Good morning! Here’s what’s happening around the national security space:
Another of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets exploded shortly after liftoff on Sunday while on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. This latest failure may have serious implications for the company’s military plans.
One of the most revered military leaders of our time, Admiral James Stavridis served for thirty-seven years in the United States Navy, including his last four as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Admiral Stavridis joins Adam to share the best lessons he has learned over the course of his illustrious career, from how to lead and inspire others to how to lead your own day and life. Admiral Stavridis and Adam discuss the Admiral’s core leadership principles, misconceptions about military leaders, and job interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Every single one of us has potential, but sometimes we suck at life.
Have you ever set a goal for yourself and an hour later talked yourself out of it? Or, tried to break a bad habit and fell back into it after uttering the words, “I can’t”? Or, quietly gave up on a passion project because you weren’t disciplined enough to see it through?
At times, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to achieving goals. It’s hardly ever a spouse, coach or boss standing in our way; typically it’s the person we face each day in the mirror.
Steven Pressfield has named this internal force that keeps us from reaching our full potential Resistance. He writes, “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
History is filled with individuals who overcame their own resistance to discover, to create, and to invent. Their examples can help us overcome our fight against resistance and achieve our goals, quit our bad habits and see our passion projects through to completion.
Hernan Cortes – Burn your ships
In 1519, Hernan Cortes led an expedition from Cuba to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. Once coming ashore, his men were divided on what to do next. Some wanted to return to Cuba; others wanted to move forward. Infighting broke out among the factions. He had to focus his men, so he destroyed his ships. Returning to Cuba was now out of the question, so they set their sights on their mission and went on to defeat the Aztecs and conquer Mexico.
Sometimes, to accomplish our goals we need to burn the ships and move out. We need to make a rash decision and force ourselves to live with the consequences. This could be done by closing a professional door, making that purchase we’ve been wrestling with, or signing up for the course we’ve been putting off.
Victor Hugo – Lock your clothes away
In late 1830, Victor Hugo had a problem. He promised his publisher a book by February, but he hadn’t even started it yet. So, he had his servant lock all of his formal clothes in a trunk, leaving him with nothing but his pajamas. It worked. In January he finished his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame ahead of schedule.
Hugo locked himself into what psychologists call a commitment device. This is a term used to describe the extra step we take to protect ourselves from breaking our commitment. Hugo couldn’t get his clothes back until he finished his manuscript. Other examples include deleting social media apps from our phone so we will be less likely to pick it up every five minutes. Or setting a punishment if you fail to complete your project; this could be giving away money or doing 1000 burpees if you don’t reach the milestones you’ve set for yourself.
Thomas Edison – Make an announcement
Thomas Edison was a great inventor. He received 1093 patents, more than any single person in U.S. history. But, he also recognized that he could procrastinate on projects. So, he would talk about how great his idea was to a journalist. In doing so, his ideas started generating publicity. Once people started talking about it, Edison had to complete it; otherwise he would be ridiculed.
When we put our pride or reputation on the line, we increase the stakes. By telling others what we want to set out to accomplish, we are more apt to follow through with our projects. We don’t want to show up empty-handed next time they ask us about it, so we increase our chances of following through with it.
Fight the resistance
The resistance is real, but it doesn’t have to stop us in our tracks. We don’t need to be paralyzed by inaction when it comes to goal accomplishment. Next time you feel resistance creeping up, burn the ships, lock away your clothes and tell someone about it. Don’t let yourself get in the way of greatness.
South Korean and American troops on and near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea are ready, well-supplied, well-trained, and prepared, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman said following a visit over the weekend.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell accompanied his boss, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to South Korea. But where the general participated in the Military Committee Meeting and Security Consultative Meeting with his Korean counterpart, Troxell used his time to get a feel for what life is like on “Freedom’s Frontier” in light of current tensions.
The DMZ is a place where North Korean troops are studying every action on the southern side. They continually probe, test, and push for a reaction from the South Korean troops that man most of the DMZ.
The unit Troxell visited — the 1st Republic of Korea Division’s 1st Reconnaissance Battalion — was the victim of a North Korean intrusion across the DMZ three years ago and had soldiers wounded in a minefield laid by North Korean special operations forces.
