Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
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Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

President Donald Trump granted the Pentagon the authority to manage troop levels in Afghanistan, administration officials said.


Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who is believed to support sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, will determine if the approximately 9,800 U.S.troops currently deployed there should be reinforced. Trump gave Mattis similar authority over troop levels in Syria and Iraq in April.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. (DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

A formal announcement on ceding the authority to the Defense Department is expected June 14. The move comes earlier than anticipated; it was expected that any action on changes in U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan would come after mid-July, when the administration’s strategy review is completed.

Giving more authority to the Pentagon allows military leaders more latitude in planning and conducting operations. Options were developed to deploy up to 5,000 more U.S. troops, including hundreds of Special Operations forces, to augment the international coalition force of about 13,000 troops presently in Afghanistan. About 2,000 U.S. troops there are currently assigned to fight al-Qaida and other militant groups.

Mattis told the Senate Armed Service Committee on June 13 to expect the Trump administration to unveil its Afghan strategy within weeks.

“We are not winning in Afghanistan right now, and we will correct this as soon as possible,” Mattis said in testimony.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Ex-U.S. Marine could face 10 years in Russian prison for drunken incident he can’t remember

MOSCOW — When Trevor Reed traveled to Moscow last summer, it was to study Russian and spend time with his girlfriend Alina Tsybulnik, whom he hoped to marry in September.

But days before he was due to fly home to Texas, Tsybulnik’s co-workers hosted a party that would end with the 29-year-old American spending a night at a Russian police station and, ultimately, standing trial on charges of violently assaulting the police officers who brought him there.


On July 29, a Moscow court is expected to issue its verdict in a case that has shaken Reed’s family and prompted speculation that the former U.S. Marine has become a pawn in a geopolitical standoff between Russia and the United States.

Charged with the “use of violence dangerous to life and health against a representative of the authorities,” Reed has languished in detention since August 2019 and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. When the final hearing in his case wrapped up at Golovinsky District Court on July 27, he told RFE/RL that he had lost 20 kilograms and was tired “all the time.” He hoped the ordeal would end soon.

“Based on the evidence in my case, I think it’s clear what the outcome should be,” he said.

Reed claims to have no memory of what happened following the party on August 15, where he says he was encouraged to drink large quantities of vodka. But the events leading up to the police officers’ arrival are subject to little dispute.

According to Tsybulnik, in the early hours of August 16 she asked to share a ride with two of her co-workers. On the way, Reed felt nauseous and tried to get out of the vehicle. When the driver pulled up beside the busy road, Reed began drunkenly pacing in dangerous proximity to oncoming traffic. Tsybulnik’s co-worker called the police. She then drove off with another colleague, leaving Tsybulnik alone with Reed.

“I wouldn’t have called the police myself,” Tsybulnik, 22, said in an interview with RFE/RL. She suspects law enforcement took a special interest in Reed on account of his nationality. “After all, he’s an American, and we have a strange relationship with America right now.”

Inconsistencies And Retractions

Two police officers arrived and took Reed in to sober up, telling Tsybulnik to come back in a few hours and pick him up. When she arrived at the police station around 9 a.m., she said, he was being questioned, without a lawyer or interpreter present, by two men who introduced themselves as employees of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s FBI equivalent. He was accused of endangering the lives of the policemen who brought him in, Tsybulnik was told, by yanking the driver’s arm and elbowing another officer who tried to intervene.

But from the outset, the case against Reed has been marred by inconsistencies. Video evidence reviewed in court appeared to show no evidence that the police vehicle swerved as a result of Reed’s actions, as alleged by the police officers. Speaking before the judge, the officers themselves have claimed to have no memory of key moments in the journey, have retracted parts of their statements on several occasions, and have failed to answer simple questions from Reed’s defense team.

“Let’s put it this way. Almost everything introduced in the trial, that’s in the case, has been fairly well disputed,” said Reed’s father, Joey Reed, who has attended every hearing in his son’s trial. “We understand the nature of the judicial system here — it works differently to what we’re used to. But even within this system, there just seems to be a lot of irregularities as to what’s going on.”

The elder Reed traveled from Texas last September to be near his son, renting an apartment and riding out the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the Russian capital. He has sought to drum up media coverage and regularly updates a website he created and dedicated to Reed’s case, where he points out flaws in the evidence and keeps a record of each court session. A clock on the home screen counts the time Reed has spent in a Russian jail.

Americans On Trial

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has sent a Russian-speaking representative to each court hearing, but Ambassador John Sullivan has made few public remarks about his case.

“The United States Embassy has not visited my son in five months,” Joey Reed said. “Their only contact with him was a two-minute phone call last month.”

The embassy declined, via its spokeswoman Rebecca Ross, to comment on Reed’s case.

Reed is among several Americans whom Russia has placed on trial in recent years on charges that their supporters, and in some cases the U.S. government, have said appear trumped-up. On April 22, speaking about Paul Whelan, another former U.S. Marine tried in Moscow this year, Sullivan said “he is foremost in my thoughts every day as I continue my service as ambassador, along with other Americans who have been detained — Michael Calvey and Trevor Reed.” Calvey, a Moscow-based investor, is under house arrest pending trial on fraud charges he disputes. Whelan was convicted of espionage, a charge he denies, and sentenced to 16 years in prison on June 15, in a ruling Sullivan called “a mockery of justice.”

