Russia's massively powerful nukes are strategic duds - We Are The Mighty
Intel

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds

Although economic sanctions have all but neutered much of the nation’s military modernization efforts, Russia has managed to keep itself relevant in the 21st century by fielding headline-grabbing exotic weapons, including massive nukes far greater in scale than anything Uncle Sam has to offer. With nuclear weapons like the RS-28 Sarmat ICBM and the Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System submersible drone, Russia can cause greater devastation to its targets today than at any point during the Cold War. The thing is… that just doesn’t really matter anymore.

Mutually assured destruction

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Aftermath of the atomic bomb explosion over Hiroshima, August 6, 1945 (U.S. Navy Photo)

While the fighting during the Cold War was largely relegated to comparably small proxy conflicts, the Cold War eclipsed even World War II in terms of stakes. A Nazi victory in World War II would have changed life as we know it worldwide… but a nuclear exchange in the Cold War could have literally ended it. With stakes that high, it wasn’t difficult for both the United States and Soviet Union to convince lawmakers and taxpayers to pour funding into weapons development. The result was nuclear stockpiles so vast and broadly capable that a doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction became the only effective means of deterring large scale war between superpowers.

The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction was originally coined in 1962 by Donald Brennan, a strategist working in Herman Kahn’s Hudson Institute. After the Soviet Union tested their first nuclear weapon in August of 1949, tensions between the World War II allies became significantly more pressing, prompting renewed interest and funding into America’s own weapons of mass destruction. Predictably, the more the United States poured money into defense programs, the more the Soviets did in turn. The result was a cycle of nuclear weapon production and development that found its peak in the 1980s, when the two nation’s combined stockpiles of nuclear weapons exceeded 60,000 (or about six times the combined stockpiles of these nations today).

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
This is what a single 1.85 megaton detonation looks like. (National Nuclear Security Administration)

This arm’s race also extended well beyond the nukes themselves. Each nation also needed broadly distributed means of delivering these weapons to their targets, so no nuclear first-strike could completely eliminate a nation’s ability to respond in kind. In order to accomplish this, the United States began distributing nuclear weapon capabilities across the methods of delivery and service branches. Today, we’ve come to know this distribution as the nuclear triad. While nuclear weapons of varying uses and sizes emerged as a part of this effort, the backbone of America’s nuclear triad emerged as a combination of land-based ICBMs, aircraft-based bombs, and submarine-based missiles. The Soviets soon fielded a comparable triad, matching America’s ability to respond to any nuclear attack.

The doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction remains a prominent part of America’s nuclear deterrence strategy for the Soviet Union’s successor, the Russian government. Today, both nations maintain nuclear stockpiles that are significantly smaller than they did at the height of the Cold War. However, while America has allowed a good portion of its nuclear weapon infrastructure to age toward obsolescence, Russia has continued to lean on its nukes as a means of geopolitical showmanship.

How do Russia’s nukes compare to America’s?

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Comparing the yields of in service and retired nuclear warheads.

The RS-28 Sarmat

Today, the United States maintains approximately 5,800 nuclear weapons, with 3,800 considered active. Within that stockpile are at least 400 LGM-30 Minuteman III land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Minuteman III has been in service since 1970, has an operational range of more than 6,000 miles, and is accurate to within 800 feet. These missiles can carry between one and three nuclear warheads, each with a maximum explosive yield of 475 kilotons, giving this weapon a maximum yield of 1.425 megatons. To put it another way, that means each American ICBM can deliver about 95 times the destructive capability of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Sounds pretty big, right? America’s dated Minuteman III missiles certainly pack a punch, but even when carrying three of its most potent warheads, these missiles are utterly dwarfed by Russia’s most advanced (and powerful) ICBM coming into service this year: The RS-28 Sarmat.

