A major aftershock hit Nepal on Tuesday, bringing further damage to a country already devastated from a 7.8 earthquake that hit on April 25.
U.S. service members were already on the ground rendering aid, and Marine photographers took these amazing images in the hours after the 7.3 aftershock. Each photo’s description comes from the Marine who took the photo.
U.S. Marines help a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13.
A U.S. Marine helps carry a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A U.S. Airman, Nepalese soldier and search and rescuemen from Fairfax County, Virginia, help a Nepalese man in a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.
U.S. Air Force pararescuemen prepare for a search and rescue mission out of the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13. A UH-1Y Huey helicopter assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers, went missing while conducting humanitarian assistance after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake May 12.
A Nepalese soldier carries a young earthquake victim from a U.S Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopter assigned to Joint Task Force 505 to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.
U.S. Service members from Joint Task Force 505 unload casualties from a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.
U.S. Marine Sergeant A. B. Manning from Joint Task Force 505 carries a young earthquake victim to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Arcadia, California’s beautiful Santa Anita Racetrack had a different name in 1942: The Santa Anita Assembly Center. It was the largest assembly point for Japanese-Americans on the U.S. West coast as they were forced into internment camps. 19,000 people passed through here on their way to the camps.
In February 1942,then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, ordering Japanese Americans to be interned in camps along the west coast. While these camps were being built, those who would be interned were housed at assembly centers like Santa Anita, living in converted horse stalls and other hastily built structures. Santa Anita was guarded, surrounded with barbed wire and filled with searchlights to light the dark nights. In all 110,000 Japanese-Americans were interned on short-notice, closing farms and businesses and abandoning their homes. Eventually, some even enlisted in the Army.
Internees at Santa Anita were told to bring blankets and linens, toiletries, clothing, dishes and cookware, and anything else they could carry. They were forbidden from having anything written in Japanese. The people of Santa Anita developed a large internal economy, complete with jobs, businesses, and a local newspaper. They developed a unique culture of music, arts, and softball teams.
In September 1942, those in Santa Anita were moved to other camps. By November 1942, Santa Anita was completely emptied of internees and then became an Army training camp.
In 1944, the Supreme Court struck down the government’s ability to hold Americans indefinitely and the internees were released. The last of all the camps closed in 1946 and the U.S. government has since paid $1.6 billion in reparations. Now, a simple plaque near the track’s entrance is the only reminder of its place in the history of WWII.
In the video below, James Tsutsui of Laguna Woods, California discusses his experiences at Santa Anita Racetrack during World War II.
The white craft look innocuous, like small blimps, but veterans of the war in Afghanistan may remember the difference they made in combat, allowing friendly forces to constantly see everything happening in an area.
The aerostats have traded their cameras for sophisticated radars and are now part of a cruise missile shield for America’s capital.
The blimps work in pairs to defeat these threats. One collects 360 degrees of radar information at all times while the other holds a fire control radar that hones in on specific threats. Flying from 10,000 feet, they can cover an area nearly the size of Texas. The targeting information can be passed on to defending forces in the area. Adm. William Gortney, NORAD and U.S. Northern Commander, wants the aerostats’ radars to be integrated with Navy ships and Air Force fighter jets in the area.
If the upgrades are approved, ships and planes would be able to collect targeting data from the ships and launch missiles to bring down the threat immediately.
Like the video above states, the blimps don’t only watch out for cruise missiles. They can also see approaching ships and vehicles, allowing defenders to identify cruise missile launchers and other threats as well. This would allow forces to target the launchers before the missiles are in the air, a much cheaper and safer option than going after in-flight missiles.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., waves at the boom operator after a mid-air refueling during Red Flag 16-3 over the Nevada Test and Training Range, Nev., July 27, 2016. Red Flag is a realistic combat exercise involving multiple military branches conducting training operations on the 15,000-square-mile test and training range.