Unfiltered Look at the North
“I felt the need to go up to the Demilitarized Zone outside of the Joint Security Area and go to an area where I could get an unfiltered look at the North Koreans and what their demeanor, what their disposition, what their posture was in light of all of this rhetoric,” Troxell said.
He also just wanted to talk with South Korean troops to get a feel for their morale and readiness, he said.
The sergeant major’s previous job was as the senior enlisted leader for US Forces Korea and the Combined Forces Command.
He said he did not notice much difference in the North Koreans across the line. “They were on security,” he said. “They were observing into the South, especially when I got there — a lot of folks with binoculars trying to figure out what we were doing. But their patrols did not seem like they were in any more enhanced readiness than what they normally are.”
Despite the rhetoric from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the North Koreans were carrying on business as usual, he said. On the North Korean side, there are heavy weapons in contravention of the UN-brokered armistice signed in 1953. The North kicked out the two armistice guarantor nations — Poland and Czechoslovakia — when the Soviet Union fell.
“We still have the Swiss and the Swedes in the southern part of the DMZ that are making sure that the [South Koreans] and the US aren’t breaking any rules, in accordance with the armistice,” the sergeant major said.
The assumption in the south is that the North Koreans are breaking the rules and allied forces have to plan accordingly, he said.
And there are a lot of North Korean troops. “There’s 750,000 North Korean troops on the DMZ, out of a more than 1.1 million man and woman force,” Troxell said. “But we haven’t seen them do a combined arms maneuver in 20 years. They fire about five to 10 rounds out of their rifles a year. And a good part of them have been diagnosed as being medically frail.”
“But there are 750,000 of them,” he continued. “So if you end up in conflict and you got full magazines of ammunition, you better not miss.”
And the North Koreans have been indoctrinated since birth on the infallibility of the Kim family. “If we have to go into high-end conflict, the North Koreans are going to fight,” Troxell said. “They’re prepared to fight and defend their country and defend who they call the Great Leader.”
On the South Korean side, the troops were patrolling and ready, the sergeant major said. They are a learning Army, he said, and have learned from the incident where the infiltrators came in. “They’ve really upgraded their positions,” Troxell said. “They’ve cut back all of the foliage from around their guard posts and the gates to get into the DMZ. They’ve also reinforced with, you know, better cameras and everything, so they have [fewer] blind spots that the North Koreans can exploit.”
‘Ready to Fight’
A bit farther back, the sergeant major met with American soldiers. “Obviously, they pay attention a lot more to the news than the [South Koreans] do, and certainly more than the North Koreans,” he said. “There was a lot more heightened sense of, ‘Hey, we got to be ready.'”
The rotational brigade — now from the 1st Cavalry Division — goes through a decisive action training rotation at the National Training Center in California and then deploys to the Korean Peninsula. “Those guys and gals are absolutely prepared for high-end conflict because they’ve been certified in it,” Troxell said. “They’re ready to fight.”
American units are training and focusing on potential threats, one of which is North Korea’s use of tunnels. “Subterranean warfare is something we have to continue to prepare for,” the sergeant major said. “As a matter of fact, the Army is making subterranean warfare part of their doctrine, and the Marines are going that way too.”
South Korean and US soldiers serve together closely. The 2nd Infantry Division, which is the divisional headquarters there, is now a combined division, with South Korean and US officers and non-commissioned officers on their division staff. “If you look at the 2nd Infantry Division patch, … it says combined division over their patch now,” he said.
The 2nd Infantry Division is also certified at all levels of combat.
Building Mil-to-Mil Relationships
The members of the division continually look for ways to enhance the military-to-military relationship, Troxell said, especially in their noncommissioned officer corps. The South Koreans are looking “to better develop their squad leaders and platoon sergeants to operate effectively at the decentralized level and operate off of commanders’ intent and apply discipline initiative to get after combat, if they have to,” he said. “They really look at the noncommissioned officer corps in the United States military, and they want theirs to be like that.”
