Fascinated by a French reporter’s ability to purchase a nuclear warhead on the black market, American journalists from Vice travelled to Bulgaria to meet the man who sold it, according to the video below.
They met with Ivanoff, a former military intelligence colonel turned entrepreneur, whose business led him into the Saudi Arabian building industry. Through his business dealings, Ivanoff met with terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden, who was interested in making a “dirty bomb” out of radioactive waste. Ivanoff suggested why not get the real thing, a nuclear warhead.
In the last few years, the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been increasingly investing in Artificial Intelligence capabilities in an attempt to secure an edge over near-peer competitors.
During the Yale Special Operations Conference that took place in March, US special operations leaders offered some insight on how SOCOM has been approaching artificial intelligence. SOCOM’s chief technology officer Snehal Antani stated that they want data scientists and technical experts to be as close to the warfighters as possible to ensure a better and quicker research and development and implementation process.
SOCOM isn’t new to artificial intelligence. In 2019, the Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), the Marine component of SOCOM, began experimenting with artificial intelligence to improve its selection process and ensure that more candidates pass and go on to become operators.
“It’s not just about tech, it’s about the process, it’s about the function,” Lieutenant Mike Groen, the director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) said during the Yale Special Operations Conference. “It’s enormously educational when you really start asking folks, ‘Okay, how do you actually make that decision. What data do you use? What data should you be using? How is that data presented to you? Could it be presented in a different way? Who actually owns that data? It is a huge leap to bring somebody in from the outside, into those types of organizations. So step one is, keep your mouth shut and learn, listen, earn the right to be part of the team.”
SOCOM has also been looking into developing multisensory data fusion and processing technology that would offer special operators an advantage on the battlefield. More specifically, SOCOM has been working with the industry to develop ways to quickly fuse different data, such as temperature, elevation, visibility, humidity, overhead imagery, and create an accurate picture of the battlefield and provide it to commandos.
As with many other initiatives and projects, artificial intelligence first designed for SOCOM often trickles down to their conventional brethren. There is a reason why SEAL Team 6’s official name is Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). It’s just not a cover name but a reflection of the unit’s and indeed of the rest of the special operations community’s research and development aspect. Now, the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division are looking to get their hands on some of the artificial intelligence projects used by their special operations colleagues.
Tanks and Jeeps have had a good run, but let’s be honest here — adding hover-bikes straight out of Star Wars to the military’s arsenal would be pretty much the coolest thing ever.
Though it might sound like science fiction, military-grade hoverbikes could become a reality faster than you think. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has closed a deal with Survice Engineering and Molly Aeronautics (MA) to begin creating hover-bike tech for the U.S. Department of Defense, an announcement that was released last week at the International Paris Air Show.
Malloy Aeronautics’ existing hybrid prototype is powered much like a propeller drone, but retains the look of a traditional motorcycle. The lightweight carbon fiber craft has the lift power of a helicopter, and can handle a takeoff weight of nearly 600 pounds. MA also claims that the hoverbike can travel over 90 miles on only one tank of gas, making it an attractive sell for both commercial and military use.
The MA bike is still a work in progress, but it has been tested with a rider aboard, though it was tethered to the ground.
Check out the video below to see the Malloy Aeronautics Hoverbike in action:
In the late 1950s, Kubrick became so concerned about the possibility of nuclear war that he read over 50 books on the subject. One of those books was Peter George’s Red Alert, which a friend had recommended. Mesmerized by the novel, he purchased the rights and began developing a reality-based thriller called Edge of Doom based on Red Alert.
But as he wrote the lighter side of armageddon emerged. “He kept coming across various aspects of the story that weren’t tragic but were comic,” said film critic Alexander Walker. “For example, if a man learns of nuclear annihilation in his office, the result is a documentary. When he’s in his living room, it’s a social drama. When he’s in the bathroom, it’s a comedy.”
