What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet - We Are The Mighty
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What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet


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New York Times best-selling author of “American SniperScott McEwen joined us to discuss Ryan Zinke, the co-author, and subject of his latest book “American Commander.”

McEwen teamed with Zinke — a former SEAL Team Six Commander and the only US Navy SEAL in Congress — to write a book about the now-politician’s life.

Zinke is also Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior.

Zinke’s military career began in 1985 when he graduated from Officer Candidate School and attended SEAL training (BUDS class 136). He was first assigned to SEAL Team One in Coronado, California, then was later selected for SEAL Team Six where he was a Team Leader and a commander.

As McEwen tells it, after a decade of service, Zinke was assigned as Deputy and Acting Commander of Combined Joint Special Operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom where he led a force of over 3,500 Special Operations personnel. In 2006 he was awarded two Bronze Stars.

An author experienced in telling the stories of high-level special operators, McEwen goes on to explain how Zinke retired from active duty 2008 after serving 23 years as a Navy SEAL. Zinke later ran for Congress and was sworn into the House of Representatives on January 6, 2015, and became the first Navy SEAL in the House.

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Selected links and show notes from the episode:

  • [04:40] The general who wanted special operators to find out how many dogs were neutered before carrying out an operation.
  • [07:35] What the process for clearing a book through the Department of Defense is like.
  • [09:25] Why the book does not say “SEAL Team Six” even though it is referring to SEAL Team Six.
  • [11:50] Military family sacrifice.
  • [15:30] Common threads of special operators.
  • [17:30] The differences in Navy SEAL operators.
  • [19:30] Zinke and Gen. Mattis.
  • [25:35] What military veterans —like Zinke and Mattis— bring to U.S. politics.
  • [30:15] Defining Zinke through his relationship with his family.
  • [36:10] That time Navy SEALs were chastised by upper leadership for nabbing a bad guy.

Music license by Jingle Punks

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This is how the F-35 is being tested against Russian and Chinese air defenses

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
Courtesy of Lockheed Martin


The Air Force wants the F-35 to be able to elude the best enemy air defenses well into the 2030s and 2040s.

 The Air Force F-35 is using “open air” ranges and computer simulation to practice combat missions against the best Chinese and Russian-made air-defense technologies – as a way to prepare to enemy threats anticipated in the mid-2020s and beyond.

The testing is aimed at addressing the most current air defense system threats such as Russian-made systems and also focused on potential next-generation or yet-to-exist threats, Harrigian said.

Air Force officials have explained that, looking back to 2001 when the JSF threat started, the threats were mostly European centric – Russian made SA-10s or SA-20s. Now the future threats are looking at both Russian and Chinese-made and Asian made threats, they said.

 “They have got these digital SAMS (surface-to-air-missile-systems) out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate. being able to replicate that is not easy,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, former Director of the F-35 Integration Office, told Scout Warrior in an interview.Surface threats from air defenses is a tough problem because emerging threats right now can see aircraft hundreds of miles away, service officials explained.

Furthermore, emerging and future Integrated Air Defense Systems use faster computer processors, are better networked to one-another and detect on a wider range of frequencies. These attributes, coupled with an ability to detect aircraft at further distances, make air defenses increasingly able to at times detect even stealth aircraft, in some instances, with surveillance radar.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group puts on her helmet before taking her first flight in the F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson)

Russian media reports have recently claimed that stealth technology is useless against their air defenses. Russian built S-300 and S-400 air defenses are believed to be among the best in the world; in addition, The National Interest has reported that Russia is now working on an S-500 system able to destroy even stealthy targets at distances up to 125 miles.

While the Air Force aims to prepare for the unlikely contingency of a potential engagement with near-peer rivals such as Russia or China, Harrigian explained that there is much more concern about having to confront an adversary which has purchased air-defense technology from the Russians or Chinese. Harrigian emphasized that, while there is no particular conflict expected with any given specific country, the service wants to be ready for any contingency.

Harrigian explained that the F-35 is engineered with what developers call “open architecture,” meaning it is designed to quickly integrate new weapons, software and avionics technology as new threats emerge.

“One of the key reasons we bought this airplane is because the threats continue to evolve – we have to be survivable in this threat environment that has continued to develop capabilities where they can deny us access to specific objectives that we may want to achieve. This airplane gives us the ability to penetrate, deliver weapons and then share that information across the formation that it is operating in,” Harrigian explained.

While training against the best emerging threats in what Harrigian called “open air” ranges looks to test the F-35 against the best current and future air defenses – there is still much more work to be done when it comes to anticipating high-end, high-tech fast developing future threats. This is where modeling and simulation play a huge part in threat preparation, he added.

“The place where we have to have the most agility is really in the modeling and simulation environment – If you think about our open air ranges, we try to build these ranges that have this threats that we expect to be fighting. Given the pace at which the enemy is developing these threats – it becomes very difficult for us to go out and develop these threats,” Harrigan explained.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

The Air Force plans to bring a representation of next-generation threats and weapons to its first weapons school class in 2018.

In a simulated environment, F-22s from Langley AFB in Virginia could train for combat scenarios with an F-35 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, he said.

The JSF’s Active Electronically Scanned Arrays, or AESA’s, the aircraft is able to provide a synthetic aperture rendering of air and ground pictures.  The AESA also brings the F-35 electronic warfare capabilities, Harrigian said.

