This is how DARPA's new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload - We Are The Mighty
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This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
DARPA image


The Pentagon’s research arm is now demonstrating an entirely new level of aircraft autonomy which blends the problem-solving ability of the human mind with computerized robotic functions.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, program is called Aircrew Labor in Cockpit Automation System, or ALIAS.

A key concept behind ALIAS involves a recognition that while human cognition is uniquely suited to problem solving and things like rapid reactions to fast-changing circumstances, there are many procedural tasks which can be better performed by computers, DARPA developers told Scout Warrior.

Also Read: 5 fictional planes we wish were real

ALIAS uses a software backbone designed with open interfaces along with a pilot-operated touchpad and speech recognition software. Pilots can use a touch screen or voice command to direct the aircraft to perform functions autonomously.

For instance, various check-list procedures and safety protocols such as engine status, altitude gauges, lights, switches and levers, can be more rapidly, safely and efficiently performed autonomously by computers.

“This involves the routine tasks that humans need to do but at times find mundane and boring. The ALIAS system is designed to be able to take out those dull mission requirements such as

check lists and monitoring while providing a system status to the pilot. The pilot can concentrate on the broader mission at hand,” Mark Cherry, an executive with Aurora Flight Sciences, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The aircraft is able to perform a wide range of functions, such as activating emergency procedures, pitching, rolling, monitoring engine check lights, flying autonomously to pre-determined locations or “waypoints,” maneuvering and possibly employing sensors – without every move needing human intervention.

Developers explain that ALIAS, which has already been demonstrated by DARPA industry partners Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences, can be integrated into a wide range of aircraft such as B-52s or large civilian planes.

Initial configurations of ALIAS include small aircraft such as a Cessna 208 Caravan, Diamond DA42 and Bell UH-1 helicopters, Cherry explained. The ALIAS system is able learn and operate on both single engine and dual-engine aircraft.

Both Lockheed and Aurora Flight Sciences have demonstrated ALIAS; DARPA now plans to conduct a Phase III down-select where one of the vendors will be chosen to continue development of the project.

As algorithms progress to expand into greater “artificial intelligence” functions, computers with increasingly networked and rapid processors are able to organize, gather, distill and present information by themselves. This allows for greater human-machine interface, reducing what is referred to as the “cognitive burden” upon pilots.

There are some existing sensors, navigational systems and so-called “fly-by-wire” technologies which enable an aircraft to perform certain functions by itself. ALIAS, however, takes autonomy and human-machine interface to an entirely new level by substantially advancing levels of independent computer activity.

In fact, human-machine interface is a key element of the Army-led Future Vertical Lift next-generation helicopter program planning to field a much more capable, advanced aircraft sometime in the 2030s.

It is certainly conceivable that a technology such as ALIAS could prove quite pertinent to these efforts; a Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration Army ST program is already underway as a developmental step toward engineering this future helicopter. The intention of the FVL requirement, much like ALIAS, is to lessen the cognitive burden upon pilots, allowing them to focus upon and prioritize high-priority missions.

The human brain therefore functions in the role of command and control, directing the automated system to then perform tasks on its own, Cherry said.

“Help reduce pilot workload and increase safety in future platforms,” Cherry said.

Aircraft throttle, actuation systems and yokes are all among airplane functions able to be automated by ALIAS.

“It uses beyond line of sight communication which is highly autonomous but still flies like a predator or a reaper,” John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, told Defense Systems in an interview.

Due to its technological promise and success thus far, ALIAS was given an innovation award recently at the GCN Dig IT awards.

 

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China and Japan locked in Coast Guard arms race

China and Japan are redefining the nature and purpose of the Coast Guard. Americans still think in terms of air-sea rescue or chasing drug smugglers when they think about their Coast Guard. China and Japan think about their Coast Guards in terms of realpolitik.


The two nominally civilian services are on the front lines of territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Both countries are adding to their coast guard fleets at a breakneck pace. One could almost call it a Coast Guard arms race, except that the vessels are lightly armed if armed at all.

