This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows - We Are The Mighty
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This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows

Every Fourth of July, I find myself at a fireworks show enjoying the pretty lights and the prettier colors only to be slapped in the face with a muscially-driven grand finale that should be an awe-inspiring feat of Amerigasmic glory.


Except that the music driving that finale often has nothing to do with America. At all.

I’m talking about the 1812 Overture. Here’s the part you definitely know:

I may be an overreacting history nerd. I accept that possibility. But also consider that I want us all to bask in the glory that is the history of the United States. We are f*cking amazing.

We’re back-to-back World War champs, we have the strongest military in the history of ever unless Star Wars turns out to be real, and we don’t need to take other countries’ history as our own.

My (correct) guess is that people think the 1812 Overture is so-named because of the War of 1812, fought between Britain and the United States, often called our second war for independence. That war was fought to a grinding draw.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
A draw is not a loss. Just sayin’.

They burned Washington. We burned what would become Toronto (only because London was too far to swim, but dammit, we would have). We checked the vaunted Royal Navy in both oceans and the Great Lakes.

We even teamed up with pirates and beat the British at New Orleans. (Side note: we should bring back pirate alliances.)

My other (probably correct) guess is that if an American doesn’t live in New Orleans or upstate New York, the bulk of what they know about the War of 1812 is that it started in 1812. And because the sun obviously revolves around the Earth and the Earth obviously revolves around America, the 1812 Overture must be about our War of 1812.

What else did history have to pay attention to in 1812, other than America toppling the giant again, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2“-style?

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Pictured: America. Obviously.

(Reminder: a draw is not a loss.)

It turns out, a whole hell of a lot was going on. Namely, 1812 is the year Napoleon’s Grande Armée (minus all the men he lost to disease and lice on the march) captured Moscow. But before they did, the Russians made sure to douse the city in vodka and burn it to the ground.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows

The French Army spent the winter in Moscow trying to find snails, or whatever it is they ate, in a burned-out city as babushkas laughed at them from the shells of former homes and distilleries.

This is how Tchaikovsky was inspired to write the 1812 Overture, an awesome piece, complete with church bells and cannons and lots of drums and what not.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Simpsons did it.

But Tchaikovsky didn’t like it. He called it, “very loud and noisy and completely without artistic merit, obviously written without warmth or love.”

There are a number of clues in the song that should have signaled to us that it — like many things — isn’t about us. For starters, it’s written by a Russian named Tchaikovsky. That should have been our first clue.

Secondly, the Marseillaise — the French National Anthem — is actually played in the 1812 Overture. More than once.

So when I’m watching the fireworks on July Fourth, I’m always quizzically raising an eyebrow as we celebrate our independence with the French National Anthem.

Unlike other Americana that borrows from other countries songs (The Star-Spangled Banner, for example, is the tune of a British drinking song set to Francis Scott Key’s poem about the bombing of Fort McHenry), the 1812 Overture is a piece we will never be able to fully co-opt as uniquely American.

So play something else. I recommend “The Battle of the Kegs,” an American propaganda song about Patriots scaring the sh*t out of British sailors with a bunch of beer kegs during the Revolution.

Special Thanks to Logan Nye for contributing to this post.
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Today in military history: George Washington spills first blood of French and Indian War

On May 28, 1754, then 22 year-old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington defeated a party of French scouts in southwestern Pennsylvania, an event that would become the first engagement of the French and Indian War.

During the pre-America days the French and the American colonists had some disputes about who owned land in what is now the Northeastern United States. Two years before, Washington had been appointed adjutant in the Virginia colonial militia. The following year, he administered a warning to the French in Ohio Valley, warning them to abandon the territory to the British crown. A number of skirmishes and land disputes continued as tension rose to a head.

On May 28, 1954, on the verge of war, Virginia Royal Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent Washington to the frontier land of Pennsylvania to instruct the French to leave. In a surprise attack, Washington’s party killed ten French soldiers and took twenty-one prisoners. Only one of Washington’s men was killed.

For his victory, Washington was appointed a full colonel.

Fighting in the French and Indian War began in 1754, but Britain and France did not officially declare war against one another until May 1756. Also known as the Seven Years War, the fighting continued until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in February 1763.

The war would have lingering effects on the fate of America; King George II and the British parliament would levy taxes against the colonists to pay down the war debt, taxes the colonists would soon grow tired of paying…

Featured Image: British forces under fire from the French and Indian forces at Monongahela, when the Braddock expedition failed to take Fort Duquesne.

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How Marines honor their fallen heroes — on the battlefield and at home

By WATM guest Christian Bussler


“You are there for your brothers, and that’s all that really matters.”

It was that one line from the trailer of the upcoming movie “Last Flag Flying” that caught my attention and transported me back to another place and another time — Al Anbar province, September 2005.

At the time, I was a Marine staff sergeant on my third combat tour in three years. I had just returned to Iraq after being wounded by an IED the year prior.