Kubrick chose the latter, and the result is Dr. Strangelove. The film holds the record for being the 24th greatest comedic film of all time on Total Film magazine and has a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
This video is an interesting look into how the movie was made. Watch:
Anticipating a deployment is at once stressful, exhilarating, and boring as hell. Here are the 8 basic steps:
The announcement comes down from the Pentagon that your unit is headed overseas at some point. Everyone will respond to this differently. Newer troops will walk with a swagger as they think about becoming combat veterans. Actual combat veterans will sigh heavily.
2. Keeping it a secret (while telling everyone)
Sure, operational security and all that. But you have to tell your family. And your best buddies need to know. Also, those guys at the bar won’t buy you drinks just for sitting there. Is that hot girl over there into deploying troops?
3. First stage of training
“Time for pre-deployment training! Time to become the most elite, modern warriors in the world!” you think for the first 15 minutes of the first training session.
4. The rest of training
“Oh my god, how much of this is done via PowerPoint?” Also, your weapon will be completely caked in carbon from those blanks.
5. Culmination exercise
Suddenly, it’s exciting again. Pyrotechnics, laser tag, a bunch of awesome pictures that can become your Facebook cover photo so those girls from high school can see them. Someone in your squad can edit out the blank firing adapters.
6. Packing (and packing, and packing …)
That brief adrenaline rush at the final culmination exercise will not last. You will realize you still have to clean and pack the gear to go home. Then pack the connexes to send to country. Then pack your bags to go into other connexes. Then pack the …
7. Pre-deployment leave
Finally! After months of hard work, a brief rest before more months of hard work. Also, a chance to “not” tell more hometown girls that you’re deploying.
8. Getting on the plane (or ship or whatever)
Time to go somewhere really “fun” and live there for a year or so. But hey, only [balance of deployment] left until redeployment.
Air Force intelligence analysts and operational leaders moved quickly to develop a new targeting combat plan to counter deadly ISIS explosive-laden drone attacks in Iraq and Syria.
In October of this year, ISIS used a drone, intended for surveillance use, to injure troops on the ground. Unlike typical surveillance drones, this one exploded after local forces picked it up for inspection, an Air Force statement said.
The emergence of bomb-drones, if even at times improperly used by ISIS, presents a new and serious threat to Iraqi Security Forces, members of the U.S.-Coalition and civilians, service officials explained to Sout Warrior. Drone bombs could target advancing Iraqi Security Forces, endanger or kill civilians and possibly even threat forward-operating US forces providing fire support some distance behind the front lines.
Air Force officials explained that many of the details of the intelligence analysis and operational response to ISIS bomb-drones are classified and not available for discussion.
Specific tactics and combat solutions were made available to combatant commanders in a matter of days, service experts explained.
While the Air Force did not specify any particular tactis of method of counterattack, the moves could invovle electronic attacks, some kind of air-ground coordination or air-to-air weapons, among other things.
However, the service did delineate elements of the effort, explaining that in October of this year, the Air Force stood up a working group to address the evolving threat presented by small commercial drones operated by ISIS, Air Force Spokeswoman Erika Yepsen told Scout Warrior.
Working intensely to address the pressing nature of the threat, Air Force intelligence analysts quickly developed a new Target Analysis Product to counter these kinds of ISIS drone attacks. (Photo: Scout Warrior)
“The working group cuts across functional areas and commands to integrate our best experts who have been empowered to act rapidly so they can continue to outpace the evolution of the threat they are addressing,” Yepsen said.
Personnel from the 15th IS, along with contributors, conducted a 280-plus hour rapid analysis drill to acquire and obtain over 40 finished intelligence products and associated single-source reports, Air Force commanders said.
Commercial and military-configured drone technology has been quickly proliferating around the world, increasingly making it possible for U.S. enemies, such as ISIS, to launch drone attacks.
“Any attack against our joint or coalition warriors is a problem. Once it is identified, we get to work finding a solution. The resolve and ingenuity of the airmen in the 15th IS (intelligence squadron)” to protect our warriors, drove them to come up with a well-vetted solution within days,” Lt. Col. Jennifer S. Spires, 25th Air Force, a unit of the service dealing with intelligence, told Scout Warrior.
While some analysts projected that developing a solution could take 11 to 12 weeks, the 15th IS personnel were able to cut that time by nearly 90 percent, Air Force officials said.