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds

The RS-28, sometimes known as the “Satan II,” has been in development since 2014, and was famously described as “capable of wiping out parts of the earth the size of Texas or France,” by Russia’s state-owned media. The missile has a range of 6,385 miles and carries a warhead jam-packed with Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRV) that boast a combined destructive yield of 50 megatons. In other words, the RS-28 Sarmat carries a destructive yield greater than 35 times that of the Minuteman III.

America’s most powerful nuclear bomb in service, the B83, also boasts just a 1.2 megaton yield, and even the most powerful nuclear weapon in American history, the 9 megaton B53, rings in at less than 1/5 the yield of the mighty Sarmat.

But if a missile dubbed the “Satan II” and marketed as a way to remove Texas from the map isn’t massive enough, Russia also boasts another doomsday nuke–one said to match or even double the nuclear yield of the Sarmat, while bolstering its destructive capacity by creating an unnatural, natural disaster.

The Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Russia state media unintentionally leaked the Status-6 by broadcasting this image.

The Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System has gone by a number of names in Western analysis over the years, in part because this weapon was considered something of an urban legend for a long time. Rumors about the Status-6 first bubbled to the surface years ago, largely through vague mentions in Russian news reports, but its existence was confirmed within the past few years–first in a leaked image of a Pentagon intelligence report, and then through official announcements from the Kremlin.

Unlike the submarine-launched nuclear missiles both Russia and the United States maintain as a part of their nuclear triads, the Status-6 (sometimes called “Poseidon” or by its NATO designation of “Kanyon”) is actually a submersible drone. Once deployed by a Russian Navy submarine, the drone can travel autonomously toward its target, covering more than 5,400 miles at depths as low as 3,300 feet. Once it finds its target, the Status-6 simply parks and waits for the command to detonate.

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Artist rendering of the Status-6 (Russian State Media)

Onboard this submersible drone is an absolutely massive warhead–with some claims saying it carries the same nuclear yield as the RS-28, and others claiming twice that. According to some Russian officials, the Status-6 can be equipped with a 100 megaton weapon… which is two times more powerful than the largest nuclear weapon ever even tested.

A detonation of that magnitude would not only destroy and irradiate a massive area, its positioning under water would result in a radioactive tsunami that would reach far further inland than the blast itself. In no uncertain terms, the Status-6 is intended to serve as a doomsday weapon. It’s the sort of weapon you build not to win wars, but to end them.

What is the strategic value of massive nuclear weapons?

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
View of a 50-megaton Tsar Bomba test,  the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. (WikiMedia Commons)

America is amid an arguably overdue effort to modernize its ICBM arsenal in Northrop Grumman’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) platform expected to enter service later this decade. Although the weapon’s W87 Mod 0 thermonuclear warhead’s destructive capacity has not been revealed just yet, it stands to reason that these new missiles will still offer significantly less firepower than Russia’s mighty Sarmat, let alone the terrifying 100 megaton capacity claimed by the Status-6.

To some maintaining the Cold War’s mindset of matching capability to deter war, this may seem like an egregious failure on the part of America’s defense infrastructure. After all, how do you hope to deter a 100 megaton weapon if your own most powerful weapons are tiny by comparison? Well, the truth is, you simply don’t have to.

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Senior Airman Scott Fowler (top) and Senior Airman Paul Gallegos, maintenance personnel with the 321st Strategic Missile Wing, guide the re-entry system for LGM-30 Minuteman III missiles onto a missile guidance set. (DoD photo)

Way back in 1962, when Donald Brennan first coined the term “Mutually Assured Destruction,” the Soviet Union had only successfully tested their first hydrogen bomb (or thermonuclear weapon) some seven years prior. The Soviets didn’t possess any nuclear tsunami drones as they do today, and yet, as far as America was concerned, a nuclear exchange with the Soviets would all but certainly wipe out life on earth as we know it. It’s almost like you don’t need Bond villain-esque nukes to be scary when run-of-the-mill nukes will do the same job.

