The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) is neck deep in the battle against COVID-19 by developing their own vaccine. In typical American military fashion, these soldiers hope to create the best and most effective weapon against the virus.
As of April 7, 2021, almost 20% of the United States has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Despite there being three available options for vaccines circulating throughout the country and availability of vaccines opening up to the public at large, the Army is looking ahead. It’s something they’ve been doing for a long time.
For over 100 years the Army has been studying viruses and working on vaccinations. Their roots go all the way back to 1893 as the scientists within WRAIR continually dedicated themselves to soldier readiness and preventing death. “When we send soldiers around the world, they not only face the threat of the enemy, they face the threat of diseases that we don’t have here in the United States,” Col. Deydre Teyhen, commander of WRAIR, said in an interview with ABC News. “And so our job at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is to create ways to prevent that and protect them.”
The Army’s far-reaching contributions to the scientific community have been revolutionary throughout history and they hope to do it again against COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, they’ve been quietly working on a vaccination against the virus wreaking havoc on the world. Their animal trials have progressed to humans and hopes are high. Retired Army Col. Francis Holinaty stepped forward and volunteered to be the first human test subject.
“Amazingly, in that growing landscape of vaccines, our approach is unique,” Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, the director for emerging infectious diseases at WRAIR said in an interview with ABC News. “It presents that part of the virus, the spike protein that’s the hook that gets attached to your lung cells, a lot of vaccines just present one of those to the immune system. Our approach presents them multiple times.”
From there, the antibodies should provoke a response to the protein spike it’s presented with. The vaccine being developed by WRAIR also skips some of the steps seen in the other vaccines by bringing the protein spike and immune boosting components together for the recipient. The results in animals have shown it to be very promising according to Modjarrad in his interview, even against the highly contagious variants currently causing a new wave of infections.
Another factor that makes it stand out is its durability, if it’s successful in humans. The current model of their vaccine doesn’t require freezing and could make its way safely on an Amazon truck without fear of the vaccine being ruined.
The uniqueness of their approach is that it aims to target not just the COVID-19 virus and the variants, but all Coronaviruses. As a team, WRAIR recognizes that the world needs to think ahead to the next Coronavirus, because science has shown that there will be more. By doing the work they’re doing, these soldiers are ensuring the United States will be ready and able to respond.
Although “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart pulls no punches when talking foreign policy, specifically that which pertains to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s a strong supporter of the people serving in the military. When American Corporate Partners approached him about mentoring a veteran, he responded by creating the Veteran Immersion Program and taking on 24 veterans instead of one, according to ACP.
The program is a five-week boot camp for veterans looking to break into the entertainment industry. Participants learn first hand about the technical and creative opportunities that exist by working at The Daily Show. The program ends with a career fair with over twenty influential production organizations.
Even though Jon Stewart is ending his run with “The Daily Show,” rumor has it that he’s just getting started with helping veterans.
In the meantime, this video hosted by our very own August Dannehl and Veteran Immersion Program alumni shows the impact the program has had on those who’ve attended.
In 2013, the China News Service, the second largest state-run media outlet in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), published a piece in its Chinese language service with all the promise of a less-than-peaceful rise. China News has a very pro-PRC slant, and this particular piece was no different. Called “Six wars China is sure to fight in the next 50 years,” the article alluded to the PRC’s pride, shredded after centuries of defeat and embarrassment.
China’s growth as a global economy boomed under the leadership of Chinese Communist Party leader and President Hu Jintao. Hu stepped down in 2012 and his successor, Xi Jinping, has ideas of a “Chinese Dream,” a desire to revitalize the nation and to return China to national glory, perhaps by any means necessary. The article itself could be either bluster or a shared collective feeling, a Chinese “Manifest Destiny.” Either way, the Chinese are already anticipating the needs of – and obstacles to – their rise.
1. The Unification of Mainland China and Taiwan
The mainland Chinese do not seem to believe a peaceful unification with the Republic of China (Taiwan) is possible. Taiwanese politicians use the threat of China or the promise of unification as election year stunts but make no real progress on the issue. The PRC sees the existence of Taiwan as a weakness, given that other countries can use their relations with Taipei as leverage in negotiations. The author of the China News piece proposes giving the Taiwanese a referendum by 2020, to vote on peaceful unification or unification by force. They expect the answer will be war.