Japan is reinforcing its Coast Guard contingent in the waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea with 10 new 1,500-ton patrol craft and two new helicopter- equipped vessels. This is in addition to six other cutters already in the region. Tokyo will no longer have to borrow vessels from other Coast Guard districts allowing them to concentrate on routine Coast Guard duties such as rescuing ships in distress.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload

Tokyo is also overhauling its main operational base on the island of Ishikagi, the closest Japanese island to the Senkakus, with enlarged port facilities to handle the new vessels. It is close to another small island where Japan recently opened an army garrison to protect a new radar base (a well as asserting sovereignty in case China expands its designs on other islands in the Ryukyu chain.)

Both Japan and China assert their claims to the uninhabited Senkaku islands with coast guard cutters rather than ships of their regular navies.  On an average of once every two weeks, two or three Chinese Coast Guard vessels enter Japanese territorial waters. They stay for a couple hours then leave. Meanwhile, Japanese Coast Guard vessels regularly patrol the disputed waters ordering anyone inside the territorial zone to leave.

China is also expanding its fleet and building ports of call to maintain them. The growing fleet allows Beijing to assert its claim and support its interests over the entire South China Sea. At present, Coast Guard ships are stationed near the Scarborough Shoal claimed by the Philippines; another routinely patrols the Laconia Reefs off the coast of Malaysia.

While it once depended on former naval frigates, China is now commissioning purpose-built cutters. It is currently commissioning two of the world’s largest Coast Guard cutters, ships that could alter the balance of power in the South and East China Seas (one ship is to be stationed in each sea).

Known only by their hull numbers, in this case Haijing 2901 and Haijing 3901 (the first digit denotes which sea it is to patrol). They displace 10,000 tons, possibly more when fully outfitted. That makes them larger than the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga- class cruisers and Japan’s 6,500-ton Shikishima- class Coast Guard cutters previously the largest in the world.

The U.S.S. Forth Worth, a Littoral Combat ship based in Singapore, which has undertaken Freedom of Navigation patrols in the Spratly islands, displaces a mere 1,200 tons. A warship like the Fort Worth could, of course, defend itself from a Chinese maritime enforcement vessel on a collision course, but it would mean firing the first shot.

This may be a coast guard “arms race” except that the competing vessels are not heavily armed. The new Japanese cutters are armed with 20 mm cannons and water cannons. The new Chinese super cutters are not necessarily heavily armed either. Pictures that have been published so far show that they lack gun turrets. It is not armaments that make these two Coast Guard Dreadnaughts so formidable; it is their sheer size.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload

The military version of the People’s Daily, the press organ of the Chinese Communist Party, boasted that these powerful new ships could ram and possibly sink a 9,000-ton vessel without damaging itself. That makes them a potential threat to regular naval vessels of the U.S. and Japanese navies.

Ramming has been a tactic in territorial disputes in both the East and South China Seas, harkening back to the days of the Romans and Carthaginians. A large Chinese fishing vessel rammed a Japanese Coast Guard cutter near the Senkakus in 2011. Earlier this year another Chinese Coast Guard vessel rammed one of its own fishing trawlers that had been taken into custody by Indonesian authorities for allegedly illegally fishing in Jakarta’s 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zone.

Retired USN Captain James Fanell, formerly chief of intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, calls the Chinese Coast Guard,  “A fulltime marine harassment organization. Unlike the U.S, Coast Guard, the Chinese service has no other mission but to harass other nations into submitting to China’s extravagant claims,” he says.

Fanell notes that China is building new Coast Guard vessels, like the two super cutters, at “an astonishing rate.”

The regular navies of Japan and China generally stay in the background, but Tokyo is also suspicious about the recent activities of the regular Chinese Navy in waters near the disputed islands. A contingent of Chinese frigates now hovers about 70 km away from the Senkaku, close enough to come to the aid of any of its coast guard vessels that gets in trouble.

For its part, the Japanese government recently made public what the cabinet had decided earlier in the year, that Japanese naval vessels might intervene should the Coast Guard be unable to do its normal “policing” duties. “If it becomes difficult for the police and the Japan Coast Guard, then the Maritime Self Defense Force (navy) could respond,” said defense minister Gen Nakatani. That could happen if Chinese navy ships actually entered Senkaku waters.

