Nuclear energy is clean and efficient when everything works. The U.S. powers aircraft carriers, submarines, and even cities with it, but there are obvious down sides: Disasters can lead to death, destruction, and poisonous radiation.
Nuclear accidents are graded from zero to seven, zero being no safety issues and seven being extremely hazardous to health and the environment. Two examples of major nuclear incidents include the 1986 disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine and Fukushima, Japan in 2011.
Although no occurrence of this magnitude has happened in the United States, the Department of Energy has been tasked with cleaning up over 100 nuclear sites within its borders, according to this TestTube video.
Video gamers are more prepared for military service than people the same age were in previous generations.
“We don’t need Top Gun pilots anymore, we need Revenge of the Nerds,” said Missy Cummings, former US Navy pilot, Assoc. Prof. of Aeronautics, MIT in Drone Wars: The Gamers Recruited To Kill, a documentary film about gamers and drone operators.
With the development of drones and other technologies, it’s easy to understand why she makes that statement. The Navy has even fashioned some of their controllers after popular gaming consoles, such as the X-Box and Playstation, making it a comfortable transition from make-believe entertainment to high stakes shoot em’ up.
Video games have been used by the military to win the minds of young people since 2002 with America’s Army, a first person shooter created and run by the Army. Gamers who play similar first-person shooters get immersed in stories that require teamwork and battlefield knowledge to succeed while having fun.
“Whilst nobody who’s ever played Call of Duty or Battlefield expects to recover from a real-life assault rifle round to the chest by crouching momentarily behind a wall, huge numbers of young people are developing an in-depth knowledge of military hardware, vocabulary and basic technique,” reports Dan Pearson for Games Industry.
The game is so popular that from 2002 to 2008 it was one of the top 10 computer games in the world, reported Corey Mead in a 2013 article for Time magazine. For recruiters, the game is a tool for connecting with people familiar with Army basics, so hosting and attending tournaments is a no-brainer. However, the military is reaching beyond America’s Army. In the video below, you can see military officials attending gaming trade shows searching for the next drone operators.
Last September, the U.S. Air Force shocked the world with the announcement that they had already designed, built, and tested an aircraft designed under their NGAD fighter, or Next Generation Air Dominance, program. The idea that America might already have a 6th generation fighter waiting in the wings caught the world’s attention, but in the months since, many have come to believe that the aircraft that was tested wasn’t a mature fighter design, but was rather a technology demonstrated used to assess the performance of systems destined for an NGAD fighter.
None the less, these tests mean the Air Force has clearly made some significant progress on what is to become the NGAD fighter, making it all the more miraculous that the American people have yet to learn much at all about this aircraft slated to replace the dogfight-dominating F-22 Raptor. Like the B-21 Raider being developed by Northrop Grumman, the NGAD fighter is an open secret: The world knows it’s coming, we just still don’t know what it’ll be capable of.
So, what do we know about the NGAD fighter? Well, there are some things we can glean through official artist’s renderings and their associated descriptions, and there are other things we can extrapolate based on the capabilities of its longterm competition in China’s J-20 and Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighters. By putting these two groups of assertions together, we can develop a somewhat robust idea of what the NGAD fighter will be expected to do, and how it might go about doing it.
Watch: What can artist’s renderings tell us about the NGAD fighter?
In this video, I break down some of the official images of the NGAD fighter (artist’s renderings) that have been released by the U.S. Air Force in various documents. Then, I compare those images to ongoing aviation trends and previous stealth aircraft prototypes to draw conclusions about what this jet may really look like.
You can read the full article this video was based on, here.
In many of these renderings, the NGAD fighter looks to have adopted a triangular or wedge-shaped design that forgoes the presence of a traditional vertical tail. While both the F-22 Raptor this jet will replace and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter America continues to pump out of Lockheed factories do have fairly traditional tail sections despite their stealthy designs, the idea of a stealth fighter that lacks a vertical tail is not at all without precedent.