On this deployment, I was to be the top NCO for all Mortuary Affairs operations in and around Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq. My job was to recover our fallen warriors from the battlefields and return them home with honor.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
(USMC photo)

As unassuming as that movie quote may be for anyone else, for me, those words ignited a spark. They instantly connected me to how my Marines and I felt about the fallen who were in our care back then. We would stop at nothing to return them home — because they were one of us, they were our brothers, and in the end, that was all that really mattered.

“Last Flag Flying,” which will be released in select theaters Nov. 3 and hit theaters nationwide on Nov. 22, stars Steve Carell who takes a departure from his normal funny-man roles by portraying former Navy Corpsman Larry “Doc” Shepherd who tracks down two of his Marine buddies he hasn’t seen in 30 years (played by Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston). Shepherd reveals he had been notified two days prior that his son, a Marine, was killed in Iraq.

He asks his friends for their help to lay his son to rest.

A story like this automatically kicks me square in the feels. In the short two minute trailer, I immediately recognized the two sides to this parable. One is a story of old warriors coming together to honor a son killed at war. The other is rarely depicted in movies in a time of strife. It is the human cost of warfare, the cost beyond the obvious war dead. It is the sacrifices made by their families and communities.

This is a truth that has replayed across our country close to 7,000 times over the last 16 years. The movie takes a look at this cost that has spared few communities in some way or fashion by our recent conflicts.

During my time in Iraq, my Marines and I would go to vast extremes to recover our fallen warriors. The thoughts of those families pushed us to work harder — no matter what it took or how difficult it was, we were going to get them home to their families.

Through helo crash scenes we crawled on our hands and knees, combing through the desert sands in search of remains and personal effects. We spent countless hours swinging sledge hammers to break apart the solidified parts of melted vehicles to recover the minutest fragments of DNA.

Repeatedly we put ourselves directly into harm’s way to gather our fallen brothers from the battlefields to get them home. We believed we actually worked for the families of the fallen. They would want us to go that extra mile to ensure that their loved ones were taken care of the best way we could, and we did exactly that, no matter the cost.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
(USMC photo)

The connection between “The Last Flag Flying” and my experiences extends to how today we honor our fallen warriors with flags. In Iraq, my Marines and I changed the way we flagged the transfer cases of our fallen to pay them a deeper honor.

Before our tour in 2005, flags were merely taken out of a cardboard box, placed upon the transfer case, and tied down with a white cord. It just was how things were done going all the way back to whenever they first started flagging caskets. Realizing these flags were eventually given to the families, I knew we could do better. Instead we ironed and starched every flag so that they were crisp and sharp.

We also implemented a new technique so there was zero chance of the flag touching the ground. These procedures were eventually adopted by the military.

The common thread between my experience and “The Last Flag Flying” is that in our own ways, the director and I were trying to reveal the same narrative.

Quietly and largely unseen, brothers go to great lengths to care for their fallen brothers. And the story of sacrifice doesn’t just end on battlefields, it continues into the homes of our Gold Star families. It is felt on the everyday streets of our communities, and it is remembered in the resting places of our honored fallen.

WATM contributor Christian Bussler is a former Mortuary Affairs Marine and is the author of “No Tougher Duty, No Greater Honor- A memoir of a Mortuary Affairs Marine,” available through Amazon.com, CreateSpace.com, Kindle and soon at your local bookstores.

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1st Cav soldiers among 4 Americans killed in Afghanistan

The U.S. Defense Department on Monday identified the two soldiers killed last week by a suicide bomber at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan as from the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas.


Army Sgt. John W. Perry, 30, of Stockton, California, and Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt, 20, of Tamaroa, Illinois, were killed Nov. 12 at the airfield north of the capital, Kabul. The soldiers were assigned to Headdquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, the statement said.

Also read: The US lost 6 elite Green Berets in a 72-hour span last week

Two American contractors also were killed in the blast and 16 other U.S. service members and a Polish service member were injured.

The attacker was a former Taliban militant who had joined the peace process in 2008 and had since taken a job at the base, Bagram District Governor Haji Abdul Shokor Qudosi told ABC News on Sunday.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Airmen patrol the flightline perimeter at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, last June. | US Air Force photo by Justyn Freeman

About 14,000 Americans, including service members and contractors, are based at Bagram. The base was closed to Afghan workers immediately following the attack and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul also closed for business.

The attack occurred while U.S. service members at the base were preparing for a five-kilometer race as part of Veterans Day events.

A later statement from Fort Hood said that Perry joined the Army on Jan. 31, 2008, as a Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) maintenance support specialist. He had been assigned to 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade since Aug. 21, 2014.

Perry was on his second tour in Afghanistan. He deployed to Afghanistan when the U.S. involvement there was called Operation Enduring Freedom from August 2010 to July 2011. He deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in September 2016.

Perry’s awards and decorations included the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star, three Army Commendation Medals, one Army Achievement Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars.

He also had received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Service Ribbons, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Combat Action Badge and Driver’s and Mechanic Badge.

Iubelt had been in the Army less than a year, the statement said. He entered the Army on Nov. 23, 2015, as a motor transport operator and had been assigned to 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade since May 6, 2016. He deployed to Afghanistan in September.

Iubelt’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.

