The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it's changed) - We Are The Mighty
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The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

Going to war is never an easy choice, but the U.S. has a step-by-step guide that helps military and civilian leaders make that decision.


The sting of the Vietnam War affected America and its culture for a very long time. Not that we lost in Vietnam but it sure didn’t feel like a win, either. It was so devastating to the American psyche the public felt the stigma of the perceived loss until the success of Operation Desert Storm, almost two decades later.

The U.S. military’s failure to rescue the hostages in Iran only added to the problem — making American leaders significantly less cavalier about sending ground troops into combat. This continued even under President Ronald Reagan, whose campaign rhetoric in 1980 made voters fearful he might start World War III (but not fearful enough to keep him out of office).

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Reagan’s Head Start policy was much different from other his predecessors. (photo via Ronald Reagan Library)

Contrary to what some may have thought, Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger — a veteran of the Pacific War in World War II — was a careful student of the lessons of Vietnam and was wary about civilian leaders with no military experience using troops as a policy tool. He devised his own doctrine to serve as a guide for policy makers who want to send the U.S. to war:

  1. The United States should not commit forces to combat unless the vital national interests of the United States or its allies are involved.
  2. U.S. troops should only be committed wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning. Otherwise, troops should not be committed.
  3. U.S. combat troops should be committed only with clearly defined political and military objectives and with the capacity to accomplish those objectives.
  4. The relationship between the objectives and the size and composition of the forces committed should be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.
  5. U.S. troops should not be committed to battle without a “reasonable assurance” of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress.
  6. The commitment of U.S. troops should be considered only as a last resort.

Weinberger specifically advised Reagan not to send Marines to Beirut in 1983 and after the barracks bombing in October, successfully lobbied against a massive retaliation against Iran. According to Weinberger:

“You have to have a mission, you have to know what you want to do; you have to use force as a last resort after everything else has failed; that when you use it, you have to use it at overwhelming strength, and win your objective and get out.”

In 1983, Maj. Gen. Colin Powell was one of Weinberger’s assistants. In 1991, though Reagan had been succeeded by President George H.W. Bush, Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Though in this role, he did not have operational command, he was the chief military advisor to the President and his Cabinet.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Fun Fact: Colin Powell and Dick Cheney have also shared the same pair of glasses for the last 30 years.

Powell updated the Weinberger Doctrine in 1992, based on lessons learned from the Gulf War, writing in a 1992 article in National Military Strategy:

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

The idea is, if a policy maker can answer no to any of these questions, then U.S. forces should not be committed to a conflict. If the answer to all eight is yes, then U.S. troops can and should be committed. Further, Powell adds:

“Once a decision for military action has been made, half measures and confused objectives exact a severe price in the form of a protracted conflict which can cause needless waste of human lives and material resources, a divided nation at home, and defeat.  Therefore one of the essential elements of our national military strategy is the ability to rapidly assemble the forces needed to win—the concept of applying decisive force to overwhelm our adversaries and thereby terminate conflicts swiftly with minimum loss of life.”

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Pictured: Decisive Force (Desert Storm Propaganda Leaflet)

In the years following Powell’s tenure as Chairman, the Powell Doctrine slowly lingered on in the new millennium, dying a slow death until a 2010 speech by Admiral Mike Mullen discussed how the use of U.S. troops is seen by policy makers in the post-9/11 era.

“We must not look upon the use of military forces only as a last resort, but as potentially the best, first option when combined with other instruments of national and international power.

We must not try to use force only in an overwhelming capacity, but in the proper capacity, and in a precise and principled manner. And we must not shrink from the tug of war — no pun intended — that inevitably plays out between policymaking and strategy execution. Such interplay is healthy for the republic and essential for ultimate success.”

NOW: 15 Unforgettable Photos from Operation Desert Storm

OR: This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a General

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These Marines go in right after chemical and biological attacks

Some of the most dangerous threats that could be employed against the U.S. military or homeland are the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.


While attempted dirty bombs or anthrax attacks have usually been stopped by the intelligence and police services before the attacks took place, there’s a group of Marines and sailors who train and constantly prepare to react to a successful attack.

Dubbed the Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, these Marines are ready to go into nightmare attacks after they happen.