There are cultural differences that have to be overcome and much of the South Korean military is made up of conscripts. But, South Koreans have served alongside the US in every contingency since the Korean War, Troxell said, and they see that the American military expands the commander’s reach in the battlespace by empowering noncommissioned officers to act without being told.
This is especially needed in terrain like that at the DMZ, which is mountainous. “It’s a cluttered battlefield,” he said, “and it will call for decentralized execution to defeat the North Koreans. That means we’ve got to continue to have empowered enlisted leaders, because this will be a squad-level fight, more so than it will be a battalion/brigade-level fight.”
What has formed as an organic community based around the military, there are a lot of Instagram accounts out there that have provided a valuable commentary for those who have served.
Ranging from meme accounts to those who have gone through the trials of war, military Instagram has really become its own niche community. Regardless of whether you’ve served or not, learning about these inspirational accounts is a learning process in itself, which is why we’ve provided you with a list of ten of our favorites. Check them out below:
Art 15 Clothing
Art 15 (short for Article 15- the provision that enables punishment in the US military), is a clothing brand started by vets, for vets. With an aesthetic that definitely matches their intent, Art 15 explores a lot of American military culture that’s prideful over service, as well as the audience of people wearing their shirts. Growing one of the fastest-growing communities, you’d be surprised at how responsive this team is, as well as their fans.
Yes, to get engagement like they do might require to buy Instagram followers, however, for Art 15, their base is well-ingrained in the military community, and certainly a point of pride for many members of service to represent. Check them out if you’re looking for a brand by vets for vets.
Despite never serving, Dan Bilzerian has a lot of military-friendly content that definitely resonates with a level of respect for the community most Instagram celebrities don’t have. Often known as “The King of Instagram” as well as a “man’s man”, Bilzerian has grown quite the brand for himself around travel, women, weightlifting, and of course, guns and politics.
Typically showing love to troops and our military, Bilzerian is a force be reckoned with, providing often what people perceive as the pinnacle of the American dream (including American ideals and beliefs) As one of the most entertaining accounts on the web, Dan Bilzerian is well-worth the follow for military and non-military folks alike.
As straightforward as it sounds, Military isn’t actually the official account of the US military. Instead, they’re one of the most popular content sources for soldiers, posting different anecdotes from the procedure, drills, and even random events.
With a podcast that has amassed a popular following as well, Military has made themselves a prominent voice in the military community, and definitely an account you should follow for a mix of content that’s reminiscent of being in the service.
Task and Purpose
Another popular military magazine, Task and Purpose does a great job of curating content for the military community. As one of the most popular meme accounts for military members, Task and Purpose has nailed down the culture behind being in the armed services, as well as knows how to make people laugh about the trials and tribulations they had to go through.
While you might not understand some of the jokes if you haven’t served, Task and Purpose does a great job of being an inclusive space for people who have been in the military as well as those who are trying to understand their loved ones that have been a part. Give them a glance if you’re looking for more lighthearted content about the military.
According to ViralRace, if you’re looking for what it’s really like for day-to-day military activity, then Military Ops is the account for you. Primarily posting things from real-life combat and stations, Military Ops is really out here for those who have served, providing a level of empathy a lot of people can’t match for what it’s like to be alone overseas.
While a lot of it is humorous, some of Military Ops content is focused on guns and gear, which is really reserved for those who really nerd out about those things. Especially if you’ve served, Military Ops is well worth the follow if you’re looking for a little bit of nostalgia.
If you haven’t heard, Terminal Lance is pretty famous…like, so big of an account they have a Wikipedia page big. A satire site for members of the Marines, Terminal Lance has been building quite the following for the antics and jokes that go around the military.
As a niche community, they have a lot of fun with the content they source and produce. Check them out if you’re looking a military account that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but understands what it’s like to be in the trenches.
As a vet, Derek Weida is one of those accounts you can’t help but admire. With a leg missing, Weida has transformed himself into a weight-loss and motivational coach, providing inspiration for those who haven’t quite been able to hit their mark yet.
With an encouraging message for those who are just starting out, Weida does a great job of keeping motivation consistent. Check him out if you’re looking for a service member that really has made the most out of their situation, hands down.