In July 2019, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called on the United States to free Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving 20 years on a conviction of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, and proposed a prisoner swap that would involve the release of a U.S. national held in Russia. Ryabkov did not specify whom he meant, but some took the comment as evidence that Moscow is using Americans like Reed as bargaining chips amid tensions with Washington. Viktor Bout, a Russian gunrunner whose arrest by U.S. authorities inspired the 2005 movie Lord Of War, is another Russian serving time in the United States whom Moscow has sought to repatriate.

‘I’m Ashamed’

The last major prisoner swap between the two countries was a decade ago, when Russia sent several prisoners including Sergei Skripal and the United States transferred 10 deep-cover agents operating in suburban America in a case that inspired the hit TV show The Americans.

Joey Reed plans to leave Russia if his son is sentenced to prison, and continue fighting for his release from the United States. “I’m sure the United States government will be involved,” he said. “And I will probably be spending a lot of time in Washington, D.C.”

Tsybulnik, a Moscow attorney specializing in criminal and international law, said Reed is ready to appeal a conviction before Russia’s Supreme Court. If he’s released, they will marry and seek to expedite her planned move to the United States.

The case against her partner of more than three years has changed her attitude not only to Russia’s legal system, she said, but to her country as a whole.

“There is no evidence of a crime here. This person is not guilty. But they’ve been trying him for a year — a year he’s spent in jail,” she said. “I no longer want to practice law in Russia. I’m ashamed. Ashamed for Russia’s reputation.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army is sending 200 soldiers to combat US wildfires

The US Army is preparing to send hundreds of soldiers to fight the deadly wildfires raging in 11 states across the Western US.

Two hundred active-duty soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division’s 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state will be mobilized to assist in ongoing firefighting efforts, according to a statement from US Army North, which provides operational control for ground forces deployed in support missions during national disasters.


Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

Pvt. 1st Class Jon Wallace, 3rd Platoon, 570th Sapper Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade uses a fire extinguisher to put out a tire fire. The fire department offers classes to Army units to ensure that they are well trained in putting out mine resistant ambush protective vehicle fires during convoy operations.

(US Army)

The Army unit will be sent out as early as this weekend after a couple of days of training. The soldiers will be organized into teams of 20 members and deployed to combat fires in an unspecified area. The deployment location will be determined based on which area is in greatest need of assistance, a US Army North spokeswoman told Business Insider.

The 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion reportedly specializes in construction and demolition, skills that the unit has used in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Fox News. The soldiers will be “working side by side with civilian firefighters,” as well as experienced firefighting personnel from the wildlands fire management agencies, US Army North explained to BI, adding that the soldiers will be involved in activities like clearing brush or constructing fire breaks.

Prior to deployment, soldiers will learn fire terminology, fire behavior, and fire safety. They will also be issued personal protective gear, such as boots that will not melt on the fire line, masks, and so on. Once on the fire line, the soldiers will be given tools — axes, chainsaws, etc.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

“More than 127 wildfires are burning on about 1.6 million acres in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska,” according to a statement from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho also announcing the deployment of US soldiers to combat the wildfires out west.

At least nine people have died in the wildfires spreading across the Western US, according to CBS News. President Donald Trumpdeclared the situation in California a “major disaster” Sunday, making it easier for local residents to secure access to much-needed government aid.

In many cases, the state National Guard units are already assisting state and federal agencies working tirelessly to put out the devastating wildfires. The US Army soldiers being sent to lend support are expected to be deployed for at least 30 days. The deployment could be cut short if necessary or extended, as long as doing so does not interfere with higher priority Department of Defense missions.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

‘Artillery mishap’ claims 2 US soldiers in Iraq

Two American soldiers have been killed while conducting combat operations in Iraq, the US military said, adding that the deaths were “not due to enemy contact” but instead were the result of an artillery “mishap.”


Five other soldiers were wounded, the DoD said.

The soldiers killed in the incident were identified as 22-year-old Sgt. Allen L. Stigler Jr. of Arlington, Texas, and 30-year-old Sgt. Roshain E. Brooks of Brooklyn, New York.

Both were artillerymen assigned to 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. The 2nd BCT is based at Camp Swift, Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of US forces battling the Islamic State group in Iraq, said the coalition “sends our deepest condolences to these heroes’ families, friends and teammates.”

More than 5,000 US troops are taking part in the war against IS in Iraq, according the Pentagon. The vast majority operate within heavily guarded bases, collecting and sharing intelligence with Iraqi forces and providing logistical support.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan
U.S. Army Paratroopers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division secure a helicopter-landing zone during simulated casualty evacuation in a force provider drill at Camp Swift, Makhmour, Iraq, on Jan. 22, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ian Ryan)

But as the fight has evolved over the past three years, more and more US troops are operating close to the front lines. In addition to the two troops killed August 13, five other US troops have been killed in Iraq in the fight against IS, including two in the battle to retake the northern city of Mosul.

More than 1,200 Iraqi forces were killed in the battle for Mosul and more than 6,000 wounded, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said earlier this month.

Iraq’s prime minister declared victory against IS in Mosul in July, and Iraqi forces are now preparing to retake the IS-held town of Tel Afar, to the west.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force tested its personnel with real cyberattacks

In November 2018, the Air Force targeted its personnel at bases in Europe with spear-phishing attacks to test their awareness of online threats.

The tests were coordinated with Air Force leaders in Europe and employed tactics known to be used by adversaries targeting the US and its partners, the Air Force said in a release.

Spear-phishing differs from normal phishing attempts in that it targets specific accounts and attempts to mimic trusted sources.


