There has been a lot of press around the Iran deal and whether it’ll actually prevent Iran from manufacturing a nuclear weapon. But what other countries — besides the U.S. and Russia — have nukes?
There are two categories in which these countries fall in, those who have signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – also known as Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT – and those who have not. The goal of the treaty is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, disarm existing ones and promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
This TestTube News video identifies the nations that have nuclear weapons – whether they admit it or not – and those who have signed the NPT:
Apparently, America’s future engineers need to learn focusing skills, because they stepped away from their studies to answer forum questions about walrus ballistics. One engineer calculated an approximate speed for a walrus to stop the M1 while another figured out how fast it would need to fly to kill a T-72, in a thread on the website 4chan.
The calculated speeds are essentially the same: 292 meters per second for the M1 and 291 meters per second for the T-72, respectively. To get the walrus to strike the target at those velocities, it would need to be fired at supersonic speeds.
Check out their math below. Engineering students, feel free to fill our Facebook with your own calculations for anti-tank walruses, anti-aircraft bullfrogs, and anti-submarine lemurs.
Current servicemembers and veterans are some of the most remarkable individuals representing the best of our country.
The beauty of the people who serve in the military is that they hail from all across the nation, have diverse backgrounds and interesting stories about their time in service. Many of these individuals are not just warriors, but they are also storytellers.
For many military members, writing is a powerful tool. This generation’s men and women in uniform have a lot to share and writing about their service gives them the ability to discuss many subjects, display their knowledge and express ideas on current military affairs and strategies that can spark a dialogue.
Writing allows a space for people to illustrate unique perspectives and opinions on topics such as leadership, military books and history, movies and of course personal “war stories.”
Whether you are a young service member who just enlisted or a retired veteran, here are seven websites or blogs that you should definitely bookmark and follow on social media.
1. Angry Staff Officer
Writing under the persona “Angry Staff Officer,” the site’s author focuses on several topics in his blog. From historical events and foreign policy to personal experiences and an examination of current Army doctrine, Angry Staff Officer’s writing is both fun and snarky — but ultimately insightful. Along with running his own site, Angry Staff Officer serves as a contributor to several other outlets, sharing his unique view on several themes. Visit his site and you’ll get a good look at what he’s all about, but his sense of humor really shines on Twitter, so make sure to follow him @pptsapper.
2. Bourbon and Battles
If you are looking for a site that offers lessons on life, current military affairs, history and of course reviews on great bourbon, then Bourbon and Battles is for you. Hosted by U.S. Army officer Johnathon Parker, Bourbon and Battles offers readers firsthand advice on writing, his life as a graduate student, military leadership, and offers new writers a platform to have their work featured. This site is perfect for new military writers to build their prosaic chops. You can also follow Bourbon Battles on Twitter @BourbonBattles and on Facebook.
3. From the Green Notebook
The ubiquitous military green notebook has become the stuff of legend. For Army Maj. Joe Byerly, it is also a source of inspiration for his personal blog called From the Green Notebook. The site serves as a means for the combat arms officer to share his perspective about his time in service and as a way to help develop young military leaders in the digital age. The author dives into a variety of topics such as history, military leadership, and professional development that gives military personnel sound advice on how to to make it in the service. You can also follow him on Twitter @jbyerly81.
4. The Military Leader
Hosted by an Army Infantry officer, The Military Leader is a website that offers resources for both military and civilians to guide their development as leaders and help grow their organizations. From simple articles about helpful tips to help start conversations with subordinates to complex topics such as toxic leadership, the page offers great insight for people of all levels. Be sure to also follow the Military Leader on Twitter @mil_LEADER and on Facebook.
5. Military Writers Guild
A collective of writers lend their years of experience and expertise as a means to share ideas and start a dialogue. The purpose of the Military Writers Guild is to “advocate, collaborate and promote” the current crop of military thinkers. The site features writing and podcasts from brilliant military minds. The individuals who are a part of the Military Writers Guild are so smart, in high school they probably sat at the nerd table in the cafeteria. All kidding aside, this is a fantastic group of people writing about the national security space. You can also follow them on Twitter @MilWritersGuild.
6. War on the Rocks
War on the Rocks is medium for in-depth analysis, commentary, and content on geo-politics and national security. The page features articles and podcasts from a number of collaborators with years of expertise in warfare. If you want to put your thinking cap on and see where U.S. military strategy and organization should go in the next 10 or 20 years, sit back and get smarter.
