlined in a letter obtained by Breaking Defense.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines

It looks like the Navy is taking that advice. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the service is chartering an independent review of the RMS, which will report back within 60 days.

So will the Navy figure a way out of a $700 million-dollar boondoggle? Maybe. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take the lead of the Air Force.

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The vulnerability of US Navy ships to computer hacking is scarier than you’d think

The collision of guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain with a tanker near Singapore was the fourth accident involving ships from the US Navy’s 7th fleet in less than a year.


Two of the incidents — collisions involving the USS McCain and the USS Fitzgerald earlier this summer — have left a total of 17 sailors dead or missing, more than the 11 service members killed in Afghanistan so far this year.

After the McCain collision, the Navy relieved the commander of the 7th fleet “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to the Navy.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald who were killed in a collision at sea. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III

The service also planned a temporary halt of operations around the world and to launch a fleet-wide review in search of systemic issues that could have contributed to the most recent incidents.

The Navy is known for its thorough and unsparing reviews, which have been undertaken in the aftermath of each incident, and analysts are already pointing to internal issues, as well as high operational tempos in heavily trafficked waterways, that could be related to the mishaps.

But the number of accidents involving warships in the western Pacific — during “the most basic of operations” — has stirred concern that outside factors are affecting the ships and their crews.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) oversees operations from the bridge wing of the ship. Navy photo by Patrick I Crimmins.

“There’s something more than just human error going on because there would have been a lot of humans to be checks and balances” when transiting the Strait of Malacca, the narrow, heavily trafficked waterway the McCain was approaching, Jeff Stutzman, a former Navy information warfare specialist, told McClatchy.

“I don’t have proof, but you have to wonder if there were electronic issues,” said Stutzman, who is now chief intelligence officer for cyber-intelligence service Wapack Labs.

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, tweeted on August 21 that there were “no indications right now” of “cyber intrusion or sabotage.” But, he added, the “review will consider all possibilities.”

 

The admiral said the McCain’s collision with the tanker was the second “extremely serious incident” since the Fitzgerald’s collision with a Philippine cargo ship off the coast of Japan in mid-June. The nature of the incidents and the narrow window in which they occurred “gives great cause for concern that there is something out there that we’re not getting at.”

Experts have downplayed the likelihood of such attacks on US warships, noting that infiltrating Navy guidance systems would be very hard to do and instead citing human negligence or error as likely causes. Others have dismissed the likelihood of state-directed attacks on ships at sea, noting that such efforts would be a misuse of resources, strategically unwise, and generally harmful to maritime conduct.

But recent high-profile cyberattacks around the world have brought new attention to the security of maritime navigation, which is highly reliant on computer networks.

The US Navy uses encrypted navigation systems that would be difficult to hack or deceive, and there’s no sign satellite communications were at fault in the McCain’s collision. But there is technology out there to misdirect GPS navigation — typically through a process known as “spoofing” that leaves the system thinking it is somewhere it’s not.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock after sustaining significant damage. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leonard Adams.

The software and electronic gear needed to spoof a GPS system has become easier to get in recent years, particularly for private or nonstate actors.

In 2013, a team of graduate students led by Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and satellite-navigation expert, were able to spoof the GPS on an $80 million yacht, directing it hundreds of yards off course without the system detecting the change.

In late June, GPS signals for about 20 ships in the eastern Black Sea were manipulated, with navigation equipment on the ships, though seeming to be functioning correctly, saying the ships were located 20 miles inland. An attack on thousands of computers later that month also disrupted shipping around the world.

Global commercial shipping is more vulnerable to such attacks and cargo ships are more exposed — the number of them plying the high seas has quadrupled over the past 25 years. And causing a collision by hacking or hijacking a commercial vessel’s GPS is seen as increasingly possible.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
The crowded seas of the Strait of Malacca. Photo from Safety4Sea.com

Most commercial and passenger ships use the Automatic Identification System, or AIS, to locate other ships and avoid collisions. But the AIS has weaknesses, and hackers could in theory send out a signal claiming to be a phantom ship, affecting navigation decisions by other ships in the area.

Dana Goward, former chief of Marine Transportation Systems for the US Coast Guard, said hackers could go after the unsecured navigation system on a commercial or private ship while simultaneously jamming a Navy ship’s guidance systems. Or they could misdirect the commercial ship’s guidance system, sending the ship off-course.

In the aftermath of the McCain and Fitzgerald collisions, the demands facing the US Navy, and the Pacific fleet in particular, have gotten renewed focus. Greater operational demands on fewer ships have cut into time for rest as well as time dedicated to training (and the nature of that training has changed as well).

