The U.S. Navy is now recruiting enlisted servicewomen to serve on submarines in 2016.
This move will take the 2011 decision to integrate female officers into the submarine force one step further, assigning female chief petty officers and senior petty officers to co-ed crews.
Navy officers are reportedly optimistic about the transition process — even despite a video-taped shower scandal that took place aboard the USS Wyoming — one of the first subs to be assigned female officers in late 2011.
The military is like an organized play. Everyone who assumes a position is supposed to follow the script to their role. However, some take it too far and continue even after the play has ended. These folks are always in character and they expect the same out of everyone around them.
In the field it’s understandable but if one of these “motards” pulls rank on you during liberty, you may be inclined to react the same way this Marine does.
The nation’s highest award for valor was first introduced exclusively for sailors and Marines, while the Army rejected the medal as a bad idea.
But six months after it was introduced in 1861, the Army changed its tune and authorized the Medal of Honor for soldiers. Since its creation, more than 3,400 military personnel have received the medal, which is awarded for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”
In a documentary called “Medal of Honor – The History,” there are many more insights into how the medal came to fruition during the Civil War, its different designs, and how the requirements for receiving it changed over time. Interestingly enough, the idea of “stolen valor” frauds that today’s veterans continue to fight was a problem even in the late 1800s, which led recipients to form the Medal of Honor Legion.
The film, which is narrated by Gary Sinise, also explores the actions of some of the heroes who received the medal. It’s worth a watch.
Earlier in March, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) had the opportunity to host the biggest annual special operations exercise in the U.S. military. Exercise Emerald Warrior is the largest joint special operations training event in the U.S. Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) calendar with Spec Ops units from across the different services and even the world participating. It prepares units and operators for a variety of contingencies and threats they might encounter on current and future battlefields.
But this year’s iteration (Emerald Warrior 21) came with a twist that showcases the Pentagon’s recent shift from counterterrorism to Great Power Competition.
Whereas past versions of Exercise Emerald Warrior focused on direct action and counterterrorism operations, this year’s iteration involved cyberwarfare, intelligence gathering and processing, space warfare, and information operations, among other mission sets. Granted, most special operators won’t get involved in space warfare, but it is useful to understand what the future battlefield might look like. And some of these mission sets, such as information warfare, are becoming increasingly relevant even for units that don’t normally conduct them.
In addition to American commandos, special operators from Lithuania and France also participated in Emerald Warrior 21.
“This year, we’ve expanded outside of our normal focal area to an all-domain construct, whether it be the increased use of space, cyber, intelligence, public affairs and information operations,” U.S. Air Force Colonel Kevin Koenig, overall commander of Emerald Warrior, said in a press release. “Our goal is to be prepared in all domains to deter adversaries now and avoid future conflicts. We’re also testing new elements within the command while still maintaining our partner nation and joint training.”
Exercise Emerald Warrior 21 placed special emphasis on cyberwarfare. With Chinese and Russian hackers seemingly running amok and stealing millions of data from the US government and American citizens.
“The cyber domain is getting bigger and bigger because of the prevalence of technology expansion amongst our competitors,” U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Louis Schuler, the cyber liaison officer with Emerald Warrior, said. “Our greatest strength is our ability to establish connectivity between different domains, so we must utilize our advantages so we can exploit the vulnerabilities of our adversaries and protect our operators.”
Space operations also had a prominent role in this year’s Emerald Warrior. Satellite communications, electronic warfare, and GPS all saw a use during the exercise.
“Our main focus was to provide situational awareness to the command and our operators on what’s going on around the world, kind of a peek around the curtain,” U.S. Air Force Maj. Kevin Aneshansley, AFSOC’s Chief of Space Weapons and Tactics, said. “Essentially, we looked at new ways we can integrate the high ground more efficiently with our human capital. Without space advantages, we would be doing ourselves a disservice when it comes to the great power competition.”
Emerald Warrior 21 has paved the way to what competition with China or Russia might look like.
The Pentagon says Islamic State militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul are holding civilians in buildings by force and then deliberately attracting coalition strikes.
A Pentagon spokesman on March 30 said the U.S. military will soon release a video showing IS fighters herding people into a building, then firing from the structure to bait coalition forces.