“CBIRF is the only unit in the Marine Corps trained to respond to the worst scenarios imaginable here and abroad,” Erick Swartz, senior scientist with CBIRF and designer of the CBIRF battle drills, told a Marine Corps journalist. “At any moment CBIRF can and might be called on to save lives.”

Here’s a look at America’s 911 call for a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack:

1. The CBIRF is capable of deploying on short or no notice. Once they arrive, they have to confirm what the chemical and biological weapons in play are.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), show Army Maj. Gen. Richard Gallant, commander of Joint Task Force Civil Support, how they collect samples of chemical agents during an official visit at Naval Annex Stump Neck, Md., Sept. 29, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Sgt. Jonathan Herrera)

2. While operating in a chemical, biological, or nuclear-contaminated area, the Marines wear special gear to protect themselves.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, examine a contaminated chamber using a Multi-Rae monitor while donning their Class A personal protective equipment which includes self-contained breathing apparatus during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

3. When they arrive in a disaster area, platoons deploy throughout the area to start rescuing trapped people.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Marines with search and extraction and technical rescue platoons, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIIRF utilize high-pressure lifting air bags to remove rubble to free a simulated victim of a notional nuclear explosion during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

4. In a city that has suffered an attack, the Marines would face many technical challenges, so they train on the most difficult possible rescues.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescues simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

5. The Marines’ mission requires a lot of specialized equipment, like these Paratech struts for lifting light structures and vehicles.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Marines with technical rescue platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, use Paratech struts to stabilize a truck and extricate a simulated victim during training with soldiers from 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va., as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

6. The unit has to be prepared to rescue people from factories, warehouses, and other challenging structures as well. Here, they practice a medevac from a simulated steam plant explosion.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescue simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

7. The CBIRF has to search from the top to bottom of each structure while shoring up damaged areas to make sure the building doesn’t collapse.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous simulated casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

8. The unit even trains to recover people from the wilds. Here, a Marine trains on rescuing a parachutist trapped in a tree.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Cpl. Mitchell Reck a rifleman with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, climbs a tree using proper harness and rope techniques to save a simulated parachutist that got caught on a tree during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 24, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

9. The Marines could face a continuing threat, so they train to find and defuse or destroy dangerous devices.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
U.S. Marines with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBRIF) participate in a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responding to and deactivating a notional explosive threat found at a steam plant on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

10. The recovered survivors need lots of medical care, so the Marines evacuate them to field decontamination areas and hospitals as quickly as possible.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

11. As areas are secured and cleared, the teams write notes at the entrances to let other Marines know the status of the building and the local rescue efforts.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
A Marine with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, marks an X to indicate the area covered and casualties found during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

12. At decontamination areas, the Marines clean each victim before they’re taken to the medical platoon for treatment. This gets most contaminating agents off the of the victims and protects them, the Marines and sailors, and other patients.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

13. Thankfully, the Marines haven’t had many real-world incidents to respond to, but they do have real missions. For instance, they protected both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2016.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Marines from the search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, line up for accountability after a deployment drill during Democratic National Convention, DNC, in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. CBIRF’s Marines and sailors worked alongside federal and local agencies to provide chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives, CBRNE, response capability for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

14. The CBIRF Marines and sailors constantly work to make sure that the rest of us can be rescued if the nightmare scenario ever comes to pass.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
U.S. Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon (IDP) part of the primary assessment team, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) locate and assess casualties found at a steam plant during a training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

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‘Man’s best friend’ saves another veteran

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)


Candace Colburn faced some challenges in her career. As an African-American female, the 28 year old Airman is a minority among minorities. These are not her challenges, though, they’re just her demographics. Staff Sergeant Colburn, stationed at the 802d Security Forces Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, is the model of today’s USAF Security Forces troops.

“My personal experience has been awesome,” Colburn says. “I know people always have their points of view – some people might say because I’m a minority people may treat me differently. Or because I’m a female, I might get lighter treatment. But I’ve been afforded my opportunities because of my abilities.”

She owns her challenges as much as she owns the rest of her career. After I interviewed her, Candace sent me a fact sheet about herself. The struggles she faced are listed before her successes.