In light of such demands, experience suggests that in high-traffic areas mistakes by humans manning the ships remained a likely culprit, said Goward, a former Coast Guard captain. “It’s a difficult environment to be in and human error is always present,” he told USA Today.

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These are the 12 largest nuclear detonations in history

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Wikimedia


In a surprise announcement, North Korea has claimed that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

Pyongyang, which has a history of exaggerating its successes, claims that the test was a “perfect success.”

North Korea also believes that its successful miniaturization of a hydrogen bomb elevates the country’s “nuclear might to the next level.”

Since the first nuclear test on July 15, 1945, there have been over 2,051 other nuclear weapons tests around the world.

No other force epitomizes the absolute destructive power humanity has unlocked in the way nuclear weapons have. And the weapons rapidly became more powerful in the decades after that first test.

The device tested in 1945 had a 20 kiloton yield, meaning it had the explosive force of 20,000 tons of TNT. Within 20 years, the US and USSR tested nuclear weapons larger than 10 megatons, or 10 million tons of TNT. For scale, these weapons were at least 500 times as strong as the first atomic bomb.

To put the size of history’s largest nuclear blasts to scale, we have used Alex Wellerstein’s Nukemap, a tool for visualizing the terrifying real-world impact of a nuclear explosion.

In the following maps, the first ring of the blast is the fireball, followed by the radiation radius. In the pink radius, almost all buildings are demolished and fatalities approach 100%. In the gray radius, stronger buildings would weather the blast, but injuries are nearly universal. In the orange radius, people with exposed skin would suffer from third-degree burns, and flammable materials would catch on fire, leading to possible firestorms.

11 (tie). Soviet Tests #158 and #168

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

On August 25 and September 19, 1962, less than a month apart, the USSR conducted nuclear tests #158 and #168. Both tests were held over the Novaya Zemlya region of Russia, an archipelago to the north of Russia near the Arctic Ocean.

No film or photographs of the tests have been released, but both tests included the use of 10-megaton atomic bombs. These blasts would have incinerated everything within 1.77 square miles of their epicenters while causing third-degree burns up to an area of 1,090 square miles.

10. Ivy Mike

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
CTBTO

On November 1, 1952, the US tested Ivy Mike over the Marshall Islands. Ivy Mike was the world’s first hydrogen bomb and had a yield of 10.4 megatons, making it 700 times as strong as the first atomic bomb.

Ivy Mike’s detonation was so powerful that it vaporized the Elugelab Island where it was detonated, leaving in its place a 164-foot-deep crater. The explosion’s mushroom cloud traveled 30 miles into the atmosphere.

9. Castle Romeo

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Wikimedia Commons

Romeo was the second US nuclear detonation of the Castle Series of tests, which were conducted in 1954. All of the detonations took place over Bikini Atoll. Castle Romeo was the third-most powerful test of the series and had a yield of 11 megatons.

Romeo was the first device to be tested on a barge over open water instead of on a reef, as the US was quickly running out of islands upon which it could test nuclear weapons.

The blast would have incinerated everything within 1.91 square miles.

8. Soviet Test #123

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

On October 23, 1961, the Soviets conducted nuclear test #123 over Novaya Zemlya. Test #123 used a 12.5 megaton nuclear bomb. A bomb of this size would incinerate everything within 2.11 square miles while causing third-degree burns in an area of 1,309 square miles.

No footage or photographs of this nuclear test have been released.

7. Castle Yankee

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Screengrab | YouTube

Castle Yankee, the second-strongest of the Castle series tests, was conducted on May 4, 1954. The bomb was 13.5 megatons. Four days later, its fallout reached Mexico City, about 7,100 miles away.

6. Castle Bravo

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
U.S. Department of Energy

Castle Bravo, detonated on February 28, 1954, was the first of the Castle series of tests and the largest US nuclear blast of all time.

Bravo was anticipated as a 6-megaton explosion. Instead, the bomb produced a 15-megaton fission blast. Its mushroom cloud reached 114,000 feet into the air.

The US military’s miscalculation of the test’s size resulted in the irradiation of approximately 665 inhabitants of the Marshall Islands and the radiation poisoning death of a Japanese fisherman who was 80 miles away from the detonation site.

3 (tie). Soviet Tests #173, #174, and #147

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

From August 5 to September 27, 1962, the USSR conducted a series of nuclear tests over Novaya Zemlya.Tests #173, #174, and #147 all stand out as being the fifth-, fourth-, and third-strongest nuclear blasts in history.

All three produced blasts of about 20 megatons, or about 1,000 times as strong as the Trinity bomb. A bomb of this strength would incinerate everything within 3 square miles.

No footage or photographs of these nuclear tests have been released.