The Chinese expect to win, of course. It’s just a matter of time, and that all depends on how much the U.S. and Japan intervene to save Taiwan. The Chinese expect a mainland invasion from the U.S. and will respond with “total war,” and believe they can beat Taiwan and its allies in six months. If the United States doesn’t intervene, the PRC predicts a three-month victory.
2. The forced acquisition of the Spratly Islands
The Chinese think the forced unification of Taiwan will show the other countries of the region the PRC’s resolve in its territorial demands. After a two-year rest from the Taiwan War, the Chinese believe Vietnam and the Philippines will be waiting at the negotiating table to see what the Chinese do, rather than be aggressive or offensive. China will give these countries with territorial claims the option of preserving shares of investments already made in the Spratlys. If not, the Chinese military will take these holdings by force.
China also believes its victory in the Taiwan War will have taught the U.S. “a lesson not to confront too openly with China,” but knows the U.S. will aid the Philippines and Vietnam under the table, with arms, training, and money. Only the Philippines and Vietnam “dare to challenge China’s domination.” China will attack Vietnam first (because that worked out so well the first time), in hopes of intimidating other Pacific nations. The PRC’s win there will make sure other countries return their claims on the islands and ally themselves with China. This victory also gives the Chinese Navy unfettered access to the Pacific Ocean.
3. Reunification of South Tibet
In 1914, the British and Chinese negotiated the McMahon Line, a legal border between China and India, as part of the Simla Accord. the Simla Accord also carved up Tibet into “Inner” and “Outer” Tibet. Even though the Chinese dispute this line (because they would have to recognize Tibet as an independent state at the time of this treaty), it is the line used on maps between the two countries from 1914 until the Sino-Indian War of 1962. That war changed nothing, except the area once known as the North-East Frontier Agency became known as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. On top of the border dispute, this state now has major hydropower potential.
Despite the 1962 war, the Chinese believe they can beat India and “reconquer” South Tibet by force if they can incite the disintegration of the Indian states, sending arms to Pakistan to retake Kashmir, force a war on two fronts and “blitz” into South Tibet. India will lose this war, and China will join the U.S., Europe, and Russia as global powers.
4. The conquest of the Diaoyu and Ryukyu Islands
By this time, the author predicted three major military wars and some years of rest in between. Now, mid-21st century, China will assert its claim over these two sets of islands. China claims these two chains are ancient vassal states of China’s, now occupied by the Japanese (and the Americans, as the base on Okinawa is in the Ryukyus).
With its growing worldwide military presences and global prestige, the Chinese will move to occupy the islands. They predict a weakened U.S. will fight alongside Japan, but that Europe and Russia will do nothing, resulting in a Chinese victory within six months.
5. The Invasion of Mongolia
The Chinese refer to Mongolia as “Outer Mongolia,” a separate part of China, distinct from the Autonomous Region of “Inner Mongolia,” a Chinese province. They assert that the country of Mongolia is a part of China. In the 1600s, it was ruled by the Chinese, but if we’re going back in time, the Mongols ruled China for a while.
No matter what we (or the Mongols) think, the Chinese will place a claim on the country shortly after their invasion of Taiwan. Like their invasion of Taiwan, they will offer the Mongolians a referendum to vote on whether their unification with the People’s Republic of China. If they vote for peace, Mongolia will be accepted into China. If the Mongols vote for war, the PRC should be prepared to not only invade militarily but also be prepared to fight off foreign aggression against this action. The Chinese believe by this point, they will be so powerful and the U.S. and Russia will be in decline so much, it would be difficult for them to mount anything other than a diplomatic defense.
6. China hopes to take back land from Russia
Even though the relations between the two countries have recovered since the Sino-Soviet Split during the Cold War, a lot of mistrust remains. In China’s view, Russia occupies 160 million square kilometers of land belonging to China since the Qing Dynasty, circa 1644. The Chinese author believes by this time (roughly 2045), the Russian government will be in further decline and will take full advantage, especially given the veteran status their military will have after five wars.
The Chinese author asserts “there must be a war with Russia,” and should be prepared to use nuclear weapons if the need arises, especially if a first strike to disarm the Russian nuclear arsenal. Once the Chinese neutralize Russian nuclear assets, they believe the Russians will capitulate and hand over the lost Chinese lands.
Earlier in March, several Air Force squadrons flying a variety of aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters, and remotely piloted aircraft, participated in a large combat search and rescue exercise in Romania.