And therein lies the practical failing of Russia’s massive nukes: They may be good for a bit of geopolitical theater, but strategically they change nearly nothing about the nuclear deterrence mission or the comparative military standing of each nation. Just like during the Cold War, both Russia and the United States are aware that the launch of a single nuclear weapon is all it takes to start a cascade of retaliatory strikes that, once begun, will usher in a nuclear apocalypse most citizens of each nation (and all others) likely won’t survive. When the result is the end of the world, it really doesn’t matter how big that first explosion might be.

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
“Mine’s bigger!” A Russian soldier shouts right before his face melts off. (U.S. Air Force photo)

So what value is there in a 50 or 100 megaton weapon like those found in Russia’s arsenal? While they don’t actually offer much in the way of strategic value in a nuclear war, they do however play an important role in helping Russia maintain its global reputation as a force to be reckoned with. That reputation is essential, not only for Russia’s aggressive approach to foreign policy, but also to maintain its footing as the arms dealer of choice for nations on America’s naughty list.

Like their token fleet of a dozen or so fifth-generation fighters, or their frequent claims about robot soldiers or invisibility cloaks, Russia depends on foreign press coverage to help advance the perception that Russia is a cutting edge weapons designer and producer. Russia needs the influx of money from foreign sales if they ever hope to secure adequate funding for their notably promising (but sorely under-funded) programs like their T-14 Armata main battle tank.

Put simply: Russia’s massive nukes aren’t really about strategic capability, so much as they’re about perception, intimidation, and economics. Whether or not this effort will be successful, however, is yet to be determined.

Intel

These Incredibly Brave Activists Expose The Terror Of Living Under ISIL Control

The so-called Islamic State has people exposing its daily atrocities from the inside.


While the band of terrorists of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attempt to masquerade as a legitimate government in their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, a brave group of activists living inside the city have been documenting life under the brutal regime.

Also Read: The King Of Jordan Sent Out This Badass Photo In Response To ISIL

Known as Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, the group posts photo, video, and social media updates from the city.

From The Daily Beast:

[The group] follows developments in ISIS very closely and appear to be well-sourced inside the city of Raqqa, which is the so-called Islamic State’s capital. The group reported on a failed Jordanian attempt to rescue Muadh al Kasasbeh, a downed pilot from the Jordan Air Force, and his subsequent execution, burned alive, weeks before the hideous video of his murder was made public by ISIS.

Now, in an exclusive video interview from The Wall Street Journal, one of the activists has given his first in-person interview.

“Young guys they just think about going to the bars, meeting girls, and having girlfriends,” the activist says in the video. “But I think about how I will expose ISIS. How I will make the world notice my city.”

It’s a must-watch:

NOW: This Retired Navy Jet Is Finding New Life In The Fight Against ISIL

OR: Meet The Dutch Biker Gang Fighting Against ISIL

Intel

These soldiers recorded a catchy Beatles cover from a snowbank

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The US Army Field Band made a splash this week when it released a cover of “Here Comes The Sun,” more famously performed by The Beatles, on its Facebook page.

Four soldiers from the band went into the snow of Massachusetts to perform the tune from within a snowbank, adding special significance to the line, “I see the ice is slowly melting.”

The video is pretty fun and the tune is very catchy, so check it out below.

That’s not all from the “Six String Soldiers.” The group also posted another video recently with some backup help from the University of Massachusetts Drum Line.

 

 

Intel

This Medal of Honor recipient thinks Donald Trump is wrong on Muslims

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Photos: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey and Michael Vadon CC BY-SA 4.0


Medal of Honor recipient and Afghan War Veteran Dakota Meyer recently penned an essay on Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country.

Meyer, who fought beside Muslims while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, points out that Trump’s tactics will likely aid ISIS recruiting and threaten American security. It would also keep out the translators whose services saved American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the interpreter who Meyer worked to get into America safely.

Read Meyer’s essay over at Warriorscout.com 

Intel

Everyone Can Achieve ‘Rambo’ Status With This 500-Round Backpack

The scenes of John Rambo wasting bad guys with an endless supply of ammunition isn’t so unrealistic after all.