Part of the idea with F-35 modernization is to engineered systems on the aircraft which can be upgraded with new software as threats change. Technologies such as the AESA radar, electronic attack and protection and some of the computing processing power on the airplane, can be updated to keep pace with evolving threats, Harrigian said.

Engineered to travel at speeds greater than 1,100 miles per hour and able to reach Mach 1.6, the JSF is said to be just as fast and maneuverable at an F-15 or F-16 and bring and a whole range of additional functions and abilities.

Overall, the Air Force plans to buy 1,763 JSF F-35A multi-role fighters, a number which will ultimately comprise a very large percentage of the service’s fleet of roughly 2,000 fighter jets.  So far, at least 83 F-35As are operational for the Air Force.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
The F-35 can connect to most any friendly force on the battlefield, feeding information from its sensors to freindlies and grabbing information from other planes and sensors. (Graphic: Lockheed Martin)

4th Software Drop

Many of the JSF’s combat capabilities are woven into developmental software increments or “drops,” each designed to advance the platforms technical abilities. There are more than 10 million individual lines of code in the JSF system.

While the Air Force plans to declare its F-345s operational with the most advanced software drop, called 3F, the service is already working on a 4th drop to be ready by 2020 or 2021. Following this initial drop, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops in two year increments in order to stay ahead of the threat.

The first portion of Block IV software funding, roughly $12 million, arrived in the 2014 budget, Air Force officials said.

Block IV will include some unique partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained.

Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet.  A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

In terms of weapons, Block IV will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air dropped bombs able to destroy targets on the move.

The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions.

These emerging 4th software drop will build upon prior iterations of the software for the aircraft.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb) JSF program officials said.

Following Block 2B, Block 3i increases the combat capability even further and Block 3F will bring a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained.

The AIM 9X is an Air Force and Navy heat-seeking infrared missile.

In fact, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided air-to-air missile for the first time recently over a Pacific Sea Test Range, Pentagon officials said.

The F-35 took off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and launched the missile at 6,000 feet, an Air Force statement said.

Designed as part of the developmental trajectory for the emerging F-35, the test-firing facilities further development of an ability to fire the weapon “off-boresight,” described as an ability to target and destroy air to air targets that are not in front of the aircraft with a direct or immediate line of sight, Pentagon officials explained.

The AIM-9X, he described, incorporates an agile thrust vector controlled airframe and the missile’s high off-boresight capability can be used with an advanced helmet (or a helmet-mounted sight) for a wider attack envelope.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
Watch the Marines’ F-35 fire an 80-round burst from its gun pod.

F-35 25mm Gun

Last Fall, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter recently completed the first aerial test of its 25mm Gatling gun embedded into the left wing of the aircraft, officials said.

The test took place Oct. 30, 2015, in California, Pentagon officials described.

“This milestone was the first in a series of test flights to functionally evaluate the in-flight operation of the F-35A’s internal 25mm gun throughout its employment envelope,” a Pentagon statement said several months ago.

The Gatling gun will bring a substantial technology to the multi-role fighter platform, as it will better enable the aircraft to perform air-to-air attacks and close-air support missions to troops on the ground.

Called the Gun Airborne Unit, or GAU-22/A, the weapon is engineered into the aircraft in such a manner as to maintain the platform’s stealth configuration.

The four-barrel 25mm gun is designed for rapid fire in order to quickly blanket an enemy with gunfire and destroy targets quickly. The weapon is able to fire 3,300 rounds per minute, according to a statement from General Dynamics.

“Three bursts of one 30 rounds and two 60 rounds each were fired from the aircraft’s four-barrel, 25-millimeter Gatling gun. In integrating the weapon into the stealthy F 35Aairframe, the gun must be kept hidden behind closed doors to reduce its radar cross section until the trigger is pulled,” a statement from the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter said.

The first phase of test execution consisted of 13 ground gunfire events over the course of three months to verify the integration of the gun into the F-35A, the JSF office said.

“Once verified, the team was cleared to begin this second phase of testing, with the goal of evaluating the gun’s performance and integration with the airframe during airborne gunfire in various flight conditions and aircraft configurations,” the statement added.

The new gun will also be integrated with the F-35’s software so as to enable the pilot to see and destroy targets using a helmet-mounted display.

The gun is slated to be operational by 2017

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This White House plan for the Afghanistan war might surprise you

The Trump administration is considering the ramifications of paring back the US presence in Afghanistan as part of its ongoing strategy review in America’s longest war, The Wall Street Journal reports.


Trump’s national security cabinet is bitterly divided on the future US role in Afghanistan. Senior national security officials like Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster are reportedly pushing Trump to allow a surge of approximately 4,000 troops into Afghanistan, while White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has lobbied against the effort.

“It doesn’t work unless we are there for a long time, and if we don’t have the appetite to be there a long time, we should just leave. It’s an unanswered question,” a senior administration official told WSJ of any plan to increase US troops. “It is becoming clearer and clearer to people that those are the options: go forward with something like the strategy we have developed, or withdraw.”

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
Secretary of Defense James Mattis (left). DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Trump is reportedly deeply skeptical of increasing US troops in Afghanistan and sent back McMaster’s final version of a plan to his national security council in late-July. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other military leaders in charge of the war in Afghanistan say they need a few thousand more US troops to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban.