In fact, Northrop Grumman’s famed YF-23 Black Widow II, which competed with and lost to Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor for America’s last air superiority fighter contract, famously performed as well or better than the Raptor in a number of important categories (including stealth and range), and it too lacked a vertical tail. Today, Northrop Grumman is under contract with the Air Force to produce the forthcoming B-21 Raider, widely believed to be the most advanced stealth bomber in history, so it’s not out of the question to suggest that Northrop may also be competing for a chance at the NGAD fighter using an updated design that shares some commonality with the aforementioned YF-23.
In fact, even Lockheed Martin has released artist’s renderings tied to the prospect of a 6th generation fighter that look strikingly like Northrop’s YF-23 design.
You can read our full coverage on the incredible YF-23 Black Widow II in our feature on it here.
Other facets of the NGAD fighter, like storing ordnance internally, carrying its own electronic warfare capabilities, and leveraging advanced engines meant to increase power and efficiency while further limiting infrared exposure can all be seen in the most recent images tied to the program released earlier this month.
From 1988-89, there was a video series on T.V. called “Ethics in America” where leaders in different fields were asked to debate ethical dilemmas. In the seventh episode, senators, military officers, and journalists discussed a hypothetical situation where an American journalist is embedded with enemy troops and finds themselves watching the enemy troops prepare an ambush against American soldiers.
Peter Jennings and Michael Wallace debate their roles as journalists and Americans while military leaders like Gen. William Westmoreland debate their bravery, obligations, and moral duty in the situation. It cuts to the heart of what it means to be a war correspondent, trying to balance duty to their country and their occupation while safeguarding their own lives. An edited version of the conversation is embedded below.
If you want to see the original video, with better quality and more discussion from more people, go to this archive and watch episode 7. This particular discussion starts at 31:30 in the full episode.
This video documents what it’s like to have Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The words spoken in this video are those of real soldiers — soldiers who have personally suffered from TBI and PTSD most common injuries in returning soldiers. Sadly, too many of these injuries go undiagnosed or untreated — affecting not just soldiers, but their families. Join NAPA and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in our mission to help soldiers and their families have a safe and effective place to heal.
After they jump — most of the time with the use of static-line parachutes — they’ll often land behind enemy lines to seize an objective, such as an airfield. They are constantly training and maintaining their jump status, and that means going out of traditional aircraft, helicopters, and jumping alongside NATO allies.
A video posted by the 82nd Airborne shows an example of those last two items. 1st Brigade Combat Division writes:
Join your1st Brigade Paratroopers on a beautiful Day!! airborne as they conducted a joint airborne operation with German paratroopers on Fort Bragg, N.C., July 15, 2015. Operation Federal Eagle is an annual event led by the German paratroopers to promote friendship and military partnership.
Join your1st Brigade Paratroopers on a beautiful Day!! airborne as they conducted a joint airborne operationwith German paratroopers on Fort Bragg, N.C., July 15, 2015. Operation Federal Eagle is an annual event led by the German paratroopers to promote friendship and military partnership. #paratrooper #alltheway #devils #82ndAirborneDivision #fit #awesome #StrikeHold #US Army Airborne School, Fort Benning #bragg
It seems like North Korea is always coming up with a new kind of threat to the South. It seems that way because it’s true. Threats are a constant reminder of the nuclear missiles and conventional rockets that would destroy the South Korean capital of Seoul within 30 minutes of a war’s outbreak.
Now South Korea is letting the North know just what will happen if Pyongyang tries to make good on any threats.
The Republic of Korea’s military developed a plan to destroy North Korea, starting with the Northern capital of Pyongyang, in the event of a nuclear attack, a ROK military source told Yonhap News Agency on Sept. 10th.
“Every Pyongyang district, particularly where the North Korean leadership is possibly hidden, will be completely destroyed by ballistic missiles and high-explosive shells as soon as the North shows any signs of using a nuclear weapon. In other words, the North’s capital city will be reduced to ashes and removed from the map,” the source said.