While military blog Task and Purpose nailed it with its recent article on what military movies get wrong, the U.S. Army is actually fielding a new backpack that will give soldiers 500 rounds to fire downrange.

Also Read: Here’s What An Army Medic Does In The Critical Minutes After A Soldier Is Wounded

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Rambo endless ammo scene. YouTube

The Rapid Equipping Force (REF) has created the IRONMAN backpack, which bring soldiers closer to the infinite ammo Rambo status. It holds 500 rounds of ammo connected to a feeder that attaches directly to the M240B or Mark 48 machine gun. It eliminates the need for an ammunition bearer, although hiking with that much ammo could get pretty rough.

This video explains how the apparatus works, with the firing demonstration beginning at 5:00. Check it out:

NOW: These Are The US Army’s Top Five Photos Of 2014

OR WATCH: Theresa Vail, Army Vet And Former Miss Kansas, Is The First Female Host On Outdoor Channel

Intel

This reporter covered war up close before he was murdered by ISIS

Reporter James Foley was no stranger to battle zone coverage. This first-hand look at a Taliban ambush against U.S. soldiers shows how he was willing to put himself in harm’s way to capture the story.


Infantrymen from the 101st Brigade were under constant attack and lost seven troops to IEDs, suicide attacks, and firefights.

Much of the U.S.’s military attention was focused on Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold in the southwest part of the country (Afghanistan), according the PBS video below. But, in Kunar Province in the northeast, the firefights were just as fierce.

The video picks up with Private Justin Greer, age 19, getting shot in the head while manning the turret-mounted grenade launcher.

Watch:

James Foley was a freelance reporter for GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse and other news organizations. He was murdered by the terrorist group ISIS in August 2014.

NOW: This Marine walks off the battlefield after being shot in the neck

OR: We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

Articles

This New Movie Unflinchingly Reveals The True Faces Of PTSD

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Delta Force veteran Tyler Grey fires a pistol at a desert range. His right arm was wounded during a firefight in Iraq. (Image: Armed Forces Foundation)


In “That Which I Love Destroys Me,” a newly-released documentary that deals with the current PTSD epidemic, writer and director Ric Roman Waugh (“Felon,” “Snitch”) does exactly what he needed to do to respect the importance and delicacy of the subject matter:  He gets out of the way of the story by letting the principals tell it themselves.

Also Read: This Project Is A Real And Raw Look At How Military Service Affected Veterans 

“My job was to let them tell their story with unflinching candor,” Waugh said at a recent screening in Los Angeles.

TWILDM follows the post-war lives of two veteran special operators.  Jayson Floyd served in Afghanistan as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, and Tyler Grey was a member of Delta Force and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Floyd and Grey met at a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan in 2002, but their friendship blossomed after their complicated paths of post-active duty life joined around the methods they’d unlocked for dealing with their PTSD – mainly understanding the benefits of a supportive community of those wrestling with their own forms of post-traumatic stress.

Waugh sets the tempo of the documentary with soliloquies featuring a number of people, but mostly Floyd and Grey.  Their personalities are at once different and complimentary.  Floyd is Hollywood-leading-man handsome, moody and brooding, and speaks with a rapid-fire meter that forces you to listen closely to cull out the wisdom therein.  Grey is more upbeat, a conversationalist who uses comedy to mute his emotional scars.  He is quick with folksy metaphors that show how many times he’s told some of these stories, and he matter-of-factly relates how he sustained massive wounds to his right arm as breezily as a friend talking about a football injury.

The two warriors’ physical appearance changes throughout the documentary, which has the net effect of showing the passage of time and the range of their moods.  Sometimes they’re clean-shaven; sometimes they’re bearded.  Their hair length varies.  The differences color the underlying chaos around the search for identity of those dealing with PTSD.