Spear-phishing is a “persistent threat” to network integrity, Col. Anthony Thomas, head of Air Force Cyber Operations, said in the release.

“Even one user falling for a spear-phishing attempt creates an opening for our adversaries,” Thomas said. “Part of mission resiliency is ensuring our airmen have the proficiency to recognize and thwart adversary actions.”

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

Sailors on watch in the Fleet Operations Center at the headquarters of US Fleet Cyber Command/US 10th Fleet, Dec. 14, 2017.

(US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Samuel Souvannason)

The technique has already been put into real-world use.

Just before Christmas in 2015, Russian hackers allegedly used spear-phishing emails and Microsoft Word documents embedded with malicious code to hit Ukraine with a cyberattack that caused power outages — the first publicly known attack to have such an effect.

In December 2018, the US Department of Justice charged two Chinese nationals with involvement in a decade-long, government-backed effort to hack and steal information from US tech firms and government agencies.

Their group relied on spear-phishing, using an email address that looked legitimate to send messages with documents laden with malicious code.

For their test in November 2018, Air Force cyber-operations officials sent emails from non-Department of Defense addresses to users on the Air Force network, including content in them that looked legitimate.

The emails told recipients to do several different things, according to the release.

One appeared to be sent by an Airman and Family Readiness Center, asking the addressee to update a spreadsheet by clicking a hyperlink. Another email said it was from a legal office and asked the recipient to add information to a hyperlinked document for a jury panel in a court-martial.

“If users followed the hyperlink, then downloaded and enabled macros in the documents, embedded code would be activated,” the release said. “This allowed the threat emulation team access to their computer.”

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

US Cyber Command.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Results from the test — which was meant to improve the defenses of the network as a whole and did not gather information on individuals — showed most recipients were not fooled.

“We chose to conduct this threat emulation (test) to gain a deeper understanding of our collective cyber discipline and readiness,” said Maj. Ken Malloy, Air Force Cyber Operations’ primary planning coordinator for the test.

The lessons “will inform data-driven decisions for improving policy, streamlining processes and enhancing threat-based user training to achieve mission assurance and promote the delivery of decisive air power,” Malloy said.

While fending off spear-phishing attacks requires users to be cognizant of untrustworthy links and other suspicious content, other assessments have found US military networks themselves do not have adequate defenses.

A Defense Department Inspector General report released December 2018 found that the Army, the Navy, and the Missile Defense Agency “did not protect networks and systems that process, store, and transmit (missile defense) technical information from unauthorized access and use.”

That could allow attackers to go around US missile-defense capabilities, the report said.

In one case, officials had failed to patch flaws in their system after getting alerts about vulnerabilities — one of which was first found in 1990 and remained unresolved in April 2018.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Pilot says the F-35 could take on anything else in the sky

An F-35 fighter pilot says he would be confident flying the Joint Strike Fighter against any enemy in the world, including Russian and Chinese 5th Generation stealth fighters.

An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would be able to use its sensors, weapons, and computer technology to destroy Russian and Chinese 5th-Generation Stealth fighters in a high-end combat fight, service officials said.


“There is nothing that I have seen from maneuvering an F-35 in a tactical environment that leads me to assume that there is any other airplane I would rather be in. I feel completely comfortable and confident in taking that airplane into any combat environment,” Lt. Col. Matt Hayden, 56th Fighter Wing, Chief of Safety, Luke AFB, Arizona, told Warrior in a special pilot interview in 2015.

Furthermore, several F-35 pilots have been clear in their resolve that the multi-role fighter is able to outperform any other platform in existence.

Hayden was clear to point out he has not, as of yet, flown simulated combat missions against the emerging Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA 5th-Generation stealth fighter now in development or the Chinese Shenyang J-31 5th Generation Stealth aircraft. While he said he did not personally know all of the technologies and capabilities of these Russian and Chinese aircraft, he was unambiguous in his assertion regarding confidence in the F-35.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Available information says the Russians have built at least 6 prototype T-50 PAK FAs for their Air Force and Navy; the Chinese conducted a maiden test flight of its J-31 in 2012. In addition, China is in pre-production with its J-20 5th-Generation stealth fighter. This fighter, called the Chengdu J-20, made its first flight in 2011.

While Hayden did not elaborate on aspects of the J-20, he did say he would be confident flying the F-35 against any aircraft in the world.

“All those other countries (Russia and China) are trying to develop airplanes that are technologically capable as well — from an F-35 perspective. We are no less capable than any airplane and any fighters out there,” Hayden described.

In addition to leveraging the best available technologies on a fighter jet, winning a dog-fight or combat engagement would depend just as much on the air-tactics and decisions made by a pilot, Hayden explained.

“I have not flown against some of those aircraft. When you fight against an airplane, it depends upon the airspeed. If I maximize the effectiveness of an F-35, I can exploit the weaknesses of any other aircraft,” he said.

Many analysts have made the assessment that the J-20 does appear to be closely modelled after the F-35.

In fact, a Defense Science Board report, cited in a 2014 Congressional assessment of the Chinese military, (US-China Economic Security and Review Commission) makes reference to specific developmental information and specs of numerous U.S. weapons systems believed to be stolen by Chinese computer hackers; design specs and technologies for the F-35 were among those compromised by Chinese cyber-theft, according to the report.

An AIN Online report from the Singapore Air Show catalogues a number of J-20 features and technologies — including those believed to be quite similar to the F-35.

Chinese 5th-Generation

From the Report: Original AIN Online Report.