“While we cannot talk about the tactics and techniques that the 15th IS recommended, we can say that in every case, any targeting package sent to the air component adhered to rules that serve to protect non-combatants,” Spires added.
The 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing provides a targeting package in support of the Air Component. (Photo: Scout Warrior)
“The supported command makes the final decision about when and how to strike a specific target. Once the theater receives the targeting package it goes into a strike list that the Combatant Commander prioritizes,” Spires said.
Also, Air Force Secretary Deborah James recently addressed an incident wherein two Air Force ISR assets were flying in support coalition ground operations — when they were notified of a small ISIS drone in the vicinity of Mosul.
“The aircraft used electronic warfare capabilities to down the small drone in less than 15 minutes,” Erika Yepsen, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Scout Warrior.
While James did not elaborate on the specifics of any electronic warfare techniques, these kinds of operations often involve the use of “electronic jamming” techniques to interrupt or destroy the signal controlling enemy drones.
Recently, U.S. Space Force General David Thompson, the Vice Space Operations Chief, sat down for a virtual talk with the Association of Old Crows.
Gen. Thompson emphasized the intraservice utility of the Space Force but also of the branch’s need to create and sustain enduring relationships with the other branches, the intelligence community, and other agencies and departments within the US government.
The Space Force is responsible for capabilities and mission-sets such as navigation, orbital warfare, missile defense, satellite communications, electromagnetic operations, and GPS services, among other tasks.
“We have enduring relationships with the National Reconnaissance Office and the rest of the intelligence community,” said Thompson. “We not only need to maintain those but deepen those as well, especially because we’re now partners with them in the need to defend and protect these capabilities from threats.”
Thompson highlighted that the space in a domain where several countries—and even companies—are looking to expand their presence for economic, civil, public safety, and national security purposes. He suggested that the Space Force might be looking to partnerships where there are common interests and goals.
The Space Force achieved a landmark point in December when General John “Jay” Raymond officially joined the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the 8th member of the highest military council of the US.
“We recognize it clearly as a warfighting domain. And we also know that we, the United States, we’ve got to maintain capabilities in that domain if we are going to continue to deter great power war,” General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during the ceremony. “This is an incredibly important organization for the United States military and for the United States as a country. And it’s really important what we’re doing today, which is [to] induct you as an official member into the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
The commercial sector is another point of interest for the Space Force despite the high-risk it might entail. The ability of private companies to rapidly field and test new technology appeals to the Space Force, which often has to contend with the lengthy test, development, and acquisition timelines found in any bureaucracy.
As for what the Space Force is looking for in future recruits, Thompson said that digitally fluent and cyber-savvy candidates are essential for the Space Force to continue its contribution to the fight but also expand its capabilities.
Headquartered in Virginia, the Association of Old Crows is an international nonprofit professional organization specializing in electronic warfare, tactical information operations, and related disciplines.
In another virtual even, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten talked about America’s near-peer competitors and their space capabilities and aspirations.
“Russia and China are building capabilities to challenge us in space because if they can challenge us in space, they understand as dependent as we are in space capabilities that they can challenge us as a nation,” said Gen. Hyten during an online event at the National Security Space Association.
Gen. Hyten added that it falls to the Pentagon to continue the education of Americans about US space capabilities but also about the dangers posed by China and Russia and how to best deal with them.
In the United States, November 11th is the day we commemorate the men and women who swore an oath to protect and defend our constitution against our enemies with service in the military. What is now known as Veterans Day was originally observed for a different reasons than it is today.
To begin with, it was called Armistice day in commemoration of the cease-fire between Germany and the Allied Nations during World War I. Although the war didn’t officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, the real fighting stopped on November 11, 1918 — “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
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.
The Air Force took steps to relax the military’s current stance on transgender men and women serving in uniform earlier this month, by requiring a higher authority to authorize discharges for enlisted transgender airmen and airmen who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, according to a news release.