The comments come as the U.S. military responds to criticism from within Iraq and internationally over a separate incident in which as many as 240 civilians are believed to have been killed.
“What you see now is not the use of civilians as human shields,” said Colonel Joe Scrocca, a spokesman for the coalition. “Now it’s something much more sinister.”
He said militants are “smuggling civilians so we won’t see them” into buildings and then attempting to draw an attack.
He said he was working on declassifying a video showing militants conducting such an operation.
Human rights group Amnesty International, Pope Francis, and others have urged for better protection for civilians caught in the war, with calls intensifying after a separate March 17 explosion in the Mosul al-Jadida district, killing scores of people.
The U.S. military previously acknowledged that coalition planes probably had a role in the explosion and subsequent building collapse, but it said the ammunition used was insufficient to explain the amount of destruction observed.
Officials said they suspect the building may have been booby-trapped or that the damage may have been caused by the detonation of a truck bomb.
U.S.-backed forces are attempting to push IS fighters out of west Mosul after having liberated the less-populated eastern part of Iraq’s second-largest city.
Scrocca estimated that some 1,000 militants remain in west Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, down from 2,000 when the assault was launched on February 19.
They are facing about 100,000 Iraqi government forces, he added.
If you need to cross a danger area, why run when you can just skate?
That seemed to be the reasoning shown in this video, which purportedly shows a Libyan rebel wearing roller blades in the middle of a firefight. The fighter points his AK and fires off a few rounds as he crosses the street, which the opposing side can probably claim as a drive-by shooting.
The Danish film ‘A War’ is about an officer who had to make a hard decision under fire and the legal charges he faced when he returned home. It’s an unflinching look at military families, the strains of separation during deployment, and the unforgiving nature of commanding troops under fire while wrestling with restrictive rules of engagement.
The film has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and will be released in limited theaters starting February 12.
The TP-82 pistol was included in the Soyuz Portable Emergency-Survival Kit after two cosmonauts crash-landed into a forest in Siberia in 1965. They struggled to hunt prey, build shelter, and send a distress signal and thus, the “space gun” was born to shoot rifle bullets, shotgun shells, and flares.
During flight, the gun is stowed in a metal canister and if all goes well, the canister is never opened, NBC News space analyst James Oberg reports. “At the end of the mission, after landing, the gun is usually presented as a gift to the Soyuz spacecraft commander,” Oberg reports.
Astronomer Matija Cuk at Harvard University explains that the only difference between shooting a gun on Earth and in space is that the bullet will keep traveling forever. “The bullet will never stop, because the universe is expanding faster than the bullet can catch up with any serious amount of mass,” Cuk told LiveScience.
Astronomer Peter Schultz at Brown University also notes that in space you could technically shoot yourself in the back.
“For example, while in orbit around a planet, because objects orbiting planets are actually in a constant state of free fall, you have to get the setup just right. You’d have to shoot horizontally at just the right altitude for the bullet to circle the planet and fall back to where it started (you),” Shultz told LiveScience.
Russia replaced the gun with the semi-automatic Makarov pistol because all the in-stock ammunition for the TP-82 had expired.
The video shows a group of soldiers grilling some steaks at OP Vegas in the Korengal Valley, according to the description. But while they are cooking up their delightful meal, the bad guys decide to start shooting.
While many of the soldiers begin to fire back, at least a couple stick around for the more important task of not overcooking the steaks. “The steaks are fine, that’s all that matters,” one soldier says in the video.
Forget what you read in the news, America is still the leader of freedom in the world. There’s no shortage of allies that have our back, either. Whether the President of the United States is Joe Biden, Donald Trump or Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, countries will still be lining up to be on the right side of history.
No matter what the obstacle or threat to freedom the world over, the United States can count on a slew of allies to have its back. They may not all be world or even regional powers, but they are there; ready and willing to do whatever it takes.
It’s a lot more helpful if they’re militarily capable, however, so when these five countries say they’re in, victory comes a lot smoother and faster.