“The J-20 is a large multi-role fighter with stealthy features similar to those found in the American F-22 and F-35. Although very little is known about its intended purpose, the aircraft appears to offer capability in a number of roles, including long-range interception and precision attack.
In terms of weapon carriage the J-20 has a similar arrangement to that of the Lockheed Martin F-22, comprising two lateral bays for small air-to-air missiles such as the agile, imaging-infrared PL-10, and a large under-fuselage bay for accommodating larger missiles and precision-guided surface attack weapons. The 607 Institute’s new PL-15 active-radar missile is thought to be the primary long-range air-to-air weapon, reportedly having been test-fired from a Shenyang J-16 platform last year. The PL-21, a ramjet-powered weapon in the same class as the MBDA Meteor, is another possibility for the J-20.
The sensor suite includes an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) and a large-array AESA radar, which was developed by the 14th Institute at Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET, 14th Institute), and is possibly designated Type 1475/KLJ-5. Diamond-shaped windows around the fuselage suggest that a distributed aperture infrared vision system is installed.
In the cockpit, the J-20 sports three large color displays, plus other small screens, and a holographic wide-angle head-up display. An advanced datalink has been developed, and a retractable refueling probe is located on the starboard side of the forward fuselage. Much of the avionics suite has been tested by the CFTE (China flight test establishment) aboard a modified Tupolev Tu-204C, in much the same way as the systems of the F-22 were tested in a Boeing 757.”

Regarding the Russian T-50 PAK FA Stealth fighter, numerous reports suggest the aircraft has numerous technological problems and is a 5th generation plane “in name only.”

Russian 5th-Generation

The Following is a report on the T-50 PAK FA from Business Insider:

“Reporting from the Singapore Airshow 2016, IHS Jane’s reports that “Russian industry has consistently referred to the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA as a fifth-generation aircraft, but a careful look at the program reveals that this is an ‘in name only’ designation.”
This is largely because of a lack of evolutionary technology aboard the plane compared with previous jets that Russia and the US have designed. Indeed, the PAK FA’s engines are the same as those aboard Russia’s 4++ generation (a bridging generation between fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft) Su-35. Additionally, the PAK FA and the Su-35 share many of the same onboard systems.
And even when the PAK FA’s systems are different from the Su-35’s, the plane’s specifications are still not up to true fifth-generation standards.
RealClearDefense, citing Indian media reports that are familiar with a PAK FA variant being constructed in India, notes that the plane has multiple technological problems. Among these problems are the plane’s “engine performance, the reliability of its AESA radar, and poor stealth engineering.”

F-35 sensor fusion

Despite various reports about technologies being engineered into the Russian and Chinese 5th-Generation Stealth Fighters, it is in no way clear that either aircraft is in any way comparable to the F-35. Most publicly available information seems to indicate that the F-35 is superior — however, to some extent, the issue remains an open question. More information is likely to emerge once the Russian and Chinese aircraft are operational and deployed.

For example, the Chinese J-20 is cited as having an Electro-Optical targeting system, stealth configuration, datalink, AESA radar, and precision weaponry quite similar to the F-35, according to the AIN report.

The computer algorithms woven into the F-35 architecture are designed to leverage early iterations of what could be described as early phases of “artificial intelligence.” Broadly speaking, artificial intelligence refers to fast-evolving computer technology and processors able to gather, assess and integrate information more autonomously in order to help humans make decisions more quickly and efficiently from a position of command-and-control.

“If there is some kind of threat that I need to respond to with the airplane, I don’t have to go look at multiple sensors and multiple displays from multiple locations which could take my time and attention away from something else,” Hayden added.

The F-35 software, which shows images on display screens in the cockpit as well as on a pilot’s helmet-mounted-display, is able to merge results from various radar capabilities onto a single screen for the pilot.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

An F-35 Lightning II.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro)

“The F-35 takes from multiple sensors around the airplane and combines them together in a way that is much more manageable and accessible — while not detracting from the other tasks that the pilot is trying to accomplish,” Hayden said.

For instance, the F-35’s Electro-Optical Target System, or EOTS, is an infrared sensor able to assist pilots with air and ground targeting at increased standoff ranges while also performing laser designation, laser range-finding and other tasks.

In addition, the plane’s Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, is a series of six electro-optical sensors also able to give information to the pilot. The DAS includes precision tracking, fire control capabilities and the ability to warn the pilot of an approaching threat or missile.

The F-35 is also engineered with an Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar, which is able to track a host of electromagnetic signals, including returns from Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR. This paints a picture of the contours of the ground or surrounding terrain and, along with Ground Moving Target Indicator, or GMTI, locates something on the move on the ground and airborne objects or threats.

Hayden added that the F-35 has been training against other F-35s in simulated combat situations, testing basic fighter maneuvers. Having himself flown other fighter aircraft, he explained that many other F-35 pilots also fly the airplane after having experience flying an F-16, A-10 or other combat aircraft.

“The F-35’s low-observable technology can prevent detection. That is a strength that other airplanes do not have,” he said.

F-35 and F-22

At the same time, senior Air Force leaders have made the point that F-35 technological superiority is intended to be paired with the pure air-to-air dogfighting ability of the service’s F-22 – a stealth aircraft, with its speed, maneuverability, and thrust-to-weight ratio, is believed by many to be the most capable air-to-air platform in the world.