The use of “white hulls,” mostly unarmed or lightly armed Coast Guard cutters, rather than “gray hulls,” has been a stabilizing element in the numerous territorial encounters of the past few years. But the recent remarks suggest that Tokyo expects to see more gray hulls than white hulls in the coming year.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memes time! It’s like MRE time, except you laugh instead of getting constipated. Great Navy memes seem to be the hardest to find, so thanks go to Sh-t My LPO Says for numbers 7, 8, and 12.


1. Everyone is feeling the sting of budget cuts.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Maybe you could divert some cafe and cable TV money to the training budget.

2. They’re both used to being top dog …

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
… and neither knows that the civilians don’t care.

SEE ALSO: The inside joke names that soldiers have for different unit patches 

3. Has the Navy been spending the war years doing donuts in the oceans?

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Sort of makes the Navy seem more appealing.

 4. This also could factor into deciding which service branch to join.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Seriously? Come on, Navy and Air Force. This mud isn’t going to sleep in itself.

5. First sergeant will either join in or lose his mind in 3, 2, 1 …

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload

6. Maybe he’ll shoot the emergency azimuth properly and everything will be fine.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
You should probably make sure you have lots of water and your sleeping system, just in case.

7. Follow the letter of the rules, not the spirit.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Still, kind of ingenious.

8. Careful what you wish for.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Nah. The first thing you see is that fancy bulkhead or the underside of a nice sleeping rack.

9. In their defense, if it wasn’t mandatory, they wouldn’t wear that costume.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Side note, maybe do some mandatory training on the spelling of mandatory.

10. Artillery: not the King of the Battle because of their oratorial skills.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Really, wanting to kill everyone should be the threshold for bringing Marine infantry as well.

11. A pilot demonstrates his ability to shake.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
First dog in space: 1957. First Air Force pilot in space: 1961.

 12. At least he didn’t lose his shower shoes.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
This is why he showers fully clothed.

13. Ancient, timeless wisdom.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
The composite risk management process was the first appendix in the Art of War.

NOW: 9 text messages from First Sergeant you never want to read 

OR WATCH: 11 incredible videos of weapons firing in slow motion 

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6 ceremonial military units that are actually badass (when they aren’t wearing funny hats)

Honor guards are an important part of the pomp and circumstance surrounding official state events. Many guard units are mostly for show, serving only to drill perfectly and impress crowds.


But some honor guards are filled with active soldiers who continue to practice killing people when they aren’t all dressed up in tall hats and shiny breastplates. Here are 6 of them.

1. The Queen’s Guard (U.K.)

The Queen’s Guard is probably the most iconic ceremonial guard unit in the world, but the men outside Buckingham Palace aren’t just a tourist attraction.

They are real soldiers and are allowed to use violence to protect themselves, their post, and the Queen. Some tourists have learned this the unpleasant way.

2. The Swiss Guard (The Vatican)

Dating back to the 1400s, the Swiss Guard are the primary protective force for the Pope. When the guardsmen aren’t wearing their funny uniforms, they’re training to kill those who threaten the Holy Father. Skip to 2:13 in the video to see members of the Swiss Guard training with their assault rifles.

3. Old Guard (U.S.)

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo: US Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks

The 3rd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army are the official honor guard of the President as well as the ceremonial guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All members are active duty infantry soldiers who also deploy to combat and train for fights in the national capital.

(Note: The 3rd Infantry Regiment is the official honor guard for the president, but the president is much more commonly seen with the Marine Sentries, four Marines assigned to guard his person in the West Wing of the White House.)

4. Republican Guard (France)

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo: Wikipedia/XtoF

Part of the French Gendarmerie, a military police force, the Republican Guard serves as the guard of honor for many official events and the French president, but it also guards key government installations in Paris, protects the French prime minister and president, and engages in military exercises.

5. Corazzieri Regiment (Italy)

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo: Wikipedia/Jollyroger

Commanded by a colonel in the Italian Army, the Carazzieri Regiment performs ceremonial duties as the honor guard of the Italian president, but they’re also an active police force. During times of war, they can be organized under the Defense Ministry.

6. Presidential Guard (Fiji)

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo: Republic of Fiji Military Forces

The Presidential Guard of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces is the honor guard of Fiji’s president. However, they are also in charge of the physical security of the president’s residence and nearby installations.