2. Soviet Test #219

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

On December 24, 1962, the USSR conductedTest #219 over Novaya Zemlya. The bomb had a yield of 24.2 megatons. A bomb of this strength would incinerate everything within 3.58 square miles while causing third-degree burns in an area up to 2,250 square miles.

There are no released photos or video of this explosion.

1. The Tsar Bomba

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Screengrab | YouTube

On October 30, 1961, the USSR detonated the largest nuclear weapon ever tested and created the biggest man-made explosion in history. The blast, 3,000 times as strong as the bomb used on Hiroshima, broke windows 560 miles away, according to Slate.

The flash of light from the blast was visible up to 620 miles away.

The Tsar Bomba, as the test was ultimately known, had a yield between 50 and 58 megatons, twice the size of the second-largest nuclear blast.

A bomb of this size would create a fireball 6.4 square miles large and would be able to give humans third-degree burns within 4,080 square miles of the bomb’s epicenter.

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6 unbelievable military love stories

1. A POW escaped prison to have an affair with the daughter of a Nazi worker

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
A thin but defiant Horace Greasley stares down Heinrich Himmler during a prison inspection Photo: Wiki Commons


When Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia on September 1, 1939, 20-year-old British hairdresser Horace Greasley was drafted into the British Army.* Unfortunately, the aspiring barber was better with scissors than he was with a rifle, and he was captured and sent to a Polish POW camp almost immediately. Most people would be too devastated by this turn of events to even think about scoping out potential romantic opportunities, but Horace Greasley is not most people.

A few days into his imprisonment he met Rosa Raubach, the beautiful daughter of the camp’s quarry director, and the two began a secret affair that lasted for nearly a year before he was transferred to a different prison. But the story doesn’t end here — instead of giving up on his prison girlfriend, Horace decided he was up for a challenge, and continued the relationship under the Nazis’s noses. With the help of his friends he would crawl under a section of barbed wire fencing to escape back into his old prison and reunite with his lady love, rather than search for a way to neutral territory.

The pair kept up this forbidden rendezvous about three times a week for five years. Amazingly, Horace and Rosa were never found out by the Nazis — the only thing that stopped the couple was the liberation of Poland at the end of the war, when they went their separate ways.

2. This Civil War couple cross-dressed and became Union outlaws to defy the Confederacy

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Keith and Linda Balcok | Wiki Commons

Keith and Linda Balock loved the Union just as much as they loved each other, so when their home state of North Carolina sided with the Confederacy, they knew it was time to take drastic measures. Realizing that Keith would have to enlist in the Confederate army or risk imprisonment (and probably worse), the husband and wife swore to stay together — even on the front lines. Linda donned men’s clothes and posed as “Sam” Balock, Keith’s fictitious brother, and the pair entered the army together, planning to defect to the Union as soon as they reached Northern territory.

Before they could cross Union lines, however, Linda’s true identity was discovered, and she was forced to leave. Unwilling to be apart from his wife, Keith decided he would get himself discharged too. The next day he went out to the forest, stripped naked, and rolled around in poison ivy until he could convince Confederate doctors that he had an incurable disease. Once released, the pair fled to the Appalachian mountains, where they lived as Union raiders for the rest of the war and worked to sabotage Confederate military efforts.

3.  Two Jewish resistance leaders met in a concentration camp, fell in love, and planned their escape together

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Marla Zimetbaum before her capture, a prison photo Edward Gilenski | Wiki Commons

When 24-year-old Marla Zimetbaum was arrested and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau because of her Jewish heritage, she vowed to do whatever it took to bring her Nazi oppressors down. What she didn’t realize at the time, however, was that she wouldn’t have to do it alone. While working as a prison interpreter, she met fellow inmate Edward Gilenksi, a young Polish man who was plotting his escape from the camp. She began crafting the escape plan with him, and the two young people, who were both rumored to have been part of Jewish resistance groups, fell in love.

In June of 1944, Gilenski disguised himself as an SS guard and Zimetbaum as a male prisoner, and they made it outside of the camp’s perimeter gate. Once there, Zimetbaum changed out of her men’s clothes and the pair pretended to be a Nazi and his girlfriend out for a walk.  They swore to stay together no matter what happened, and lived together in freedom for four days before Zimetbaum was discovered buying groceries and arrested. Keeping his promise, Gilenski turned himself in, and the two were tragically executed on the same day. Before their deaths the two reportedly rallied their fellow prisoners to continue the resistance against the Nazis, and became symbols of Jewish resistance against the Nazi regime.