“I’m a cop – a K9 handler, but I want to go to OSI (Office of Special Investigations) to be an investigator,” she says. “I got picked up to be on the base Tactical Response Team. I went SWAT School, Basic Combat Medic School, I trained Emirati forces in UAE… I’ve had so many opportunities because of the military. No one ever treated me different because I was a girl – in fact, my kennel master took it upon himself to research if women were allowed in air assault school because he thinks I should go.”

Colburn and the 802d recently sat with former Air Force combat photographer Stacy Pearsall as a part of Pearsall’s Veterans Portrait Project (VPP). The VPP honors veterans from every conflict, hearing their stories, thanking them for their service and preserving their image for generations to come. In 2008, the first year of the VPP, she photographed over 100 veterans. Since then, she’s made portraits of nearly 4000 more. See more of the VPP here.

Growing up in Newark, Delaware, Colburn always wanted to be a Marine, but her father wasn’t having it. Her Dad told her if she were to enlist, he wanted her in the Air Force. If that was the way, so be it, but she wanted to be a dog handler – which requires three years time in service. At age 22, she joined the as Security Forces and was soon deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, where her challenges really started.

“We were mortared everyday,” Colburn recalls. “But I’m an adrenaline junkie. I loved my time there. I even volunteered for the Balad Expeditionary Strike Force, a tactical response team, so I was both in and outside the wire all the time. I always challenge myself. My Iraq deployment was my favorite, because UAE and Qatar were too easy… it was too easy to become complacent.”

Her experience would leave a lasting impression. Like many returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the signs and symptoms were most visible when she returned to her home duty station.

“I don’t know how I fell into alcoholism,” she says. “My life started changing after Iraq and I started drinking. Mental Health told me I had signs of post-traumatic stress but I soon PCSed and fell out of following up on treatment. When I admitted I had a problem, I was scared I would lose my Security Forces job.”

Rather than lose her job for her issues, the Air Force worked with her, sending her to rehab and then through the Air Force Drug Demand Reduction Program (ADAPT) program. Colburn won’t take all the credit, though.

“It was my dogs who helped me recover,” Colburn says. “I don’t know why I love dogs, they comfort me… they got me through a lot in life. I graduated ADAPT early because I made so much progress because of my dogs.”

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

After three and a half years as a dog handler, three deployments, and three special assignments with the Secret Service supporting the President and Vice-President, Staff Sergeant Candace Colburn lives on a farm with her own dogs, Sonny and Gunner, near San Antonio. She commutes to her unit at Lackland, Texas to work with Kormi, her partner.

“In my experience,” Colburn says, “alcoholism is not something to handle on your own. I’m a very strong person but it took an outsider to see that I wasn’t okay. You have to be strong enough to say ‘I need help’.”

For more information about the Veterans Portrait Project or to donate to keep preserving the images of American veterans visit: http://bit.ly/1unnLV4

NOW: A dog’s love can cure anything – including PTSD

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ISIS is facing one of its most serious setbacks yet

ISIS is currently facing one of its greatest military challenges since the group proclaimed a caliphate following the seizure of Mosul and much of western Iraq and eastern Syria last summer.


According to an intelligence brief from The Soufan Group, ISIS is experiencing losses around its “capital” of Raqqa, representing both an operational and symbolic setback for the group.

Although ISIS has continued to expand and hold onto territory in Iraq, the militants have come under increasing pressure in Syria.

ISIS has lost territory in a number of key battles. Most notably, Kurdish YPG forces have dealt ISIS defeats at the towns of Tal Abyad and Ayn Issa.

ISIS once hoped to cut off major Syrian Kurdish regions from one another by holding these towns near the Turkish border. Now, the Kurds have foreclosed on that strategy, beating back the jihadists’ momentum and even moving into some of ISIS’s most important territory.

“With the most recent YPG moves against the town of Ayn Issa, the Islamic State is facing perhaps its most serious symbolic and meaningful threat since it declared itself a caliphate almost one year ago,” The Soufan Group notes. “Its capital, Raqqa, the center of the group’s authority and image, is under threat.”

By seizing and securing Ayn Issa, the YPG, in conjunction with US-led coalition airstrikes, have embedded themselves only 31 miles away from ISIS’ de facto capital. The YPG also seized the Syrian military base Liwa-93 from ISIS in the surrounding region. The rapid advance of the Kurdish forces, which ISIS nearly overwhelmed during a crucial battle in the border city of Kobane last summer, has dealt a blow to the militant group, which promoted itself through a doctrine of “remaining and expanding” on multiple simultaneous battlefronts.