When the North tested a nuclear device for the fifth time, the South released the descriptively-titled “Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation” plan.
The South is trying to target the North Korean leadership, letting dictator Kim Jong-Un know just how his life will end if he launches a first strike.
South Korea has an arsenal of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles that can reach ranges up to 1,000 km. The weapons are intended to be a nuclear deterrent for South Korea, which doesn’t have its own nuclear arsenal.
Korean Missiles called Hyunmoo 2A and 2B are both ballistic missiles, meaning they deliver multiple warheads at predetermined targets. The Hyunmoo 3 is similar in design to the U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile, but carries half the conventional payload and has half the operational range.
The name “Hyunmoo” in Korean means “Guardian of the Northern Sky.” Fitting for such a defensive and deterring strategy.
“The KMPR is the utmost operation concept the military can have in the absence of its own nuclear weapons,” the South Korean military source told Yonhap.
The world of espionage requires two equally important things: access to information and a means of getting that information back to the other side. Modified DNA might make that a little easier.
Throughout history, spies have concocted many different means of secret communication. In the earliest days of modern spycraft, ink and paper had to be concealed from prying eyes. Spies wrote with anything that could be used as a kind of invisible ink, everything from lemon juice to semen. Hey, sometimes spycraft is just stressful.
As technology advances, using biology to enhance the ability to send covert messages is only increasing, but in a very different way.
Transmitting secret messages via radio or morse code carries risks. Israeli spy Eli Cohen ascended to a high rank in the Syrian Defense Ministry over four years by befriending important people in the Syrian government. The entire time he was transmitting information back to the Mossad through radio. He was caught red-handed during a transmission.
Being able to deliver information will always be the most secure means of communication. Over time, complex cyphers, micro-dots that can hold thousands of documents on a mark the size of a period, and dead drops of actual documents were solid means of getting that information back to handlers. Spy agencies developed incredible technology to obtain information.
A new biological means is taking that technology a step further, using specially-modified strands of DNA to imprint messages on a molecular level.
Though the process is complex for the layman (at the moment, don’t sleep on the CIA’s technological engineers) anyone looking to send a secret message can create a strand of DNA with the coded message. Only the receiver will be able to decode it, and possibly even know it’s there.
Like the microdot, the hidden DNA message can be pasted on a dot in a standard letter and simply mail it to whomever is intended to receive it.
According to the New York Times, the procedure was developed by a civilian, Dr. Carter Bancroft, professor of physiology and biophysics at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
The idea is to arrange the four nucleotides that comprise DNA into a simple encryption cypher using the letters that denote the nucleotides: A,C, G, and T, then marking them with “primer” DNA. It would be mixed with human DNA and sent off. The receiver would have the key to the cypher.
DNA manipulation can be a useful way to send messages because of the complexity of human DNA. It can be “chopped up” into 30 million different strands.
The Mount Sinai researchers then hid the DNA onto a microdot in a regular letter and mailed it through the U.S. Postal Service.
Once received, a spy agency would then use techniques common in DNA laboratories to replicate the strand containing the hidden message, so long as they know the “primer” sequence. If an intercepting agency suspects a DNA microdot but doesn’t know that sequence will have 30 million possibilities to sift through.
Until the Alan Turing of DNA cyphers is born, that is. To get the general idea of how it works, watch the video below.
Vice News journalist Lucy Kafanov traveled to Russia to learn about soldiers who fought in Ukraine, and she found graves and families of fallen soldiers willing to talk with her about Russia’s “ghost war.”
She spoke with different Russians impacted by the secret deployments to the region, including a mother who lost her son, an uncle whose nephew was crippled, opposition leaders who have been beaten or silenced, and activists. In this emotional documentary, the truth is revealed about a war the Kremlin denies is even happening.
You can read more at Vice News. The full documentary is available below:
Each year, this five-day intensive training program, also known as Cool School, teaches over 700 servicemembers the survival skills necessary to fight back against nature and survive in the Arctic.