A C-130H Hercules, from the 179th Airlift Wing at Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, Ohio, takes off to perform an airdrop during exercise Slovak Warthog, July 27, 2016, at Sliač Air Base, Slovakia. Members of the U.S. and Slovak armed forces joined together for the exercise to demonstrate joint operations with a variety of aircraft.
U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to 101st Airborne Brigade, fire a Javelin Anti-Tank Missile system during a large-scale platoon live-fire exercise at Fort Campbell, Ky., July 29, 2016.
Paratroopers assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, provide cover during a combined arms live fire exercise on Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 8, 2016.
ARABIAN GULF (Aug. 8, 2016) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Dakotah Emmerth, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike), guides an E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the Screwtops of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 onto the catapult. Ike and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
OAK HARBOR, Wash. (Aug. 9, 2016) Lt. Erik Dippold, a Navy pilot assigned to EA-18G Growler Airborne Electronic Attack Aircraft with Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 is welcomed home by his wife and daughter at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. VAQ-133 conducted an eight-month, regularly scheduled, 7th Fleet deployment aboard the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) supporting stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
Lance Cpl. Ryley Sweet drives an assault amphibious vehicle onto amphibious assault ship USS San Diego, off the coast of Hawaii. The Marines are participating in the Rim of the Pacific 2016, a multinational military exercise, from June 29 to Aug. 8 in and around the Hawaiian Islands.
A Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, provides cover fire for his squad during the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Integrated Experiment (MIX-16) at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., August 5, 2016. The experiment was conducted to test new gear and assess its capabilities for potential future use. The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWL) identifies possible challenges of the future, develops new warfighting concepts, and tests new ideas to help develop equipment that meets the challenges of the future operating environment.
Justin Daulman, a parking assistant, took this photo of CG-2301 painted in retro colors in celebration of 100 years in Coast Guard aviation. Photo taken at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh on July 30, 2016.
The Coast Guard’s first production MH-60T “Jayhawk” helicopter (tail number CG 6028) completed its first search and rescue operation off the North Carolina coast OTD in 2009.
In June 2020, the Army selected the GM submission for the new Infantry Squad Vehicle. The $214 million contract calls for 649 to be delivered to the Army over a five-year period. Based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the ISV is designed to provide rapid and organic transportation to light infantry units. Naturally, the best unit to test the ISV is America’s Airborne.
The 82nd Airborne Division is tasked with being the nation’s Immediate Response Force. Along with an airlift from the Air Force, the IRF is designed around rapidly deploying a Brigade Combat Team anywhere around the world within 18 hours of notification. The lightweight ISV is ideally suited for this role. In order to test this capability, the 82nd had to drop it from a plane.
2-325 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team worked with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate to conduct the ISV’s airdrop certification. The ISV was delivered by standard low-velocity from a C-130 and C-17 as well as by a standard dual-row airdrop system from a C-17. Upon landing, paratroopers de-rigged the ISV, loaded their rucks on its roof, and drove it over smooth and rough terrain. “Operational testing is an opportunity for test units to train hard while having the opportunity to offer their feedback to improve Army equipment,” Maj. Cam Jordan, executive officer at ABNSOTD, said. Testing was conducted on the Holland and Sicily Drop Zones at Fort Bragg from March through June 2021.
The ISV will enhance the mobility and lethality of the light infantry. “The ISV will be a game changer for a rifle squad,” Jordan said. “The ability to drop this in with the soldiers will give them much greater reach and endurance to complete their mission.” The Colorado-based vehicle can carry all nine soldiers in a squad and their individual combat loads.
Moreover, the ISV utilizes 70% off-the-shelf components from its commercial variant. This makes it easier for an infantry squad to operate and maintain.
“This vehicle will work well as a means of rapid insertions for an Infantry squad into all types of terrain, including urban environment,” Spc. Brice T. Dunahue, after testing the ISV, said. “The similarities to civilian vehicles will ensure training is fluid and in emergency situations can be operated by any solider.”