If you’re not familiar, Earl Granville went viral a couple of years ago for not only losing his leg in Afghanistan but by running as a Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s 8th district. Whether you follow his political beliefs regardless, Granville is an inspiring figure to admire.
He not only has come back strong in his political motives but also understands war first-hand, which is something not a lot of leaders have the acumen for. Instead, Granville represents a different breed of a politician based on an indelible personal experience, which is why you should definitely keep an eye on his IG.
Also known as the ‘curves queen’, Sarah Maine is a military alum of the Air Force, where she’s now started her own brand called Curves and Combat Boots: a legging company with a veteran/curvy woman appeal. A savvy entrepreneur, Maine is an excellent example of someone who took to becoming their own business owner after service, which is a hard feat to overcome.
As her brand follows a lot of influencer culture, she’s done a great job of producing content and materials that really resonate with her audience. As just an overall inspiring story, Maine is someone to definitely keep track of if you’re looking to learn about someone who’s made it after serving their time.
Vincent “Rocco” Vargas
To round out our list is Vincent “Rocco” Vargas, who is a former military member turned influencer. His view on culture is very much one that a lot of military people can resonate with, providing that edge as someone who moved on to work in film but also has a base in what it’s like to serve.
Vargas is now one of the biggest influencers who are former military, which is inspiring to see. Check them out if you’re looking for someone that’s like The Rock meets military service instead of WWE.
What are some of your favorite military influencers? Comment with your insights below!
The unrelenting ferocity of the Pacific War was without a doubt the bloodiest and most savage of the two theaters of World War II. The memories of brutal battles like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Midway and Iwo Jima are forever seared into minds of the courageous men who fought there. The island of Guadalcanal represented one of the last chances for the Allies to turn back the Japanese advance in the Pacific. Marine veteran Victor Croizat experienced the “hell of earth” of the battle for Guadalcanal.
Substance abuse among veterans is a growing problem in the United States. Many members of the military come home from deployment in war-torn areas with mental health and physical problems. The disabilities caused by their experiences in deployment makes substance abuse a more prevalent problem. Today, many women and men that have served or still serve in the US military struggle with drug addiction. Some of the veterans that have been involved or seen combat have co-occurring disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and addiction.
Such veterans turn to drugs like alcohol as a way of coping with stress and war challenges. Easy availability of alcohol and other drugs makes engaging in dangerous activities like binge drinking easy for veterans. Eventually, many veterans end up battling an addiction to illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol.
If a serviceman or woman you love has a substance abuse problem, call AddictionResource drug addiction helpline. This will enable you to get the help that your loved one needs to beat the substance abuse problem. Hotline numbers for addiction are manned by trained professionals that understand the pain that callers and their loved ones go through. They provide useful information about the available treatment options and guidance for those ready to undergo addiction treatment. Many veterans have received treatment after making this call and are now recovering.
Substance abuse among active service men and women
Research indicates that alcohol, prescription drug, and tobacco abuse is steadily increasing and more prevalent among members of the armed forces as compared to civilians. However, the use of illicit drugs is lower in the military than in the civilian population in the U.S. So, what compels active military members to abuse prescription drugs and alcohol?
A major cause of substance abuse among military men and women is the stress that comes with deployment to war-torn areas. Spending months away from home in challenging environments, fatigue, and loneliness, expose these men and women to substance abuse vulnerability. The unique military culture and strict discipline can also lead to addictive behaviors among active servicemen and women.
Unfortunately, many active servicemen and women do not call drug addiction hotline seeking help due to the stigma that is associated with the problem. Others fear that their confidentiality will be compromised if they speak about their problem.
Substance abuse problem among veterans
For some veterans, the substance abuse problem starts when in active service. However, some develop the problem after retiring from active service. Many veterans face complex economic and health challenges. Combat experiences come with psychological stress that veterans have to deal with. The demanding military life environment can also lead to substance use disorders.