“Mother nature does not like you in this situation,” Survival Instructor Staff Sgt. Seth Reab, tells his students in the morning freeze. “She’s violent. She’s harsh. Your job is to survive until help comes; her job is to find a way to take your life.”
The Air Force’s Cool School, which brings in more than 700 participants every year across all service branches, takes place outside Eielson Air Force Base, deep inside Alaska. Temperatures average about 30 degrees below zero.
At the start of the course, all participants are given the emergency equipment they would have depending upon what plane they would be flying.
The emergency equipment usually works. But everything else in the Arctic will try to kill the participants. This includes subzero temperatures …
… and even dehydration. Despite the abundance of snow, it is extremely difficult to drink enough water under harsh Arctic conditions.
One of the first things students are taught is to harvest snow in parachutes, in order to melt it down for water.
This supply of snow can then be moved into tin cans, in which the snow can be mixed until it melts enough to easily drink.
Warmth is just as important as water. Students are taught to find tender wood with which to build a fire.
In Cool School, students are taught the ideal way to split wood into longer thin splints that will burn more easily and evenly.
Servicemembers learn to create sparks with a metal match. Though somewhat antiquated, metal matches can be used indefinitely.
Once students create a fire, it can be used for signaling, heat, and food preparation.
Students also learn more basic practical skills — they have to change socks in order to keep feet dry so as to avoid hypothermia.
On the first night of school, students are taught to create open primitive shelters that provide little insulation from the elements.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Reimer unpacks his duffle bag during the first night of arctic field training near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The course is five days in duration with instruction in familiarization with the arctic environment, medical, personal protection, sustenance and signaling. Reimer is an explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron
During the second day, instructors teach students to make more complex A-frame shelters out of wood and a parachute or tarp.
Airman 1st Class Ray Simon prepares the cover for his thermalized A-frame shelter during arctic survival training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The A-frame shelter is designed to keep the survivor warm and dry to endure harsh arctic nights. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief.
The A-frame is then covered with almost a foot of snow to provide insulation.
Airman 1st Class Ray Simon looks out of his thermalized A-frame tent during Arctic Survival School training. The thermalized A-frame is designed to keep survivors warm and dry in arctic environments. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief and also a member of a crash disable damage recovery team responsible for retrieving downed aircraft in emergency situations.
Another vital principle of survival students learn is how to create an effective signal fire by placing a flare inside a base of kindling and smoke-generating tree limbs.
Staff Sgt. Seth Reab ignites a flare in the middle of tender wood to create a smoke signal during a field training lesson at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The signal flare can be seen for up to 10 miles away and much further when rescue help is coming through the air. Reab is an Air Force Arctic Survival School instructor assigned to Det. 1, 66th Training Squadron at Eielson AFB.
Next to the smoke signal, students create a giant letter ‘V’ to alert passing pilots that they are in need of rescue.
You can watch a recap of the Arctic Survival School below.
We’ve all seen the military homecoming videos, with a service member returning from overseas to surprise their loved ones.
But what happens when a soldier comes home and surprises a total stranger? Well, not to worry, because the satirical website ClickHole has you covered.
“I think he’s going to be very surprised, because he has no idea that I’m finally back from Afghanistan,” says “Sgt. Luke Brundage,” in the video produced by the one-year-old offshoot of The Onion.
With the look and feel of many familiar homecoming videos, the video hilariously illustrates a very awkward meeting, if something like this ever did occur. Interestingly enough, the actor who portrays Brundage is a Marine veteran, according to The Marine Times.
And while it does have some technical errors (using “soldier” instead of Marine, for instance), it’s still funny as hell. And the actor, Jonah Saesan, had little to do with pointing those out.
“A few people want to focus on the detail,” Saesan told The Times. “I don’t think they understand how little I had to do with the creative process.”