The 5,000-pound ISV is also designed to be sling loaded under a UH-60 Blackhawk or flown inside a CH-47 Chinook. As testing continues and the Army takes delivery of more vehicles, the ISV will roll its way into the motor pools of infantry units across the force.
Name a war, revolution, or revolt during the Cold War that involved the British Commonwealth, Western European nations or their allies and you’ve also named a conflict that had combatants fighting with the Fabrique Nationale FAL.
No wonder the FAL earned the nickname “the right arm of the free world” and became a symbol of the struggle against Communism.
In many ways, it was the West’s answer to the Kalashnikov, albeit one chambered to fire the heavier 7.62 x 51 mm NATO round instead of the AK-47’s 7.62 x 39 mm intermediate round.
Created in the years immediately after World War II, FN eventually produced 2 million FALs (Fusil Automatique Léger or “Light Automatic Rifle”) that were used by the militaries of more than 90 nations.
At one time, the FAL was even the official battle rifle of most NATO-member countries. It was even considered for the role as the United States’ main battle rifle.
Frankly, the FAL was everywhere. For example, consider the Six-Day War in 1967.
A common misconception is the 9mm Uzi was the weapon of choice for the Israeli Defense Forces. Actually, Israeli soldiers carried more FALs than Uzis when facing Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian troops.
Then, there was the 1982 Falklands War. The Argentine Army carried the full-auto version of the FAL; British troops had the semi-auto L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle model of the FAL.
When captured Argentine troops piled their weapons, British infantry and Royal Marines often walked over to the stack and retrieved the full-auto FAL so they could spray more lead at the enemy.
In Argentina, thousands of FALs underwent armory rebuilds in 2010, a sure sign that nation will continue to put the weapon in the hands of its troops.
How the FAL saw the light of day is a story that combines the tactical realities that emerged out of World War II and the politics of who would lead who during the Cold War.
The success of the innovative Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle convinced ordnance officers and weapons designers that era of the bolt-action battle rifle was dead and gone. Lighter cartridges in select-fire assault rifles captured the imagination of weapons designers.
Only the United States fielded a heavy caliber semi-auto battle rifle, the well-regarded M1 Garand .30-06 weapon that Gen. George S. Patton called “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” But the future was one that fired full auto – and the Garand did not.
Caliber was also an issue. As weapons designers on both sides of the Atlantic toyed with prototype battle rifles the British tested a 7 mm (.280-caliber) round in the new FAL and liked it.
In the United States, the Army wanted to stick with the .30-caliber round, flatly stating that no other cartridge could hold its own on the battlefield.
With the formation of the new NATO alliance in 1949, generals and civilian planners both talked of the necessity to standardize equipment, weapons and supplies.
“The laudable aim was one that had been much in the minds of many forward-looking military thinkers for a long time,” writes David Westwood, author of Rifles: An Illustrated History of their Impact. “For experience had shown that the United States and Britain often fought side by side, and commonality would be to the benefit of all including soldiers in the field.”
One thing was certain: the British were impressed with the FAL and were willing to choose it over other weapons.
It was deemed the superior firearm to competitors because it was easy to maintain, field strip, and clean. It reassembled without special tools and it was a select-fire weapon – but it fired the lighter round.
The “gravel belly” U.S. generals would accept nothing but a .30-caliber weapon, insisting on the superiority of a prototype called the T25, a forerunner of the M14 that was nothing more than a glorified Garand.
Soon, there was a “Battle of the Bullets” that went as high as the White House and 10 Downing Street. Pres. Harry Truman and Prime Minister Winston Churchill even held a mini-summit, where rumor has it they struck a quid pro quo – the U.S. would adopt the FAL as its main battle rifle if Britain backed NATO adopting the 7.62 x 51 mm round.