1. The United Kingdom
The UK is America’s ride-or-die, and vice versa. There’s a reason we all call our alliance a “special relationship.” Some people will say the United Kingdom is a shadow of its former imperial glory, but those people are fools. If you mess with the queen’s possessions, she’s coming for you, whether you’re fighting in Europe, the Pacific, or – God help you – the Falkland Islands.
The UK was there for America in Afghanistan because they were obligated by article five of the NATO treaty. But you know they would have been there, treaty or no treaty. Even when the intelligence on Iraq was dubious at best, Britain didn’t even hesitate to smoke out Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces in Basra. The UK ensured the “Coalition of the Willing” sent a message to America’s enemies: all your base are belong to us.
France gets a lot of undeserved flak for losing World War II (at first). Anyone who goes toe-to-toe with the French these days is fighting an army trying to shake off the perception of being cheese eating surrender monkeys. God help anyone who gets on the wrong side of a Franco-American alliance, because this usually means an empire is about to fall.
There’s a reason France and the United States rarely join forces, because there’s no stopping the pain train the two can inflict on literally any country or alliance. Our two countries don’t often see eye-to-eye on many issues, so teaming up against a common foe is rare these days. When it does happen, however, an alliance between France and the United States means some serious threats to democracy are about to be put in their place.
India is constantly preparing to fight a war on two fronts, most likely between perennial arch-nemesis Pakistan and crouching tiger China. Although the United States maintains an uneasy alliance with Pakistan, the term “frenemies” is much more apt. If stuff hits the fan and the U.S. has to choose sides, the world’s largest democracy is going to be our ally.
And that just makes sense. India lives in a tough neighborhood but is ready to come out swinging, as they’ve shown time and again. In an all-out war with China, there will be no ally more crucial or more capable than that of India and its billion-plus people, massive submarine force, and mountaineering Gurkhas that are bound to show China what real pain feels like.
The United States has had its geopolitical differences with Israel – and who hasn’t? If we’re talking about living in a tough neighborhood, America’s Jewish best friend has had the hardest time living in one, historically. Israel is the U.S.’ foothold in the Middle East. Israelis can sleep comfortably at night knowing that if, somehow, the Israel Defense Forces gets overrun by all its Arab neighbors, there will be a fleet of United States Marines in Tel Aviv and Haifa in 24 hours.
The United States doesn’t often need the help of outside nations, but if it did, Israel would be the first in line to send troops, doctors, aircraft and whatever else was required for victory. This has nothing to do with America’s unending support for the Jewish state since it won independence in 1948, that’s just how the IDF rolls: no better friend, no worse enemy.
Although it may not seem like a close ally lately, buying Russian S-300 missile batteries and giving up on the NATO alliance’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Turkey has long been a friend to the United States and its interests in a complex area of the world. Ankara allows the U.S. to operate its most devastating air-to-ground support weapon from its shores: the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which helped topple ISIS in Syria.
Most importantly, Turkey is the crossroads of the global east to the global west. It bridges a number of worlds. It’s not only the strategic gateway from Europe to Asia. It’s also the key entry point from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea, and its place in the world allows the U.S. to position key ships, aircraft, and nuclear weapons where they’re most needed.
The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is a slingshot on steroids.
Compared to steam catapults, the new launch system is lighter, smaller and requires less maintenance while increasing controllability, reliability, and efficiency, according to the Naval Air Warfare Center. The system is designed tolaunch up to 25 percent more aircraft – manned or unmanned – with greater precision.
By eliminating the use of steam, the EMALS system may contribute to the quality of life for sailors sleeping below decks. “The water brake has been removed, so from that perspective, the [catapult] will get quieter,” said Donnelly in an interview with Defense Media Network. “You’ll continue to hear the shuttle noise, jet blast deflectors and hooks hitting the flight deck in the arresting gear area.”
The EMALS system is over 15 years in the making. The system was tested from land-based sites, but this video shows the system being tested from the pre-commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to have dramatically reshuffled his senior leadership after expressing frustration with the negligence and irresponsible actions of some senior officials, offenses that have purportedly resulted in a “great crisis.”
Kim recently took a photo with top officials that confirmed suspicions a shake-up had taken place at the highest levels.
