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.
Aerial dogfights are less likely to happen nowadays than in previous decades, and it’s especially true as drones have begun to takeover the battlefield.
Still, the exploits of legendary flying aces like Manfred von Richthofen “Red Baron,” Randy Cunningham “Showtime 112,” and Robin Olds “Wolf 01” have continued to spark the imagination of Hollywood. The following video shows ten of the most memorable aerial dogfights in movies. The list includes any aircraft or spaceship.
Situated between Area 51 and the Nevada Test and Training Range is a place called “Coyote Summit” which offers a perfect spot for watching air traffic coming out of Nellis Air Force Base.
Photographer Eric Bowen went to the spot in August for Red Flag, the Air Force-sponsored exercise which simulates an air war between aggressors and aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines, Air National Guard, and Royal Air Force units.
A typical RED FLAG exercise involves a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft (F-15E, F-16, F/A-18, A-10, B-1, B-2, etc.), reconnaissance aircraft (Predator, Global Hawk, RC-135, U-2), electronic warfare aircraft (EC-130s, EA-6Bs and F-16CJs), air superiority aircraft (F-22, F-15C, etc), airlift support (C-130, C-17), search and rescue aircraft (HH-60, HC-130, CH-47), aerial refueling aircraft (KC-130, KC-135, KC-10, etc), Command and Control aircraft (E-3, E-8C, E-2C, etc) as well as ground based Command and Control, Space, and Cyber Forces.
Bowen spent a few nights at the Summit filming at night, and produced this awesome video. Watch:
Get out your favorite beach volleyball and some tanning oil, because there’s definitely going to be a sequel to the 1980s classic “Top Gun” — with drones.
At a press junket for “Terminator: Genisys” in Berlin, Germany last week, Skydance CEO David Ellison commented on the status of the film and what role Tom Cruise would have, according to Collider.
“Justin Marks is writing the screenplay right now,” Ellison reportedly said. “He has a phenomenal take to really update that world for what fighter pilots in the Navy has turned into today. There is an amazing role for Maverick in the movie and there is no Top Gun without Maverick, and it is going to be Maverick playing Maverick. It is I don’t think what people are going to expect, and we are very, very hopeful that we get to make the movie very soon.”
With his comment about “Maverick playing Maverick,” Ellison confirmed that Cruise would reprise his original role and have a larger part in the next film. He also commented on a plot line about what the Air Force and Navy are facing right now: the last days of manned flight.
“It is very much a world we live in today where it’s drone technology and fifth generation fighters are really what the United States Navy is calling the last man-made fighter that we’re actually going to produce,” he said, “so it’s really exploring the end of an era of dogfighting and fighter pilots and what that culture is today are all fun things that we’re gonna get to dive into in this movie.”
With the United States’ coming withdrawal from Afghanistan it may seem like the focus of the U.S. military is shifting from the Middle East to the Great Powers conflicts brewing with Russia and China.
But America’s enemies in the region are still very much a threat, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran. A recently published Rand Corporation report detailed just how big a threat Iran is in the Middle East, what its goals are, and how it will seek to achieve those goals.
The report doesn’t just list Iran as a single entity. Rand Corporation’s research details that Iran’s threat is actually a massive fighting force, a network of potentially tens of thousands of fighters, all willing to answer the call of the Iranian government, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, or the Ayatollah himself.
Rand breaks the network down into four separate classes: Targeters, Deterrers, Stabilizers, and Influencers.
Targeters’ sole purpose is to bleed the United States in terms of manpower, materiel, and especially money. Iran supports certain groups just to keep up attacks on American forces in the region to increase the costs of keeping them deployed. Beyond attacking U.S. troops, they also make it as difficult as possible for the U.S. to operate in the region, deterring their movements and forcing them to consider an Iranian or militia response when planning operations.
The deterrers are similar actors, not affiliated with any state, but designed to increase the costs of other countries in the region to operate. This group targets Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Stabilizers are paid to do just what the name implies, to stabilize certain countries or major groups within those countries, usually Iranian allies. Stabilizers are used in place like Syria, which is experiencing massive instability due to the ongoing civil war, but also deals with instability based on its ethnic and religious diversity.
Iranian influencers aren’t on instagram snapping photos, they are used by the Iranian network to expand Iranian influence in the region, giving Iran a bigger say in the area’s greater political affairs.
This means Iran will never directly attack the United States – or anyone else if it can avoid it. Iran’s military goal is to keep the fighting and instability experienced by other countries far from inside Iranian territory. Instead it will use this network to project its power, influence, and physical attacks.
In the meantime, the United States and its regional allies will have to contend with the threat network’s mission, dictated by the government of the Islamic Republic. The cost of that contention will depend on the American military’s desired goals and the political establishment’s willingness to pursue those goals, likely at as high a cost as Iran can inflict on the United States.