Frequent moves and long deployments can strain relationships with their loved ones. Many veterans face problems like homelessness and unemployment. These are some of the challenges that lead veterans to alcohol and drug use as a way of readjusting to civilian life or coping with hardships.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, an estimated 7% of veterans in the U.S struggle with a substance use disorder. About 20% of the ex-servicemen and women that have been to Iraq and Afghanistan have depression, PTSD, or traumatic brain injury. All these conditions predispose veterans to addiction. Substance abuse and mental health issues are the major causes of U.S troops’ hospitalizations.
Statistics that reveal the reality
The Department of Defense has a strict, zero-tolerance drug use policy among the active members of the military. This may explain why many active servicemen with substance abuse problems opt not to call a drug abuse hotline. Nevertheless, tobacco and prescription drug abuse, as well as, alcoholism remains high among the active members of the military than among the civilians. And, substance abuse by veterans is increasing steadily.
For instance, the Substance Abuse and Mental health Service Administration reports that 7.1% of veterans were diagnosed with substance use disorder between 2004 and 2006.
Out of 10 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, 2 develop substance use disorder. And out of 6 veterans involved in Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns experience PTSD symptoms. 20% of the female veterans that served in Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD. Out of 4 veterans involved in the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, 1 reports signs of the mental health disorder.
25% of veterans between the age of 18 and 25 years reported symptoms of mental health disorders like SUD from 2004 to 2006. This is double the number of veterans that reported similar symptoms between the age of 26 and 54 years. It’s also 5 times the number of veterans that reported the same symptoms from the age of 55 years and above.
Major causes of substance abuse among veterans
Many soldiers face alcoholism and substance abuse problems after serving in wars. Both veterans and active military personnel can call rehab numbers seeking help with a substance abuse problem. However, the stigma associated with seeking help for addiction hinders them from getting assistance. Here are the major reasons why veterans and active members of the military can develop an addiction to prescription pills, illicit drugs, and alcohol.
Mental health problems
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Exposure to combat
Traumatic brain injuries
Substance misuse while in active service
Chronic pain caused by injuries and overuse
Challenges coping with stress
Challenges in adjusting to civilian life
Inability to acknowledge or recognize the problem
Stigma about seeking assistance
Stressors of serving in the military as a woman
Deployment to war-torn areas exposes members of the military to constant risks of permanent injury or death. As such, returning home to their loved ones should be a happy experience. However, getting back to civilian life after serving in the military is not easy for many veterans. Transitioning to a civilian life entails finding employment and housing. A veteran has to adjust to a life without the unit camaraderie and military benefits. Many veterans see unit members as their family because they share similar experiences. Therefore, civilian life feels alien to most of them. They feel disconnected and without a purpose. This prompts them to turn to addictive substances as a way of coping.
The bottom line
Substance abuse among veterans is a pressing issue. These people are susceptible to substance abuse and addiction because of the intense experience they get during combat and deployment. Reducing substance abuse among veterans has many challenges because the majority of them have co-occurring conditions like PTSD and depression. Nevertheless, veterans can call rehab numbers to seek help with their substance abuse problem.
The Navy will deploy its first underwater drones from Virginia-class attack submarines for the first time in history later this year, the Navy’s director of undersea warfare said Monday.
The deployment will include the use of the Remus 600 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, or UUVs, performing undersea missions in strategic locations around the globe, Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, told Military.com at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space annual symposium at National Harbor, Md.
“Now you are talking about a submarine CO who can essentially be in two places at the same time – with a UUV out deployed which can do dull, dirty and dangerous type missions. This allows the submarine to be doing something else at the same time,” Tofalo said. “UUVs can help us better meet our combatant command demand signal. Right now, we only meet about two-thirds of our combatant commanders demand signals and having unmanned systems is a huge force multiplier.”
The Remus 600 is a 500-pound, 3.25-meter long UUV equipped with dual-frequency side-scanning sonar technology, synthetic aperture sonar, acoustic imaging, video cameras and GPS devices, according to information from its maker, Hyrdoid.
The Remus 600 is similar to the BLUEFIN Robotics UUVs, such as the BLUEFIN 21, that were used to scan the ocean floor in search of the wreckage of the downed Malaysian airliner last year.
The upcoming deployment of the Remus 600 is part of a larger Navy effort to use existing commercial off-the-shelf technology, Tofalo explained.