NATO relented and adopted the round. However, the U.S. reneged, developed the M14, which fired the NATO 7.62 mm cartridge, and adopted it as the American military’s main rifle.
In the end, it didn’t matter to FN because NATO countries (including Britain) began snapping up the FAL chambered for the NATO round.
Many consider that combination of weapon and cartridge the quintessential pairing of battle-rifle and bullet during the 20th Century – the FAL went into production in 1953 and FN continued to produce the rifle until 1988. The M-14 fell by the wayside as the main U.S. battle rifle within a few years, replaced by the M-16.
“Regardless of the political activity that went on before its adoption, the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO turned out to be an excellent, powerful military cartridge,” writes Robert Cashner, author of The FN FAL Battle Rifle. “With millions of FALs manufactured and internationally distributed, the rifle played a large part in making the 7.62 x 51mm NATO the success that it was.”
Vietnam is one often overlooked place where the FAL also proved a success. The weapon arrived there in the hands of Australian troops who fought as allies of the United States under the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO).
More than 60,000 Aussies would serve in the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1972, including the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. More commonly known as 1RAR, soldiers in the regiment fought in many significant battles during the war’s escalation in the mid-1960s.
During those the engagements, they often faced well-equipped Viet Cong who carried new AK-47s supplied by the Communist Chinese and East Bloc nations.
Despite its weight and size (the FAL is one of the longest battle rifles of the 20th Century), 1RAR’s troops considered their weapon suited for jungle warfare.
The powerful NATO round would punch through thick foliage, killing their concealed VC opponents. It was also a far more reliable weapon than the early version of the M-16 issued to U.S. forces – the FAL rarely jammed or misfired, two problems that plagued the M-16 for years.
After having as many as 24 of its planes destroyed in a salvo of 59 cruise missiles from US Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea on April 7, Syria has repositioned its jets to bases protected by Russian missile defenses, according to CNN.
“The Syrian air force is not in good shape,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, according to CNN. “It’s been worn down by years of combat plus some … significant maintenance problems.”
Still, combined with the dozens of planes from his Russian backers, Syrian President Bashar Assad has an asymmetrical air advantage over his adversaries — rebel groups that have little more than a few anti-aircraft missile launchers.
The move to bases near Russian missile defenses provides Syria with a clear deterrent against further US strikes. Experts say Russia’s S-300 and S-400 anti-air defenses can knock down Tomahawk cruise missiles, which were used in the April 7 strike.
US officials have repeatedly stressed that they are “prepared to do more” against Assad’s regime should more evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria appear, but the recent developments on the battlefield mean an engagement would be much more dangerous.
“One air defense battalion with an S-300 has 32 missiles,” Sutyagin said. “They will fire these against 16 targets — maybe against cruise missiles they would fire a one-to-one ratio — but to prevent the target from evading, you always launch two … but what if there are 50 targets?”
To further avoid detection, the US could use stealth aircraft like F-22s currently stationed in the theater.
Although the US could still carry out an attack against Syrian and Russian military targets, it would run a huge risk of killing Russian service members. The US warned Moscow ahead of the April 7 strike on Shayrat air base.
In this situation, where the target is Russian air defenses or planes on Russian bases, it’s unclear if the Russians would back away from their hardware, and killing Russian service members would risk massive escalation.
Fat Man: Hiroshima, Little Boy: Nagasaki. To date, these two bombings on the 6th and 9th of August 1945, during WWII, remain the only instance of the use of nuclear weapons during an armed conflict. Their use resulted in the ending of the war on the Pacific front. The immediate casualties are estimated between 129,000 and 226,000, most of them civilians. Follow-up deaths from radiation poisoning, cancer, birth defects, etc., and long-term environmental damage have brought the morality of nuclear weapons into question.