Following the YPG’s gains, ISIS forces began digging trenches around Raqqa in an attempt to fortify their capital, Reuters reports. ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani also addressed the losses in a Ramadan audio broadcast stating that “God never gave the mujahideen a promise of victory every time.”

Although the Kurds do not have immediate plans to attack ISIS in Raqqa, the seizure of territory around the city could deal a significant blow to the militant organization. Tal Abyad, located by the Turkish border, functioned as a key smuggling point through which fighters and supplies could reach the jihadists.

With its opponents taking control of the territory north of Raqqa, ISIS could experience significant logistical disruptions — and face the crisis of enemy forces advancing closer to the heart of the group’s power.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Edgar Vasquez, a spokesperson for the US State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, said that “should anti-ISIL forces continue to hold the city, there is the potential for a significant disruption of ISIL’s flow of foreign fighters, illicit goods, and other illegal activity from Turkey into northern Syria and Iraq.”

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memes, memes, memes! Here are the 13 funniest ones from around the military:


1. When the crew is tired of MREs, but first sergeant doesn’t understand:

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Maybe drive through some mud on the way back.

2. The platoon isn’t scared of getting a little wet, are they?

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
What’s a 50-foot drop, then 50-foot climb among buddies?

SEE ALSO: These 8 TV characters would never survive in the real military

3. Elsa created an actual, functioning snowman (via Team Non-Rec).

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
You really thought she would never build an army?

4. Don’t be jealous, he had to turn the wrench a lot of times for those (via Sh-t my LPO says).

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Sure, it was mostly because he turned it the wrong way the first dozen times, but still.

5. Remember to always keep your weapon pointed downrange and away from the cat (via Devil Dog Nation).

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
And don’t aim at your mom.

6. Next time a paratrooper calls someone a leg …

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
… remind them that the rest of the Army can’t get drug around by silk.

7. “Oh yeah? You ready to show me your life jackets now!?”

(via Coast Guard Memes)

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

8. Marines do more with less, rah?

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
If you wanted armor, you should’ve joined the Army.

9. Reflective belts are always coming through in the clutch (via Air Force Nation).

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
They keep away bears, bullets, and now thieves, apparently.

10. The Air Force demands excellence of every recruit (via Air Force Memes Humor).

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
She can also do a better pull up than you, but maybe that’s why she joined the Marines.

11. Whenever the next Engineer Ball is held, I’d like tickets.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Not to the actual event, just the closing fireworks.

12. It’s chief’s least favorite dish (via Sh-t my LPO says).

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Try it today with a side of sadness.

13. “You still have another foot before you hit the tree.”

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

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The Pentagon wants to buy your homemade bomb

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants the bomb you’ve been tinkering with at home. DARPA’s latest initiative is identifying emerging threats by mining everyday technologies. According to the agency’s press release, this effort, called Improv, “asks the innovation community to identify commercial products and processes that could yield unanticipated threats.” So DARPA wants that homemade bomb you’ve been building in your garage.


The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

This means they want to see what you can make out of everyday household items so they can prepare a countermeasure. This kind of thinking is meant to tap into the natural resourcefulness and creativity of humans.

“DARPA’s mission is to create strategic surprise, and the agency primarily does so by pursuing radically innovative and even seemingly impossible technologies,” said program manager John Main, who will oversee the new effort. “Improv is being launched in recognition that strategic surprise can also come from more familiar technologies, adapted and applied in novel ways.”

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

The agency is looking to see how everyday household materials can be used to threaten U.S. national security. It may sound odd to think of American wreaking havoc with common materials, but it isn’t unheard of. In 1996, Timothy McVeigh purchased only enough ammonium nitrate to fertilize 4.25 acres of farmland at a rate of 160 pounds of nitrogen per acre, a formula commonly used to grow corn. This did not raise any eyebrows in Kansas. McVeigh later used the fertilizer to blow up Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing at least 168 people.

“U.S. national security was ensured in large part by a simple advantage: a near-monopoly on access to the most advanced technologies,” DARPA said in a press release. “Increasingly, off-the-shelf equipment… features highly sophisticated components, which resourceful adversaries can modify or combine to create novel and unanticipated security threats.”