The Afghan National Security Forces have largely failed to rise to the challenge of the Taliban insurgent movement, despite tens of billions of dollars in US assistance and a 16-year NATO presence. Afghan civilian casualties are also at a 16-year high in the war as a result of Taliban improvised explosive devices. US military commanders admit that any surge in US troops will need to be sustained for years to come in order to build up the Afghan National Security Force’s indigenous capabilities.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with Afghan Air Force Brig. Gen. Eng A. Shafi. DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since the US invasion in 2001, and maintains control over approximately one-third of the civilian population. The US backed Afghan government remains paralyzed by corruption and political infighting, further hindering the war effort and plummeting morale among Afghan troops.

Former US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller described officials asking the same fundamental questions about US strategy in the region in 2017 as they were 4 years ago, in a recent interview with Politico Magazine. “Here we are two full presidential terms and into the start of a next one later; there are no peace talks,” Miller lamented.

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Here is how the Navy feels about finders keepers

The Navy tends to be very strict when people recover items from sunken wrecks. In fact, when an Enigma machine was taken from the wreck of U-85, the Navy intervened. They even tried to grab a plane they left lying around in a North Carolina swamp for over 40 years.


What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
A U.S. Marine Corps F3A-1 aircraft of Marine Air Group 91 commanded by LCol Joseph M. Renner. (U.S. Navy photo)

According to a 2004 AP report, the plane in question was very valuable. It was the only known surviving Brewster F3A “Corsair.” Well, let’s be honest here. The F3A can best be described as a Corsair In Name Only, or CINO. Brewster’s Corsairs had problems — so much so that in July, 1944, the Navy cancelled the contract and Brewster went out of business less than a month after D-Day.

Brewster was also responsible for the F2A Buffalo, a piece of crap that got a lot of Marine pilots killed during the Battle of Midway.

According to that AP report, the story began with a fatal accident on Dec. 19, 1944, which killed Lt. Robin C. Pennington, who was flying a training mission in the F3A. The Navy recovered Pennington’s body and some gear from the Corsair, then left the wreck. Eventually, the plane was recovered by Lex Cralley in 1990, who began trying to restore the plane. A simple case of “finders keepers, losers weepers,” right?

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

Nope. The Navy sued Cralley in 2004 to get the plane back. After the report appeared, comments were…not exactly favorable towards the Navy at one normally pro-military forum.

Eventually, then-Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) got involved. According to a May 28, 2004 report by Hearst News Service, Jones eventually authored an amendment that settled the lawsuit by having the Navy turn the F3A over to Cralley.

The Navy usually has been very assertive with regards to wrecks. According to admiraltylawguide.com, in 2000, the Navy won a ruling in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal preventing Doug Champlin from salvaging a TBD Devastator that had survived both the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway.

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10 ways war has changed since the Cubs’ last World Series win

It’s been a long time since the Cubs won the World Series. 108 years, in fact; the last time the Cubs won was in 1908, when they captured two World Series titles in a row.


Last night they made history and broke the Curse of the Billy Goat by clinching Game 7 of the World Series in extra (rainy) innings with a final score of 8-7.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
The 1908 Cubs and their perfectly normal looking mascot. Source: NBC News

A lot has happened in the world since 1908.  The internet, Communism, Justin Bieber.  But what about warfare?

Well, the military has changed quite a bit too, and some of the changes have completely revamped the way wars are fought today.  Here are ten of the biggest military innovations and changes that occurred since the last time the Cubs won the World Series:

1.  No more cavalry charges

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
Horses and trenches don’t mix. | Source: Pinterest

Cavalry charges were still pretty common in the early 20th century, and in World War I all sides used horses to some extent.  The Germans stopped utilizing armed cavalry on the battlefield shortly after the war’s outset, but the Ottoman Empire and the British used cavalry extensively in the Middle East theater.

During World War I, machine guns cut through horses in swaths, and the chemical weapons first used by the Germans killed many more.  They were still used to drag equipment through the mud, however, and at one point German troops were told that the life of a horse has more tactical value than that of an infantryman.

Ultimately, though, machine guns and artillery rendered the horse-led cavalry charge obsolete.  The horses were replaced by tanks, although these didn’t truly live up to expectations until World War II.

2.  Planes flying around, shooting stuff, dropping bombs

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
arly airplanes: sometimes they fly, sometimes they crash. | Source: Pinterest

Although the Wright Brothers first flew a heavier-than-air manned airplane in 1903, planes in warfare didn’t come about until around 1911.  During World War I airplanes became very important for reconnaissance missions, and as they became more maneuverable, some planes were designed to shoot down the recon planes.  This led to fighters, bombers, and the jets that we know today.

Modern warfare generally favors the side that controls the skies, and for that reason, high-tech planes with sophisticated radar and other technologies are closely guarded secrets by states concerned about their leakage.  The United States’ protracted counterinsurgency wars, however, have proven that even though you control the skies, it doesn’t always mean you win.