Exercise Porcupine is an annual training event that tests and prepares the squadrons of the 31st Operations Group for combat operations. Not only does it test the capabilities and readiness of each individual squadron, but also their ability to work together as a team. This year, the exercise replicated the rescue of an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who had been shot down over enemy territory.
All in all, the 510th Fighter Squadron, 606th Air Control Squadron, and the 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons took place in the exercise with F-16 jets, HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, and MQ-9 Reaper drones.
In the scenario, an F-16 fighter had been shot down by the enemy, but the pilot had managed to eject before the bird crashed and now was evading an enemy ground force that was coming after him. During that initial phase, a pilot’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Resistance (SERE) training is crucial as he tries to not only evade enemy forces and brutal captivity but also survive in a potentially harsh environment. Potential injuries make the above that much more difficult. For the purposes of Operation Porcupine, the F-16 pilot had a broken arm and pain in his back.
Then, the pilot had to make contact with friendly forces and direct them to his location for a rescue mission. Once proper contact was made with the rescue squadrons, a pair of HH-60G Pave Hawks went in to rescue the downed pilot. The choppers landed as close to the pilot as possible to make the job of the Pararescuemen easier.
“Our role in the HH-60s was to provide a rescue asset to aid in the recovery of any isolated personnel,” U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Richard Bush, a helicopter pilot with the 56th Rescue Squadron HH-60 pilot, said in a press release.
“Our ultimate goal was to rescue the pilot before he was captured by enemy forces. The importance of this exercise is to provide an opportunity for multiple [aircraft] to work together in a realistic and joint environment. There were definitely some things that arose that we had to work through on the fly, but overall I would call it a success and next year I imagine it will be the same.”
Training for a downed pilot scenario is not uncommon. The scenario is especially pertinent in Europe as it has happened during active operations.
In 1999, as the air campaign against the Serbs was taking place in Bosnia, Lieutenant Colonel David Goldfein—who later became a four-star general and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force—and his F-16 fighter jet was shot down by a Serbian surface-to-air missile. With Serbian troops on his heels, Goldfein escaped and evaded until Air Commandos managed to locate and rescue him.
Earlier this week, defense officials from the United States and the United Kingdom signed an agreement that will allow the two nations to merge forces into a joint U.S./U.K. carrier strike group in 2021. The joint strike group will be led by the U.K.’s new flagship carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, and will include a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, as well as a compliment of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters.
“This deployment underscores the strength of our bilateral ties and demonstrates U.S.-U.K. interoperability, both of which are key tenets of the U.S. National Defense Strategy,” a Pentagon’s announcement on the agreement reads.
Carrier strike groups represent some of the most potent means of force projection in any nation’s military, made up of an aircraft carrier and assorted ships tasked with defending and supporting carrier operations. The standard U.S. Navy carrier strike group is led by one of America’s supercarriers from the Nimitz class of ships (with Ford-class carriers expected to enter operational service in the near future as well). Each carrier maintains a carrier air wing made up of as many as 70 aircraft, allowing a single ship to leverage more destructive power than some entire nations. The U.S. Navy operates F/A-18 Super Hornets and will soon fly F-35C Joint Strike Fighters from the decks of its flat tops.
That carrier is usually accompanied by at least one cruiser, two destroyers or frigates, and other ships that may support specific operations like nuclear submarines or supply ships. All told, a single American carrier strike group usually boasts more than 7,500 personnel and wields enough conventional firepower to achieve tactical and strategic objectives on a broad scale. At any given time, the United States maintains 10 such carrier strike groups around the world.
The U.K. maintains only one carrier strike group, which is smaller in scale than any of America’s. Today’s UKCSG (U.K. Carrier Strike Group) is comprised of nine total ships, including the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, two frigates, two destroyers, one replenishment ship, and a solid support ship. The Queen Elizabeth, which is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, is not nuclear powered like America’s Nimitz-class carriers and is notably smaller–displacing 65,000 tons compared to the Nimitz’s 100,000.
While the Queen’s carrier may not be as large as its American counterparts, it still packs one hell of a punch. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is capable of supporting more than 65 aircraft and intends to field between 24 and 35 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, alongside another 14 helicopters, at any given time.
“Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on our most ambitious deployment for two decades,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “We shall forward-deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions, protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation.”