The Cold War
Questions of ethics did not stop the USA, the Soviet Union, the UK, France, China and other countries from developing entire arsenals of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The US remained the sole possessor of nuclear weapons until 1949 when Russia caught up with the deadly technology. In response, the USA developed the first hydrogen bomb, reputed thousand times more powerful than the nuclear bomb. To date, nine countries are officially in possession of nuclear arsenals and five of them also have thermonuclear weapons. Although they are not used in armed conflicts, they are used as a dissuasion tool to prevent the invasion of said countries as well as their economical interests overseas.
A-Bomb and H-Bomb
Nuclear (A-bomb) and thermonuclear (H-bomb or hydrogen) weapons are the most powerful weapons in history. But what are the differences between these two types of bombs? The primary difference between the A-bomb and the H-bomb lies in the explosion process at the nuclear level. The A-bomb relies on nuclear fission while the H-bomb is set off through both nuclear fission and fusion.
The H-bomb is said to be the advanced version of the A-bomb. Therefore, it is harder to make but it also produces greater energy. In fission, the nucleus of an atom is split into two or more parts, while in fusion, two atoms are put together to create a third one. In the H-bomb, the fission compressed and heats the hydrogen atoms, leading to fusion. Both simple fission and the combination of fission and fusion release a tremendous amount of energy, which results in an explosion.
However, an A-bomb’s explosion is measured in kilotons, the equivalent of the explosion of 1000 tons of TNT, while an H-bomb’s explosion is measured in megatons – the equivalent of the explosion of 1,000,000 tons of TNT. Fat Man’s explosion, which leveled Hiroshima, is estimated at 12 to 18 kilotons. In contrast, the very first hydrogen bomb detonated by the USA in 1952 yielded an estimated 10,400 kilotons.
Another difference between the A-bomb and the H-bomb involves the material used in the nuclear reaction. In an A-bomb, the fissile material is either enriched uranium or plutonium, while in the H-bomb, both materials are used, in addition to hydrogen isotopes called deuterium and tritium, which are the main atoms involved in the fusion.
Because it combines reactions called supercritical chain reaction and its components, an H-bomb is more difficult to make than an A-bomb. For example, although North Korea recently claimed to have tested an H-bomb, some experts think that the country still lacks the supercomputers necessary for the fabrication of these weapons. However, although more advanced, an H-bomb is also lighter than an A-bomb, which means it could be mounted on missiles, making it more mobile and less obvious.
Nuclear power is one of the main sources of energy in the world. However, its military applications are considered a worldwide threat. The Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968, followed by the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, signed in September 2017 and enforced in January 2021, are international attempts at regulating weapon-grade nuclear power. However, the nuclear-power countries are not yet ready to let go of their arsenals. As of May 2021, none of the countries in possession of the A-bomb or H-bomb has signed the Ban Treaty. Neither has Japan.
Featured image: Thermo-Nuclear (Hydrogen) device is set off in the South Pacific during Operation Ivy. Operation Ivy test “Mike”, occurred on 31 October 1952 at Elugelab (flora) Island in the Enewetak Atoll. The blast was 500 times the yield of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II. Wikimedia commons.
Ray Allen, a 10-time NBA All-Star, recently participated in a USO holiday tour with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. On this tour, the athlete, along with other celebrities, visited service members in Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Germany.
Now back in the states, Allen has spoken about much the trip meant to him, both as the son of an Air Force metals technologist and as a retired athlete.
NBA Legend Ray Allen meets with service members during a troop engagement at Incirlik Air Base, Dec. 5, 2016. (Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
One of the topics Allen touched on during an interview with Sports Illustrated was the way military terms pop up in sports discussions, even though they don’t really fit:
In the NBA, often times we’ll be in the locker room and we’ll talk about “going to war” and “going into battle” and “being in the foxhole,” all these terminologies that we equate with being at war. I have such a greater appreciation for the conflicts going on around the world, now I try to not use those terms out of respect.