7. Your Stories, Your Wall
Serving as the official blog if the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, this site features personal stories of those who served in the Vietnam conflict. The blog has great aspects of storytelling and compelling imagery that really conveys the hardships of the men and women who served as well as the family members who were affected by the death of a loved one in that war. Many of these stories on the blog are also centered on the Vietnam memorial itself. This site reminds all of us about the sacrifices of our Vietnam era servicememebrs. Check it out here: https://vvmf.wordpress.com/
A change in leadership often brings a fresh perspective and set of priorities, and several veterans service organizations are optimistic that a new VA secretary will mean an opportunity to push agendas that best serve veterans.
Shortly after the Senate voted to confirm Denis McDonough as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, we reached out to several VSOs to gather opinions on what should top his list of goals.
“We are looking forward to working with him,” said Mario Marquez, national legislative director for the American Legion. “Our number one priority is taking care of veterans and their families.”
Marquez said that in the short term, that looks like addressing issues brought on by COVID-19, including reducing the significant CMP (comprehensive medical panel) backlog that is preventing veterans from being able to adjudicate health claims as well as eliminating financial boundaries that stop the elderly, particularly World War II vets, from receiving care.
He noted that mental health is a “perennial issue,” but particularly crucial in this time of increased isolation.
“We have these veterans who go from being in a highly-connected social environment, and they go back into a society where people are much more individualistic, where the idea of being part of a community is more than about just being co-located geographically.”
Marquez said the Legion works on connecting secluded vets through its Buddy Checks program, and he would like the VA, under McDonough’s tutelage, to join the organization in implementing a Buddy Check week that encourages peer support and engagement through vets reaching out and checking in with one another.
AMVETS’ National Communications Manager Miles Migliara agrees mental health should be at the forefront of McDonough’s plans for reform — the number one priority, in fact.
“It’s no longer sufficient for the Department of Veterans Affairs to congratulate themselves on 1-2% gains when 6,000-plus veterans lose their lives every year,” he said. “We need a paradigm shift with regards to mental health and suicide. We can continue with the status quo, or we can create meaningful change.”
He suggested that the VA becomes more receptive to alternative mental healthcare treatments and programs, such as acupuncture, equestrian therapy, and more.
“The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) executive order, signed into law in 2019, allows for funding and resources to be provided to certain non-traditional methods programs in an effort to curb veteran suicide,” Migliara said. “It is crucial that the VA provides whatever support possible to see that these programs succeed.”
Another pertinent piece of legislation, he said, is the MISSION Act, also signed into law in 2019, that allows rural vets to more easily receive healthcare close to home. Also on the AMVETS wish list? Formulating and executing a better plan of action and culture of tackling and preventing sexual assault on VA campuses and creating a more welcoming environment for women and minority veterans.
Marquez echoed the same sentiments, especially since women are the fastest-growing veteran demographic, he said.
“They are more engaged at the VA as a result of their service,” he said. “And they are not traditionally set up to address the needs of women veterans. The VA needs to make adjustments to make sure they receive the gender-specific care they need.”
Hannah Sinoway, executive vice present, organization, strategy, and engagement, of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said they are focused on oversight of the implementation of both the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act and the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. Both of these bills would decrease gaps in care for women veterans, as well as make much-needed updates to mental health care and outreach to veterans that are not connected to VA services, she noted.
She said IAVA believes that McDonough brings senior leadership, policy, and Congressional expertise to the VA, as well as a beneficial and strong personal connection to the President.
“Running VA is a massive job that few are fully prepared for on day one,” she said. “He has an incredibly steep learning curve in front of him. But he also has the ear and respect of President Biden as well as the ability to bring about policy reforms and attention by the White House and senior leaders that are needed for the improvement of VA. In his first few weeks, IAVA has been encouraged by his outreach and communication to the VSO community and we look forward to continuing our work with him.”
On Jul. 19, 2017, the Air Force posted a request on FedBizOpps, the U.S. government’s contracting opportunities site, looking for price quotes on how much it would cost to acquire 12 each fresh frozen normal human Synovial tissue and Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) samples. So why do they want Russian DNA?
The samples must be free of sexually transmitted diseases and musculoskeletal injuries. The most interesting part was the requirement that all the samples be from Russia and be Caucasian – Ukrainian blood, RNA, and tissue samples will not be accepted. This recently raised a few eyebrows in Russia.
No weapon like this has ever proved to actually exist. So what could the Air Force actually want?