In the photo, Ri Pyong Chol, a top military official who held the rank of marshal and oversaw aspects of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, is seen standing not in the front row but a few rows back and was dressed in civilian clothing, according to NK News.
It appears that Ri is no longer a member of the Politburo Presidium.
Pak Jong Chon, another top military official, seems to have been demoted from marshal to vice marshal, and another officer, Kim Jong Gwan, looked to have lost his vice marshal status.
Photos also suggest that Choe Sang Gon, a science and education official, has lost his standing within the politburo, Reuters reported, noting that two other officials appear to have been promoted.
The apparent reshuffling of senior leadership follows a meeting in late June in which Kim chastised top officials for unspecified failings apparently linked to the COVID-19 situation.
North Korean state media reported that Kim said “senior officials in charge of important state affairs neglected the implementation of important decisions of the [Worker’s Party of Korea] on taking organizational, institutional, material, scientific and technological measures as required by the prolonged state emergency epidemic prevention campaign associated with the worldwide health crisis.”
He said their “lack of ability and irresponsibility” created “a great crisis in ensuring the security of the state and safety of the people.”
What that crisis may be is unclear, but there are indications that North Korea is facing a food shortage, economic challenges, and possibly COVID-19 outbreaks domestically.
The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling worker’s party, wrote recently that while some mistakes are forgivable, “causing critical harm to our party, country and people due to irresponsibility and negligence of duty is never acceptable,” The Daily Beast reported.
North Korea has always been very hard to read, and expert opinions on the subject tend to vary from person to person.
Bruce Bechtol, a former Pentagon intelligence analyst and an expert on North Korea, told The Daily Beast recent developments indicate “the country is in big trouble right now,” with other experts suggesting that more purges may follow.
It’s just one of those things – Israel didn’t take responsibility, but everyone seems to know it was Israel. Iran’s nuclear scientists seem to keep dying in explosions. The Natanz centrifuges keep finding ways to go out of commission, either from computer viruses, mysterious explosions, or this time, due to a blackout.
It happens so often, even Israeli media back in Tel Aviv seem to know Mossad’s work when they see it.
On April 11, 2021, centrifuges at Natanz, Iran’s main nuclear material production site suffered a catastrophic blackout, which may have been caused by an explosion. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the Israeli government of sabotaging the plant with an act of “nuclear terrorism.”
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any responsibility for the incident. Nor has it ever confirmed or denied responsibility for any one of the many Iranian nuclear scientists who have died from explosions, poisonous gas leaks, or a one-ton automated gun. At least seven Iranian nuclear scientists have met a mysterious fate since 2007.
But killing nuclear scientists haven’t been the only setbacks for the Iranian nuclear program. Aside from their deaths and the latest setback, a fire at the facility in August of 2020 caused the temporary shutdown of the Iranian enrichment program. In 2010, a virus called Stuxnet caused chaos at the facility, forcing sensitive equipment to spin out of control and overheat.
The blackout, which may sound harmless, may still have done untold damage to the centrifuges at the facility.
“Since the first-generation centrifuges are very sensitive and precise devices, it is likely that the sudden power outage damaged 5,000 of them and made them unusable,” Behrooz Bayat said in an interview with VOA Persian on Monday. Bayat is a consultant with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. “This does not mean that they cannot be repaired, but it will take months, and Iran’s enrichment program will be postponed.”
The incident comes just days before the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed in Israel for a historic meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Benny Gantz. It also comes at the heels of talks between the U.S. and Iran for rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.
“The diplomatic discussions that have been taking place … we expect them to be difficult and long,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Voice of America. “We have not been given any indication about a change in participation for these discussions.”
Iran stopped short of officially blaming Israel for the blackout, but has promised future retribution for the repeated attacks. Originally built in a bunker to protect it from an air attack, external forces have to get creative in hitting the Natanz facility. Iran is now rebuilding the entire facility deep inside a nearby mountain, south of the capital of Tehran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often described Iran as the premier threat to the nation of Israel, a sentiment echoed by many Israeli officials
“The Tehran of today poses a strategic threat to international security, to the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said. “And we will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the world, of the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region, and protect the state of Israel.”
Attacks on the Natanz facility or any part of Iran’s nuclear program are not likely to stop anytime soon.