“Every airplane has flaws. When you design an airplane, you design an airplane with tradeoffs — give something else up. If I was flying against an adversary in actual combat, my job would be to exploit the enemy weakness and play to my strength. I can compensate for certain things,” Hayden explained. “There is a certain way to fly and fight in an airplane, using airspeed to maximize the turning performance of the airplane.”

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

An F-22 Raptor.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

During a public speech in 2015, the Air Forces Air Combat Commander, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, said the F-22 is engineered such that it can complement the F-35.

“You will use the F-35 for air superiority, but you will need the raptors to do some things in a high-end fight to penetrate denied airspace,” he said. “The airplane is designed for multi-role capability, electronic warfare and sensors. The F-35 will win against any fourth-generation airplane — in a close-in fight, it will do exceedingly well. There will be a combination of F-22s and F-35s in the future.”

Hayden further elaborated upon these claims, arguing that the F-35 has another set of strategic advantages to include an ability to use internally built sensors. This prevents the need to use external pods on a fighter jet which can add drag, slowing down and restricting maneuverability for an aircraft.

“As an F-35 pilot, I can carry bombs to a target area where I can now take out air-to-ground threats. You have to look at the overall picture of the airplane. The airplane was designed to overwhelm the battlespace in a non-permissive threatening environment where 4th-gen fighters are not going to persist,” he added.

The F-35 is engineered with a 25-mm gun and has the ability to carry and fire a wide range of weapons. The aircraft has already demonstrated an ability to fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile), JDADM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU 12 (laser-guided aerial bomb), and AIM 9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

So-called “Block 3F” software for the F-35 increases the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb and 500-pound JDAM.

As a multi-role fighter, the F-35 is also engineered to function as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform designed to apprehend and process video, data and information from long distances. Some F-35 developers have gone so far as to say the F-35 has ISR technologies comparable to many drones in service today that are able to beam a “soda straw” video view of tactically relevant combat locations in real time.

Finally, regarding dogfighting, it is pertinent to point out a “War is Boring” report from 2015 which cited an F-35 fighter pilot explaining how an F-16 was able to win a “mock dogfight” against an F-35; the F-35 Joint Program Office disputed this claim, saying the F-35 used in the scenario was in no way representative of today’s operational F-35s. The software, weapons and sensor technologies used in the mock dogfight were not comparable to the most evolved F-35.

Furthermore, F-35 proponents maintained that the aircraft’s advanced computer technology and sensors would enable it to see and destroy enemy fighters from much longer ranges — essentially destroying enemy fighters before they are seen.

OODA Loop

The idea is to enable F-35 pilots to see and destroy enemies in the air, well in advance of a potential dogfight scenario. This can be explained in terms of a well-known Air Force strategic concept pioneered years ago by air theorist and pilot Col. John Boyd, referred to as the “OODA Loop,” — for observe, orient, decide and act. The concept is to complete this process quickly and make fast decisions while in an air-to-air dogfight — in order to get inside the enemy’s decision cycle, properly anticipate, and destroy an enemy before they can destroy you.

The F-35 is designed with long-range sensors and data fusion technologies such that, as a fifth-generation aircraft, it can complete the OODA Loop much more quickly than potential adversaries, F-35 advocates claim.

Mission data files

Described as the brains of the airplane, the mission data files are extensive on-board data systems compiling information on geography, air space and potential threats in known areas of the world where the F-35 might be expected to perform combat operations, Air Force officials explained.

Consisting of hardware and software, the mission data files are essentially a database of known threats and friendly aircraft in specific parts of the world. The files are being worked on at a reprogramming laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Air Force officials told Military.com. The mission data files are designed to work with the aircraft’s Radar Warning Receiver engineered to find and identify approaching enemy threats and hostile fire.

The mission data packages are loaded with a wide range of information to include commercial airliner information and specifics on Russian and Chinese fighter jets. For example, the mission data system would enable a pilot to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it were detected by the F-35’s sensors.

The mission data files are being engineered to adjust to new threat and intelligence information as it emerges. For instance, the system is engineered to one day have all the details on a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter or Russian T-50 PAK FA stealth aircraft.

As a high-visibility, expensive acquisition program, the F-35 has many vocal detractors and advocates; the aircraft has, to be sure, had its share of developmental problems over the years. some of these problems include complications with its main computer system, called ALIS, and a now-corrected engine fire aboard the aircraft. Overall, most critics have pointed to the program’s growing costs, something program officials claim has vastly improved through various money-saving initiatives and bulk-buys.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Strangers brave snow and ice to attend the funeral of a 91-year-old veteran

In the military community, there’s nothing more important than honoring our fallen and showing up. Earlier today, at Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs, CO, that’s exactly what happened.


Articles

McCain takes aim at Littoral Combat Ship, wants new fleet

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain wants to restructure how the Navy buys its frigates, and possibly redesign the program to add new capabilities.


The Senate Committee on Armed Services seapower subcommittee will hold hearings this spring to reexamine the future of the frigate program.

“The frigate acquisition strategy should be revised to increase requirements to include convoy air defense, greater missile capability and longer endurance,” McCain said at an event outlining the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ recent U.S. Navy fleet architecture study, U.S. Naval Institute News reported.

Related: Here’s how the US is sticking it to Beijing in the South China Sea

The littoral combat ship program (LCS) is the skeleton for the Navy’s frigate strategy. Currently, the Navy pans to release a request for proposals on the new frigates in March or April.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan
The US Navy littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) moors pier side at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to refuel. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay

McCain criticized the LCS program in December for costing $12 billion, but producing 26 ships, which have “demonstrated next-to-no combat capability.”