“We’re using commercial off-the-shelf technologies to do real world missions for the combatant commander. The oil and gas industry uses these things for all kinds of functions. The submarine force will be adapting this. The sensors are similar to the sensors that the oil and gas industry might use. They might be surveying where their oil pipes are, whereas we might want to be looking for a mine field,” Tofalo said.
The Remus 600s will launch from a 11-meter long module on the Virginia-class submarines called the dry deck shelter which can launch divers and UUVs while submerged.
Sonar technology uses acoustic or sound-wave technology to bounce signals off an object and analyze their return to learn the size, shape, distance and dimensions, Tofalo explained.
“It is similar to radar (electromagnetic) except from an acoustic standpoint. Sonar sensors use acoustics to create a picture that a trained operator can use to discern what they are looking at. It has gotten so good that it is almost like looking at a picture,” he added.
Alongside efforts to make preparations for the first deployment of commercially available UUVs from the Virginia-class attack submarines, the Navy is also planning at-sea tests this year of a UUV launching technology which uses the boat’s torpedo tubes. The at-sea test will examine the technological interface between a UUV and the missile tube as a launcher, Tofalo explained.
The Navy has been working on developing an 85-foot long section of the Virginia-class submarines called the Virginia Payload Modules. This would help submarines launch both missiles and UUVs from the submarine.
“For the large diameter UUV itself, what we want to have is an interface that allows it to come out of that Virginia Payload Module tube. To do that we need an arm that can extend itself with a little platform that can extend itself and go to the vertical,” Tofalo said.
At the same time, the Office of Naval Research is preparing to unveil a new autonomous 30-foot UUV prototype called the Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, or LDUUV.
The LDUUV is a prototype which may take a variety of different forms in coming years as the technology evolves, said Bob Freeman, ONR spokesman. The LDUUV is being engineered for greater endurance and energy, he added. It will also be autonomous and able to navigate itself through the undersea domain.
Alongside UUVs, the Navy is also experimenting with launching aerial drones from submarines as well, Tofalo said.
The service is testing the Switchblade, which can launch from a small signal injector tube from the side of the submarine. The Switchblade, built by AeroVironment, is a battery-powered unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry three pounds worth of explosives, Tofalo added.
He added that the Navy is also testing a longer-endurance submarine-launched UAV called XFC, an acronym for experimental fuel cell. XFC, which can be launched from a torpedo tube, can stay in the air for nine to ten hours.
“These are ways that a submarine can extend its horizon. They have been tested and we’re continuing to work on making them more definitive programs of record,” Tofalo said.
Here’s the Remus 600 being deployed from a surface ship:
The Royal Navy has a carrier again. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of a two-ship class (the second will be HMS Prince of Wales), was commissioned today in a ceremony attended by Queen Elizabeth II and a number of other members of the Royal Family.
Her Majesty The Queen takes the salute at the commissioning of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Queen spoke at a ceremony in Portsmouth’s Naval base this morning, attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Prime Minister Theresa May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, military chiefs and former Prime Ministers (Ministry of Defense Photo)
According to a release from the British government, the vessel will conduct helicopter trials early in 2018 before heading off to the United States to carry out trials with the F-35 Lightning. The carrier will be able to perform a number of missions, ranging from high-end warfighting to humanitarian relief.
“The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will sit at the heart of a modernized and emboldened Royal Navy, capable of projecting power and influence at sea, in the air, over the land and in cyberspace, and offering our nation military and political choice in an uncertain world,” Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said during the ceremony.
At 64,600 tons, this carrier is the largest ship to ever serve in the Royal Navy. Previously, that title belonged to the battleship HMS Vanguard, which served from 1946 to 1960. In a June 2017 report, The Sun noted that this ship left the builders’ yard in Fife with just 14 inches to spare on either side.
“Our new aircraft carrier is the epitome of British design and dexterity, at the core of our efforts to build an Armed Forces fit for the future. For the next half a century, both carriers will advance our interests around the globe, providing the most visible symbol of our intent and commitment to protect the UK from intensifying threats, wherever they may come from,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said during the ceremony.