1. They want to solve the Anastasia Romanov mystery.
You know what I mean. If you’re anywhere near the age of 30, chances are good you’ve heard the story of the last Tsar of Russia’s “missing” daughter, Anastasia.
It’s a well-known fact that the Tsar’s Russian Imperial family was murdered by Communists, gunned down, bayoneted, and clubbed in a basement somewhere near Yekaterinburg. Somehow, the story goes, the 17-year-old Duchess survived, escaped, and fled to America. In the intervening years, many women have come forward, claiming to be the lost Anastasia Romanov.
It might be time for the Air Force to settle the mystery once and for all. And maybe find a real claim to the throne. Who loves America.
2. Better digestion.
Have you eaten an MRE lately? Are you still waiting for it to digest? I ate a chicken tetrazzini MRE in 2006 and I’m still upset about it. But do you know who seems like they can digest anything? Russians. Especially Russian soldiers. Look at what they get served in their DFACs.
Yet, the Russian Army still runs on its galvanized steel stomach. Maybe in basic training they’ll stop putting salt peter in the gatorade and switch to hearty Russian gut bacteria.
If you’ve ever spent a day in the U.S. military, you probably know what makes the grass grow. Maybe Russian blood can help the cabbage grow, too.
4. Whatever is happening here.
Seriously, who is this woman from the meme? Is she really Russian? And what purpose will tossing tree trunks serve? Are we planning to invade Scotland and fight on their terms?
5. Seriously, a biological weapon.
It would help immensely to be able to expel ethnic Russians from Ukraine without killing Ukrainians. Or anyone else for that matter. Imagine a war where only the enemy dies.
Except the Russian Army is as genetically diverse as the American Army. Many countries in the former Soviet Union are still very friendly to Russia and fiercely pro-Russian. Non-Russians have joined its military since the days of the Soviet Union.
6. No, really. Trauma research.
Human synovial tissue is an incredibly specific request, judging by my time researching medical things and then asking my pathologist ex-girlfriend what those big words mean.
But the Air Force says, “the supplier originally provided samples from Russia, suitable for the initial group of diseases, the control group of the samples should also be of Russian origin. The goal is the integrity of the study, not the origin (of the samples).”
Popular comedic actor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rob Riggle volunteered his time to star in a new public service announcement to help showcase the strengths of military veterans.
The PSA titled “What to Wear” is the third in a series created by Easter Seals Dixon Center, a non-profit changing the conversation about veterans and military families to highlight their potential and create life-changing opportunities.
The majority of the PSA’s production team were made up of veterans, including actor and Air Force veteran Brice Williams, who co-stars with Riggle, and director Jim Fabio, who currently serves as an Air Force Combat Camera Officer (all three are pictured above). Fabio was selected out of more than 50 directors — all military veterans — and was mentored by Hollywood producer-writer Judd Apatow during the process.
The submarine was spotted at the Sinpo South Shipyard in North Korea, which has seen significant infrastructural improvement recently.
Officials at the U.S. Korea Institute at SAIS speculate that a “shorter naval version of the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, a Nodong medium-range ballistic missile, or naval versions of the solid-fuelled KN-02 short-range ballistic missile” could be the missile used aboard the submarine.
Of course, a ballistic missile submarine would pose a new risk to South Korea. However, the analysts at Johns Hopkins pointed out that the imagery doesn’t mean the North Koreans are necessarily close to completing the project.
Much like North Koreas ICBM program, experts believe this sort of technology is still lacking north of the 38th parallel.
Dr. Vince Houghton is a U.S. Army veteran and Historian and Curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. He grew up watching and loving the original Star Wars Trilogy. While in the Army, he served in a sort of intelligence role and after leaving the military, he earned a Ph.D. in Intelligence History with a background in diplomatic military history.
Every year on May 4th, he gives a lecture at the museum, making the argument for Star Wars being a series of spy films.
“People always debate about it,” Houghton says. “Is this fantasy, is this sci-fi, is it a western in space? For whatever reason, I’ve always seen it as a spy movie.”
Houghton argues that the backbone of the original trilogy is a spy operation — a story made into the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That story is the catalyst for Star Wars IV: A New Hope, which he sees as a classic spy movie.
“You could replace the death star with V2 or V1 or a German atomic bomb or the Iranian atomic bomb or any kind of scientific and technological intelligence and it becomes a spy movie,” he says. “Strip away all the science fiction and it’s a woman with stolen plans for a weapon trying to get them to a group of guerrillas fighting against this totalitarian empire — it could be the World War II resistance.”