This also means that the U.S. will have to develop a means of countering the network, which blunt force is unlikely to achieve on its own. Rand recommends the U.S. defense apparatus develop a counter for each of Iran’s classes.
Because of the American desire to cooperate with locals in the region, Rand recommends caution in choosing which groups to cooperate with, as they could be a member of the Iran Threat Network. To bolster its regional partners while countering Iranian influence, Rand recommends increasing military-to-military partnerships to build the capacity of friendly forces in the Middle East.
It all sounds easier said than done, but the United States can be a powerful ally to any regional partner. The U.S. military has defeated networks of enemy operations in the past, including in Iraq, where Iran’s threat network holds increasing sway – so victory is still possible.
Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” is arguably one of the most influential military movies of all time. It’s the movie would-be troops romanticize about before enlisting in the military and it’s certainly the movie they watch to mentally prepare themselves before shipping off to boot camp to face their drill instructors.
However, as iconic as this 1987 film has become, it almost didn’t turn out that way. This 30-minute video shows how Full Metal Jacket was made and what the cast and crew did to “get it right.” There are plenty of interesting tidbits, like how relatively unknown actor Vincent D’Onofrio initially didn’t even want to do the film, and why a horrific scene between “Animal Mother” and the sniper was cut out.
The SSK .950 JDJ is an absolute beast. Made by SSK Industries, each bullet is over four inches long, weighs over half a pound and costs about $40. There are only three rifles ever made that can fire the round. The weapons weigh between 85 and 120 pounds and produce a recoil capable of injuring its shooter.
Who needs video games like Doom or Half Life when you’ve got a production company in England that’ll give you a real live-action first person shooter instead.
British film company Realm Pictures recently shot a live shooter game, with the actions controlled entirely by unsuspecting users of internet video sites such as ChatRoulette, Omegle, and Skype. The results were amazing.
“Many years ago we experimented with the concept of ‘random stranger’ control – and one afternoon strapped a webcam to my head while someone followed me around with a laptop,” David Reynolds, a director at the company, told Tech News Today. “The idea stuck in my head – and eventually resurfaced while we were talking about fun projects for the summer. We decided to throw some of our indie film tricks behind it and see what happened.”
Watch the video:
In case you were wondering how they pulled it off, you can see the behind-the-scenes here:
A masked ISIS fighter speaking perfect Hebrew threatened to “eradicate this disease [of Jews] from the world” last month, so a group of Israeli comedians have responded — with mockery.
“You ran to Syria because you couldn’t find work,” one comic says in a YouTube video response, which is shot much like a rap battle.
The comedians were responding to a video released by ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State, or Daesh), in which a fighter addresses the Jewish state speaking in what The Washington Post referred to as “impeccable Hebrew.”
The real war between ISIS and Israel, the militant claimed, “hasn’t started yet, and what has happened to you in the past is child’s play in comparison with what will happen to you in the near future, God willing.”
In the response video titled “Escalation 2015 – Battle Daesh (ISIS), five Israeli comics dress in the uniforms of the Israeli Defense Forces and poke fun at the amateur way he holds his AK-47, and that he is threatening the powerful Israeli army “with a knife you stole from your mother’s kitchen.”
“You ran to Syria because you couldn’t find work,” one raps. “You want to be Abu Ali? Don’t speak behind our backs, tell it to the faces of five border police,” he continues, referring to the impressive record of border police officers in dispatching terrorists.
“Don’t come with your jihad – a year ago you served me hummus!” he adds.
You can watch the video below (it’s all in Hebrew):
On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army invaded Kuwait, igniting a crisis that led to an intervention by a massive US-led coalition.
At the time, Iraq possessed one of the world’s largest armies, with about 1 million troops. To defeat it, the US knocked on every diplomatic door in the region and elsewhere, successfully gathering 750,000 troops for Operation Desert Storm, which began on January 17, 1991.
As the coalition against him swelled, Hussein sought to divide the Babel-style alliance of nearly 40 countries, including several Arab nations and Israel, though Israel didn’t actively participate. By directly attacking Israel, the Iraqi leader hoped to provoke an Israeli response that would break the fragile coalition.
Hussein chose his Scud missile batteries as the instrument of his strategy. The Soviet-made tactical ballistic-missile system came in both fixed and mobile launchers, both of which were quite deadly. One Scud struck a US base in Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers.
To stop the Scud threat, the Pentagon turned to its best: Delta Force, along with its British counterpart, the Special Air Service (SAS).
Following the invasion of Kuwait, the US’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) proposed several operations to the Pentagon, ranging from the rescue of American diplomats and citizens trapped in Kuwait City to direct-action operations in Iraq.