Perry and Iubelt were among about 500 1st Cavalry Division soldiers who deployed to Afghanistan in the late summer of this year in a regular rotation of troops to help train the Afghan military.

The deploying soldiers were part of the Fort Hood division’s headquarters and its sustainment brigade headquarters, Lt. Col. Sunset Belinsky, the 1st Cavalry Division’s division’s spokeswoman, said at the time. They deployed to Bagram Airfield to replace the 10th Mountain Division headquarters, which had served as the planning leader for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan since November of 2015.

The deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel was expected to last about 12 months, Belinsky said. Operation Freedom’s Sentinel is the United States’ continuing mission to train and advise the Afghan National Security Forces in their fight against the Taliban and other insurgent networks.

Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, who took command of the 1st Cavalry Division last January, was leading the deployment, taking over duties as the U.S. deputy commanding general for support in Afghanistan.

The deaths of Perry and Iubelt were the second and third in combat for the 1st Cavalry Division in recent weeks. On Oct. 20, Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, died in Kabul of wounds received from what was suspected to be an “insider attack” by an individual wearing an Afghan army uniform. American contractor Michael G. Sauro, 40, of McAlester, Oklahoma, also was killed in the incident.

Riney and Sauro had been on a mission for the Afghan Defense Ministry when they drove up to the entry point at an Ammunition Supply Point on the outskirts of Kabul, Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO Resolute Support mission, said in a briefing to the Pentagon late last month.

“They had not started the inspection” when a man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire, Cleveland said. The gunman was shot dead by Afghan security.

Cleveland said the U.S. could not confirm that the incident was an insider, or “green-on-blue,” attack since the Afghans had yet to identify the gunman.

Riney entered active-duty service in July 2012 as a petroleum supply specialist, the military said. He had been assigned to the Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas, since December 2012.

Riney was on his second tour to Afghanistan. His awards and decorations included the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal.

Sauro was assigned to the Defense Ammunition Center, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, in Oklahoma, the Defense Department said. He traveled to Afghanistan in September for his third deployment and was scheduled to return to the U.S. in March.

A U.S. soldier and two other U.S. civilians employed by the Defense Ammunition Center were injured in the incident. The soldier was reported in stable condition at the time. Civilian Richard “Rick” Alford was in stable condition and civilian Rodney Henderson suffered minor injuries, the center said, adding that they will both return to the U.S., The Associated Press reported.

The attack came as the U.S. was proceeding with President Barack Obama’s plan to draw down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from the current number of about 9,500 to 8,400 by the end of this year.

The drawdown was taking place as the U.S. considers its troop and monetary support under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump for Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been at war for 15 years.

Afghanistan policy was not a main topic of debate between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the campaign.

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For military veterans, finding a job is one thing — staying in it is another

Tommy Diaz was looking to make a career move after graduating community college in 2008, so he joined the U.S. Army. In 2010, he was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, where he worked in military intelligence.


“I talked with high-level Taliban members,” Diaz said. “I did over 400 debriefings. The euphemism is debriefings. They’re really interrogations.”

The job was high pressure, but Diaz knew it mattered. He picked up important skills, but he struggled to put those skills to work when he came home to Southern California. He got his first full-time job tracking inventory for an aircraft parts supplier.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
DoD Photo by Noriko Kudo

“I did that for about 10 months, but I just got bored of it,” Diaz said. “It just felt like a dead end. It wasn’t clicking. I was just hashing out reports, and I wanted to do more.”

So, he left. And Diaz isn’t alone. A 2016 survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that 44 percent of veterans left their first post-military job within a year.

The unemployment rate for U.S. military veterans is down from nearly 9 percent back in 2010 to just above 4 percent today. Thanks to a big push from the federal government and a bunch of corporate initiatives, U.S. companies have done a good job hiring veterans in recent years, but keeping them is another story.

Many leave because they have trouble matching military skills to job requirements or finding a sense of purpose in the job. But for many vets, the very experience of being in an office causes problems.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Photo Courtesy of the DoD

“It just becomes kind of a minefield of how to interact with people,” said Emily King, author of “Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing and Retaining Veterans.”

King has been hired by companies to help integrate veteran employees. She said it’s hard for them to reorient from the military way of doing things.

“An attitude where the mission comes first and interpersonal communication and effectiveness come second is not usually effective in a civilian environment where they tend to pay as much attention to how you do something as to what you do,” King said.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
DoD Photo by Lt. Col. Angela Wallace

Some veterans’ service providers say the recent push to get companies to hire veterans has actually unwittingly played into the turnover problem.

“They’re looking more into quantity than they are into quality,” said Mark Brenner, of Los Angeles nonprofit Veterans Career XChange. “If you have to put 40 people to work, they’ll put them to work wherever they can.”

So, vets are thrown into jobs they’re not prepared for, or jobs they don’t see a future in. Brenner said if we need people to volunteer to fight wars, helping them find meaningful careers when they get back is crucial.

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These are the Army’s high-tech helicopters that will fly in 2030

The Army is preparing for the first official flights of two high-tech, next-generation aircraft now being designed with a wide range of abilities to include flying faster, flying farther without needing to refuel, operating in high-hot conditions and having an ability to both reach high speeds and hover like a helicopter.