3.  U.S. Army Special Forces started operating operationally

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US Army Green Berets with South Vietnamese troops. | Source: Pinterest

The first true Special Forces Group, the 10th, was formed in 1952 under Col. Aaron Bank.  They evolved from Office of Strategic Services troops that had served behind enemy lines during World War II.  Concurrent with this was the founding of the Psychological Warfare School, later known as the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare.  The original goal of the Army’s Special Forces was “to infiltrate by land, sea or air, deep into enemy-occupied territory and organize the resistance/guerrilla potential to conduct Special Forces operations, with emphasis on guerrilla warfare.”

Special Forces have fought in every conflict since Korea and evolved into a number of different roles.  They have grown in number and size and now consist of some of the most elite soldiers in the United States Army, trained in multiple missions, including direct action and foreign internal defense.

4.  Chemical weapons: a sick burn

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A gas attack during World War I. | Source: WWvets.com

The Cubs might have gone 108 years without winning a world series, but the world has only gone 101 years since the first chlorine gas attack.

On April 22, 1915, a man named Fritz Haber oversaw the world’s first successful chemical weapons use.  The German scientist had been attempting to convince a German commander to use the gas on Allied troops but had thus far met with scorn and derision.  One commander, however, let him try it, and when the wind finally turned toward the Allied troops, he unleashed the gas.

That single attack killed more than 1,100 Allied troops.  By the end of World War I, more than 50 different poisons had been used on the battlefield, and gas masks had become a tactical necessity.

Today, the use of chemical weapons is a war crime, although that didn’t stop Saddam Hussein from gassing thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq, or Bashar al-Assad using gas on his own people.

5.  Meals, Ready to Eat began constipating troops everywhere

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The first MRE, 1981. | Source: MRE Info

The Department of Defense decided to re-vamp their combat rations in 1975, when they declared the MRE would be the new way of feeding troops in combat.  The first delivery of MRE’s occurred in 1981, and they were first field tested by the 25th Infantry Division in 1983.

MRE’s were a huge step forward for field rations because they could be kept almost indefinitely, and they did not require a flame to heat the entrees.  MRE’s nowadays are much tastier than the maggot-filled tack that soldiers of the Continental Army used to eat, and troops can pick and choose menu items.  Plus, Jalapeno cheese.  Enough said.

6.  Aircraft carriers became a thing

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The Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya, circa 1914. | Source: Wikipedia

With the advent and importance of aircraft in modern warfare, it was only natural that nations sought to project that flight power to different parts of the world.  After all, what good was a runway for planes if it wasn’t near the combat zone?

To that end, armies and navies first tried launching balloons off of wooden ships, but when the propeller plane came around, they started putting aircraft on ships.  The Japanese ship Wakamiya lowered seaplanes onto the water using its crane in 1914 during the battle of Tsingtao, making this the first use of an “aircraft carrier” in warfare.

During the 1920’s, truly dedicated carriers with launch pads were commissioned and became an integral part of shaping the way the world fights wars.  Nowadays, the US Navy’s powerful carriers carry lethal jets and ground forces to places all over the world in order to project United States military power.

7.  Tanks

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British Mark I tank, 1916. | Source: Wikipedia

Tanks, along with airplanes and aircraft carriers, changed the way that wars are fought.  Although the infantry was the major component of fighting in World War I, by World War II the way was being led by quick, lethal tanks that could maneuver and shoot accurately at the same time.  The armor provided by the vehicle shielded its occupants from most small arms fire and allowed infantry to follow behind.

Modern land warfare owes its origins to the tank, which debuted at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to limited success.  They simply could not operate in the artillery-churning mud of the front, and often became bogged down before even advancing.

During World War II, the Germans used their lightning-fast tanks in the Blitzkrieg doctrine in combination with airplanes and infantry.  Later on, tanks became more and more technologically advanced, and in modern times a tank can make an enormous difference on the battlefield, although they are still vulnerable to ever-more-lethal anti-tank rockets and missiles.

8.  Night vision let people see the night, visually

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
An M16A1 fitted with an AN PVS-2 starlight scope. | Source: Wikipedia

In the early days of World War II German scientists experimented with night vision devices with some limited success, even going so far as to equip their Panther tanks with night vision.  But it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the first practical, mass-produced night vision devices, the AN/PVS-1 and 2 starlight scopes, were introduced.  Even though they were bulky and easily broken, these scopes gave U.S. troops an advantage on the battlefield.  They used ambient light to amplify the picture around them, allowing troops to see enemies moving in the dark.

Today, the United States military has some of the best night vision around, giving it advantages in the wars that it fights worldwide.  Each member of an infantry or special operations unit can have his or her own individual night vision device, which are now compact and project pictures in high definition.  Some devices even incorporate thermal imaging along with amplified ambient light to produce a better picture.  This gives US troops a massive advantage over enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, who have to use captured equipment and have little repair capability.

9.  Widespread use of body armor

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Two American Servicemen in Korea, 1951, wearing body armor. | Source: Wikipedia

While the concept of protecting oneself from harm with armor has existed for millennia, the modern age of personally-issued body armor didn’t occur until around the time of the Korean War.  Even then, the vests were issued mostly for protection from shrapnel, and were bulkier and heavier than modern vests.

It wasn’t until the 1971 discovery of Kevlar by scientist Stephanie Kwolek that body armor became ligher and able to stop real bullets, including most pistol rounds.