NBA legend Ray Allen, left, fires an M240 machine gun at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area during this year’s USO Holiday Tour, Grafenwoehr, Germany, Dec. 8, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)
Allen also told SI about how a comment from Dunford helped him appreciate the military’s expeditionary mindset, and how service members are constantly working to make sure that conflicts rarely come to American shores:
One of the things that General Dunford said that resonated with me was, “We’re over here at war, my job is to make sure that we have all away games.” So when I got back on U.S. soil, I thought about how privileged we are.
While speaking to USA Today, the NBA player took a moment to discuss how different life is in a combat zone, but that being there with professional warfighters made him feel safe:
“I (felt) more protected than I’ve ever felt in my life, being on that tour. I had some bad guys with me. Guys who knew how to handle weapons, that had been in combat. I’m looking to my left and right, and I’m like ‘I’m safe, I feel good about where I am, because these guys know what they’re doing.’ And that’s what I want to tell everybody, any athlete, from the NBA to baseball to football…join up with the USO and take a tour. It’ll give you a greater perspective on war, it’ll give you a greater perspective on the people that are fighting the war.”
Afghan pilots will soon be attacking Taliban forces with machine guns and 20mm cannons firing from airplanes in Afghanistan — flying U.S.-provided A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, Air Force officials said.
Loaded with weapons to attack Taliban forces and engineered for “close air support,” the A-29s are turboprop planes armed with one 20mm cannon below the fuselage able to shoot 650 rounds per minute, one 12.7mm machine gun (FN Herstal) under each wing and up to four 7.62mm Dillion Aero M134 Miniguns able to shoot up to 3,000 rounds per minute.
Super Tucanos are also equipped with 70mm rockets, air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9L Sidewinder, air-to-ground weapons such as the AGM-65 Maverick and precision-guided bombs. It can also use a laser rangefinder and laser-guided weapons.
Four A-29s have been delivered so far as part of an effort to equip the Afghan Army with up to 20 aircraft, Heidi Grant, Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
“Afghan pilots have been training here and learning English in the U.S. A class of eight pilots recently graduated a class at Moody AFB. They are back in Afghanistan. My hope is that in the next month or so you are going to see them doing some close air support for their Army,” Grant added.
Close air support will enable the Afghan Army to better target and destroy groups of Taliban fighters in close-proximity to their forces, giving them a decisive lethal advantage from the air.
The Super Tucano is a highly maneuverable light attack aircraft able to operate in high temperatures and rugged terrain. It is 11.38 meters long and has a wingspan of 11.14 meters; its maximum take-off weight is 5,400 kilograms. The aircraft has a combat radius of 300 nautical miles, can reach speeds up to 367 mph and hits ranges up to 720 nautical miles.
The U.S. is buying them for the Afghans through a special Afghan Security Forces fund that Congress has appropriated, she explained. They are being built by Sierra Nevada out of Jacksonville, Fla. – an effort which brings jobs to the U.S., she added.
“They are right now doing top off tactics training. They trained here in the U.S. but they needed to get into country to do the top-off tactics training,” Grant said.
The presence of armed “close air support” aircraft for the Afghan Army could have a substantial combat impact upon ongoing war with the Taliban – who have no aircraft.
Also, the arrival of the air support comes at a time when some observers, military leaders and lawmakers are concerned about combat progress in Afghanistan, openly questioning President Obama’s plan to reduce U.S. forces from 9,800 to 5,500 by 2017. Outgoing CentCom Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin III and Sen. John McCain have been among those expressing concern.
At the same time, the presence of combat-changing air-attack ability for Afghan forces could engender a circumstance wherein the U.S. could reduce its presence without compromising ongoing progress in the war against the Taliban.