[brightcove videoID=4058027763001 playerID=3895222314001 height=600 width=800]

Others are featured, as well.  Grey’s ex-girlfriend singularly comes to represent the toll of PTSD borne by those around the afflicted.  She’s beautiful and articulate, and as she speaks from a couch with Grey seated next to her, a pathos emerges that is intense and heartbreaking.  You can tell she loves him, but they’ll never be together again.  Too much has been said during the darkest days.  For his part, his expression evinces resignation for the beast inside of him that he is still taming, as he’ll have to for the rest of his life.  The sadness in his eyes is that of a werewolf warning those who would attempt to get close to stay away lest they be torn to shreds in the dark of night.

Floyd’s brother tells of the letter Floyd wrote explaining why he couldn’t be physically present to be the best man at his wedding.  As the brother reads the letter he begins to weep, which causes Floyd to weep as well.  The image of the tough special operator breaking down is very powerful.

But perhaps the most powerful scene is the one featuring Grey participating in a special operations challenge in Las Vegas.  He’s back in his element, wearing the gear he wore so many missions ago, a member of a team of elite warriors bonded by a clear-cut mission.

The team cleanly makes its way through a series of obstacles, but at the last one – where they must each climb a 15-foot rope to ring a bell – Grey falters.  His wounded hand won’t hold him.  He tries again and again, each attempt increasingly pathetic.  It’s hard to watch.  He finally gives up.

His teammates pat him on the back and put on the good face, but Grey is obviously crushed by his failure – something that goes against every molecule of his special operations DNA.

Grey convinces his teammates (and the camera crew, as Waugh revealed at the LA screening) to get up early the following day and try again before the event organizers tear down the obstacle course.  This time Grey rings the bell.  The scene captures the triumph of that day and, in a broader sense, the will to triumph over PTSD.

“Dealing with PTSD is a constant process,” Floyd said.  “To do this right we had to rip the scab off and show the wound.”

“We know we’re not the worst case,” Grey added.  “This is our story – just about us – and we’re putting ourselves out there not to compare but hopefully to coax people into sharing.”

Find out more about “That Which I Love Destroys Me,” including dates and places for the nationwide tour, here.

Buy the movie on iTunes here.

NOW: This Group Works To Salvage Good From The Ultimate Tragedy Of War 

OR: 7 Criminals Who Messed With The Wrong Veterans 

Intel

These veterans are keeping kids safe on dangerous Chicago streets

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Photo: Youtube


There’s a veteran’s service initiative in Chicago that is literally saving children’s lives.

As part of the “Safe Passage” program, a non-profit called Leave No Veteran Behind deploys veterans to troubled areas of Chicago to watch over kids on their way to and from school. The organization repays student loan debt for service members in exchange for community service projects like this one, and also helps with employment and transitional jobs.

“We’re here faithfully; we’ve been here since day one,” veteran Bernard Cooks told NPR. “Our intention is to be here until the last day so kids can figure out that, ‘Hey, there’s somebody that actually cares about our safety,’ and they can feel confident going up and down these streets.”

From NationSwell:

In response to the widespread violence among youth in parts of Chicago, LNVB approached the Chicago school system to see if veterans could help. Tipped off about repeated violent incidents on the corner of 35th and Martin Luther King Drive, LNVB deployed 20 veterans to the location to stand guard, positively engage with youth and maintain the peace. Several weeks of calm led to expansion, and now, more than 400 veterans have participated in the Safe Passage program, positioned at several hot spots for crime in tough Chicago neighborhoods. On any given school day, about 130 veterans patrol the streets. As a result, the Chicago police has seen a significant decline in violence in the communities served.

114 children were murdered in Chicago from 2010 to 2014, CBS News reported. Many were injured or killed by gangs. Watch how Leave No Veteran Behind is helping to bring these numbers down:

Intel

This Awesome New Movie Is Shot Entirely Like A First Person Shooter

“Hardcore” is the first feature film filmed like a video game first-person shooter, and it looks incredible.