Marines have long dreamed of the day beloved retired Gen. James Mattis ‘finally’ takes residence in the White House, but they shouldn’t get their hopes up this campaign season.
In true Mattis fashion, the former head of U.S. Central Command gave it to ’em straight during a speech at Columbia Basin College in Washington State, letting his fans know that despite their interest, he would not be competing in the upcoming presidential race.
While many troops would love to see Mattis go up against the likes of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, he said he’d like to see others take on the challenge.
“[It’s] time for younger people, especially veterans, to run for office,” Mattis told Marine Corps Times.
That could leave many sporting “Mattis for president” T-shirts while drinking from their “Mattis in 2016” mugs disappointed. In 2012, one Marine veteran started a Facebook campaign to get voters to consider writing in Mattis’ name on their ballots.
Despite the promise of a rabid following in the veteran community, Mattis holds that he doesn’t have “a broad enough perspective” to be Commander-in-Chief, according to The Marine Corps Times.
“They’ve got the wife of a prominent figure in the defense industry — who happens to hold dual Bulgarian-Russian passports — coordinating a bunch of agents herself and she’s on video taking meetings at the embassy and in public with Russian officials,” said a NATO counterintelligence official who works undercover and cannot be named.
“And who is running this woman — again married to one of the top agents — on the Russian side? The top two Russian diplomats at the embassy in Sofia run her themselves to the point they’re caught on video with her,” said the NATO official. “This isn’t a bunch of dumb thugs from the GRU [Russian military intelligence] either, this is the proper SVD [a premier Russian intelligence service previously known as KGB] running operations from an embassy in a NATO capital.”
The counterintelligence official was particularly shocked at both the clumsy nature of the operation and the bizarre lack of language skills of those running it, considering the spies involved would have been elite intelligence officials with extensive language training who were working in Bulgarian, a Slavic language with close ties to Russia. (There is a lengthy Twitter thread discussing details of the failed operation here, by the journalist Christo Grozev of Bellingcat.)
“The tasking memo was pretty amateurish but normal I guess, they wanted as much info on anything related to NATO that wasn’t Bulgarian because they don’t care about Bulgaria they clearly only care about foreign NATO officers. But that it’s in illiterate Bulgarian makes me crazy. An American or French officer with terrible Bulgarian — but good Russian — would make sense but the SVD has no excuse,” the official told Insider.
‘That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail’
After months of closely watching the two Russian officers meet the handler and his wife, Bulgarian authorities became convinced that they had the entire cell under surveillance because of the single point of contact between the spies: The woman who was married to the top official involved, nicknamed “The Resident” by Bulgarian officials, a play on an old KGB term for a spy.
“It looks like maybe the Russians recruited this single MOD official, who then expanded the network to include others and it was all run through that central point,” said the NATO official of the spycraft involved.
“That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail: In this case [if you] figure out The Resident or his wife then you have caught all the agents, not just one,” said the official. “It can be hard to arrange but this is a valuable agent in a NATO MOD [Ministry of Defence]. They should have taken the time and been more careful to isolate each agent so that they didn’t all end up starring in a YouTube video.”
‘It’s as if they don’t really care’
The NATO official said that Bulgaria’s success in the past at catching Russian agents should have been a warning that the situation posed challenges to spy operations:
In 2020, Bulgaria deported four top Russian diplomats for spying.
In 2019 it banned a former Russian intelligence official from entering Bulgaria over spying claims.
And in 2015 Bulgaria saw the first use of the Novichok nerve agent by Russian spies in an attempt to kill a Bulgarian arms dealer who had run afoul of the Kremlin. Novichok was later used in Salisbury in 2018 on a defected Russian spy and his daughter and in 2020 the same substance was used to poison Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny.
“We end up seeing so many Russian operations because they’re crazy: America isn’t sending a guy to your house to kill you with a hammer, but the Russians will. And if you send a guy to kill someone with a hammer or nerve agents the message you send is that you don’t care if you get caught.”