The new aircraft are part of an Army-led effort, called Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator, aimed at paving the way toward ultimately engineering a new fleet of aircraft for all the services to take flight by 2030.

Also read: Here’s what the US military’s future helicopter fleet could look like

Construction of two different high-tech, future-oriented demonstrator helicopters is already underway in anticipation of ground testing later this year and initial flight testing next year, Dan Bailey, JMR TD program director, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

“Things are moving along very well. We are on schedule with exactly what our industry partners have planned,” he said.

While some of the eventual requirements for the new aircraft have yet to be defined, there are some notional characteristics currently being sought after by the program. They include an ability to travel at airplane-like speeds greater than 230 knots, achieve a combat radius of 434 kilometers, use a stronger engine and operate in what’s called “high-hot” conditions of 6,000-feet and 95-degrees Fahrenheit.

“We had set 230 as the speed requirement because we wanted to push the technology.  We wanted people to bring new ideas and new configurations to the table,” Bailey said in an interview with Scout Warrior several months ago.

A faster, more manueverable helicopter that can fly farther on one tank of fuel would enable forces in combat to more effectively engage in longer combat operations such as destroying enemy targets or transporting small groups of mobile, lethal ground fighters. The new helicopter will also be designed to use next-generation sensors to find enemies on the move and employ next-generation weapons to attack them, Army officials describe.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
SB-1 Defiant. Sikorsky Photo

The JMR TD technology effort will inform a planned program of record called Future Vertical Lift, or FVL, which will design, build and test a series of next-generation aircraft for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

“FVL is a high priority. We have identified capability gaps. We need technologies and designs that are different than what the current fleet has. It will carry more equipment, perform in high-hot conditions, be more maneuverable within the area of operations and execute missions at longer ranges,” Rich Kretzschmar, project manager for the FVL effort, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

.The first flights of the demonstrator aircraft, slated for 2017, will include developmental helicopter/aircraft from two industry teams – Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky-Boeing team.

TWO HELICOPTER DESIGNS

The Bell offering, called the V-280 Valor, seeks to advance tilt-rotor technology, wherein a winged-aircraft with two rotor blades over each wing seeks to achieve airplane speeds and retain an ability to hover and maneuver like a helicopter.

Bell’s V-280 has finished what’s called a system-level design review where Army and Bell developers refine and prepare the design of the air vehicle.

“They have an air vehicle concept demonstrator that they call the third-generation tilt-rotor. Their fuselage was completed and it is being delivered to Bell for the build-up of the aircraft,” Bailey said.

Along with Boeing, Bell makes the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft which is currently praised by military members for its excellent operational performance in recent years. The Osprey has two rotating rotor blades which align vertically when the aircraft is in helicopter mode and then move to a horizontal position when the aircraft enters airplane mode and reaches speeds greater than 280 knots.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
AH-64 Apache | YouTube

The V-280 Valor also has two propellers which rotate from horizontal airplane mode to a vertical position, which allows for helicopter mode.  Bell officials have said their new aircraft will be able to reach speeds of 280 knots. Bell and Army officials explain that their V-280 Valor substantially advances tilt-rotor technology.

“What Bell has done is taking its historical V-22 aircraft, and all the demonstrators before that, and applies them to this next-generation tilt-rotor. It is a straight wing versus a V-22 which is not straight. This reduces complexity,” Bailey explained. “They are also building additional flapping into the rotor system and individual controls that should allow for increased low-speed maneuverability.”

The Sikorsky-Boeing demonstrator, called the SB1 Defiant, uses a coaxial rotor system configuration. This is a design structure, referred to as a compound configuration, which relies upon two counter-rotating rotor blades on top of the aircraft and a thrusting mechanism in the rear.

“To make a rotorcraft go fast you have to off-load the rotor lift onto something else or else you run into problems when you try to reduce the speed of that rotor. Typically, you do that with a wing but Sikorsky-Boeing came up with a lift-offset design,” Bailey added.

The pusher-prop on the back of the aircraft is a small propeller behind the counter-rotating rotor heads. It is what can give the aircraft airplane-like speeds.  It operates with what’s called positive and negative pitch, allowing the aircraft to lean up or down and move both forwards and backwards, Boeing officials have said.

MISSION EQUIPMENT

The JMR TD program and the follow-on FVL effort will also integrate a wide range of next-generation sensors, weapons and avionics, Army officials explained.

Some of these technologies will include a “fly-by-wire” technology allowing for a measure of autonomy or automation so that the helicopter can fly along a particular course by itself in the event that a pilot is injured or incapacitated. This is the kind of technology which could, in the future, allow for unmanned helicopter operations.

Along these lines, the Army is looking for technical solutions or mission equipment which increases a pilot’s cognitive decision-making capability by effectively managing the flow of information from an array of sensors into the cockpit, Army program managers have explained in previous statements on the Army’s website – Army.mil

Army JMR TD development documents describe autonomous capability in terms of the need to develop a Human Machine Interface, HMI, wherein advanced cockpit software and computing technologies are able to autonomously perform a greater range of functions such as on-board navigation, sensing and threat detection, thus lessening the burden placed upon pilots and crew, Army experts have explained.