In 1975, American Body Armor introduced a vest that used 15 layers of Kevlar and a “shok plate,” which could protect against high-velocity rifle rounds.  This set the standard for modern military body armor, which now often consists of so-called “soft” armor for pistol rounds and shrapnel, and hard ceramic plates for high-velocity bullets.  Advances in technology have made it so that troops, particularly those in well-funded special operations units, can have the best of both worlds: lightweight protection for vital organs and ultimate maneuverability.

10.  Missiles and precision-guided munitions

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
A Regulus guided missile. | Source: Wa3key.com

While airplanes changed the way wars were fought in the 20th century, the way airplanes were used was changed just as fundamentally with the advent of guided missiles.  Although civilizations had been experimenting with rocketry for centuries, the V1 and V2 rockets of Germany in World War II were the first true guided missiles used in warfare.  Following that, various countries began using missiles on their ships, jets and trucks, and creating massive, world-travelling Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.  If it weren’t for our massive experimentation in missile technology, the world would not have known the war-shaping theory of Mutually Assured Destruction, or the standoff capabilities of a guided missile destroyer launching cruise missiles into Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Modern missiles use Global Positioning Systems to find and destroy the enemy, and are becoming ubiquitous for the United States; today, more than 80 percent of bombs dropped by the United States military are precision-guided  They are essential in preventing civilian casualties in a world where states fight terrorist groups rather than each other.

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These 8 TV characters would never survive in the real military

Over the years Hollywood has shed both positive and negative light on the military experience. While the biographical examples might face severe scrutiny over matters of accuracy, here are 8 fictional military characters who inarguably wouldn’t cut it in the real deal:


1. Ensign Charles Beaumont Parker – “McHale’s Navy”

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When the military is used as the basis for a sitcom, it’s inevitable that some of the troops won’t exactly be up to snuff. Ensign Parker brings that to another level, actively causing harm to U.S. and Allied Forces. (The show takes place during World War II.) He accidentally fires a depth charge in one episode, and in another accidentally shoots down an Allied aircraft. That’s a level of ineptitude the United States military wouldn’t and frankly couldn’t stand for.

2. Buster Bluth – “Arrested Development”

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Buster is enlists in “Army,” as he calls it, due to a dare a comedian makes to his mother. And lucky for him, he’s immediately honorably discharged after having his hand bit off by a seal. In season 4, he re-enlists to control drones in Iraq. Buster has a blast – until someone explains to him that what he’s doing is real, and he immediately has a panic attack. Then again, Buster once had a panic attack because a llama was near him. He might tell you he’s in Army, but he isn’t Army Strong.

3. Beetle Bailey – “Beetle Bailey”

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One thing you certainly can’t be in any branch of the military is lazy, and Beetle Bailey is perhaps the laziest of them all. He’ll do anything to get out of work, including putting his fellow soldiers, and commanding officers, at serious risks. Luckily, the characters at Camp Swampy don’t seem to face any particular risk of war being declared, and therefore will likely avoid any form of actual combat. If they did face an enemy attack, or were sent to fight someplace, chances are Beetle Bailey would be too lazy to even raise his arms.

4. Gareth Keenan – “The Office” (BBC version)

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There’s no real reason to doubt Gareth Keenan when he claims he was a Lieutenant in the Territorial Army before joining Wernam-Hogg, aside from how utterly clueless he seems to be when Tim and Dawn quiz him about tactical strategy. Gareth talks a big game, always being prepared to take a man from behind, give a man a lethal blow, or even discharge with rapid speed if enemies should uncover and enter his hole — you know, find out where he’s hiding. The fact Gareth never seems to understand the double entendres behind his own boasts kind of makes him look foolish, perhaps too foolish to actually achieve any kind of rank.

5. Zapp Brannigan – “Futurama”

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Zapp may be a 25-Star General in the Year 3000, buts its impossible to imagine he’d last a single day in any branch of the U.S. military. No part of Brannigan’s success makes sense. Although Brannigan’s Law is named after him, he openly admits he doesn’t understand it in the slightest. In fact, most of Brannigan’s successes are subjugating and annihilating weak and defenseless aliens, which, while smart satire, isn’t something that would actually be tolerated in the military.

6. Don Draper – “Mad Men”

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Don’s a special case on this list, in that his whole story is that he quite literally couldn’t make it in the military. As fans now know, Draper’s mystery actually began with him as Dick Whitman, but things dramatically changed during the Korean War. Terrible things happen during war, and its hard to say how any individual would react when faced with the horrors Whitman and his Lieutenant, the real Don Draper, faced. But what’s clear is Whitman’s reaction is highly illegal and wouldn’t be tolerated in any military.

7. Homer Simpson – “The Simpsons”

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Homer Simpson has had over 100 jobs, and he’s been terrible at nearly every one of them. His time in the service still manages to rank among his most inept. Homer actually joined the service twice—first as a member of the Navy Reserve in Season 9, then in Season 18 he enlisted in the Army. As a member of the Navy Reserve, Homer nearly caused a nuclear war with Russia, and in the Army he turned a training exercise into a city-wide explosive event. The military always welcomes recruits, but Homer should probably stick to his hundreds of other jobs.

