In a rare security breach, a man broke into Joint Base Andrews last month and went unnoticed for about five hours until his strange headpiece that appeared to resemble “mouse ears” blew his cover, severalnewsoutlets reported Thursday.
The 36-year-old trespasser from Maryland, whose name has not been disclosed, was unarmed and wore “a bright red or pink cap that partially covered his ears and had distinctive balls on top that looked a little like mouse ears,” according to an Air Force investigation of the February 4 incident reported by The Associated Press.
An employee at the base saw the man on the flight line and was suspicious of the intruder partly because of his cap, and notified security, according to AP. The Air Force report blamed the unusual security failure on “human error.”
The Air Force first reported the security breach last month and released its investigation on Thursday. Military officials handed him over to local law enforcement at the time because he had two outstanding warrants.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said said that a “distracted” security guard had let the unauthorized man drive through an entrance gate and onto the military base located in Maryland, which is home to the presidential aircraft, Air Force One.
Afterward, the intruder slipped past another fence and entered the flight line, walked aboard a parked plane and stayed for a few minutes then left. He was stopped and arrested as he walked back on the flight line toward the security gate, AP reported.
The man went aboard a C-40 aircraft assigned to the 89th Airlift Wing, sometimes referred to as the “President’s Wing,” which is used by senior military and government officials. He never got close to the highly-protected Air Force One, officials said.
The report concluded that the intruder was “simply wandering” and did not harm anyone nor have plans to meet anyone. He told officials that he came to the base “because he wanted to see airplanes,” the report said.
The White House did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
Graduate students from University of New Orleans public history department tour the Louisiana National Guard Museum April 11. A stack of playing cards displaying Iraq War's "most wanted" rests on a shelf in the museum's archive department. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson/Released).
Three trucks pulled out of the Central Bank of Iraq at 4 a.m. local time on March 18, 2003. Their cargo was nearly $1 billion dollars, a full quarter of the country’s currency reserves. The loot was taken by a team led by Qusay Hussein, the son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
It’s safe to say that Qusay didn’t quite get away with the heist. The heir-apparent to the Ba’athist regime would meet his end a few months later in an ill-advised shootout with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division and a team of Special Forces operators. Still, a huge chunk of the money was never recovered.
If March 18, 2003, sounds like a familiar date to many post-9/11 veterans, that’s because it is. The air war that signaled the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was set to begin the next day. Anticipating the American move, The dictator (correctly) predicted that once the air war began, it might be difficult for him to move about the country and get things done, so he sent his son to get a useful supply of liquid assets.
Qusay Hussein arrived at the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad with a handwritten note from his father, ordering that $1 billion in U.S. greenbacks be withdrawn and released from the country’s coffers. Three trucks and a number of Iraqi regime officials, including Qusay, supervised the transfer of funds.
Despite the large sum of money, the forced withdrawal may not have actually been illegal, according to some legal experts. Saddam Hussein was an absolute dictator with personal, direct control over every aspect of the country’s governance, including the central bank and other economic institutions. The $1 billion might even have been Saddam Hussein’s own personal funds, collected over the course of more than two decades of ruling Iraq.
At first, American intelligence officials believed that Hussein may have been trying to transport the spoils of his time in power over the border to escape the American invasion. A team of U.S. Army Special Forces near Iraq’s border with Syria reported seeing trucks matching the description crossing over the border to escape.
Others believed that Hussein would use the money to foment resistance inside of Iraq as the American troops advanced throughout the country. Many Iraqis agreed with that assessment. The money may have also been used to fund the flight of those closest to the Iraqi dictator, including his family and personal friends.
In the days and weeks that followed, Coalition forces managed to find an estimated $650 million of the money taken from the central bank. They found the caches of funds through searches and various patrols around the country that led them to the money, stashed away in one of the palaces used by Uday, Saddam Hussein’s other son.
When Qusay was finally tracked down to a house in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, he tried to resist numerous raids on the house from American forces. He and his brother Uday were turned in by one of the other guests of the house who wanted the $30 million reward. American troops began firing TOW anti-tank missiles, 12 in all, into the house, killing everyone inside.
When they were finally able to search the premises, there was no sign of the remaining $350 million from the Iraqi Central Bank. No one has seen or heard of the money since.