To enter, interested parties must submit a plan for their prototype for the chance at a potential $40,000 in funding. Then, a smaller number of candidates will be chosen to build their device with $70,000 in potential funding. Finally, top candidates will enter the final phase, which includes a thorough analysis of the invention and a military demonstration.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
The Department of Defense would like remind potential contributors that they should only build weapons within the bounds of their local, state, and federal laws.

Learn more about the DARPA project here.

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Here are the most damning parts of the report on the F-35’s dogfighting problems

The F-35, the most expensive weapons project in history, was incapable of beating a jet it was meant to replace in a dogfight, according to a leaked report obtained by War is Boring.


The report, written by an F-35 test pilot who has over 2,000 hours of flight time in the F-15E and experience flying both F-16s and F-18s, highlights a range of problems with the US’ hypercostly and often dysfunctional “plane of the future” in a dogfighting scenario.

The pilot’s complete report can be read over at War Is Boring.

Below, we have pulled some notable quotations from the report highlighting the issues that the F-35 faced while dogfighting against an F-16.

  • “Overall, the most noticeable characteristic of the F-35A in a visual engagement was its lack of energy maneuverability.”
  • “No effective gun defense was found during this test.”
  • “The helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft. There were multiple occasions when the bandit would’ve been visible (not blocked by the seat) but the helmet prevented getting in a position to see him (behind the high side of the seat, around the inside of the seat, or high near the lift vector).”
  • “The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage in a turning fight and operators would quickly learn it isn’t an ideal regime.”
  • “Though the aircraft has proven it is capable of high AOA [angle of attack] flight, it wasn’t effective for killing or surviving attacks primarily due to a lack of energy maneuverability.”

As damning as the report is, it’s worth remembering that the aircraft was never truly designed for dogfighting scenarios. Additionally, the test F-35 used in the test dogfight lacked many of the sensor and software upgrades that the fully deployed F-35 will have.

According to Jane’s 360, the F-35 is designed to detect and engage aircraft “on its own medium- to long-range terms.” The plane’s flexible attack range is intended to ensure that the F-35 wouldn’t usually have to engage in dogfights.

Still, the $1.5 trillion F-35’s failure to best an F-16 — a plane that was first introduced into service in 1978, is concerning. Although the F-35 may be designed to overcome rival aircraft at distance, there are is no way to guarantee that a future air war won’t involve frequent dogfights, confrontations for which the F-35 may be ill equipped.

Meanwhile, both Russia and China are currently developing their own fifth-generation fighter jets. Both countries may also intend to sell variants of their jets to the international customers, including Pakistan and Iran.

Ultimately, the F-35 may never need to participate in close-quarter, air-to-air battles. The aircraft is stealthy and may never have to dogfight with regularity.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert isn’t so sure. “Stealth may be overrated,” Greenert said during a speech in February. So in addition to its other problems, the F-35 may find itself nose-to-nose with enemy aircraft more often than military planners expect.

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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This is why the US is concerned about China’s first overseas military base

Chinese military personnel departed a naval base in Zhanjiang on July 18, destined for Beijing’s new base in the East African country of Djibouti.


China started construction on the base, which it officially calls a “logistics facility,” in February 2016, and it has not said when the base might formally start operations.

The Chinese navy has been assisting anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden and peacekeeping missions in Africa for some time, but the base in Djibouti will be Beijing’s first such facility overseas.

“The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” state news agency Xinhua said. “The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese, and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.”

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) ship PLA(N) Peace Ark (T-AH 866). Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon Renfroe.

Djibouti, home to about 800,000 people, also has French and Japanese troops, is strategically located in the Horn of Africa, sitting on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to Egypt’s Suez Canal and one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

And the new Chinese base is just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, a major US special-operations outpost.

“We’ve never had a base of, let’s just say a peer competitor, as close as this one happens to be,” US Africom Command chief Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said in March.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Camp Lemonnier, a US military base in Djibouti, is strategically located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. (Google Maps)

“Yes, there are some very significant operational security concerns, and I think that our base there is significant to US because it’s not only AFRICOM that utilizes” it, Waldhauser said at the time. US Central Command, which operates in the Middle East, Joint Special Operations Command, and European Command are active there as well.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said July 12 that the Djibouti base was “primarily used for the better fulfillment of international obligations,” and that, “China’s defense policy is defensive in nature. This has not changed.”