Over the past few decades, the character of military conflict has changed substantially as “front lines” and “rear areas” have blurred into a single, full-spectrum operational environment. That increasing complexity is reflected in the tactical vehicles that commanders need to address that spectrum of operations. When the Army looked to replace the venerable Jeep, the July-August 1981 issue of RDA magazine, Army ALT’s predecessor, described the new vehicle it sought to acquire, the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, this way:
“The HMMWV will be diesel powered and have an automatic transmission. It will carry a 2,500-pound payload, have a cruising range of 300 miles, accelerate from 0 to 30 MPH within 6 to 8 seconds and achieve a maximum speed to 60 MPH. Since the HMMWV will be operated in forward areas, it will feature run-flat tires and ballistic protection up to 16-grain fragments traveling at 425 meters per second, as well as explosion-proof fuel tanks for some models. The vehicle will use off-the-shelf civilian hardware and military standard parts wherever possible.”
It was, essentially, a better Jeep. There was nothing in that description about blast resistance or networking. It would have been hard to imagine a tactical network such as today’s in 1981. Nor was any consideration given to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Contrast that with the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which is currently in low-rate initial production.
JLTV is an Army-led, joint-service program designed to replace a portion of each service’s light tactical wheeled vehicle fleets while closing a mobility and protection gap. The intent is to provide protected, sustained, networked mobility for warfighters and payloads across the full range of military operations.
Willys-Overland was awarded the contract for the 1940 Willys Quad Original Pilot, the Jeep’s precursor, which began production in 1941. The vehicle underwent countless modifications and upgrades, and remained in service for the next 44 years.
During World War II, the Jeep was considered the workhorse for logistical and support tasks. The early vehicles were used for laying cable and hauling logs, and as firefighting pumpers, field ambulances and tractors. However, the vehicle didn’t include armoring, a radio, seatbelts—or even doors. After the war, the Jeep went through many modifications and upgrades and remained in service for the next 44 years.
The HMMWV was fielded in 1985, a couple of years later than anticipated back in 1981, and they have been used since as troop carriers, command vehicles, ambulances, for psychological operations and as weapon platforms. In the early 2000s, HMMWVs faced an entirely new threat in the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—the IED—and they proved vulnerable. DOD responded with up-armoring and the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, which was designed specifically to resist and deflect IED explosions.
JLTV gives the current warfighter significantly more protection against multiple threats while increasing mobility, payload and firepower, something that Soldiers and Marines from past conflicts could only envision in their wildest dreams.
“The JLTV has been designed to keep pace with the fast-changing nature of today’s battlefield,” said Dave Diersen, vice president and general manager of Joint Programs at Oshkosh Defense, which won the JLTV contract. Diersen added that JLTV offers “a leap forward in performance and capability that can only come from a vehicle that is purpose-built for a spectrum of light vehicle missions.”
BIGGER, STRONGER, SAFER
Army leaders from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command tested a production model of the JLTV, right, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, on May 2. The JLTV bridges the capability gaps in protection, performance and payload of the HMMWV on the left.
The JLTV has two variants, to cover the requirements of both the Army and Marine Corps, and can be transported by a range of lift assets including rotary-wing aircraft. It can traverse rugged and dangerous terrain including urban areas, while providing built-in and supplemental armor against direct fire and IED threats. The JLTV features advanced networking, by being wired for current and future command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
JLTV was purposely built for the Army’s tactical network and designed to have MRAP-like protection, but also to improve fuel efficiency, increase payload and provide greater maintainability, reliability and performance—and the potential for continuous improvement to meet future mission requirements.
The first production vehicles are intended to serve as the first assets for JLTV’s performance and operational testing programs. Roughly 40 vehicles have been delivered to test sites thus far, and will undergo complete reliability, transportability, survivability, network and other testing to verify the production vehicles’ ability to satisfy the program’s requirements. The most important outcome of this testing is to ensure that Soldiers can effectively interact with the JLTV and all of its integrated equipment.
As the Jeep and HMMWV did on past battlefields, JLTV will no doubt face challenges of 21st century military operations that the Army and DOD can scarcely imagine today, as well as provide a much-needed tactical vehicle capability for the Army and Marine Corps that doesn’t compromise among payload, mobility, performance or protection.