Feature image: A stack of playing cards displaying Iraq War’s “most wanted” rests on a shelf in the Louisiana National Guard Museum’s archive department. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson/Released)
New satellite photography from the South China Sea confirms a nightmare for the U.S. and champions of free navigation everywhere — Beijing has reinforced surface-to-air missiles sites in the Spratly Islands.
For years now, China has been building artificial islands in the South China Sea and militarizing them with radar outposts and missiles.
Related: China says it will fine U.S. ships that don’t comply with its new rules in South China Sea
China has not yet deployed the actual launchers, but Satellite imagery shows the new surface-to-air missile sites are buildings with retractable roofs, meaning Beijing can hide launchers, and that they’ll be protected from small arms fire.
“This will provide them with more capability to defend the island itself and the installations on them,” said Glaser.
Nations in the region have taken notice. Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay told reporters that foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) unanimously expressed concern over China’s land grab in a resource-rich shipping lane that sees $5 trillion in commerce annually.
The move is “very unsettlingly, that China has installed weapons systems in these facilities that they have established, and they have expressed strong concern about this,” Yasay said, according to the South China Morning Post.
But Chinese media and officials disputed the consensus at ASEAN that their militarization had raised alarm, and according to Glaser, without a clear policy position from the Trump administration, nobody will stand up to China.
“Most countries do not want to be confrontational towards China … they don’t want an adversarial relationship,” said Glaser, citing the economic benefits countries like Laos and Cambodia get from cooperating with Beijing, the world’s third largest economy and a growing regional power.
Instead, U.S. allies in the Pacific are taking a “wait and see” approach to dealing with the South China Sea as Beijing continues to cement its dominance in the region and establish “facts in the water” that even the U.S.’s most advanced ships and planes would struggle to overcome.
According to Glaser, China has everything it needs to declare an air defense and identification zone — essentially dictate who gets to fly and sail in the South China Sea — except for the Scarborough Shoal.
“I think from a military perspective, now because they have radars in the Paracels and the Spartlys,” China has radar coverage “so they can see what’s going on in the South China Sea with the exception of the northeastern quarter,” said Glaser. “The reason many have posited that the Chinese would dredge” the Scarborough Shoal “is because they need radar coverage there.”
The Scarborough Shoal remains untouched by Chinese dredging vessels, but developing it would put them a mere 160 miles from a major U.S. Navy base at the Subic Bay in the Phillippines.
Installing similar air defenses there, or even radar sites, could effectively lock out the U.S. or anyone else pursuing free navigation in open seas and skies.
While U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of being tougher on China, a lack of clear policy has allowed Beijing to continue on its path of militarizing the region where six nations claim territory.
“For the most part, we are improving our relationships. All but one,” Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, said at a military conference on Tuesday.
“We found out that the M4 actually outshoots the A4 at all ranges out to 600 meters with the new ammunition,” Chris Woodburn, the deputy Maneuver Branch head for the Fires and Maneuver Integration Division of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told Marine Corps Times.
Because the M4 has already been deployed in units across the Marine Corps, the switch is expected to take place with very little cost to taxpayers. Units will report their number of rifles to Marine Corps Logistics Command which should be able to shuffle weapons between units.
The Marines believe they can equip the entire force with the weapon without buying any new units.
The Badger is officially the smallest passenger tank on Earth, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s a one-man, all-terrain vehicle designed to breach buildings and other fortified positions. It’s powerful enough to break down doors yet small enough to fit in a lift.
Make no mistake, this tank is not a novelty. Howe Howe Technologies, the makers of this little beast, have experience making vehicles for the military. Howe Howe specializes in the fabrication and design of armored and military-grade vehicles. The Badger, however, is currently being used by SWAT teams.
In the 1950s, Lockheed Martin designed the C-130 with transport in mind, by the end of the 1960s, Boeing converted the lumbering giant into one of the deadliest aircraft in the world. Its endurance and capacity to carry munitions made it the perfect AC-47 Spooky gunship replacement.
Like the AC-47, the new, AC-130 was capable of flying faster and higher than helicopters, and its excellent loiter time allowed it to deliver concentrated fire to a single target on the ground. The gunship first saw action during the Vietnam War and has continued to receive updates. The newest version of the gunship, the AC-130U Spectre, uses the latest sensor technologies and fire control systems to improve range and accuracy.