In particular, cognitive decision-aiding technologies explored for 4th-generation JMR cockpit will develop algorithms able to track, prioritize organize and deliver incoming on- and off-board sensory information by optimizing visual, 3-D audio and tactile informational cues, prior statements on Army.mil have said.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
V-280 Valor | Bell Helicopter

The idea is to manage the volume of information flowing into the aircraft and explore how to best deliver this information without creating sensory overload. Some of this information may be displayed in the cockpit and some of it may be built into a helmet display, Army officials said.

Manned-Unmanned teaming, also discussed by Army developers, constitutes a significant portion of this capability; the state of the art with this capability allows helicopter pilots to not only view video feeds from nearby UAS from the cockpit of the aircraft, but it also gives them an ability to control the UAS flight path and sensor payloads as well. Future iterations of this technology may seek to implement successively greater levels of autonomy, potentially involving scenarios wherein an unmanned helicopter is able to perform these functions working in tandem with nearby UAS.

COUNTERMEASURE SYSTEMS

Integration is key to the Army’s Mission Systems strategy, as the overall approach is aimed at fielding an integrated suite of sensors and countermeasure technologies designed to work in tandem to identify and in some cases deter a wide range of potential incoming threats, from small arms fire to RPGs, shoulder-fired missiles and other types of attacks, Army statements have said.

One such example of these technologies is called Common Infrared Countermeasure, or CIRCM, a light-weight, high-tech laser-jammer engineered to divert incoming missiles by throwing them off course. CIRCM is a lighter-weight, improved version of the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, known as ATIRCM, system currently deployed on aircraft.

CIRCM, which will be fielded by 2018, represents the state of the art in countermeasure technology, officials said. Future iterations of this kind of capability envisioned for 2030 may or may not be similar to CIRCM, Army developers have said. Future survivability solutions will be designed to push the envelope toward the next-generation of technology, servcie information explains.

The mission equipment for the new aircraft will be tailored to the new emerging designs, service developers said.

Additional countermeasure solutions proposed by industry could include various types of laser technology and Directed Energy applications as well as missile-launch and ground-fire detection systems, Army officials said.

SENSOR TECHNOLOGIES

The new helicopter program is also working with its industry partners to develop a new technology which might improve upon the state-of-the-art Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor, or MTADS, systems currently deployed on helicopters; MTADS sensing and targeting technology provide helicopters thermal imaging infrared cameras as well stabilized electro-optical sensors, laser rangefinders and laser target designators, according to Army statements.

The current, upgraded MTADS currently deployed on aircraft throughout the Army were engineered to accommodate the size, weight and power dimensions of today’s aircraft, dimensions which will likely change with the arrival of a new Air Vehicle built for the new JMR demonstrator aircraft.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
AGM-114 Hellfire missiles | Creative Commons photo

WEAPONS SYSTEMS

JMR Weapons Systems Integration is a critical part of this effort. The JMR aircraft will be engineered to integrate weapons and sensor systems to autonomously detect, designate and track targets, perform targeting operations during high-speed maneuvers, conduct off-axis engagements, track multiple targets simultaneously and optimize fire-control performance such that ballistic weapons can accommodate environmental effects such as wind and temperature, Army documents on the aircraft have stated.

AUTOMATIC AVOIDANCE

Air-to-Air “tracking” capability is another solution sought by the Army, comprised of advanced software and sensors able to inform pilots of obstacles such as a UAS or nearby aircraft; this technology will likely include Identify Friend or Foe, or IFF, transponders which cue pilots regarding nearby aircraft, Army officials have said.

Technical solutions able to provide another important obstacle avoidance “sensing” capability called Controlled Flight Into Terrain, or CFIT, are also being explored; in this instance, sensors, advanced mapping technology and digital flight controls would be engineered to protect an aircraft from nearby terrain such as trees, mountains, telephone wires and other low-visibility items by providing pilots with sufficient warning of an upcoming obstacle and, in some instances, offering them course-correcting flight options.

Using sensors and other technologies to help pilots navigate through “brown-outs” or other conditions involving what’s called a “Degraded Visual Environment” is a key area of emphasis as well, according to Army officials.

The Army is looking at a range of solutions such as radar, electro-optical equipment, lasers, sensors, software, avionics and communications equipment to see what the right architecture is and how we would integrate all these things together.

PROGRESS THUS FAR

In addition to conducting the first official Army-industry flight of the two demonstrators, the program is working on a Material Development Decision, designed to pave the way for the FVL acquisition program. This effort conducts a thorough examination of all the available technologies and their performance through what is called an “analysis of alternatives.”

A key advantage of a joint FVL program is that it will engender further inter-operability between the services and, for example, allow an Army helicopter to easily be serviced with maintenance at a Marine Corps Forward Operating Base, Bailey explained.

Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing teams are both done with their subsystem critical design review and the components are in fabrication and safety flight testing, Bailey explained.

“Bell has a completed fuselage that is undergoing the nuances of getting landing gear attached to it and holes for wiring. They are complete with their wing build and they are just starting to make it to the engine itself,” Bailey said.