“When you look at some of the renewed capabilities, naval capabilities, that both the Russians and the Chinese have, it requires more capable weapon systems,” McCain said.

Each LCS costs around $478 million initially. But as repairs cost increase, the total amount for the 26 ships already delivered to the fleet amounts to $12.4 billion, and the Navy wants to buy a total of 40.

Should the Navy continue to purchase the LCS to bring the total number to 40, the cost will be closer $29 billion for ships that have failed to live up to capabilities promised, and continually breakdown.

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MIGHTY TRENDING

There will be no major strategy changes in Afghanistan

U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel says he does not expect major changes in military strategy as a result of an updated assessment of the war effort in Afghanistan currently being conducted.

“I don’t envision something…that would likely lead to a major change in the overall strategy, which I believe is showing progress,” Votel told a news briefing in Washington on July 19.

Votel said his review work was more designed to consider adjustments that might be required to help Kabul reach its goal of bringing Taliban militants to the negotiating table.


Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

As of July 20, 2018, it is reported that there have been 2412 U.S. deaths in Afghanistan since 2001.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans)

Media reports earlier in July stated the United States was planning to undertake a major strategy review for the 17-year war effort in Afghanistan and that U.S. President Donald Trump was frustrated by a lack of progress. The U.S. administration at the time denied that a major reassessment was planned.

Trump on August 21, 2017, announced his new strategy for Afghanistan, leading to an eventual increase in the number of troops deployed to country, and backtracking on campaign pledges to end U.S. involvement there.

Officials said Trump had authorized an additional 3,000 U.S. troops, bringing the U.S. contingent in the NATO-led effort to about 15,000, although media have quoted administration officials as saying the president was reluctant to do so.

Trump also upped the pressure on neighboring Pakistan, saying the authorities there were providing safe havens to militants operating in Afghanistan and attacking U.S. forces.

Votel cited positive signs from Islamabad, but he urged Pakistan to arrest, expel, or target the militants with military action.

“We also need to see [Pakistan] continue to make efforts to compel the Taliban to come to the table and take advantage of these opportunities,” Votel said.

Also read: Afghanistan is producing more opium than ever before

Earlier this month, Taliban leaders said they would not negotiate with the Kabul government after a first-ever cease-fire between the two sides coinciding with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr raised hopes of jumpstarting long-stalled talks.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani dismissed the Taliban’s rejection of his offer of peace talks, suggesting that the militant group can still be persuaded to come to the negotiating table.

In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan in Kabul on July 16, Ghani said the Taliban’s opposition to peace talks was not “a full rejection.”

“It’s like when you ask someone’s hand in marriage and the family of the bride says no several times [before relenting],” Ghani said, referring to a culture in which refusal is seen as a sign of humility. “In reality, it is likely that we will get a positive answer.”

The Kabul government has struggled in the past year against resurgent Taliban fighters, as well as Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda militants, nearly two decades after a U.S.-led coalition drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001.

IS and Al-Qaeda were not included in the recent government-announced cease-fires.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Marine Corps tech looks like it’s from ‘Star Wars’

The Marine Corps is integrating new technologies into an existing handheld GPS targeting system that helps Marines locate adversaries on the battlefield.

Fielded in 2017, the Common Laser Range Finder-Integrated Capability is a handheld target location system that uses an eye-safe laser range finder and algorithms to determine a target’s location. It then transmits that location to the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System or another fire support system.

Marine Corps Systems Command’s Ground Combat Element Systems began an in-production engineering change proposal — or ECP — process to integrate an enhanced digital magnetic capability into the CLRF-IC. The configuration change will reduce the amount of time and movement required by Marines when using the system.


Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

A U.S. Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa 19.1, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, uses a Common Laser Range Finder-Integrated Capability system to locate notional targets during a close-air-support training event with the British Royal Air Force at Holbeach Range, England, Feb. 20, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Katelyn Hunter)

“Previously, the magnetic effects of an environment would cause the operator to go through a series of sitting and standing, stepping to the left and to the right in order to calibrate the system,” said Jeff Nebel, MCSC’s Fire Support Coordination team lead. “What we’re integrating is a new digital magnetic compass so the operator can calibrate the system basically the same way you do your cellphone — just rotate it left to right, and up and down a few times.”

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

A U.S. Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa 19.1, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, uses a Common Laser Range Finder-Integrated Capability system to locate notional targets during a close-air-support training event with the British Royal Air Force at Holbeach Range, England, Feb. 20, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Katelyn Hunter)

MCSC is also integrating a capability to export video or still-pictures from the CLRF-IC to a target handoff system, enabling Marines to transmit photographs of targets to Marine Corps headquarters, which could help identify enemies.

“We did an in-production ECP, and we’ll begin fielding the enhanced CLRF-IC system in the next couple of months,” said Nebel.

The first enhanced CLRF-IC devices are slated to field later this year, and Nebel projects the system will reach Full Operational Capability by early 2021.

“We took a short pause from our fielding so we could incorporate the in-production ECP, and that pushed back our FOC,” said Nebel. “But now we’re going to be able to get a more capable system out to Marines.”

​CLRF-IC popular among Marines

The original CLRF system fielded in 2012. Back then, the system incorporated the common laser range finder and a thermal laser spot imager. Five years later, an updated, lightweight version — the CLRF-IC — was introduced to Marines.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa 19.1, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, locate simulated enemy positions during a close-air-support training event with the British Royal Air Force at Holbeach Range, England, Feb. 20, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Katelyn Hunter)

Feedback on the CLRF-IC from Marines has been positive, Nebel said.