But Houghton takes his argument further.
“With Empire Strikes Back, the whole thing is kicked off by the Empire attempting to use imagery intelligence, their drones, their probes, to locate the secret base of the rebels,” he says. “It’s still an intelligence operation, just a different kind.”
Houghton claims Return of the Jedi is a story based on intelligence gathering and counterintelligence.
“That’s also the catalyst behind Return of the Jedi,” Houghton says. “It’s stealing the plans for the second death star. It turns out, that’s actually a big deception operation — another key issue when it comes to intelligence.”
The Spy Museum Curator is talking about Emperor Palpatine allowing the Rebel Alliance to know the location of the second Death Star. Rebel Bothan spies capture the location and plans for the space station, but it’s a ruse for the Emperor to defeat the Rebel fleet on his chosen battlespace; it was a trap, a classic deception operation designed to hide the true strength of his forces.
“You could go all the way back to Mongolians in this case,” says Houghton. “Genghis Khan did everything from tying brooms to his horses’ tails so it would kick up a lot of dust and make sure it looked like there were thousands of soldiers instead of hundreds.”
In the case of Return of the Jedi, the Emperor’s plan just didn’t work because, you know, it’s Star Wars.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters Dec. 16th. You can catch more of Dr. Vince Houghton on the International Spy Museum’s weekly podcast, Spycast, on iTunes and AudioBoom.
Sometimes a military jet providing the overhead “sound of freedom” brings with it a very strong gust of wind.
A video posted to YouTube recently shows the Navy Blue Angels practicing near a Pensacola, Florida beach, with Angel no. 5 getting so close to the shore that tents, toys, and umbrellas go flying in the air with it. No one was hurt at the time, which was on July 11, according to Fox News.
Most of the beachgoers laugh and cheer after the stunt.
The SR-71 is one of the greatest planes ever made and no military jet has beaten or matched its capabilities since it was retired in 1989.
“It’s the world’s fastest, it holds all the speed records, it goes higher than any other airplane in the world,” said retired Air Force Col. Rich Graham in the video below. “It flew across the entire United States in 64 minutes.”
That being said, flying this bird took more than the typical pilot gear and pre-flight preparations. Traveling at 80,000 feet meant that crews could not use a standard mask and flight suit. They wore specialized protective suits and helmets. Every flight was subject to a series of meticulous steps before, during, and after any mission.
Col. Rich Graham is one of the few people who flew the SR-71, and he explains what a typical mission aboard the Blackbird was like in this video.
In 1987, Jonathan Pollard became the first American convicted of espionage against the United States for a U.S. ally. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
His sentence was lighter than most other convicted spies because of a plea agreement he took to get leniency for him and his wife. Convicted in 1987, he was released in 2015 and was sent to Israel, where he now lives. Once in Israel, he received a hero’s welcome for his spying.
On Mar. 22, 2021, an Israeli newspaper, the Israel Hayom, published an interview with Pollard where he says the United States was intentionally keeping Israel in the dark in many areas.
“I know I crossed a line, but I had no choice,” he told the newspaper, adding that the threats to Israel were “serious.” He also describes himself as a “soldier” for Israel.
Pollard was working as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy. He was arrested in 1985 after trying to get asylum in the Israeli embassy in Washington. The Israelis told him he had to go through the embassy’s front door – where the FBI was waiting for him.
He initially told authorities he was passing secrets to the U.S. ally in the Middle East because he was adamant Israel was not getting a total intelligence picture, and that the United States was “stabbing Israel in the back” with an intelligence embargo.
But the facts say something entirely different. Pollard wasn’t just passing along gathered intelligence to the Israelis, he was passing on intelligence about the U.S. military. The Defense Department has never released the full extent of what he sold to Israel, because even the list of his sold secrets is so damaging that it’s also classified Top Secret.
Pollard, now 66 years old, blames his Israeli handlers for his capture, claiming they never trained him to be a spy and brushed off his concerns about getting caught. When Pollard was finally captured and tried, the prosecution used security camera footage of Pollard stealing classified documents to win his conviction.
Ron Olive, the FBI agent who apprehended Pollard, said the Israeli spy was on a “spree” of classified document theft from “every intelligence agency in D.C.” Olive believed Pollard should never have been allowed to leave the U.S. and his fear that Pollard would be hailed as a hero came true.
“The problem with the Israelis,” Olive told the U.S. Naval Institute, “They denied knowing anything about Pollard. They literally lied to two or three presidents that they knew nothing about Pollard.”