This video perfectly shows why Boeing received an $11.4 million indefinite contract by the U.S. Air Force. Watch it now:
Everyone in the military knows there’s an officer who follows the President of the United States around with a special briefcase known as the “football.” Since John F. Kennedy was in office, the Presidential Aide accompanied the office holder with this briefcase containing everything needed to launch a nuclear strike.
Now, Congress may be looking to tie the president’s hands in the use of nuclear weapons. At least, it’s looking at tying his ability to launch a first strike.
Democrats from the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced legislation that will formally enact a “No First Use” policy in regard to nuclear weapons. The U.S. military is, predictably, not thrilled about the idea. The law is intended to avert an accidental nuclear war in case the great power rivalry with China or Russia starts to heat up.
“This bill would strengthen deterrence while reducing the chance of nuclear use due to miscalculation or misunderstanding,” Rep. Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “Codifying that deterring nuclear use is the sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal strengthens U.S. national security and would renew U.S. leadership on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.”
Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee almost immediately began asking American military leadership what they thought of the bill. They did not warm to the idea.
“I currently support the U.S. position on not adhering to the nuclear no first use policy,” said Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command in a Congressional hearing in April 2021.
He also added that European allies would have mixed feelings about such a policy if they understood the extent of American nuclear strike capabilities and procedures.
Arms control policy advocates have long wanted such a policy put in place. Derek Johnson, Chief of the anti-nuclear arms group Global Zero released his own statement on the legislation.
“The major risk of nuclear use today comes from the danger that a small or accidental clash or conflict will escalate quickly through confusion or fear and cross the nuclear threshold,” Derek Johnson’s statement read. “America’s decades-long policy of threatening its own possible first use of nuclear weapons only adds to this danger.”
As of July 2020, the United States nuclear stockpile numbered around 5,800 nuclear warheads, with 3,800 in active service and another 2,000 retired and waiting to be disarmed. Under the terms of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the U.S. is allowed to have a total of 1,550 nuclear warheads, but only 700 can be deployed at any given time.
A “No First Use” policy could help the U.S. save money. According to the Brookings Institution, the United States spent more than $5.5 trillion on its nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1996. Through 2028, the U.S. military is scheduled to spend another $494 billion on the weapons it has left, and another $1.2 trillion on renovating that arsenal over the next 30 years.
During his campaign, President Biden said he supported a “No First Use” policy act from Congress but the bill has a long, hard road ahead of it if it is ever going to make it to the president’s desk.
With wearable technology, such as Google Glass or Recon Jet, shooters can stand behind a corner and still aim at a target. Not only does the sight stream from the rifle to wearable device, it also streams to mobile phones, tablets, and computers to anyone in the world over the Internet. This makes it easier to share your kills to Facebook rather than tasking your spotter to record video. Just sayin’.
Of course, while TrackingPoint makes real-life shooting seem easier than video game sniping, one should never take skills for granted. After all, it is technology, and technology breaks.
Here’s TrackingPoint’s streaming technology in action:
While most drones require an operator to control them, the ones in DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program fly themselves. Although not perfect in its current phase, the program’s first flight test exceeded expectations.
“We’re excited that we were able to validate the airspeed goal during this first-flight data collection,” said Mark Micire, DARPA program manager. “The fact that some teams also demonstrated basic autonomous flight ahead of schedule was an added bonus. The challenge for the teams now is to advance the algorithms and onboard computational efficiency to extend the UAV’s perception range and compensate for the vehicle’s’ mass to make extremely tight turns and abrupt maneuvers at high speeds.”
Advancing algorithms and extending perception range. That’s what we thought.
Now watch this video of DARPA’s first test flight:
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.”
The Nazis had plans to blow up the Hoover Dam during World War II, in an effort to cripple aircraft manufacturing in Los Angeles.
Born out of the Great Depression and completed in 1935, the dam was the largest ever built and stood as a symbol of America’s ability to overcome adversity. It fueled Southern California’s incredible growth – its large cities, its industrial base, its massive agricultural industry, and the nation’s biggest defense plants, according to the National Archives.
This video from American Heroes Channel gives an idea of what happened:
Fortunately, the government was tipped off to the plot and upped security in the area. But it kept fears of the plot secret for more than 60 years, until a historian unearthed documents while doing research at the National Archives, according to Mental Floss.