8. Dave Titus – “Titus”

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Everyone in the Titus family seems to think it would be a great idea for Dave to join the Army. It could teach him responsibility and get him to stop doing drugs and being lazy. However, his brother Christopher sees it a different way: the Army isn’t going to bring Dave up; Dave’s going to bring the Army down. Fearing “Private Dave” could somehow cause nuclear destruction, Christopher gives Dave some pot to smoke on the way to recruitment, hoping this story will find a less destructive end.

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Sebastian Junger’s ‘Hell on Earth’ chronicles the rise of ISIS in Syria

War correspondent Sebastian Junger, most famous for his documentaries “Restrepo” and “Korengal” that followed paratroopers in the Korengal Valley, has teamed up with Nick Quested to create a new documentary with National Geographic detailing the hell that is life in ISIS-controlled territory.


“Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS” is cut together from over 1,000 hours of footage, most of it filmed inside the so-called caliphate.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet
ISIS members conduct a checkpoint in their territory. The footage comes from an upcoming National Geographic documentary. (Image: YouTube/Deadline Hollywood)

This 13-minute teaser tells the story of families trying to escape, at first with smugglers and then on their own when their smuggler is caught by ISIS.

(Be warned that some of the images in the documentary are disturbing)

Previous reporting has shown how ISIS maintains control in its territory, how it makes its money, and how it recruits and deploys fighters.

None of it is good.

Torture and public executions are used to keep populations cowed, and money is raised through debilitating taxes, sex slavery, robbery, and other pursuits. And its fighters are recruited through international networks and then deployed at half pay or less, often as undertrained frontline fighters that amount to little more than human shields.

The full documentary is scheduled to air June 11.

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Here’s how the military takes civilian tech and makes it more awesome

The military has given the civilian world some great technology like satellites, GPS, and the internet. But, in other cases the services have adopted civilian tech and taken it to the next level of awesomeness in the process. Here are 7 examples:


1. Tow trucks

Military tow trucks need to do things like picking up M1 Abrams tanks that weigh 62 metric tons. Plus, they have to be able to defend themselves in hostile environments. Enter the M88A2. It can tow up to 70 tons, has a .50-cal. machine gun, and can survive direct hits from 30mm shells.

2. Backhoes

Like the M88 above, the WISENT 2 operates in combat zones while doing the hard job of digging and bulldozing. The WISENT is based on a Leopard 2 battle tank. It has different attachments including a bulldozer blade, a mine plough, and an excavator arm that can dig feet 14 ft. deep with a 42 cubic ft. bucket.

3. Four-wheelers

The first four-wheeler was the Royal Enfield quadricycle in 1898. Unsurprisingly, when World War I broke out, Royal Enfield sold dozens to the British government for war use. Today, paratroopers and special operators are using the Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle, basically a Polaris Razor with better tires and shocks as well as weapons, antennas, and litter mounts strapped to it.

4. Bridges

Battlefield commanders need bridges that can go up quickly, survive direct attacks, and be moved rapidly. The military has multiple solutions to this problem, including the Armored, Vehicle-Launched Bridge. The launcher is mounted on an M60 tank platform, and engineers can launch the bridge without ever getting out of the vehicle.

5. Stethoscopes

The noise immune stethoscope is designed to help medics hear a patient’s heartbeat around machine gun fire or in a helicopter. It works by sending a signal into the patient’s body, reading the return signal, and playing the information into a headset.

6. Prosthetics

Until the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prosthetics had essentially remained the same since the first known artificial limb. The number of wounded warriors and the nature of their injuries has caused agencies like DARPA to change all of that, bringing prosthetics into the 21st Century in the process. The new devices allow for greater dexterity, greater range of motion, and even a sense of touch.

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General briefs Congress that fight against ISIS is a total mess

Last week, the head of the United States Central Command, Gen. Lloyd Austin III, testified to Congress about the status of the U.S.’ $500 million dollar plan to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels. CENTCOM, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, provided a surprising report. Of the 5,400 rebels planned to be in Syria fighting ISIS this year, there were only “four or five” active fighters in country. He went on to say there is no way the goal could be reached in 2015.


“It’s taking a bit longer,” Gen. Austin said during his testimony. “But it must be this way if we are to achieve lasting and positive effects.”

It’s going to take a lot longer. The first round of American-trained Syrian fighters made their way into the country recently. They were quickly routed by or defected to the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra Front, a Sunni Islamist group. Al-Nusra stormed the rebel headquarters and took some of the fighters hostage.

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Lt. Col. Mohammad al-Dhaher, the chief of staff of Division 30, the rebel group favored by the United States,  resigned. He told the Telegraph the training program was “not serious,” and he complained of insufficient numbers of trainees and fighters, inadequate supplies, and even “a lack of accuracy and method in the selection of Division 30’s cadres.”

That didn’t stop the U.S. plan. On Sunday, 75 more American-trained Syrian rebels entered the country via Turkey, where the majority of the training takes place. Almost immediately, those U.S.-backed fighters surrendered to the al-Nusra front. The “vetted” U.S.-backed leader, Anas Obaid, told al-Nusra he intentionally deceived the U.S. to get the weapons.

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The reason for the repeated betrayals of Syrian fighters is as fractured as the country itself. Division 30 fighters are only allowed to engage ISIS fighters, but the primary enemy of Nusra in Syria is the Asad government forces. Every group has their own aim.