NOW: Here’s the intense training for Marines who guard American embassies

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The second invasion of Nazi-occupied France that you’ve never heard of

On Aug. 15, 1944, a massive flotilla carrying approximately 200,000 heavily armed invaders surged from the Atlantic Ocean into Southern France. The men of the 6th Army Group were there to kill Nazis and chew bubblegum, and they were all out of bubblegum. It’s the invasion you’ve never heard of but should have.


 

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
The invasion fleet off the coast of Southern France. Photo: US Navy

The invasion of Southern France was originally planned as part of D-Day, but was pushed back due to a shortage of landing craft and slow progress of forces moving up Italy. By the time the allied armies were ready to make their landings, some leaders were pushing to change the plan.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wanted to use the resources and manpower dedicated to Operation Dragoon, as the invasion was called, to instead push harder through Italy or to land in the Balkans.

An Italian operation could have knocked the country out of the war faster. The Balkan operation would have robbed Germany of needed oil while also limiting the amount of territory that was gained by the Red Army, putting the other Allied powers in a better position against the Soviets after the war.

But Allied commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was adamant that Operation Dragoon should be launched to draw away German forces battling the Allied troops marching east from Normandy. Operation Dragoon would also deliver Marseille and Toulon, large port cities that could facilitate reinforcements and supplies for the push to Berlin, to the allies.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo: Wikipedia

So the men of 6th Army Group made their landings on a 35-mile beachhead Aug. 15 and immediately began moving north. German supply and communications lines had been attacked by French partisans and the allied forces capitalized on the confusion, attacking German units as they found them.

British and American paratroopers jumped into Le Muy to the north of the beaches. 1,300 Allied bombers from four aircraft carriers and a number of land bases began striking railroads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Naval ships positioned off the French Riviera began firing on targets fed to them by spotting aircraft.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Paratroopers ride in C-47 Skytrains en route to Le Muy for Operation Dragoon on Aug. 15, 1944. Photo: US Air Force

German troops conscripted from occupied territories quickly surrendered to the Allies. Germany’s Army Group G attempted to delay the Allied forces but was hampered by a lack of equipment and manpower. Also, many of their troops were sent there to recover from wounds received in other theaters, limiting their effectiveness.

Army Group G began preparations to retreat in the first day of fighting.

By Aug. 17, Hitler had authorized the retreat and the U.S. 6th Army Group and the German Army Group G engaged in a chase across miles of southern France. As most of the American and British soldiers in the invasion pushed north to chase the Germans, a number of French troops swung west to liberate the ports at Marseilles and Toulon.

The Allied push north stayed on the offensive, liberating town after town. The American forces eventually met up with Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army in early Sep. 1944. The German Army Group G did escape with many of their men.

Allied casualties in the fighting approached 20,000 but the Allied forces captured 100,000 German troops while killing and wounding a number of others.

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Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Pfc. Sebastian Rodriguez, machine gunner, Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, fires an M240 machine gun during a night squad-attack exercise, here, May 22. MRF-D Marines used machine gunners, snipers and rifleman to suppress a simulated squad-sized enemy attack. | Photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco/U.S. Marine Corps


It’s no surprise that America’s Marines have some of the coolest gear in the world.

And that gear makes for some of the most amazing night photography imaginable. Below, we have selected some of our favorite photos of the Corps at night that look like they could have been plucked straight from a video game.

LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicles from Charlie Company fire on fixed targets as part of a combined arms engagement range during sustainment training in D’Arta Plage, Djibouti.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman/U.S. Marine Corps

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 311 lands on the USS Essex.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Cpl. Garry J. Welch/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, provides cover fire during a platoon assault exercise at Arta Range, Djibouti.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas/U.S. Air Force

Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to collect simulated enemy casualties and weapons during a mechanized raid at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera/U.S. Air Force

An MV-22 Osprey prepares for take off for night low-altitude training at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by 1st Lt. Jeanscott Dodd/U.S. Marine Corps

US Marines assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One break down a rapid ground refueling during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) near 29 Palms, California.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Sgt. Daniel D. Kujanpaa/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine Special Operations Team member fires an AK-47 during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

An MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron prepares to takeoff during flight operations aboard the USS Kearsarge.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone/U.S. Marine Corps

Cpl. Rashawn Poitevien engages targets downrange with an M40A5 during the Talon Exercise at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Mendoza/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine Special Operations Team member fires a M240B machine gun during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

US Marines perform maintenance checks on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Anchorage.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry/U.S. Marine Corps

 

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This Q-n-A reveals the hard-fought wisdom of paratrooper who dropped into D-Day

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
(Photo: Nat’l Archives)


WATM recently had an audience with 92-year-old WWII Army veteran Clark Johnson of Floreville, Texas. At the time Johnson had just gotten back from visiting his late wife’s family and his disabled son who he hadn’t seen in eight years, a trip he was given courtesy of Dream Foundation.  Despite the fact that he has lung disease and has been given two months to live, he was very upbeat and candid during an amazing conversation that revealed hard-fought wisdom of an old vet.

Q: What was your rank?

A: Staff Sergeant.  I was in Airborne, and 2-3 days after my jump in Normandy, I hurt my leg pulling a soldier out of the swamp. [He was] drowned but we needed the material on his back over and above that even the ones drowned that didn’t have nothing we pulled them onto shore so the Red Cross could come pick ’em up later.

My job mainly was a demolition man, but for the first 3-4 days in Normandy, there was so much confusion you would kill anyone that got in your way [laughs]; you wanted to say alive.

Q: What have your learned from your time in the military?

A: I don’t know, but I’ll tell you the government can pull anything out of a hat.

Q: What advice do you have for current members of the military?

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Carl Johnson (Photo: Dream Foundation)

A: If you get in front of a machine gun, like I did, and they take the knuckle out of your middle finger – don’t pull your hand away. Leave it up there, even let them get the other three fingers too. Because today – that knuckle out of my little finger pays me a thousand dollars a month.

I got two Purple Hearts and each one of ’em pays me a thousand bucks. That’s $2,000 a month [laughs]; you know, at least that puts food on the table.

Q: How did you cope with what you saw during your time in combat?

A: Silence is the best thing that I know. Because, now and then, you can say something, and then later on they ask you the same thing you said and they’re mixing stuff up. That’s not good for nobody.

Q: Do you remember when you got drafted?

A: Yeah, I got a letter that was typed, “Greetings!” (laughs)

Q: What went through your mind when you got that letter?

A: I was gonna lose my job. Hey, you know when you were a teenager and you got a job, you were lucky if you got a good one that paid big money.

Q: How old were you when you got drafted?

A: 18

Q: What years did you serve?

A: 1943-1946

Q: What is your advice to young Americans?

A: If you can’t go to college, due to money, whatever, there is nothing wrong with going to the Army or the Navy and getting out in about four years with a discharge that will help you for the rest of your life. I can’t lay it any cleaner than that.

Q: What is your definition of patriotism?

A: No politics.

 

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Ecstasy to treat post traumatic stress? The FDA says MDMA research is a go

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Molly, the powdered form of MDMA, was a popular street drug in the 80s and 90s. Soon, it could be used to treat PTSD. Photo credit Tanjila Ahmed


The Food and Drug Administration has approved a large-scale clinical trial of MDMA to explore the possibility of using it to treat PTSD according to The New York Times.

MDMA is more commonly referred to as Ecstasy, E, X, or Molly, a street drug that gained popularity between its introduction in the 70s and its subsequent ban in 1985 as a party drug. In 1985, the Drug Enforcement Agency classified Ecstasy as a Schedule 1 drug, making it illegal in any capacity.

Chemist Alexander Shulgin, a WWII Navy veteran, was the first to notice the “euphoria-inducing traits” and originally intended MDMA to be a drug which might treat anxiety, among other emotional issues.

His dream was cut short during the height of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, and he died in 2014 before that dream became reality.

Charles R. Marmar, the head of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine, has spent much of his career focused on PTSD. While not directly involved in the small scale studies leading up to the FDA’s approval of the new study, Marmar is “cautious but hopeful,” according to The New York Times.

“If they can keep getting good results, it will be of great use,” Marmar told The New York Times. However, Marmar noted that MDMA is a “feel good drug” and prone to abuse.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a non-profit founded in 1986 to explore the medicinal and societal value of psychedelic drugs and marijuana, funded the six small-scale studies that lead to the approval by the FDA.