“Most of the Marines like how light the system is,” said Nebel. “It’s significantly lighter than the previous system.”

Paul Knight, lead systems engineer for the CLRF-IC, echoed Nebel’s sentiments. A lighter system reduces the amount of weight the Marine Air-Ground Task Force must carry on the battlefield, Knight said, which allows them to haul additional gear if necessary.

“If you’re subtracting weight in one place, that means Marines can carry extra gear that previously would have overburdened them,” said Knight. “The CLRF-IC reduces that weight significantly.”

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa 19.1 and Marine Rotational Force-Europe 19.1, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, practice calling-for-fire during a close-air-support training event with the British Royal Air Force at Holbeach Range, England, Feb. 20, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Katelyn Hunter)

The CLRF-IC also transmits information faster than the original version, said Knight. It features day and night cameras, a rangefinder and celestial positioning precision so Marines can use the system in various weather conditions.

MCSC also created an application that contains the system’s technical and operator manuals, so joint fires observers and joint terminal attack controllers can access information electronically instead of carrying printed manuals to the field.

“Marines can use this application for troubleshooting, operator maintenance or training,” said Nebel. “We’ve done a lot of things to make the system more effective.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

Articles

This is how the Coast Guard is getting stronger for coastal defense

The Coast Guard has been very busy recapitalizing its fleet. Many of its vessels, like the Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters and Reliance-class medium endurance cutters are quite old.


The Coast Guard has built six Bertholf-class cutters out of a planned class of nine to replace the 12 Hamilton-class ships. How nine vessels can be in 12 places at once is a mystery, but that’s a discussion for another time.

For their next step, the Coast Guard has been building what have been called the Sentinel-class cutters to replace 49 Island-class cutters built from 1985-1992.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan
USCGC Matagorda (WPB 1303), one of eight Island-class cutters that were lengthened and modernized. She is now in mothballs. (USCG photo)

The Island-class cutters started out at 110 feet long, and were armed with a Mk 38 Bushmaster chain gun like the one used on the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, as well as a pair of M2 .50-caliber machine guns (“Ma Deuce”). They have a top speed of nearly 30 knots and a range of 3,300 miles. The Coast Guard had 49 of them, but an effort to lengthen and modernize them went bad, and eight vessels had to be mothballed.

The new cutters are 154 feet long. While the main gun is the same Mk 38 Bushmaster, a Sentinel-class cutter boasts four M2 heavy machine guns as a secondary battery – twice as many as an Island-class cutter. The cutter is slightly slower (28 knots) and has shorter range (2,900 miles), and can launch a Short-Range Prosecutor, essentially a rigid-hull inflatable boat.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios.

The Coast Guard plans to build 58 of the Sentinel-class cutters, replacing the Island-class cutters. According to a report by Military.com, the 24th Sentinel-class cutter, USCGC Oliver Barry (WPC 1124), will be commissioned this coming October in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Coast Guard though, is planning to retire the Island-class cutter USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336), which is based at Hilo, without replacing it at the largest city on the easternmost of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Coast Guard is also planning to purchase the first nine of a planned 25-ship “Offshore Patrol Cutter” class. These vessels will replace not only the 14 ancient Reliance-class medium endurance cutters, but the 13 Bear-class medium endurance cutters as well.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 big reasons why veterans might love the ‘Magnum P.I.’ reboot

Over the past eight years, we’ve seen two reboots of some of our favorite T.V. shows from the last century: Hawaii Five-O and MacGyver. In September of this year, we’re getting another, Magnum, P.I., and we think the veteran community is going to appreciate it, just like they did the original, which ran from 1980 to 1988.

Unfortunately, this time around, it looks like we’re going to enjoy less mustache.


For those who need a quick refresher before they jump back into the world of Thomas Magnum IV in September, the show follows a former Navy SEAL turned private investigator as he lives the good life on the island of Oahu, Hawai’i. As he solves his cases, he’s assisted by his friends Orville “Rick” Wright and Theodore “TC” Calvin, both of whom are former U.S. Marines.

The fact that all of the central characters are veterans is almost reason enough to be exciting, but after getting a sneak peek at the pilot during 2018 Comic-Con International: San Diego, we’re even more excited.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

This reboot allows people to see the true, human side of all of us.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by James H. Frank)

It depicts combat veterans in a positive light

All too often, veterans are made to look like violence-hungry, damaged goods. Much like the original, the intent of the show is to depict veterans in a more human way. We’ve gotten a lot better at doing this over the years, but we’re not quite there yet. Magnum P.I. is going to give us a story that revolves around veterans. It’ll showcase the characteristics that make us veterans, without all of the unnecessary drama.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

You’ll love it, trust us.

(CBS Television)

There’s plenty of action

Based on the pilot alone, we can be certain thatthe stories will featureaction throughout. Get ready for a show that deliverstons of high-octane excitementwithout too much overt cheesiness.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

Just like the original — minus the sweet ‘stache.

(CBS Television)

The main characters are veterans

As mentioned above, the Thomas Magnum and his friends are all veterans — and they show it. More than just simply talking about their service, the characters act and carry themselves in a way that genuinely feels like they are who they claim to be. The Marines have attitudes that are very reflective of real Marines.

Chances are, if you’re not already a fan of the original, you didn’t know it featured so many veterans. That’s because the show isn’t trying to use it as a selling point, but rather as a real, authentic-feeling character trait.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

The dogs are actually a really funny piece of the show.