State-run media outlet the Global Times was less reserved, saying in an editorial on July 12, “It is certainly the PLA’s first foreign naval base … It is not a supply point for commercial use.”

The base in Djibouti is just one project China has undertaken in the East African country.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Sailors aboard the Chinese Navy destroyer Qingdao. (Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush.)

Chinese banks have funded at least 14 infrastructure projects in the country, including a railway connecting Djibouti and Ethiopia, valued at $14.4 billion. Beijing has made similar investments throughout the continent.

US officials, as well as countries in the region, have expressed concern about the capabilities the new base gives Beijing and what it may augur about Chinese ambitions abroad.

Related: China just deployed troops to its first overseas base alongside US outpost

The US Defense Department said in a June report that the Djibouti base, “along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces.”

“China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Chinese navy multirole ship Hengshui. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Other countries in South Asia — India in particular — are concerned about Chinese activity in the region and see the Djibouti base as another part of Beijing’s “string of pearls,” which refers to Chinese facilities and alliances among Indian Ocean countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

China is already heavily involved in the Pakistan port of Gwadar and is building a network of roads and power plants under a project known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Civilian ports that Beijing has helped build in places like Pakistan and Sri Lanka can also receive naval vessels, fueling suspicions that China aims to deepen its strategic capacities in the region.

India sees the Djibouti base as a potential hub for Chinese surveillance operations and has objected to China’s planned shipping network with Pakistan, saying it cuts through disputed parts of Kashmir.

Analysts have also said New Delhi is worried by Chinese submarines, warships, and tankers present in the Indian Ocean. India has tracked Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean since 2013, and a 2015 US Defense Department report also confirmed that Chinese attack and missile submarines were operating in the Indian Ocean.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Members of a visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin keep watch over the crew of a suspected pirate dhow. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Scott Taylor.

“The pretext is anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden,” a Indian defense source told The Times of India in May. “But what role can submarines play against pirates and their dhows?”

“If I were Indian I would be very worried about what China is up to in Djibouti,” a Western diplomat briefed on Chinese plans said in March 2016.

Other countries in the region have looked for ways to balance against what is seen as China’s growing influence. Australia and India, along with countries like Vietnam and Japan, have considered informal alliances to bolster regional security in light of growing Chinese influence and doubts about US commitment under President Donald Trump.

Also read: Here’s what the Pentagon thinks about those bases China keeps building around the globe

This week, the Indian, Japanese, and US navies started the Malabar 2017 exercise in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise, which this year features three aircraft carriers, is seen by some as a effort to check Chinese activity in the region.

China has criticized such military balancing and has dismissed suggestions that it plans to expand its footprint abroad. After the US Defense Department report issued in June, Beijing said it did “not seek a sphere of influence.”

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This is what it’s like to do a little ‘Rangering’

During my first week in Ranger Battalion, I joined my platoon during a live fire. I wasn’t even allowed real bullets because I was so new. For a portion of the exercise I was on a hill watching the training of another platoon. I was in earshot of an old Ranger first sergeant. The Rangers in training were assaulting a constructed plywood building and were preparing to conduct an explosive breach on the plywood door. The team leader quickly applied the charge with double sided sticky tape and stepped back into the stack, pulling both detonators. “Failed Breach, Failed Breach!” was yelled. It was obvious the detonation cord was faulty.


Before anything else happened, the team leader barreled full speed into the plywood door, obliterating it from the hinges, and providing an entry point into the building. Without any hesitation, all three members of his team followed their leader right into the breach. The training mission went on and was completed successfully. The company commander was scowling about the breach technique but the first sergeant was grinning from ear to ear and bellowed, “That’s some good ole fashioned Rangering right there!” The company commander stopped scowling.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

I didn’t know much then, but I knew whatever this Rangering was, I wanted to try it and whatever a Ranger was, I wanted to be it. There’s a big difference between telling your friends, your family, or even your recruiter you want to be a Ranger, and then suddenly seeing a defining act of Rangering in front of you. It was an automatic sensation of knowing that you want to join the pack and you want to be the wolf. Rangers were never sheepdogs, they have always been wolves hunting the herd of treachery and I wanted to hunt.