According to a report in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, subjects in the small-scale studies had previously been unresponsive to traditional therapy. They participated in psychotherapy sessions; during two to three of those sessions, they were given Ecstasy.

The studies treated a total of 130 PTSD patients, most of whom could no longer be classified as meeting the “criteria for having PTSD.”

According to The New York Times, the researchers involved in the study have applied for “breakthrough therapy status” with the FDA.

If the FDA approves that request, and the studies continue to show similar results, Ecstasy could be a viable treatment for veterans with PTSD by 2021.

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Major changes are in the works for Marine Corps Scout Snipers

Since the days of Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock and his exploits in Vietnam, the image of Marine Corps Scout Snipers has struck fear in the hearts of America’s enemies.


This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

And for good reason.

The Corps has one of the most comprehensive — and toughest — training schools for its sniper teams, with a grueling curriculum of long-range shooting, covert reconnaissance and advanced camouflage.

And that’s the problem, Corps infantry leaders say.

Marine officials have confirmed that Commandant Gen. Robert Neller is considering a plan that would make being a Scout Sniper a primary military occupational specialty in the Marine Corps, a move infantry leaders say would help units better meet the increasing demand for these highly-skilled specialists.

A Marine spokesperson declined to comment on whether the Commandant would sign off on the changes but said the Corps is looking into how to improve its Scout Sniper cadre.

“The Marine Corps is currently assessing the best way to train and sustain its Scout Snipers,” Marine spokesperson 1st Lt. Danielle Phillips told WATM. “It’s important we are thorough in our review to determine the best way the Corps can improve this vital capability.”

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Marine Scout Snipers play a key role in forward reconnaissance and observation for infantry battalions. Marine leaders say they can’t get enough of them the way the training is set up today. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

According to officers familiar with the process who spoke to We Are The Mighty on background, the way the Corps staffs its sniper platoons falls far short of the authorized goal of around 20 per platoon. One leader said on average a platoon has four trained snipers “if we’re lucky.”

Read More: This is what makes Marine Scout Snipers so deadly

“A lot of kids come to the sniper school not prepared or not fully qualified, so they fail out,” the infantry leader said. “So we’re just not able to maintain the number of snipers we need in a battalion.”

That’s why Neller was forwarded a plan to make the 0317 Scout Sniper MOS a primary one, in hopes that the Corps will do more to make sure enough of the sharpshooters get to the fleet where they’re needed.

“There’s a struggle to find Marines who have the time to train up and get to a ‘school level’ of success,” said a senior Marine sniper familiar with the MOS change proposal. “Right now it’s almost impossible.”

The senior Scout Sniper, who spoke on background to We Are The Mighty, said if the change is approved, a Marine who signed on as an 0317 would go through boot camp and the School of Infantry then would immediately be sent to a Basic Scout Sniper course. After that, the Marine would go back to the fleet to fill a Scout Sniper job in a platoon rather than leaving to chance the option of being pulled into another combat arms job.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
If infantry leaders and senior Scout Snipers have their way, new Marines entering the Corps will have the option to enlist as an 0317 and go directly to sniper training after the School of Infantry. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Today, Marines who are selected for Scout Sniper have already completed one deployment and are approaching their end of active service, making it hard to keep snipers in the Corps even if they get the secondary MOS, the sniper leader said.

“There’s no way to make sure they stay in the sniper community,” he said.

As part of the change, the Corps is looking into modifying the Basic Scout Sniper course to focus more on the “scout” part of the training as opposed to shooting skills, the senior Marine leaders said.

Over the years, scout snipers have played an increasing role in reconnaissance and clandestine observation of targets where infantry leaders need “eyes on” key areas. Additionally, it’s been increasingly difficult to teach the advanced marksmanship skills that were once part of the basic sniper curriculum, contributing to the wash-out rates and making it harder for Marines to prepare for the sniper school.

The senior sniper said a lot of the advanced shooting techniques and other sniper-specific skills can be taught by senior NCOs once the new 0317 gets to his platoon. After a deployment in a sniper platoon, the Scout Sniper is better prepared for an advanced course and will help form a more seasoned cadre of leaders back at the platoon, he said.