Then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said Pollard gave Israel information that could cause grave damage to U.S. national security. The most damaging information he sold was the Navy’s 10-volume Radio and Signal Intelligence [RASIN] manual, which was “in effect, a complete roadmap to American signal intelligence.”
At his defense trial and even to this day, Pollard claimed it was altruistic support for the Jewish state and an American ally that caused him to pass on U.S. intelligence secrets. But for all his altruistic claims, he was still paid $25,000, along with a near $6,000 monthly stipend, along with other gifts of jewelry, hotel stays, and other luxuries.
The government claimed he also attempted to sell U.S. Navy secrets to South Africa, Argentina, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Iran. They estimate Pollard stole more than a million classified documents to Israel, calling him the “most damaging spy in U.S. history.”
Pollard was paroled in 2015 and spent five years on probation before being allowed to leave the United States for Israel.
The world of espionage requires two equally important things: access to information and a means of getting that information back to the other side. Modified DNA might make that a little easier.
Throughout history, spies have concocted many different means of secret communication. In the earliest days of modern spycraft, ink and paper had to be concealed from prying eyes. Spies wrote with anything that could be used as a kind of invisible ink, everything from lemon juice to semen. Hey, sometimes spycraft is just stressful.
As technology advances, using biology to enhance the ability to send covert messages is only increasing, but in a very different way.
Transmitting secret messages via radio or morse code carries risks. Israeli spy Eli Cohen ascended to a high rank in the Syrian Defense Ministry over four years by befriending important people in the Syrian government. The entire time he was transmitting information back to the Mossad through radio. He was caught red-handed during a transmission.
Being able to deliver information will always be the most secure means of communication. Over time, complex cyphers, micro-dots that can hold thousands of documents on a mark the size of a period, and dead drops of actual documents were solid means of getting that information back to handlers. Spy agencies developed incredible technology to obtain information.
A new biological means is taking that technology a step further, using specially-modified strands of DNA to imprint messages on a molecular level.
Though the process is complex for the layman (at the moment, don’t sleep on the CIA’s technological engineers) anyone looking to send a secret message can create a strand of DNA with the coded message. Only the receiver will be able to decode it, and possibly even know it’s there.
Like the microdot, the hidden DNA message can be pasted on a dot in a standard letter and simply mail it to whomever is intended to receive it.
According to the New York Times, the procedure was developed by a civilian, Dr. Carter Bancroft, professor of physiology and biophysics at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
The idea is to arrange the four nucleotides that comprise DNA into a simple encryption cypher using the letters that denote the nucleotides: A,C, G, and T, then marking them with “primer” DNA. It would be mixed with human DNA and sent off. The receiver would have the key to the cypher.
DNA manipulation can be a useful way to send messages because of the complexity of human DNA. It can be “chopped up” into 30 million different strands.
The Mount Sinai researchers then hid the DNA onto a microdot in a regular letter and mailed it through the U.S. Postal Service.
Once received, a spy agency would then use techniques common in DNA laboratories to replicate the strand containing the hidden message, so long as they know the “primer” sequence. If an intercepting agency suspects a DNA microdot but doesn’t know that sequence will have 30 million possibilities to sift through.
Until the Alan Turing of DNA cyphers is born, that is. To get the general idea of how it works, watch the video below.
Russia hasn’t been playing very nice in the air over the past few months.
Over a period of just two days in October, NATO intercepted a “large number” of Russian jets or bombers moving toward European airspace, according to The Washington Post. All together, NATO has conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft in 2014 — nearly three times the number from last year.
In a new video released out of Norway, we see how provocative one such incident can be, as a Russian fighter gets dangerously close to a very surprised pilot in an F-16.
“The Russian pilot’s behavior was not quite normal,” said Norwegian armed forces spokesman Brynjar Stordal about the 26-second film clip released on Sunday, according to The Daily Mail. In the video, which shows the heads up display of the F-16, a Russian MiG-31 gets so close the Norwegian pilot quickly turns left to get out of the way.
“What the hell?” the pilot says.
David Cenciotti writes at The Aviationist:
As said, the footage does not show the close call: all we can see is the F-16 roll to the left while approaching the Mig-31 (that appears to be flying more or less straight when it enters the HUD field of view). Nevertheless, Norwegian authorities said the video proves how dangerous and aggressive Russian pilots are during such close encounters that have become quite frequent in the Nordic region of Europe.