4.  60 years after Stalin banished her family to Siberia, this Russian woman reunited with her husband

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Photo via the Telegraph

Only three days after his marriage to Anna Kozlov in 1946, Boris Kozlov had to return to fight with his Red Army unit in Communist Russia. The couple kissed goodbye and waved as Boris returned to his post, expecting to see each other again in a few weeks. They had no idea that they would not be reunited until 60 years later. After Boris left, Anna and her family were banished to Siberia during Stalin’s purges, and they were unavailable to leave word for any of their family or friends. When Boris returned home, expecting to be greeted by his beautiful young bride, he was crushed — she was nowhere to be found. Desperate, he scoured the town for news of her disappearance, but found nothing.

Meanwhile, Anna considered suicide, convinced she would never again see the love of her life. After a while and at the pressure of their families, they both reluctantly moved on and remarried, resigned to the fact that their marriage was not meant to be. Half a century later however, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the deaths of both their spouses, Anna returned to her hometown — and ran into Boris. She saw him getting out of his car while she walked about her old street, and the two miraculously recognized each other. They married each other again days later — finally leading the life they had dreamed of as young newlyweds.

 5. 20-year-old Olga Watkins infiltrated Dachau to find her Jewish fiance

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Olga Watkins sits with her fiance before his arrest Photo via Litverse

Olga Watkins was leading an ordinary, happy life when her fiance Julius Koreny was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and taken away. Devastated, she ignored the pleas of her family and friends to give up on Julius — who had surely been killed by the the Nazis — and instead set out to find him herself. Her quest led her on a 2,000 mile journey from Zagreb through Nazi-occupied Europe, to the gates of Dachau and finally Buchenwald, one of The Third Reich’s most notorious concentration camps.

Terrified but determined to free Julius, Olga asked for a job as a secretary in the camp offices and began searching for clues amongst the Nazis who captured her lover. Finally, with the American liberation only days away, Olga got her hands on Julius’s documentation — only to find he’d been transferred to Buchenwald. Only half-hoping he’d be alive, Olga rushed to the now liberated and nearly desolate camp — and against all odds — found Julius, who was recovering from typhus. A few days later,  the remaining survivors of the camp joined together to help throw them a wedding, and the star-crossed lovers were married.

 6. “Stonewall” Jackson’s last words were for his beloved wife

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Stonewall Jackson, Mary Anne Jackson, and their daughter Julia

Most people know Confederate General Thomas Jackson, AKA the notorious “Stonewall” Jackson, for his often ruthless battle tactics and dauntless leadership. Few, however, know of his passionate love for his wife. A devout Christian, Jackson was incredibly devoted to his marriage to the love of his life, a woman named Mary Anna Morrison. Though he was smitten with her from the beginning, they hit some obstacles when they first began courting — Mary Anna had sworn she would never marry a soldier, Democrat, or a widower, and Jackson was three for three. She soon got over these concerns, however, and the two were married in 1857.
The couple was inseparable, and Jackson was overjoyed when Mary Anna gave birth to their baby daughter, Julia, in 1862. Sadly, he was wounded in friendly fire at the Battle of Chancelorville just a few weeks later, but Mary Anna raced to his location and was with him as he drew his last breath. Before he closed his eyes for the last time, Jackson whispered to his wife, “Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” Mary Anna chose to dress in mourning black for the rest of her life to honor her beloved husband, and never remarried.
Editor’s note: An original version of this post contained wording that made it sound like Horace Greasley was drafted by the Czech Army. Though he was called up after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, he was a Briton called up by the British Army for service. The wording updated to make this more clear.
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US think tank says Israel planned to use a nuclear bomb in 1967

JERUSALEM (AP) — A leading Washington think tank has detailed what it says was a secret Israeli plan to detonate an atomic bomb in the event it faced defeat in the 1967 Mideast war.


The operation never took off. But details about the doomsday scenario, in which Israel planned to set off a nuclear weapon atop a remote mountain in the Sinai Peninsula, shed new light on the fearful climate at the time. It also could undermine Israel’s decades-long policy of nuclear ambiguity.

The Nuclear Proliferation International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars unveiled a website Monday devoted to “Operation Shimshon,” the codename for what it said was the hastily arranged plan.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry had no comment.

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Watch China launch planes from its only aircraft carrier

Carriers are awesome. Even bad carriers are awesome. They’re floating fortresses with airstrips on the roof. They’re the original man-made islands.


And that’s why, potential adversary or no, China’s single aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is pretty cool. It’s a smaller carrier built on a rusted relic purchased from Ukraine in 1998 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
(Photo: YouTube/CGTN)

The former Soviet carrier was destined for a glitzy life as a floating casino, but the Chinese company that bought it gave the hull to the People’s Liberation Navy and it was treated for corrosion, given new engines and other major systems, and sent back to sea as the Liaoning, a combatant and training ship.

Now, the Liaoning is China’s only aircraft carrier in service, though another is almost ready for commissioning and more are reportedly under construction. The ship supports up to 24 J-15 fighters, though it typically carries fewer.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
(Photo: YouTube/CGTN)

The Liaoning is a darling of the Chinese propaganda effort, and its J-15 “Flying Shark” fighters are popular as well.