The US and its European allies have been boosting their presence in Eastern Europe in recent months, responding to a period of tense relations with Russia. Now, NATO forces are looking for ways to reestablish military capabilities that have eroded since the end of the Cold War.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other NATO military leaders are set to review changes to the military bloc’s command structure next month, with an eye on enhancing their rapid-deployment abilities and reinforcing their supply lines.
“Fast-evolving security challenges mean new demands on our command,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told Stars and Stripes. “So work is underway to ensure that the NATO command structure remains robust, agile, and fit for purpose.”
A NATO internal report seen by German news outlet Der Spiegel concluded that the bloc’s ability to rapidly deploy throughout Europe has “atrophied since the end of the Cold War.”
According to the report, even the alliance’s designated response force was not up to standard. It found that NATO would be unable to move troops fast enough and lacks sufficient officers and supplies in Europe.
Neither military officials nor the NATO report see hostilities with Russia as imminent, but, after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, NATO members regard an enhanced military presence as a way to deter aggression from Moscow, which has called NATO’s moves provocations.
“The alliance has to move as quick or quicker than Russian Federation forces for our deterrent to be effective,” Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the top US Army commander in Europe, said this month. Recent months have seen close encounters between Russian and NATO aircraft over Eastern Europe and between Russian and NATO ships in the waters around Europe.
The report, citing the need to reorganize supply procedures, recommends setting up two new command centers. One, based in the US and modeled on the Cold War-era Supreme Allied Command, would oversee the shipment of personnel and supplies to Europe. The other, which could end up in Germany or Poland, would oversee logistics operations on the continent, particularly between Central and Eastern Europe.
NATO members in Europe are also working on legislation to bolster infrastructure and to allow military equipment to move across national borders faster. The latter problem has hindered military exercises in Europe in recent months.
While NATO has the ability to suspend civilian laws on transportation and travel in the case of war, preparations for combat would need to be done before hostilities break out. The bloc must also find ways to maintain an eastern flank that now extends beyond its Cold War boundaries, running right up to Russia’s borders in some places.
NATO forces have been gathering information about infrastructure in Eastern Europe, like bridge and rail networks. Many roadways and bridges have weight restrictions that limit which NATO vehicles that can use them, and some railways cannot move heavy equipment.
“We are also looking at making sure air, rail, and sea lift is readily available and in sufficient numbers,” a NATO official told Stars and Stripes. In 2016, US A-10 Thunderbolts practiced landing and taking off on an Estonia highway for the first time since 1984. And US troops in Europe have started making preparations like painting tanks and vehicles with green color schemes — reminiscent of Cold War camouflage.
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, lands on a remote highway strip near Jägala, Estonia, June 20, 2016. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy Lovgren.
The US Marine Corps in particular is looking to boost its capabilities in Europe in response to potential conflict with Russia. The Corps now wants to restore combat functions to the Marine Expeditionary Force — the largest Marine combat unit, which can have up to 25,000 Marines.
“The MEF command element will have to be ready to support a warfighting effort in Europe,” Lt. Gen. Robert Hedelund, commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force, said this week.
The decision follows other increases in the Marine presence in Europe. US Marines have deployed a rotational force to Romania and have conducted back-to-back deployments in Norway, positioning gear and doing exercises near the Russian border. The rotational force’s arrival in Norway was the first time a foreign force had been posted there since World War II.
The US deployed dozens of helicopters and thousands of pieces of military equipment to Germany this spring, and another detachment of US helicopters are headed to Eastern Europe this week.
While these preparations come at the direction of senior military leadership, a shift to Eastern Europe is one that many US troops believe necessary.
A recent Military Times poll of US servicemembers found that, even though many troops don’t think a military fight is likely, 42% think the US military should increase its activities in Eastern Europe to counter Russia. The poll also found that troops rated Russia the fifth biggest threat to US national security — behind cyberterrorism, North Korea, and domestic and foreign terrorism tied to Islam.
Only one-quarter of respondents approved of Trump’s handling of relations with Moscow, but their feelings about Trump’s dealings with NATO were more mixed: 32% said US relations with NATO were good, 35% said poor, and 30% said average.