But there are critics, senior Marine leaders acknowledge, particularly when it comes to the training changes.

“The old timers are pointing a bony finger at us and saying the new plan waters down sniper training,” the senior sniper said. “That’s an emotional response to how it used to be.”

“Nobody’s watering down what the Scout Sniper is and what he can do,” he added.

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Sebastian Junger’s new book “Tribe” is nothing short of a lesson for all Americans

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Sebastian Junger embedded with Army troops at Combat Outpost Restrepo In Eastern Afghanistan. (Photo: Vanity Fair)


Sebastian Junger spent nearly twenty years writing about dangerous professions, most notably those surrounding war and other conflicts. Although he retired from war reporting after longtime collaborator Tim Hetherington was killed during the Libyan Civil War, he has a lot of experiences on which to reflect. In his new book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, he contextualizes a life spent close to death and danger and provides lessons for modern societies that have struggled with the fact that technological improvements and material wealth haven’t necessarily made their populations happier.

Tribe is the 54-year-old Junger’s own homecoming of sorts. He was a Vanity Fair contributor when he spent time in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, which was also his first collaboration with photographer Tim Hetherington. That collaboration led to three films based on the pair’s time in the valley: “Restrepo,” “Korengal,” and “The Last Patrol,” as well as Junger’s book, War. After Hetherington was killed in Misrata, Libya in 2011, Junger produced “Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” for HBO documentary films.

Junger’s lifetime of covering conflict led him to write Tribe, the theme of which is how modern society has isolated individuals and marginalized the value of groups – a phenomenon to which returning warfighters can relate. Junger notes there are positive effects of war on mental health and long-term resilience, using examples of war trauma from Sri Lanka to Israel and Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire to illustrate the effects of war. He explains the utility of the “shared public meaning” and why it’s crucial for warriors to return to a society that understands them. He argues that “honoring” veterans at sporting events, letting uniformed service people board planes first, and formulaic phrases like “thank you for your service” only serve to deepen the divide between the military and civilians by highlighting the fact that some serve and some don’t.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Junger’s main discussion about combat veterans is that they require three things: a society that is egalitarian and gives them the chance to succeed, to not be seen as victims, and to feel as necessary and productive as they were on the battlefield. According to his findings, the U.S. ranks very low on all of these because there’s no cultural perception of any shared responsibility. The shared responsibility of the whole for the one is what Tribe is all about.

The book isn’t about just veterans or victims of conflict. The recurrence and spread of individualism have an effect on all of us. Junger delves into the history of the native tribes of the United States to illustrate his points: tribal societies were more socially progressive and conscious of the suffering of its members, especially those who went to war. Collective societies tended to be happier units because they cultivated collectivized happiness. Everyone in a tribe has a role to play, and everyone feels useful.

Sebastian Junger’s newest book isn’t about veterans, but Tribe is full of lessons all veterans should heed when seeking their tribes. More broadly, Tribe’s lessons should be heeded by the entire nation, especially during this election season that seems to be more divisive with each step in the process of finding those who would lead us in bringing us all together.

For more information on Sebastian Junger and “Tribe” visit www.sebastianjunger.com.

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This is how the US would defend against North Korean nukes

After North Korea shocked the world on July 4 by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, the US has picked up the pace and urgency of ballistic missile defense despite major flaws in existing systems and tactics.


US plans in the event of a North Korean missile attack would center around spotting the launches early on and preparing to intercept them.

The US has had plans since 2013 to have 44 missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California by the end of 2017, and North Korea would need at least that long to perfect the missiles for its attack.

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A long-range ground-based interceptor. (Missile Defense Agency photo by Leah Garton.)

But missile interceptors are far from a guarantee, Lauren Grego, the senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said on Twitter last week.

The “single shot kill probability” of an ICBM is unknown, according to Grego,  but is unlikely to be higher than a 50% even in “optimistic conditions.”

Of course, the US wouldn’t fire a single interceptor. Missile Defense Agency previously told Business Insider that in a real-world combat scenario, the US would fire multiple interceptors at a single threat.