See China’s recent video of their launching J-15s off the Liaoning into the South China Sea below:

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The US wants a laser-equipped drone that would be a silver bullet for stopping North Korea

The US Missile Defense Agency just issued a bold request for proposals for a missile defense system that could change the game and act like a silver bullet against North Korean missile launches.


The MDA asked for proposals to build a high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aircraft capable of flying higher than 63,000 feet and carrying a laser to shoot down ballistic missiles as they arc upwards towards the sky.

While the laser system sounds like something out of science fiction, and is something the US Navy has struggled to field for over a decade, Ricky Ellison of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance told Business Insider that this drone could be the perfect application of the technology.

“What it can do is intercept missiles in the boost phase, therefore you don’t need to have billion dollar radars all over the world to intercept with 80 million dollar interceptors,” said Ellison.

Ballistic missiles fly high into earth’s atmosphere before breaking apart, often releasing multiple reentry vehicles, countermeasures, and decoys. This makes them a nightmare for traditional missile defense systems which track the launch and then fire interceptor vehicles to smash them apart upon reentry.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Another possible design for the laser interceptor. Photo from missilethreat.csis.org

Even the top-of-the-line THAAD system, recently sent to South Korea, would struggle to destroy a large salvo from North Korea, and the price of installing and using the entire system, interceptors included, would cost into the billions. Additionally, THAAD’s high-powered radar capability makes China extremely nervous, as they believe it could limit their ability to respond to a nuclear strike from the US.

Meanwhile, a solid state laser can be fired continuously for dollars a minute, about what you’d pay for electricity in your home. Though building the platform would cost millions in research, development, and testing.

Traditionally, while boost-phase interception looks more attractive on paper because it hits the missile in a more vulnerable stage, it’s been impractical because the interceptor has to be close to the projectile.

So there’s just no way the US could intercept a missile fired from central Russia or China in its boost phase. With a small country like North Korea though, US drones right off the border could melt down missiles with a light-speed weapon in the cloudless upper atmosphere.

“This would be far more efficient to have boost-phase intercept capability over that territory at that height to handle that,” said Ellison. “As North Korea develops countermeasures, decoys, multiple reentry vehicles, and all the things that will continue to evolve, you have a great opportunity to eliminate all those advancing technologies before all that gets dispersed.”

The MDA hopes to field this technology by 2023, at which point most experts agree North Korea will have perfected an intercontinental ballistic missile.

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Oliver Stone thinks Edward Snowden is a hero

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Edward Snowdon in Oliver Stone’s new movie coming out in September. (Photo: Open Road Films)


In the first full trailer for Snowden, Oliver Stone’s biopic of the NSA contractor who leaked classified documents to the media in 2013, the director makes clear that he thinks Edward Snowden is an American hero.

 

The movie version of Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a good soldier who trains on broken legs without complaint for two weeks, aspired to serve in special forces and wants to join the CIA to serve his country. He is shocked by what he sees at the NSA and wants the rest of America to make an informed decision in the privacy versus security debate.

All of this matches up perfectly with Vietnam veteran Stone’s long-time movie obsessions with shadowy government figures and national security. After getting delayed twice, the movie finally opens in theaters on September 16.

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This special tactics Airman received a medal upgrade for a dramatic rescue

A combat controller will receive the Air Force’s highest combat medal for extraordinary heroism, after a service-wide review of medals awarded since 9/11.


The Air Force Cross will be presented to former Staff Sgt. Christopher Baradat, now separated, who had received the Silver Star medal for his essential role in rescuing 150 coalition members in Afghanistan, April 6, 2013.

Related: Here’s what makes a Combat Controller so deadly

“Chris Baradat exemplifies the professionalism, courage and lethality of special tactics Airmen,” said Col. Michael E. Martin, the 24th Special Operation Wing commander. “Every day, special tactics Airmen like Chris willingly put themselves in harm’s way to fight and win our nation’s wars.”

While on his third deployment, Baradat was attached to a U.S. Army Special Forces team tasked to support pinned-down coalition forces flanked by enemy fighters in a valley in Kunar Province. As the special forces convoy approached the steep valley, it became clear that the vehicles wouldn’t fit through the narrow mountain path.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
The Air Force Cross will be presented to former Staff Sgt. Christopher Baradat, now separated, who had previously received the Silver Star medal for his essential role in rescuing 150 coalition members in Afghanistan, April 6, 2013. | Courtesy photo

Baradat and eight others dismounted and sprinted toward the embattled friendly forces, but came under heavy fire within 1,000 meters of their objective. Without hesitation, Baradat identified the enemy’s position and called in close air support from A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jets and AC-130 gunships—eliminating the immediate threat. The team pressed toward the friendly forces when they were again pinned down by an avalanche of enemy gunfire from the ridgelines above.