Bell engineers have been mounting  the wing to the fuselage.

“It really is starting to look like major components to the aircraft. By May it will likely look like a complete aircraft but it will not have all the subsystems,” he added.

The Sikorsky-Boeing – fuselage is complete as well, Bailey said.

“The transmission, main rotor and hubs have been forged and cast – they are in the process of preparing for final assembly,” he explained.

Both companies we have completed the final design and risk review, which is the government review of their process to say the Army understands the final design and the risks going forward.

“The demonstrators help to inform the feasibility both from the technical and affordability aspects of a future program of record,” Bailey said.

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Aircraft dominate the Navy’s unfunded List. But still no new ships

New aircraft make up half the Navy’s $5.3 billion unfunded requirements list of items that didn’t fit in the 2018 budget request. But while the wishlist includes several upgrades to existing vessels, as well as new landing craft and barges, it doesn’t ask for any new warships.


Instead of ships, the unfunded requirements list prioritizes aircraft: $739 million for 10 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters takes first place, followed by $1 billion for six P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance planes, and $540 million for four F-35C Joint Strike Fighters. The fourth and fifth items are for upgrades to the Navy’s long-neglected infrastructure of shore facilities, reflecting military leadership’s desire to patch major holes in readiness.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicolas C. Lopez

Overall:

  • about $3.4 billion of the request, or 63 percent, goes for weapons procurements. (The way the items are listed means this sum includes a small amount of RD funding as well). Of that, the lion’s share, $2.7 million, goes to buy new aircraft: the F-18s, P-8As, and F-35Cs, plus four cargo variants of the V-22 Osprey.
  • $1.3 billion, 24 percent, goes for facilities, counting both readiness funding (from the Operations Maintenance account) and Military Construction. $480 million, 9 percent, goes for other readiness needs, $330 million of it for aviation: logistics, spare parts, and general support.
  • $101 million, 2 percent, goes to research, development, testing, evaluation. (That’s not including small RDTE sums wrapped up in weapons upgrades we counted as procurement).
  • Just $90 million, 2 percent, goes to military personnel, filling holes in short-handed units rather than growing the force.

If you break the list up by priority ranking, you see some striking patterns. Almost all the procurement requests, $3.1 billion, are in the top 12 items, with the best odds of passing. What little RD money there is almost all comes in the top half of the list (items #1-24). Personnel requests, however, are clustered in the middle, with middling odds of being funded. Facilities is split: 53 percent of the request are in the top 12, 38 percent in the bottom 12, very little in the middle. Non-facilities readiness requests are almost entirely in the bottom half.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
U.S Navy photo by Personnel Specialist 1st Class Anthony Petry

Specifically, when you discount lower-priority requests, procurement’s share jumps even higher, to 75 percent; facilities drops to 18 percent; other readiness to four percent; RD stays at 2 percent; and personnel falls to one percent of the request.

Yet despite all that emphasis on procurement, there are still no new ships. Congress will want to change that.

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Army names first unit to receive service’s new pistol

U.S. Army weapon officials announced Wednesday that the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) will be the first unit to receive the service’s new Modular Handgun System.


The announcement comes as the service waits for the Government Accountability Office to rule on a protest filed by Glock Inc. in February against the Army’s selection of the Sig Sauer P320 as the replacement for its current M9 9mm pistol.

The GAO is expected to make a decision in early June, but the service is free to continue work on the effort.

The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.

The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol. The pistols can be outfitted with suppressors and accommodate standard and extended-capacity magazines.

Related: This is why the M1911 was America’s favorite pistol

The service launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. The decision formally ended the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.

Army officials have said very little about the new MHS since the contract award.

“It has increased lethality, faster target acquisition, better reliability,” Lt. Col. Steven Power, who runs Product Manager for Individual Weapons, told an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 2017 Armaments Systems Forum.

Power said there have been a lot of misconceptions about what the requirements community meant when they described the new pistol as modular.

“This largely focused on the shooter’s hand size and the enablers that the weapon is compatible with,” Power said, describing how the MHS offers different grip sizes and can accept various attachments such as lights and optics.

The base configuration of the full-size XM17 pistol will come with Tritium sights and three magazines — one standard 17-round magazine and two extended 21-round magazines. Army equipment officials are developing a holster for the MHS as well.

One aspect of the MHS that Army officials have been reluctant to talk about is the type of ammunition the service’s new sidearm will use.

Also read: The 6 most awesome machine guns in U.S. history

A new Defense Department policy — that allows for the use of “special-purpose ammunition” — allowed the Army to require gunmakers to submit ammunition proposals along with their pistols to be evaluated in the competition.

The ammunition chosen to go with the Sig Sauer is a “Winchester jacketed hollow point” round, Power told Military.com.

But before it can be issued, the Pentagon must complete a “law of war determination,” which is scheduled to be complete in the next two months, Army officials said.

“Before we can field it, we have to have a law of war determination on the specific ammunition that was submitted with the handgun before we actually continue to field it to the soldier,” said Col. Brian Stehle, head of Project Manager Soldier Weapons.