(CBS Television)

It’s going to be hilarious

With so many veteran characters, you can expect a hefty dose of witty banter. There’re plenty of light moments that provide an opportunity to laugh, whether it’s the veterans talking trash or Magnum getting chased by Doberman Pinschers.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

Don’t worry, there’re plenty more where that one came from.

(CBS Television)

The Ferraris

Although modern, the reboot intends to keep with the original feel from the 1980s series. As such, they’re keeping the Ferraris.

But if you’re a car enthusiast with a particular fondness for Ferrarris, be prepared to watch a few get destroyed.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Stephanie Kwolek: The chemist who invented Kevlar

On the morning of Dec. 21, 2012, Pennsylvania State Trooper Timothy Strohmeyer was pursuing a man who had just murdered three people. With Strohmeyer and other police closing in, Jeffrey Lee Michael rammed his Ford F-250 truck into another trooper’s patrol vehicle head on, pinning the officer inside. Michael emerged from his truck with a gun, headed toward the trapped officer. To save his fellow officer, Strohmeyer rammed his police car into the back of Michael’s truck. The desperate Michael spun around and dumped a magazine of rounds into Strohmeyer’s windshield. One of the bullets hit Strohmeyer in the wrist and ricocheted to his chest. But rather than kill him, the bullet was stopped by the Kevlar bulletproof vest he was wearing.

“I believe he had intentions of shooting or killing every single person that he came in contact with,” Strohmeyer told the Kevlar Survivors’ Club in 2014. “He killed three people prior to contacting me, and he definitely tried to kill me.” 

Strohmeyer is one of more than 3,100 police officers who have escaped death or serious injury because of Kevlar body armor, according to a registry kept by the Kevlar Survivors’ Club, a project of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and supported by Kevlar maker DuPont.

All, whether they are aware or not, owe a deep debt to groundbreaking chemist Stephanie Kwolek.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan
At the DuPont Textile Fibers Pioneering Research Laboratory, left to right: Paul Morgan, Herbert Blades, and Stephanie Kwolek. Photo courtesy of DuPont.

Kwolek’s parents, immigrants from Poland, taught their daughter a passion that eventually led to her work on the lifesaving fabric.

Her father died when she was 10, but in the years they had together, he was an enthusiastic naturalist and instilled in Kwolek a curiosity about nature and science. The two roamed the woods together looking for animals, wild plants, leaves, and snakes, and Kwolek kept a scrapbook of all her discoveries.

Kwolek’s mother worked as a seamstress and taught her the details of making clothes and working with fabric.

“I used [my mother’s] sewing machine when she wasn’t around,” Kwolek told the Science History Institute in 2007, adding her first clothes were for paper dolls before she upgraded to outfits she could wear made out of fabric. “It was fun and it was creative and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction.” 

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan

Kwolek studied chemistry at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). It was a time when many women who held doctorates in science lasted only a couple of years as researchers before quitting to raise families or for jobs in education. When she joined DuPont, she worked for 15 years without a promotion.

“I was stubborn,” she said. “I decided I was going to stick it out and see what happened.”

DuPont was one of a handful of chemical companies remaking every area of daily life in the years after World War II, as the use of synthetic materials and plastics began to replace heavier materials in manufactured goods. DuPont created nylon, the first synthetic fiber. When Kwolek arrived in 1946, she joined a team of experienced scientists at DuPont’s Pioneering Research Laboratory.

In 1964, there were discussions about a gasoline shortage, and DuPont challenged its researchers to develop a synthetic fiber that could replace steel wire in tires. Kwolek’s experiments in transforming a polymer solution from a liquid into a fiber required spinning the chemicals, not unlike how a tuft of cotton candy is formed. Typically, liquids in her groupings were thick and clear and looked like corn syrup, but one solution came out thin, watery, and milky. The liquid was so different that the operator of the machine used to spin the fibers refused to use it, out of fear it would break the equipment.

Mattis has been given free rein to manage troop levels in Afghanistan
Stephanie Kwolek, left, laid the groundwork for Nomex, a flame-resistant material used in firefighting bunker gear. She also was a consultant in the development of spandex. Video still courtesy of Science History Institute/YouTube.

Nevertheless, Kwolek insisted, and when it was spun into a fabric, test results were beyond what any at DuPont had ever seen before. The fiber was five times stronger than steel. “It wasn’t exactly a ‘eureka moment,’” she told USA Today in 2007, adding she didn’t want to tell management at first because she was afraid the tests were wrong. “I didn’t want to be embarrassed. When I did tell management, they didn’t fool around. They immediately assigned a whole group to work on different aspects [of the material].” 

Kwolek’s fiber became the basis of Kevlar, which is used in more than 200 applications today. This long list includes cut-resistant gloves for chefs, armored vehicles, helicopter rotor blades, the landing cushions on Mars rovers, and everyday objects like athletic shoes, hockey sticks, and frying pans. Kevlar also provides material support in the aerospace, marine vessel, and rail industries.

Beyond Kevlar, Kwolek consulted on Nomex, the flame-resistant nylonlike material firefighters use in their bunker gear, and Lycra spandex, a springy material that makes clothes stretchy. Kwolek was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995, the fourth woman of 113 inductees at the time. A year later she accepted the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and in 1997 she received the Perkin Medal, which is considered one of the highest honors in the chemistry field. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003 and died in 2014 at age 90.

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

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