They took cover in a small compound nearby, but the thick walls limited the radio signal, interfering with the ground force’s link to the aircraft above. The team was outnumbered and outgunned, Baradat knew it would only be a matter of time before the enemy had them surrounded.

With complete disregard for his own personal safety, Baradat left cover and exposed himself directly to enemy gunfire to communicate with the aircraft above and protect the team. “That was where I needed to be standing to communicate with the aircraft and to get the mission done,” he said in an interview from 2014.

Although his team shouted at him to take cover, he systematically began engaging the enemy.”I remember repeatedly yelling at him to get behind cover, yet he ignored the warnings, choosing instead to keep fires on the enemy positions,” wrote one of his Army Special Forces teammates about the event.

Baradat controlled multiple aircraft while he stood in the open courtyard–sprayed by dirt as rounds impacted the ground near him– relaying targets he spotted to the aircraft above.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines

“Throughout the next two hours, I witnessed (Staff) Sgt. Baradat call for fire and utilize eight different aircraft [six A-10s and two AC-130s] to eliminate the enemy threatening both his team and the friendly forces they were sent to rescue,” wrote one of the AC-130 pilots in an after action report. But enemy fire intensified as the single element navigated through the narrow terrain in their armored vehicles, vulnerable to the enemy.

Baradat’s radio connection was limited inside the vehicle, so with no hesitation, he positioned himself on the vehicle’s running board outside the safety of the vehicle’s armor … secured only by a teammate holding onto his belt.

With his body scraping the narrow canyon walls, peppered by falling rocks knocked loose from the heavy machine gun fire, Baradat directed precise strafing runs and bomb drops until the entire team was clear of enemy fire. “You never know what to expect going into any combat situation, but I do feel that the intense and diverse training that I received from … the special tactics community, set me up to handle the stress of the situation,” Baradat said of the battle. “I was only one piece of the puzzle that day; if it wasn’t for the extreme professionalism and fearless intensity of my Army Special Forces team, the mission could have turned out a lot differently.”

Also read: This combat controller kept taking it to the enemy after he was shot in the chest

In the end, Baradat precisely directed 13 500-pound bombs and over 1,100 rounds of ammunition during three hours of intense fighting, contributing to the safety of 150 troops and destruction of 50 enemy and 13 enemy fighting positions.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Air Force special operators aren’t well known, but they have a reputation as brawlers. | U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth

“He is an American hero who did an outstanding job under incredible circumstances, seamlessly integrating air power into a complex and dangerous ground mission,” Martin said. The Air Force Cross is presented for extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations against an enemy of the United States. This is the ninth Air Force Cross to be awarded since 9/11; all have been awarded to special tactics Airmen.

The upgrade was due to a Defense Department-directed review of medals from recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure service members are appropriately recognized for their actions.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James approved nine medal upgrades for eight Airmen, Jan. 17, 2017, including Baradat and Keary Miller, a retired pararescueman from the Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.

“I am extremely humbled to receive this award,” Baradat said. “The men who have previously been awarded the Air Force Cross have done amazing things on the battlefield, and it is an honor to be a part of that group.”

NOW WATCH: This airman saved 23 wounded troops during an insider attack

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It looks like Turkey-backed forces are taking pot shots at US troops in Syria

US troops fighting in the coalition against ISIS came under direct attack near Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army soldiers in Northern Syria.


Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman told Business Insider that “unknown groups” have engaged with US forces on “multiple occasions over the past week or so Northwest of Manbij,” a town in Syria formerly held by ISIS.

“Our forces did receive fire and return fire and then moved to a secure location,” US Army Col. Ryan Dillon told Reuters. “The coalition has told Turkey to tell the rebels it backs there that firing on US-led coalition forces is not acceptable.”

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
A fighter for the Free Syrian Army loads a US-made M2. The YSA is supplied by the US, but opposes the YPG, also supplied by the US.

Sources told CNN that no casualties occurred on either side.

Turkey backs a number of forces that oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad and has made efforts to keep its border area clear of ISIS and other militants.

The US supports several Syrian militias that also oppose Assad, though the US now only supports them in their fight against ISIS. However it seems that the Turkish-allied forces likely knew they were exchanging fire with US soldiers.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Image from Google Maps via Business Insider.

“These patrols are overt. Our forces are clearly marked and we have been operating in that area for some time,” said Dillon. “It should not be news to anyone that we are doing this, operating in that particular area.”