Grego further calculated that, assuming that 50% probability, if the US shot 4 interceptors at a single threat, it would have a 94 percent chance of taking down the missile.

But North Korea would be foolish to commence nuclear war with the world’s foremost nuclear power by firing a single missile. Grego said that if North Korea fired 5 missiles, the probability that the US can defend against them all shrinks to 72 percent, even in a best-case scenario, which she called “uncomfortably high.”

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The first of two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors is launched during a successful intercept test. (DoD photo courtesy of Missile Defense Agency.)

Multiple missiles aren’t the only issue. North Korea could send decoys or employ countermeasures, which could confuse or disrupt US missile defenses by presenting multiple, false targets for each launch. This would effectively make missile defenses useless and allow all warheads to hit US targets unhindered.

Increasing the US’s number of interceptors beyond 44 does little to erase the fundamental problems with hit-to-kill missile defense.

“Discrimination of warheads from decoys is an unsolved but clearly fundamental issue,” wrote Grego, who sees “little point” in spending more on the already $40 billion ground-based midcourse defense before addressing its clear, conceptual limitations.

So while missile interception doesn’t promise much by way of defense yet, the best defense in nuclear war remains a good offense.

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An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM launches during an operational test Feb. 20, 2016, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford)

By the time the US detected the launches and verified their origin and bearing, a salvo of more reliable, more powerful missiles would streak across the sky towards North Korea before its missiles even landed.

Moments after US cities rose into mushroom clouds, the entirety of North Korea would do the same. North Korea has no missile defenses, and could do nothing to stop the US from flattening every inch of its sovereign territory.

This assured destruction of the entirety of North Korea has a deterrent effect, making it far less likely that North Korea would ever strike the US.

Not only would the US bomb North Korea into oblivion, the US would hunt down North Korea’s leadership from hidden bunkers and caves before bringing them to justice.

For these reasons, a North Korean missile attack on the US remains unlikely, but nearly impossible to stop.

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Former Marine Corps captain is new Navy Secretary nominee

President Donald Trump says he’s found a new candidate for the civilian post of Navy secretary.

His name is Richard Spencer, and he’s a former financial industry executive. Spencer is also a former Marine Corps captain.


The White House says Spencer most recently was managing partner of Fall Creek Management, a privately held management consulting company in Wyoming. Spencer also was vice chairman and chief financial officer for Intercontinental Exchange Inc., a financial market company, and president of Crossroads Group, a venture capital firm that was bought by Lehman Brothers in 2003.

Trump’s first choice for Navy secretary, businessman Philip Bilden, withdrew from consideration in February. Bilden cited privacy concerns and the difficulty of separating from his business interests.

The Senate must approve of Spencer’s nomination.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

They’re like normal memes, but more violent and rude.


1. It’s getting towards fall. Make sure you don’t lose any officers.

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In their defense, there really aren’t any good landmarks in there.

2. The Marines really fight so aggressively because they want first dibs on the slide.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Some muzzle discipline would be nice, but it is a playground.

SEE ALSO: These crazy photos show 30+ ton tanks in flight

3. Why drill sergeants deserve special badges.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Seriously, how do they show up to basic this helpless? Have they seen ANY action movies?

4. If you give a Jodie a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Seriously, screw that guy.

5. Do not take on the mafia. It is not worth it.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
They are sneaky, fast, and do not give a crap if you bite them as long as they can bite you too.

6. Chair Force’s real fear from sequestration: a chair shortage.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Either that or he’s just trying to prevent the jet taking off.

7. Hurricanes are just training opportunities.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
And if you’re a boatswain’s mate, this is what you’re training on.

8. Marines are generous. Ooh-rah?

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
Just remember to not take seconds until everyone has had firsts.

9. Every career counselor ever.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
They do know that civilians make money and eat food and live in houses, right?

10. The Coast Guard trains for their most feared adversary.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload

11. When commandoes place a to-go order:

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
And yes, they want it in 30 minutes or less.

 12. Special Forces trainers do not want your excuses.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
They also expect you to kill someone with that weapon, doesn’t matter that it’s plastic.

13. Good luck at your libo brief. We’re sure it’ll be riveting.

This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload
There’s the problem. Two energy drinks for four grunts? Way below standard.

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