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

Nusra’s enemies include the the Kurdish YPG, ISIS, and the Free Syrian Army but mostly the Iran-allied Asad regime and its Shia Hezbollah allies.

The Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Kurdish YPG and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga are mainly fighting ISIS, but the West is worried they will try to carve out an independent Kurdistan from areas of Iraq and Syria (and maybe Turkey).

Turkey is especially concerned about the rise of Kurdish power and had conducted air strikes on Kurdish forces fighting ISIS as part of a greater conflict with Kurds and their PKK allies (a Communist terror organization in Turkey).

ISIS is fighting to implement their very strict brand of Sunni Islamist government, a new Islamic caliphate based in Syria and extending throughout the Islamic world. ISIS fighters are as well-funded and well-armed as the Asad regime and nearly captured Baghdad last year.

The U.S. and Iran are backing Iraqi forces (and there are even hints of cooperation between the two longtime enemies.

And last week, the Russians started sending weapons and advisers to Damascus.

Did you get all that?

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CENTCOM may be doing the best it can with the information it actually gets. The New York Times discovered overly negative intelligence reports were being tossed back to their analysts to be rewritten in a more positive light, essentially manipulating and distorting the information given to lawmakers.

NOW: An American has died fighting ISIS in Syria

OR: This video follows an ISIS recruit’s journey to Syria

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Today in military history: US declares war on Mexico

On May 11, 1846, President James K. Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico.

Tensions with Mexico were on the rise since the United States annexed Texas and admitted it to the Union as the 28th state. Texas had received its independence from Mexico in 1936, but northern states were hesitant to incorporate another slave-state into the union.

On April 25, 1846, 2,000 Mexican cavalry attacked a 70-man patrol with the United States Army, leaving 11 American troops dead. Later, six more Americans were killed at the Siege of Fort Texas and the Battle of Palo Alto.

Declaring that Mexico had “invaded our territory and shed the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil,” Polk asked for Congress to declare war on Mexico. Polk operated with an expansionist mindset, believing that the United States had a “manifest destiny” to conquer the North American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The Mexican-American War would become America’s first war fought chiefly on foreign soil. No declaration of war ever came from Mexico.

The resulting conflict would take a year and nine months, and over 13,000 American troops would die – although the Department of Defense notes only 1,733 were killed in combat. 

The United States would eventually force Mexico to cede the territory that would include Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and New Mexico, among other states or parts of states — nearly one third of its pre-existing territory.

Featured Image: Bombardment of Veracruz by Adolphe Jean-Baptiste Bayot. Originally published in The War Between the United States and Mexico, Illustrated, 1851.

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7 tips for getting away with fraternization

So, you’ve got a fever and the only cure is a consensual adult relationship that violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice? It happens.


And by the way, it can happen among friends, but for this article, we’re going to talk about sexual or romantic relationships.

Related video:

Paraphrasing here from the Manual for Courts Martial: Fraternization in the military is a personal relationship between an officer and an enlisted member that violates the customary bounds of acceptable behavior and jeopardizes good order and discipline.

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That’s a mouthful, but it boils down to the intent of guidelines for any relationship among professionals: The appearance of favoritism hurts the group, and, with the military in particular, could actually get someone killed.

Also read: 13 Hilarious Meme Replies To Our Article About Dating On Navy Ships

But we’re only human, right? It’s natural to fall for someone you work with, so here are a couple of tips that can help keep you out of Leavenworth:

1. Don’t do it

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

Seriously. Cut it off when you first start to feel the butterflies-slash-burning-in-your-loins. Flirting is a rush and it’s fun and NO.

Hit the gym. Take a break. Swipe right on Tinder. Do whatever you have to do to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control.

2. Be discreet

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Okay, fine, you’re going for it anyway. We’ve all been there (nervous laughter…).

People are more intuitive than you think. Don’t give them any reason to suspect you and your illicit goings-on. Be completely professional at work. Don’t flirt in the office. Don’t send sweet nothings over government e-mail (yes, it is being monitored).

3. Keep it off-base

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

Don’t be stupid, okay? Get away from the watchful eyes all the people around you who live and breathe military regulations.

4. Square away

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

The thing about military punishment is that you are usually judged by your commander first. If you do get caught, you want people to really regret the idea of punishing you.

Be amazing at your job — better yet, be the best at your job. Be irreplaceable. Be a leader and a team player and a bad ass. Set the example with your physical fitness and your marksmanship and your ability to destroy terrorism.

Be beloved by all and you just might get away with a slap on the wrist…

5. Plausible deniability

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

I would never tell you to lie because integrity and honor are all totes important and stuff, but…

If lawyers can’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were actually engaged in criminal activity, you could be spared from a conviction.

Maybe it was just a coincidence that you both happened to be volunteering at the same time. It was for the orphans…

How could you have known that you both like to spend Christmas in Hawaii?

It’s not your fault Sgt. Hottie wanted to attend a concert in the same town where your parents live, right?

6. Talk it out

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If you can’t have a mature conversation with this person about how to conduct yourselves in the workplace or how you’d each face the consequences of being discovered, you really shouldn’t be getting it on.

You are both risking your careers and livelihoods because of this relationship — don’t take it lightly.

And whatever you do, treat each other with honesty and respect — you’re all you have right now.