Military analysts say North Korea doesn’t have either the capability or the intent to attack US bombers and fighter jets, despite the country’s top diplomat saying it has every right do so.
They view the remark by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and a recent propaganda video simulating such an attack as tit-for-tat responses to fiery rhetoric by US President Donald Trump and his hardening stance against the North’s nuclear weapons program.
By highlighting the possibility of a potential military clash on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea may be trying to create a distraction as it works behind the scenes to advance its nuclear weapons development, said Du Hyeogn Cha, a visiting scholar at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Another possibility is that North Korea is trying to win space to save face as it contemplates whether to de-escalate its standoff with Washington, he said Sept. 26.
Speaking to reporters before leaving a UN meeting in New York, Ri said Trump had “declared war” on his country by tweeting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer.” Ri said North Korea has “every right” to take countermeasures, including shooting down US strategic bombers, even when they’re not in North Korean airspace.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!
The US frequently sends advanced warplanes to the Korean Peninsula for patrols or drills during times of animosity. Last weekend, US bombers and fighter escorts flew in international airspace east of North Korea to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea that they have in this century, according to the Pentagon.
Hours after the flights Sept. 24, a North Korean government propaganda website posted a video portraying US warplanes and an aircraft carrier being destroyed by attacks. The video on DPRK Today, which was patched together from photos and crude computer-generated animation, also included footage of North Korean solid-fuel missiles being fired from land mobile launchers and a submarine. The North was clearly trying to claim it has the ability to conduct retaliatory strikes against US attacks, said Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification.
Moon Seong Mook, a former South Korean military official and current senior analyst for the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said it’s highly unlikely North Korea has the real-world capability to match Ri’s words. North Korea’s aging MiG fighters won’t stance a chance against much more powerful US fighters escorting long-range bombers. And while North Korea touted in May that it’s ready to deploy new surface-to-air missiles that analysts say could potentially hit targets as far as 150 kilometers (93 miles) away, it’s questionable how much of a threat the unproven system could pose to US aircraft operating far off the country’s coast, Moon said.
It’s also unclear whether North Korea would be able to even see the advanced US warplanes when they come. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing on Sept. 26 that the North’s inadequate radar systems failed to detect the B-1B bombers as they flew east of North Korea.
The last time North Korea fired on a US aircraft was in 1994 when it shot down a US Army helicopter around the heavily armed inter-Korean border, killing one of the pilots and capturing the other. The surviving pilot said after his release he was pressured by North Korean officials to confess that the helicopter had crossed into North Korea. In 1969, a North Korean fighter jet shot down an unarmed US reconnaissance plane and killed all 31 crewmembers on board.
It’s highly unlikely North Korea would attempt a similar attack now, experts say. Amid tension created by the North’s nuclear weapons tests and threat to detonate a thermonuclear missile over the Pacific Ocean, such an attack would pretty much guarantee retaliation from the United States that could lead to war, Cha said.
“The most obvious reason Ri made those comments was because North Korea simply can’t tolerate such high-profile insults to its supreme leadership,” Cha said. It’s also possible that the North is trying to fan concerns about a potential military clash in the region now so that it can win room to save face later when it tries to de-escalate, he said.
“If Kim Jong Un ever offers a moratorium on his missile tests or makes whatever other compromise, he could say he made a big-picture decision to reduce military tension in the Korean Peninsula,” Cha said. He said Ri’s comments also allow China and Russian to restate their calls for a “dual suspension” of North Korean weapons tests and displays of military capability by the US and South Korea.
The Trump administration’s stance on North Korea has been hardening in recent months as the North has been stepping up the aggressiveness of its nuclear and missile tests. It conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, which it said was a thermonuclear weapon built for intercontinental ballistic missiles. It tested two ICBMs in July, displaying their potential ability to reach deep into the continental United States. North Korea has also fired two powerful midrange missiles over Japan in recent weeks.
Trump in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if provoked, which prompted Kim to pledge to take the “highest-level” action against the United States. Ri then said North Korea might conduct the “most powerful” atmospheric hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean, but added that no one knew what Kim would decide.