We all touched down in a C-17 on a faraway land. Many of us landed in the C-17 by soaring over the mountains or screaming into the desert. Rarely did anyone go but once; in fact, many of our brothers are still going. What is special about Rangers is that on each of the thousands of deployment hours is someone who went to war months ago and is back again. A man, a team, a platoon, a battalion fully knowing the hazards of their chosen profession.

Running the gambit, sparking the fight, reliving the horror, noting the beauty, enduring the sacrifice, all this is symbolized by a simple scroll on your right sleeve that may as well be tied to your heart. There was a transformation taking place within me, within us all. Rangering made me hear the sound of valor and see the light of courage. The sound I could hear as I followed the drums of war and the light I could see in the enemy across the street.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Photo courtesy of US Army

Although this Rangering was a lifestyle, it came with the price of vanquishing what boyish innocence remained in my gaze upon the earth. I was now grown in ways that I could not possibly understand. It was magical and despicable what we were capable of. We flew across night skies, landed in fields, slinked over walls, eviscerated doors, and introduced ourselves to those souls who had lost the evening’s lottery in scumbaggery.

Whenever I returned from a mission, danger or not on that night, there was levity in the brotherhood. We had such little time to ourselves for being anything beyond Rangers and do anything beyond Rangering that when we did – it created exuberance for life that could not be contained. There was never a day without Rangers that I did not smile or laugh.

It’s for this reason that now when I look back, though I hated certain parts, though I despised endless training, though I constantly made other plans for outside of the military; I now feel nostalgia for those times with honorable men, I now feel pride in our shared struggle for our piece of war. I miss being John Wayne when everything was black and white. I miss being a note on the album Appetite for Destruction; I miss seeing the whites of the unsuspecting eyes. Goddamn it, a platoon of Rangers could do anything!

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
US Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock

The irony is that for all the Regiments glory, it’s not built for you to stay. So for me, and those like me, we fade back to which we came or we populate other military units. A small number stay, but the glory days of war hammer team leading and SpecFour Mafia mayhem, seem to disappear as the burden of leadership widens and the loss of lives grows vast. It was great while it lasted and the irony of that is that we all could have gone back had we really wanted to.

If it was so great, then why didn’t we? Probably because at this point it is better to tell these incredible stories, it’s good to drink this beer with war in the rear view, and it’s okay I never had a last shoot out at the Alamo. Rangering created more brothers than I ever could have wanted, but the pain of burying a brother is still the pain of burying a brother, no matter how many stand behind you. I still have the Ranger Creed. I still have my friends. I still have the sorrows of war; I still hear the sirens of action. And every now and then I can still be the teeth in the night, I can still laugh when things really suck, I can still run in short shorts.

“Rangering” was something I did, but I will always be a Ranger; you just have to look at my soul now instead of my sleeve.

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5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Black Hawk Down’ you may have missed

In 1993, US forces consisting of Army Rangers and Delta Force commandos stormed into Mogadishu, Somalia, to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and key members of his militia.


During the raid, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, 18 Americans were killed, and 73 were wounded.

Director Ridley Scott brought the heroic story to the big screen in 2001’s “Black Hawk Down” which portrays aspects of the power of human will and brotherly bonds between the soldiers in the fight.

Peel back the layers of the film and check out a few nuggets of wisdom you may have missed in the story.

Related: Here’s how Hollywood turns actors into military operators

1. Never underestimate the enemy

US forces tend to believe because a nation is poor, they don’t have any fight in them. Remember that the enemies we typically fight have home field advantage.

2. Don’t f*ck with Delta Force

Enough said — and probably the coolest line in the movie.

3. Understanding what you can’t control

It’s a common misconception that the ground troops know why they’re sent to a fight.

The truth is — there’s always a mission behind the mission. But that doesn’t matter, because it boils down in the end to surviving and taking care of your men. That’s real leadership.

4. Life doesn’t always make sense

After watching one of the hardest scenes in the film, a Ranger’s death, Sgt. Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) questions himself and over-analyzes his own leadership. Honestly, no matter how much you train, you can’t predict sh*t.