Also Read: Marine Who Lost Leg In Combat To Climb Everest

To give users the first person experience, special GoPro rigs were created and worn by the lead actor. The result is a high definition, in-your-face look at what a real gunfight would be like. Here’s a photo of the lead actor wearing the apparatus:

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds
Photo: Indiegogo

Video games such as “Half-Life were the inspiration behind Ilya Naishuller’s short feature, Bad Motherf–ker. The short has more than 20 million views and thousands of comments asking for more. Taking the positive feedback into consideration, Naishuller teamed up with Russian director Timur Bekmambetov to make an entire feature film.

[Tweet “This is awesome, a movie shot entirely in first person.”]

Hardcore’s Indiegogo page summarizes the film in this way:

HARDCORE is a modern, action Sci-Fi story about HENRY, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator ESTELLE (Haley Bennet) from the clutches of a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, AKAN (Danila Kozlovsky), and his army of mercenaries.  Fighting alongside Henry is JIMMY (Sharlto Copley), who is Henry’s only hope to make it through the day. Hardcore takes place over the course of one day, in Moscow, Russia and it’s all shot in the same style as BAD MOTHERF–KER to be released in cinemas worldwide.

Although the filming is complete, the creators of Hardcore are using Indiegogo to fund the film’s post-production. Post-production consists CGI, audio-mixing, and fixing parts of the movie that don’t belong in the final version like ropes and green screens. Despite not being enhanced with all the bells and whistles that computers bring, the first look is amazing.

Check it out:

NOW: Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

OR:  Here’s How A Combat Wounded Veteran Got His Dream Shot At College Football

Intel

‘The best kept secret in the Navy’ — The elite boat commandos supporting Navy SEALs

Russia’s massively powerful nukes are strategic duds


Most Americans know of the elite sailors who serve on Navy SEAL teams, but there is another group of quiet professionals backing them up when they need a heavily-armed ride into or out of combat.

Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman, better known as SWCC, serve on high-speed attack boats that can effectively patrol rivers and coastal regions around the world. Tracing their lineage back to the PT boats of World War II and combatant craft of Vietnam, SWCC (pronounced “Swick”) operators today are mostly known for their skills at inserting and extracting Navy SEAL teams.

“We refer to it as the best kept secret in the Navy,” one operator says in the video below.

SWCC teams serve on state-of-the-art boats outfitted with plenty of firepower, which include the U.S. military’s standard M240 light machine-gun, heavy M2 .50 caliber, and the M134 Minigun, a belt-fed monster that can churn out up to 6,000 rounds per minute.

Check out the video of SWCC in action below, courtesy of the U.S. Navy:

Intel

Marine veteran chokes the hell out of a guy trying to rob a gas station

When a masked man walks into a gas station with a knife, most people would step aside.


That’s exactly what Daniel Gaskey did initially, until the eight-year Marine veteran figured out what was going on and decided to take action. The off-duty firefighter was pushed out of the way at the register by the masked man. Security footage captured what happened next.

“I just launched on his back, put my arm around his head, around his neck and just rotated and just thrust him on the ground,” Gaskey told CBS-Dallas-Fort Worth. “I landed on top of him and standing. And once I got them on the ground and I was on top of it I was able to get the knife away and threw it out of his reach and focused more on controlling him.”

Besides being a firefighter and a veteran of the Marine Corps, Gaskey also wrestled in high school. Looks like that came in handy.

Watch:

NOW: These wounded Marines hunted the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now they hunt child predators online.

Intel

Army-Navy Spirit Video: ‘As Long As We Got Our SDBs’

One of the greatest rivalries in college football is Army vs. Navy. And Midshipman Rylan Tuohy has stepped up the game.


Whether on the field or cheering their teams along, both Army and Navy take winning this particular game very seriously. And the rivals are calling each other out through clever videos such as Rylan’s Suit and Tie parody. Six points to Navy for this one. Rylan is just as talented a singer as he is a United States Naval Academy midshipman.

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