The UKCSG currently includes the HMS Diamond, HMS Defender, HMS Kent, HMS Richmond, at least one attack submarine, the RFA Fort Victoria supply ship, and a Tide-class tanker for fuel.
The HMS Diamond and the HMS Defender are both Daring-class air-defense destroyers with a suite of onboard weapon systems, including up to 48 Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. The Kent is a Duke-class frigate with anti-submarine torpedoes, 8 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and 32 anti-air missiles, and the Richmond is an older Type 23 frigate with a similar loadout. The subs used in the carrier strike group hail from either the older Trafalgar or the latest Astute-class of nuclear attack submarines.
In 2021, the UKCSG will be joined by the USS The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer homeported in Mayport, Florida. The 505-foot ship displaces around 6,800 tons and carries a crew complement of around 280. Each Arleigh Burke-class vessel can carry 56 Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missiles. Each Tomahawk can strike targets as far away as 1,550 miles.
The joint strike group will be bolstered in the air by 10 of the U.S. Marine Corps’ short take-off, vertical landing variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. While the U.S. Navy operates F-35C’s off the decks of its own flattops, the F-35B has been considered a better option for the Queen Elizabeth’s sloping deck. The F-35B is the only version of the stealth fighter that can land vertically, eliminating the need for arresting wires during landing. The U.S. Marine Corps has been operating F-35Bs off the deck of amphibious assault ships in recent years in a similar fashion, earning the colloquial name of “Lightning Carriers.”
A hazardous work environment, a less than stellar relationship with the Middle East, and soaring gas prices has created a requirement to make fuel out of water. Take a look into the Navy’s answer for refueling at sea in the future.
NRL has developed a two-step process in the laboratory to convert the CO2 and H2 gathered from the seawater to liquid hydrocarbons. In the first step, an iron-based catalyst has been developed that can achieve CO2 conversion levels up to 60 percent and decrease unwanted methane production from 97 percent to 25 percent in favor of longer-chain unsaturated hydrocarbons (olefins).
ISIS loves social media. It took the Al Qaeda recruiting manual “A Course in the Art of Recruiting” and put it on steroids with the use of Facebook and Twitter. The terror group is notoriously audacious in luring impressionable young adults to the Middle East and the number of recruits coming from the U.S. and other western countries is alarming.
This video shows what the path to extremism is like for a recruit. It follows a young man’s journey from civilian to ISIS soldier through the public postings on his Facebook account. These are the same techniques used to lure young men and women from the U.S.
Developing and building a high-cost, low-volume product in the 21st century is extremely resource intensive. It’s for this reason that companies and nations across many industries are seeking partnerships to embark on such undertakings. While some joint projects like the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ have found commercial success, others like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter seem to hit roadblock after roadblock. Although it has hit some snags, the prototype reveal of the joint South Korean/Indonesian KF-21 Boramae stealth fighter is a sign of good progress.
With a total project cost of $7.9 billion, the Boramae (Korean for Hawk) is not a cheap plane. Indonesia’s commitment of 20% of the development costs and a purchase of 50 examples upon completion helped to offset the hefty price tag. Despite late payments earlier in development, Indonesia’s Minister of Defence Prabowo Subianto attended the KF-21’s rollout ceremony on April 9 and confirmed that the partnership was intact. Moreover, the stealth fighter is slated for export which will further offset the costs incurred by Indonesia and South Korea.
The unveiling of the prototype KF-21 took place at the Korean Aerospace Industries facility in Saechon, South Gyeongsang province. South Korean President Moon Jae In addressed the attendees calling the KF-21, “a historic milestone in the development of [South Korea’s] aviation industry.”
Development of the Block 1 variant is scheduled to be complete by 2026 with 40 aircraft delivered to the Republic of Korea Air Force by 2028. ROKAF plans to acquire a full fleet of 120 KF-21s by 2032. They will replace the arsenal of aging F-4E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II fighter planes. The KF-21 is also intended to compliment South Korea’s acquisition of 60 F-35A Lightning IIs and the older F-15K Slam Eagle and F-16C/D Falcon fighters.
The Block 2 air-to-ground variant will require further development than the exclusively air-to-air Block 1. Its scheduled completion date is yet to be announced. However, the Block 2 is expected to carry advanced weapons like the GBU-12 Paveway II, GBU-31/38 JDAM, and GBU-54/56 Laser JDAM. With six under-wing hardpoints, four under-fuselage hardpoints, and an expected payload of up to 16,975 pounds, the KF-21 will be able to deliver a lot of fire from the sky. With a planned top speed of Mach 1.83 and a range of 1,800 miles, it will also have the legs to move around the modern battlefield.