“Once we got word about the invasion, there were lots of ideas going around on how the Unit could respond,” a former Delta operator told Insider.
But one of the biggest hurdles for Delta Force and other US special-operations units during Desert Storm was the leadership of conventional military forces.
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the four-star commander of US Central Command and the overall boss in the war, was quite skeptical about special-operations forces and their strategic utility in nation-state warfare.
In the end, however, Schwarzkopf had to acquiesce to the White House and Pentagon and allow special operators to join the campaign. It certainly helped that his second-in-command, British Gen. Sir Peter de la Billière, had served in and commanded the SAS and was director of British special forces during the Iranian Embassy Siege in 1980.
“Actually, believe or not, at one point, Saddam was pretty high on the target deck. Of course, the guys were all up for it, but in the end, it came to nothing. We couldn’t pinpoint him. We didn’t have enough or accurate intel to action an operation,” the former Delta operator said. “But looking back, even if there was enough intel, the higher-ups would have probably gone for an airstrike.”
“Some of the ideas, like going after Saddam himself, were pretty wild, but that’s the whole purpose of the brainstorming sessions. You gotta think big and explore all possibilities, no matter how outlandish they might seem,” the former Delta operator told Insider.
“In the end, we settled down to a few options, with Scud-hunting being the primary, and A got that, with C primarily doing CP [close protection] for ‘Storming Norman'” Schwarzkopf, the former Delta operator added, referring to Delta Force’s A and C Squadrons.
Scud-hunting in the desert
The Iraqis knew their business. They would move the mobile Scud launchers during the night and lay down during the day, camouflaging the trucks so well that they would perfectly blend in the desert landscape, making it near impossible for coalition aircraft to spot them.
The Delta and SAS patrols would be inserted by helicopters and roam alongside main supply routes, looking for signs of mobile Scud launchers. Some patrols entered the country on vehicles and others by foot.
The Delta operators used a mix of Humvees, motorcycles, and heavily armed Pinzgaeur trucks. Affectionately nicknamed the “Pig,” a Pinzgaeur could carry several crew-served weapons, such as the M2 Browning heavy and the M-240 medium machine guns, and great amounts of rations, water, and fuel necessary to support the patrols.
However, some Delta patrols were frustrated by mechanical issues — it’s hard to change a tire in the middle of the desert. But the commandos had to be wary of the weather as well. In one instance, a special-operations helicopter went down, killing its crew and three Delta operators.
There were several times when SAS and Delta Force patrols got into firefights with Iraqi forces, either because the patrols were compromised or had attacked targets of opportunity.
One of these patrols went terribly wrong. Codenamed Bravo Two Zero, it consisted of eight SAS troopers from B Squadron. Their mission was to conduct special reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines in an attempt to locate mobile Scud missiles.
As the team was laying up in a small ravine during the day following their insertion, they were spotted by Iraqi civilians. There are conflicting reports about what happened next, with some patrol members saying that Iraqi mechanized infantry started pouring into the area.
The patrol members started escaping and evading toward Syria but were separated in the night. After an adventurous few days, four SAS troopers fell into Iraqi hands, three were killed (two by hypothermia, one by enemy fire), and one successfully escaped to Syria.
Weeks of fighting
During Operation Desert Storm, the SAS operators had returned to their roots.
The SAS was created during World War II to fight Nazi Germany’s Africa Korps, led by well-known Gen. Erwin Rommel, in North Africa. The force’s bread and butter was long-range reconnaissance and direct-action operations, such as raids and ambushes, deep behind enemy lines.
From forward-operating bases in the middle of the Sahara Desert, the SAS troopers — and some additional special-operations units, like the Long Range Desert Group — used heavily armed trucks and jeeps to devastating effect, destroying more planes on the ground the entire Royal Air Force did in the theater.
The Delta and SAS operators in the field during Desert Storm faced a different kind of opponent.
Coalition aircraft ensured air superiority from Day One, and conventional Iraqi ground forces were quickly overwhelmed. But US and British special operators did have a strategic impact on the war, reducing Scud launches against Israel by more than 80%.
Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991, six weeks after it began. Just weeks after starting their hunt for Iraq’s Scuds, Delta and SAS completed their mission.
This video of a soldier letting his squadmate shoot him with an AK-47 is about as nuts as it gets.
“This is about the dumbest thing you can do,” the video description says. “But I filmed this one day when my friends were bored in Syria. War gets boring sometimes.”
The YouTube channel – which has other videos featuring Western volunteer troops in Syria – belongs to Robert Alleva, who is a volunteer fighter himself, according to the video description.
This body armor test could have gone wrong in so many ways, especially considering that the weapon was on automatic mode. The video below shows what happens when things don’t go as expected. The Russian separatist takes one in the gut while testing his body armor with a pistol.