Openly transgender Senior Airman Logan Ireland hopes that this decision will eventually allow transgender servicemen and women to serve openly without the risk of involuntary separation, despite the fact that the Air Force policy itself has not changed .
Ireland joined the Air Force as a woman in 2010, and was featured in “Transgender, at War and in Love,” a documentary short exploring his relationship with fiancee and transgender soldier Laila Villanueva.
“Day in and day out, you’re constantly worried about a discharge…so every day when I put on my boots and strap on my gun and duty belt, I’m at risk for a discharge — and that’s the least of my worries in my personal job. No one should have to worry about that day in and day out. “
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.
Cyberattacks are the best way for America’s enemies to mess around with the United States without triggering a full-scale war. Let’s be real, if China and Russia saw real-world retaliation for every time they messed with U.S. computer systems, we’d be in the middle of World War III right now.
But aside from stealing military technology, hacking the names and bank accounts of every federal employee, and mucking about in some utility companies, their cyber intrusions have been little more than a nuisance up to this point. That’s not how American cyberwarriors operate.
When the United States and Israel conduct a cyber attack, there’s a good reason for it and the target is clear. Stuxnet, a malicious virus designed to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment program, was the sniper rifle of the U.S. cyber weapons arsenal.
First uncovered in 2010, the Stuxnet worm was introduced onto the computer systems of the Iranian uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. The program was specifically engineered to be on that particular server, one that had to be running Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software, that had to be using Siemens technology (specifically, Siemens 7), and had control over a programmable logic controller (PLC), controlling an electric motor. If all of these conditions didn’t exist, the program would eventually delete itself.
PLCs are a critical component of almost all major manufacturing facilities and automated machines, managing everything from traffic lights to pipe valves. There was only one place in the world where those conditions existed: the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Those motors were controlling the centrifuges that were enriching uranium for Iran’s nuclear program.
What this means is that whoever created the Stuxnet worm had an insider in the Natanz nuclear facility, one who knew the exact conditions malicious code would have to attack, as well as how best to permanently damage the facility’s operations, or at least set it back a little bit.
Moreover, since the computer systems at Natanz weren’t connected to the internet, the inside man would also have to be able to introduce the worm to the Natanz controlling systems. According to the Times of Israel, this was done by the CIA and Mossad, who set up a fake front company with the sole purpose of getting Dutch intelligence agents posing as technicians into the facility.
Once introduced, the worm lay dormant. Once awakened, it looks for the conditions that would begin its destructive sequence. At Natanz, it found those conditions and began to force the centrifuges to spin too fast for too long, damaging the mechanical equipment. Meanwhile data collection and reporting software tells monitoring engineers that all systems are operating normally.
At Natanz, Stuxnet damaged 1,000 of the estimated 5,000 gas centrifuges before Iran realized something was amiss. They would reportedly execute a number of personnel at the facility, although it’s not known if intelligence assets were killed in the fallout. The day the Iranian government revealed what happened there, two Iranian nuclear scientists were killed by car bombs, further complicating the program’s restart.
No intelligence agency has ever taken credit for the Natanz Stuxnet attacks, but evidence is clear that it was a highly-engineered bug, designed for a limited mission with a small target. But like most clandestine operations, there was unexpected blowback.
The Stuxnet virus escaped from the computers at Natanz and has since spread to other systems across the world, including European manufacturers and a Russian nuclear power plant – and possibly more. Stuxnet is difficult to find and is self-replicating, so computer systems infected by the worm may not realize it until it’s too late.
How does a massively successful director like Zack Snyder follow up box-office smahes (and future box-office smashes) like 300, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League? If you answered a film retelling the magnificent rise of the first president of the United States in the style of 300, you guessed correctly. Speaking with Bloomberg Business, Snyder explains that George Washington is next on the docket.
He has a picture in his office of the Revolutionary War hero crossing the icy Delaware on his way to decimate the British in the Battle of Trenton. “We were talking about it,” Snyder says. “The first thing we asked was, well, how are we going to make it look? I pointed at this painting. It looks like 300. It’s not that hard.”
He isn’t wrong, but we’re guessing it will look something like a mix between the iconic painting and the epic illustration above.