7. Don’t go to the danger zone

What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

I know you know this, but here’s the thing: REALLY DON’T DO IT (PUN INTENDED) WHILE IN A COMBAT ZONE.

This is life and death. Remind yourself why you chose to serve your country. Pay attention to the men and women around you who trust you and rely on you to protect them.

LOCK IT UP. You’re a warrior and you have discipline.

Did we leave anything out? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Combat poetry reveals what life is like on the Afghan front lines

Justin Eggen had some things stuck in his head for a long time during — but especially after — his two deployments to Afghanistan. These thoughts became poems and short stories that reflected his feelings and personal experience as a Marine in Marjah and in Afghanistan’s Sangin Valley. Like so many writing combat poetry, they are Eggen’s way of handling the overwhelming series of emotions from and memories of his time there.


In this episode of Mandatory Fun, We Are The Mighty’s Blake Stilwell talks to Justin Eggen on what it was like to write poetry as a Marine Corps combat veteran — and why every U.S. troop needs some creative outlet for thoughts and feelings like his.

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“When I was younger I wrote a bit of poetry,” Eggen says. “And I realized this is a good outlet for releasing a lot of pent up memories and aggression.”

That was then, this is now.

Eggen wrote up a few poems for “shits and giggles” after he returned from his deployments with the Corps, but the response was better than he ever imagined. He sent it to people who said he needed to share his combat poetry with the world.

Initially, however, he wasn’t apt to publish his works and share them with the world. At first, it was just a way to release the mental anguish. Eggen didn’t really take poetry or writing seriously, especially as a way to cope with what he describes as his mind “still living over in Afghanistan.”

“Ten years ago, I didn’t even think I would deploy to Afghanistan,” Eggen says, describing the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan while he was entering the Marine Corps. “When I joined, Afghanistan wasn’t even in people’s minds. Our Drill instructor said if we’re lucky, we’d go to Iraq.”

But don’t expect Justin Eggen’s combat poetry to look like anything a stereotypical beret-wearing beatnik might write. Eggen was a .50-cal machine gunner on a route clearance platoon, searching for IEDs in the roads around his area of responsibility.

 

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Eggen at PB Alcatraz, Sangin 2011.

 

The enemy was like a ghost: They were very good at making IEDs that were hard to detect because they were composed of very few metal elements. His second book, which is currently being written, will be about fighting such a ghostly enemy.

His first book is about the struggle of having your mind stuck back over there.

“A huge part of being home after the Marine Corps is trying to face what happened,” he says. “You get blown up and you’re never the same, regardless of if you’re in a vehicle or on foot. You hit an IED and that rattles you to an extent and you’re changed for the rest of your life. I have friends who are not the same. I am not the same person.”

For Eggen, writing down a lot of what happened, especially as combat poetry, is a powerful thing. Not just for him but for anyone who is struggling emotionally or mentally from a traumatic experience in their life.

He enjoys his work a lot and even enjoys reading them. Each one tells its own little tale. While the longer stories and poems are deeper to him, he also revives the ancient art of the warrior writing haiku. They’re just as deep, but short and sweet and he loves the challenge of writing them.

“You get 17 syllables to portray a story,” he explains. “if you can build something that makes people think in 17 syllables, that’s a huge challenge. That’s what Japanese warriors used to do after battle, write haikus. That was the first version of “combat poetry.” That’s how they dealt with a battle. So that’s what I did for three weeks straight, counting syllables on my fingers.” 

For more of Justin Eggen, catch the rest of the show and then check out his book of poetry and short stories, Outside the Wire: A U.S. Marine’s Collection of Combat Poems and Short Stories on Amazon.

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During World War II the NFL’s Eagles and Steelers merged into one team

The 1943 season was a tough one for the NFL, its fans, and America. At the height of World War II, Pennsylvania’s two pro teams lost a number of players to military service. As a result, the two teams merged temporarily in order to play out the season, forming what the NFL called the “Phil-Pitt Combine.” The sports press labeled the team the “Steagles,” a name that fans quickly adopted.  The season was saved.


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The U.S. government fully supported the continuation of American sports to keep morale up on the homefront, but teams like the Steagles had rosters filled by players who didn’t join the war effort because they were unfit for service, received a draft deferment, or were actually serving but on leave.

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But in spite of the fact that the NFL needed eight teams to have a functional season, the Steagles almost didn’t happen. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were bitter rivals in the 1940s, and the men who would be co-head coaches hated each other.

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Players received some public ridicule because of the general perception that if a player was fit enough to play football he should be fit enough to fight the Nazis. But most of the Steagles’ players were declared physically unfit for service. The teams players also worked full time war production jobs. Football was not their only gig.

Philadelphia was hometown for the team and the team wore the Eagles’ green and white colors. It was the only time in the history of the Steelers franchise that the team didn’t wear black and gold. Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney did manage to get two home games played in Pittsburgh, however, both of which they won.

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After a 2-0 start, the Steagles started to fall apart and by the end of the season, their record was a mediocre 5-4-1. They still hold the record for most fumbles in a winning game, where, against the New York Giants, they lost the ball ten times but still pulled out a 28-14 win, as lopsided a win as the U.S. had against the Axis.

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In 2003, the Steelers hosted the Eagles on the 60th anniversary of the Steagles’ formation and honored the surviving members who could make it. Philadelphia won that game 21-16.

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