Although the ROKAF already outmatches the Korean People’s Air Force of North Korea, which is equipped primarily with Cold War MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, China and Russia are on the cutting edge of modern stealth fighter technology. While the ROKAF’s F-35A serves as the tip of the fighter wing’s spear, the KF-21 will provide a domestically-produced augmentation to the Joint Strike Fighter. It will also be more capable than the F-15 and F-16 as a frontline fighter. Moreover, the KF-21 created 12,000 jobs in South Korea between 2016 and 2020. President Moon announced that the project is expected to create another 10,000 once mass production begins. South Korea has the goal of becoming the world’s seventh-biggest aviation industrial power by the 2030s. If the KF-21 lives up to its hype, they just might be.
Joy Lofthouse was one of the women who pushed the envelope of what women did in World War II. She was a pilot for the British Air Transport Auxiliary, shuttling fighters between air bases, factories, and maintenance facilities.
Now, 70 years after she last flew a Spitfire, she’s back in the cockpit. Check out the video below:
Easton LaChappelle, a 19-year-old from Cortez, Colorado, has created the most technologically advanced prosthetic the world has ever seen.
LaChappelle began experimenting with robotics when he was 17, creating a moveable robotic arm out of legos and other equipment found in his bedroom. Since then, he and his friends have created Unlimited Tomorrows, a robotics company that specializes in 3D printed prosthetics.
LaChapelle’s prototype possesses a range of motion that is nearly identical to that of a human hand, all controlled by the user’s thoughts. With more than 1,500 military service members having had major limb amputations since 2001, this device may be a game-changer for wounded troops.
And the best part? While most prosthetic limbs cost around $60,000, Chapelle’s prototype was created for only $350. This kid is going places.
To see more of Chapelle and his prosthetic, watch the video below:
Congress has created a new subcommittee on military intelligence and special operations.
Part of the House Committee on Armed Services, the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations will have jurisdiction over the policy, programs, and accounts that are related to military intelligence, national intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, and conventional weapons counter-proliferation, counterterrorism, sensitive operations, and special operations.
Representative Ruben Gallego (Democrat, Arizona) was chosen to head the subcommittee. Gallego served six years in the Marine Corps (2000-2006), reaching the rank of corporal and deploying once to Iraq for a 12-month deployment. Gallego holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Harvard University.
Representative Gallego said in a statement on Twitter that “When I walk to the committee room for the House Armed Services Committee, I walk by a wall with names of all service members that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. 24 of those names are men I served with. As the new Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations, I serve in their name and honor. I remember being a young man in war hoping someone was looking out for me. If you are out there, know that I am.”
Representative Stephanie Murphy (Democrat, Florida) will serve as the vice-chair of the subcommittee. Murphy has experience in the field from her stint at the Pentagon office that oversees the Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) office.
It will be interesting to see if the new subcommittee will have any real jurisdiction—and thus power—given the plethora of lawmaking bodies with similar duties already in existence. There are, for example, the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the House Committee on Armed Services
Representative Adam Smith (Democrat, Washington), the chair of the Armed Services Committee stated that the new subcommittee will allow Congress to exert more scrutiny and oversight were needed.
“As the country faces unprecedented threats from our adversaries and competitors, especially the disruptive impact of disinformation attacks, we will ensure that special operations forces and the Defense Intelligence Enterprise are postured to address those threats,” Walsh said.
“It is critical that these highly sensitive areas of the Committee’s jurisdiction receive the time and attention they deserve, and this new subcommittee structure will facilitate exactly that.”
Gallego has indicated that the subcommittee will be reviewing the deployment of special operations forces across the world to ensure that they are utilized for the US’ best national interest.
Not content with fighting against the infidel crusaders from the U.S. and other NATO countries, ISIS and the Taliban have declared jihad against each other, Afghan News Agency Khaama Press is reporting.
Nabi Jan Mullahkhil, police chief of southern Helmand province has told Mashaal Radio during an interview that he has received documents in which both the terrorist groups have announced Jihad against each other.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which holds vast swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, has made moves into Afghanistan in recent months. In March, CNN obtained video of ISIS recruiting in the country, and on Saturday, the group claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in Jalalabad, according to The Atlantic.