“We have a law of war determination that stated that this type of ammunition is usable. We are very confident that the winning ammunition will be usable.”

The current plan is for the Army to buy 195,000 MHS pistols. Here’s a look at the MHS quantities the other services intend to buy, according to Army officials:

Air Force: 130,000

Navy: 61,000, XM18 only

Marine Corps: 35,000

As long as the GAO upholds the Army’s decision in the Glock protest, the service will conduct final testing of the MHS this summer, service officials maintain.

“Our first fielding of this is going to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, by the end of the calendar year,” Power said.

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Israel stole Iran’s entire nuclear intelligence archive in one night

In 2016, Israeli intelligence officers pulled off one of the most daring but greatest achievements in its history. Mossad discovered the location of where Iran kept its most secret documents related to its nuclear program. It was all kept in a warehouse in Tehran’s Shorabad District.  

Then, in a single night, Israeli officers managed to enter the warehouse, steal a half-ton of top secret documents, and smuggle them all back to Israel. For two years the entire operation was kept secret from the world. 

Until Israel wanted to show the world that Iran had been planning to build a nuclear weapon the entire time. The revelation may have been the catalyst for President Donald Trump’s subsequent pullout of the 2015 Iranian Nuclear Deal. 

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
iran’s Ghadr-110 medium range ballistic missile being tested in March 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)

In February 2016, operatives from Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) were working in Tehran when they discovered the warehouse holding Iran’s most stunning nuclear secrets. The Mossad officers said the building looked like a “dilapidated warehouse” in a run-down neighborhood in Iran’s capital city.

They were able to break into the building, steal the documents, and escape back to Israel in one night. It took the Israelis more than a year to analyze the information, as most of it was written in Farsi. The trove of stolen documents consisted of 55,000 pages and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.

Once analyzed, Israel shared the intelligence bonanza with the United States. Yossi Cohen, then head of Israeli intelligence, briefed President Trump. Cohen retired from his position in June 2021 and provided some insight into Israel’s effort to fight the Iranian nuclear program with Israeli television.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Mossad director for the raid, Yossi Cohen (Photo by Kobi Gideon-GPO Israel/ Wikimedia Commons)

Cohen first joined Mossad after graduating from college in 1982. In 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Cohen to the top spot at the agency. He told an Israeli television network that the intelligence raid in Tehran took two years to plan, during which the facility was under constant surveillance. 

Around 20 Mossad agents, of which none were Israeli citizens, were involved in the planning and execution of the raid and subsequent theft. When the raid finally went off in January 2016, Cohen and Mossad’s leadership watched the raid on TV from Tel Aviv.

The agents had to break into the warehouse, then crack 30 or more safes. Everyone survived the raid, although some had to be exfiltrated from Iran in the days and weeks following the break-in. 

According to the BBC, the level of detail the ex-Mossad chief divulges to local media is remarkable. No other intelligence head has ever explained so much about a secret operation in so much detail. 

Cohen said the agency was filled with excitement as they all watched the agents remove a half-ton of classified Iranian documents from the warehouse. Since Israel has discussed the information operation publicly, it’s unlikely to do much harm to ongoing Israeli intelligence operations. 

Later in the interview, Cohen touches on other Mossad operations in the ongoing shadow war between Israel and the Iranian Islamic Republic, including sabotaging the Natanz Nuclear Facility, where Iran is working to enrich much of its uranium. 

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Natanz Nuclear Facility, September 2007 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Mossad head told a journalist that he would be able to show her around the Natanz facility and acknowledged that many top Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated – without admitting to any involvement. 

“If the man constitutes a capability that endangers the citizens of Israel, he must stop existing,” Cohen said. He added that someone could be spared “if he is prepared to change profession and not harm us any longer.”


Feature image: by d-keller from Pixabay

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Obama says climate change is a bigger threat than ISIS

The White House released Sept. 21 a new presidential memorandum that orders federal agencies — including the Pentagon and CIA — to devote its defense and intelligence resources to fighting the impact of global warming.


The Obama administration order comes on the heels of a recent report from an environmental group that climate change is a significant and growing threat to national security.

“Climate change and associated impacts on U.S. military and other national security-related missions and operations could adversely affect readiness, negatively affect military facilities and training, increase demands for Federal support to non-federal civil authorities, and increase response requirements to support international stability and humanitarian assistance needs,” Obama wrote. “The United States must take a comprehensive approach to identifying and acting on climate change-related impacts on national security interests, including by maintaining its international leadership on climate issues.”

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Mitchell Zuckoff, an author embedded with the Joint Recovery Mission – Greenland, signals to helicopter pilot Tom Andreassen, of Air Greenland, where to land near the nunatak on a glacier near Koge Bay, Greenland, Aug. 16, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.)

So what could the order mean for American troops and intelligence operators?

The military has faced several years of budget cuts, and several major programs, like the littoral combat ship, the Zumwalt-class destroyers, and the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers, are having some real problems. The F-35 Lightning II is also having its teething problems (albeit those are resolving themselves).

A briefing document issued alongside the memorandum added that climate change is more of a threat to American security than cyber attacks or terrorism.