“We’re there to monitor and to deter hostilities and make sure everyone remains focused on ISIS,” said Pahon. “We’re going to have to continue our patrols but we have had to move to some protected positions.”

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Russia denies funding the Taliban

The Russian embassy in Kabul on May 23 rejected allegations that Moscow was funding Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, stating the claims were unsubstantiated.


This comes after Kandahar police chief general Abdul Raziq said the week before that certain countries in the region were keeping the Taliban’s war machine operational as they believe conflict in Afghanistan protects their interests.

He said countries such as Pakistan, Russia, and Iran are funding and equipping the Taliban and other insurgent groups in order to fuel the war machine and pursue their own objectives.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
An Afghan and coalition security force conduct room searches in which they detained eight suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a Taliban leader in Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 14, 2012. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc Justin Young)

Raziq said some countries in the region have a vested interest in the conflict in Afghanistan.

He claimed that there is sufficient evidence to show that Pakistan, Russia, and Iran are funding the Taliban and other militant groups in the country.

“The Russians have been in contact with the Taliban militants since 2004 or 2005. It is not correct to say that they (Russians) engaged in ties with the Taliban in recent times (only), but now these relations have been clarified. Pakistanis, Iranians and the Russians are jointly supporting the terrorists, however the Russians do their work through Iran, for instance sending the Taliban weapons and money,” said Raziq.

U.S director of defense intelligence Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart said in Congress that despite signs of Russia’s support for the Taliban, U.S officials have not found physical evidence to back these claims.

Also read: US general again accuses Russia of supplying the Taliban

On May 24, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said the alliance had heard reports to this effect but they too did not have proof.

The Afghan government has also said on a number of occasions in the past that they do not have evidence to back these claims.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment patrol the fields in Marjeh, Afghanistan to seure the city of Marjeh from the Taliban. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl Andres J. Lugo)

The Russian embassy’s statement further said that Moscow once again declares that allegations of its support to the Taliban “does not match the reality (of the situation) and are merely unsubstantiated claims.”

This coincides with the Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on the sidelines of a summit in Moscow, the national security council said in a statement.

The NSC said the two sides held talks on further expanding bilateral, political, and security relations.

The statement added that the two sides also held talks on the establishment of a comprehensive plan to support and strengthen the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

Atmar arrived in Moscow on May 23, heading a delegation of high-ranking Afghan officials.

Officials from 25 countries are meeting at the Russia Security Conference, which will focus on countering terrorism in the region.

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Why cops love doughnuts — an origin story

Cops love doughnuts. That’s the stereotype at least. Being caught in uniform with one of the delicious but unhealthy confections has long carried a certain stigma, but the real history behind the close relationship cops have with doughnuts is much more interesting and complex than the negative caricatures often put forth in American media.   

In some places, the cop-doughnut relationship was symbiotic. In others, it was necessary. But the reason cops and doughnuts are like peas and carrots in our collective cultural memory is because the doughnut shop was the only game in town. 

Cops have a lot to do during their shifts, no matter how long those shifts might be. When not actively responding to calls, patrolling their areas of responsibility, or doing the myriad things cops have to do during a typical 10-hour shift, police officers have to find a place to do the bulk of police work: writing reports. 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Those are some nice doughnuts you’ve got there. Be a shame if somebody ate them all. Photo by Diogo Palhais on Unsplash.

To outsiders, police work has always been about walking the beat — the daily business of protecting and serving. For actual police officers, writing reports is a duty as old as walking any beat. And back in the day, cops didn’t have a lot of options for where they could post up and get some paperwork done. 

Even by the late 1970s, the idea of a 24-hour convenience store seemed insane to most people. Gas stations didn’t always have stores and weren’t as ubiquitous as they are today. They also closed at a decent hour. The same goes for grocery stores. Outside of major cities, all-night diners were rare, and even in the 1960s, only 10% of restaurants were open all night, catering mainly to truckers.

If a police officer’s beat wasn’t near one of these small handfuls of all-night spots, they were out of luck. But there was one place a tired, hungry peace officer could go to grab a cup of coffee, some food, and maybe get some work done — the good ol’ doughnut shop.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
A box of (police) performance-enhancing drugs (maybe?). Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash.

What was good for the police was also good for the doughnut shop. Being open late in small cities and towns meant they were a target for criminals looking for an easy payday. Having the local police force using your doughnut shop as a staging area meant built-in security as you got up in the early morning hours to make doughnuts. 

The symbiotic relationship spread all over the country, even as more and more establishments began to stay open late. When the interstate highway system ramped up construction in the 1960s and 1970s, the country became more connected, and some rural areas became significantly less rural. 

Doughnut shops even became late-night chains such as Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts. The cop-doughnut relationship held fast, and some stores set aside space for police officers to get their work done. Dunkin’ Donuts even had a companywide policy of catering to police. Its founder, William Rosenberg, credited the relationship with the company’s early success in his autobiography.