Also Read: 5 military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true

5. Why we do it

It’s nice to be told “thank you for your service” by civilians every now and again, but truthfully we don’t like it. Hoot (played by Eric Bana) clears it up in one line — why grunts do what they do.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

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Our favorite coffee memes that fuel early morning PT

Nothing fills the brisk spring air quite like the smell of a fresh cup of coffee. Whether you’re downing it before a quick run or after the longest ruck known to man, it’s a routine that can lift the spirits and brighten your day. Even just knowing that coffee is waiting for us at the end of a PT test can seem to make us run faster and sit up harder.

Coffee lovers everywhere can unique about this hared love of caffeine and strong bean-y goodness. And for the rest of the population, well we can’t quite get on board with your way of thinking, but we’ll respect your distance from the Joe.

Take a look at these favorite java-filled memes and take a look at how they help us all get through the day.

  1. When PT is EXTRA early
The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

Better also have an extra cup.

2. This very true statement.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

Watch your back.

3. Don’t knock it until you try it.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

Full on fuel.

4. Sip or spoon it in, it’s there to power us up.

Serious coffee.

5. Yo, where ya been?

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

Get in my belly!

6. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

Approach with caution.

7. The priority list as It stands.

Tread lightly once again.

8. When you have to make coffee with what you’ve got.

Some of the best Joe you’ll ever have though, TBH.

9. Who needs jewelry?

Stick to the good stuff.

10. Pick your poison.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

A surefire way to wake everyone up.

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This Iron Man-like exoskeleton is designed to keep operators alive

U.S. Special Operations Command is making progress researching, developing and testing a next-generation Iron Man-like suit designed to increase strength and protection and help keep valuable operators alive when they kick down doors and engage in combat, officials said.


The project, formally called Tactical Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is aimed at providing special operators, such as Navy SEALs and Special Forces, with enhanced mobility and protection technologies, a Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, statement said.

“The ultimate purpose of the TALOS project is to produce a prototype in 2018. That prototype will then be evaluated for operational impact,” Lt. Cmdr. Matt Allen, SOCOM spokesman, told Scout Warrior.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
An early TALOS prototype

Industry teams have been making steady progress on the technologies since the effort was expanded in 2013 by Adm. William McCraven, former head of SOCOM.

“I’m very committed to this because I would like that last operator we lost to be the last operator we ever lose,” McCraven said in 2013.

Defense industry, academic and entrepreneurial participants are currently progressing with the multi-faceted effort.

The technologies currently being developed include body suit-type exoskeletons, strength and power-increasing systems and additional protection. A SOCOM statement said some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include advanced armor, command and control computers, power generators, and enhanced mobility exoskeletons.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)

Also, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing a next-generation kind of armor called “liquid body armor.”

It “transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied,” the Army website said.

TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels, an Army statement also said.

“The idea is to help maintain the survivability of operators as they enter that first breach through the door,” Allen added.

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4 times North Korea held American troops hostage

The recent release of Otto Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia who was held for over a year for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel room, means that now three Americans are currently being held by North Korea. Warmbier suffered what some reports describe as extensive brain damage, and he is currently being treated.


But these are not the first Americans to have been held hostage. A 2017 list from USA Today before Warmbier’s release noted some other incidents dating from 2009 to the present. These cases have involved civilians. However, prior to 1996, when Evan Hunziker swam across the Yalu River, there had been some incidents where American troops were held hostage.

Here are four of them, from a 2003 Congressional Research Service report and other sources.

1. January 23, 1968

The environmental research ship USS Pueblo (AGER 2) was attacked and captured by North Korean Forces. One American was killed in the initial attack, while 82 others were held for 11 months. The vessel is still in North Korean hands.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
USS Pueblo (AGER 2).

2. July 14, 1977

A CH-47 Chinook was shot down by North Korean forces, killing three of the crew. The surviving crewman was briefly held by the North Koreans until he was released, along with the bodies of the deceased.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
A CH-47 in flight. (Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago)

3. December 7, 1979

An American foot patrol strayed into a North Korean minefield. One was killed, at least two were wounded. While the wounded were able to return to friendly territory, the body of the dead American was held for a few days.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Serving on the DMZ… just not during declared conflict.

4. December 17, 1994

A U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa was shot down by the North Koreans. One crewman was killed, the other was held for 13 days.

The step-by-step guide to how the US goes to war (and how it’s changed)
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo

Most returns took place at the Joint Security Area, near Panmunjom, the site where a village stood until the armistice that ended the fighting of the Korean War.

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