“For all the challenges and threats we face as a nation — from terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda to increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, from diseases like Ebola and Zika to Russian aggression in Ukraine — no threat is more terrifying in its global reach or more potentially destructive and destabilizing than climate change,” the memorandum said.

Despite painting the grim picture, the briefing, conducted by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Senior Advisor Brian Deese ended on a hopeful note.

“Just as we work to defeat any adversary before they have the ability to attack, we must similarly prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” the briefing document says.

The move has drawn criticism from some. Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, said that the briefing document “reflects delusional group-think substituting for sound policy in the White House and Pentagon.”

“Preparations for bad weather and extreme events such as hurricanes are always prudent, but normal and even abnormal seasonal changes cannot be compared to deliberate attacks from armed human adversaries,” she said. “Furthermore, there is no way that our government or other governments can ‘mitigate’ dangerous weather, or even normal weather. It is unsettling to see high-level officials in the White House buying into narratives such as this.”

Alternate energy projects have been a priority in the Department of the Navy since President Obama took office in 2009. A Washington Free Beacon report last month noted that three of the major projects pushed by Navy Sec. Ray Mabus had not been cost-effective.

Donnelly also expressed concern that “the two documents appear to authorize a power grab on the part of unelected officials who would use ‘national security’ as an excuse to act upon unsupported theories of climate change.”

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Today in military history: Confederates score victory in Battle of Cross Keys

On June 8, 1862, General Stonewall Jackson scored a victory for the Confederates in the Battle of Cross Keys.

The fertile farmland of the Shenandoah Valley was vital to the food supply chain of the Confederate army. It was also a strategic launch point for invasions into the North as the valley created a path between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains.

Fearing an invasion from the Shenandoah valley, two Union Armies descended on Jackson’s forces. Despite the overwhelming odds, Jackson led the Union army on a chase through the valley, and eventually forced the Union troops to withdraw.

Casualties were relatively light considering the size of both armies, and Jackson scored another victory the following day at the Battle of Port Republic. The back-to-back Confederate victories were decisive for Jackson’s Valley Campaign, allowing him to reinforce General Robert E. Lee in the wake of the retreating Union forces.

557 Union soldiers were killed and wounded, with another 100 captured, while the Confederates lost 300 men. The bloody war continued for two more years.

Featured Image: The Battle of Cross Keys — Sunday June 7, 1862 — Genl. Fremont and Genl. Jackson. (Library of Congress image)

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Nigerian Air Force takes out Boko Haram leaders

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet loaded up for a strike mission. (Photo: Nigerian Air Force)


The Nigerian Air Force carried out an air strike on Friday that bagged some of the top leaders of Boko Haram. The Nigerian military announced the deaths late Monday on their Twitter feed.

The Nigerian military announced the deaths late Monday on their Twitter feed. The military statement confirmed that Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman were among the dead in the “most unprecedented and spectacular air raid” on the village of Taye in the Sambisa forest. The military’s statement also claimed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian terrorist group responsible for an attack that resulted in the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from Chibok and for selling them into slavery, was fatally wounded. Shekau’s death has been reported before, only to be disproven by video appearances.

The military’s statement also claimed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian terrorist group responsible for an attack that resulted in the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from Chibok and for selling them into slavery, was fatally wounded. Shekau’s death has been reported before, only to be disproven by video appearances.

A photo released by the Nigerian military with their statement on the air strike showed pilots in a briefing in front of a Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet of the 75th Strike Group. This multi-role aircraft serves in both the light attack and training roles, and can carry up to 5,500 pounds of bombs and missiles, including the BL755 cluster bomb and the AGM-65 Maverick. It has a top speed of 540 knots, and a range of roughly 380 miles. The plane also serves in the air forces of France, Thailand, Belgium, Cameroon, Togo, Qatar, Portugal, and Morocco. The plane has been retired by Germany and the Ivory Coast.

Nigerian Alpha Jets have been the primary strike weapon against Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden.” Nigeria also has Chengdu J-7 Fishbed interceptors and Areo L-39 Albatross trainers in service, but the former are primarily used for air defense (replacing Russian-build MiG-21 Fishbeds in 2009) and the latter planes have a very limited bomb load (roughly 600 pounds).

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These hilarious memes show how #veteransexplaindisney

Disney entertainment is full of relatively safe and wholesome content for the whole family … unless you have the plot synopses written by some of the world’s saltiest veterans.


This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Meme courtesy of Pop Smoke

The guys over at Pop Smoke, a popular Facebook entertainment page that shares awesome military memes, created a series of memes tagged #veteransexplaindisney that are hilarious.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Meme courtesy of Pop Smoke

The memes combine the Disney story and military life in a variety of ways. Some highlight the necessity of training for military operations …

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Meme courtesy of Pop Smoke

… while others narrow the story to a single trait that the military and the movie share.

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Meme courtesy of Pop Smoke

Others pitch the entire movie as a cliche military punchline:

This is why we need to stop playing the 1812 Overture during fireworks shows
Meme courtesy of Pop Smoke

All thirteen memes created for the series so far are split between this Facebook album and this one. Check them out over at Pop Smoke.

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