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
The late-night doughnut shop: an American institution. Photo by Third Serving on Unsplash.

A doughnut is a decent snack for a graveyard shift. It’s a fresh, easily obtained source of calories that a busy officer might need for a night of busting punks. When the action dies down, coffee offers a burst of caffeinated energy to help cops get through their shifts. And coffee and doughnuts are relatively cheap, which is great for anyone working as a city or state employee. 

Despite the rotund appearance of police Chief Clancy Wiggum on The Simpsons, doughnuts aren’t to blame for the image of the overweight cop. In The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin, author Michael Krondl interviews police officers who recall their sweet treats giving them just the right amount of food needed to do the job.

“You got out there, walked around, rolled in the streets with criminals [and burned] the calories off,” Frank Rizzo, former Philadelphia police chief, told Krondl.  

Somewhere along the way, American popular culture began to notice, and the image of the local police officer began to shift into a caricature, fueled by the cop-doughnut relationship. Cops in film and television became less Andy Griffith and more Chief Wiggum. 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
New York police on patrol, looking like they could use some doughnuts. Photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash.

What started with a wholesome beginning eventually became derogatory. Everyone from stand-up comics to punk bands and rappers began to make fun of the cop-doughnut dynamic. For some, there’s nothing worse than being caught with one of those sweet fried treats or being seen parked at a Krispy Kreme. 

Today, cops can generally post up anywhere to catch up on paperwork. Police cruisers have come a long way and have everything an officer needs during a shift. If they need a meal or a break, there are often many options open to them. 

But doughnuts and coffee still provide excellent fuel for the thin blue line, and late-night and early morning bakers appreciate the added security of having cops around. So the next time you see a cruiser parked at Dunkin’, cut your local police force a break and don’t cast shade. If you were in that uniform, you might be right there with them.


This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Feature image: Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine/Images from Unsplash.

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These pictures of Marines drinking Cobra blood are as grisly as you’d expect

Every year, the United States team with its Pacific allies for a military exercise in Thailand, Cobra Gold. Cobra Gold is the largest multinational military exercise in which the U.S. participates and has been an ongoing exercise for more than 30 years. In 2015, Cobra Gold included 26 nations, and for the first time, included China. The exercise smooths interoperability between nations in the region, especially when coordinating responses to a crisis, like Tsunamis and Typhoons.


The operation consists of a live fire exercise, a command post exercise, and (as with many military exercises) an operation to benefit the local population. There is also a jungle survival Training exercise where Thai Marines train U.S. troops to find water, which foods are safe to eat (scorpions!), and famously, demonstrate how they subdue a Cobra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrmm1MZW4ak

After the jungle training, those in attendance are given the option to participate in the Thai custom of drinking the Cobra’s blood.

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Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, Recon Battalion, Marine Division demonstrates how to capture a cobra for U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, Recon Battalion, Marine Division demonstrates how to capture a cobra for U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, right, Recon Battalion, Marine Division feeds cobra blood, which can be a useful source of energy, to U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jerry Clark, squad leader, 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
A Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit drinks the blood of a king cobra during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Drinking of the cobra blood is a survival technique used to maintain hydration and replenish nutrients while in the hot jungle. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Cpl. Kyleigh M. Porter, from Montross, Va., eats a scorpion Feb. 8 in Ban Chan Krem, Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Royal Thai Marines demonstrated several jungle survival tactics and asked for U.S. Marine volunteers to participate. Porter is a radio operator with Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
A Royal Thai Marine kisses a cobra’s head Feb. 8 at Ban Chan Krem, Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Thai Marines demonstrated several survival techniques including how to capture a cobra and drink its blood. Drinking the snake’s blood is used as a last resort in case there is nothing else to drink. Other survival methods such as starting fires and how to eat spiders and scorpions were also taught. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Royal Thai Army Soldiers assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment, Rapid Deployment Force, Kings Guard, demonstrate how to properly handle and neutralize a King Cobra snake to U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division during a jungle training exercise on Camp 31-3, Lopburi, Thailand, Feb. 10, 2015. The training was conducted as a part of the joint training exercise Cobra Gold 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock/Released)

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
Lance Cpl. Dakota Woodward, from Brandon, Florida, drinks cobra blood Feb. 8 during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Royal Thai Marines showed U.S. Marines various jungle survival methods. Drinking snake blood is used as a last resort in case there is nothing else to drink. Woodward is a distribution management specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

The US Navy has minehunting ships that are terrible at finding mines
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kurt Bellmont, platoon sergeant, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment feeds cobra blood cobra blood to his Marines, which can be a useful source of energy , to his Marines during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

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