The Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up with the crew of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) to grant Peter, a 16-year-old cancer survivor, his wish to become a Navy pilot for a day.
“Since fourth or fifth grade I wanted to be a naval aviator,” said Peter, in a video produced by the U.S. Navy. “We live within twenty miles of Annapolis and so you have the Naval Academy there, everyone is a Navy fan.”
He didn’t know what to expect when he learned that he was going to be on an aircraft carrier. Little did he know that he would be traveling by air and landing on its deck. Peter got the Navy’s V.I.P. treatment and did way more than he could imagine.
Air Force intelligence analysts and operational leaders moved quickly to develop a new targeting combat plan to counter deadly ISIS explosive-laden drone attacks in Iraq and Syria.
In October of this year, ISIS used a drone, intended for surveillance use, to injure troops on the ground. Unlike typical surveillance drones, this one exploded after local forces picked it up for inspection, an Air Force statement said.
The emergence of bomb-drones, if even at times improperly used by ISIS, presents a new and serious threat to Iraqi Security Forces, members of the U.S.-Coalition and civilians, service officials explained to Sout Warrior. Drone bombs could target advancing Iraqi Security Forces, endanger or kill civilians and possibly even threat forward-operating US forces providing fire support some distance behind the front lines.
Air Force officials explained that many of the details of the intelligence analysis and operational response to ISIS bomb-drones are classified and not available for discussion.
Specific tactics and combat solutions were made available to combatant commanders in a matter of days, service experts explained.
While the Air Force did not specify any particular tactis of method of counterattack, the moves could invovle electronic attacks, some kind of air-ground coordination or air-to-air weapons, among other things.
However, the service did delineate elements of the effort, explaining that in October of this year, the Air Force stood up a working group to address the evolving threat presented by small commercial drones operated by ISIS, Air Force Spokeswoman Erika Yepsen told Scout Warrior.
Working intensely to address the pressing nature of the threat, Air Force intelligence analysts quickly developed a new Target Analysis Product to counter these kinds of ISIS drone attacks. (Photo: Scout Warrior)
“The working group cuts across functional areas and commands to integrate our best experts who have been empowered to act rapidly so they can continue to outpace the evolution of the threat they are addressing,” Yepsen said.
Personnel from the 15th IS, along with contributors, conducted a 280-plus hour rapid analysis drill to acquire and obtain over 40 finished intelligence products and associated single-source reports, Air Force commanders said.
Commercial and military-configured drone technology has been quickly proliferating around the world, increasingly making it possible for U.S. enemies, such as ISIS, to launch drone attacks.
“Any attack against our joint or coalition warriors is a problem. Once it is identified, we get to work finding a solution. The resolve and ingenuity of the airmen in the 15th IS (intelligence squadron)” to protect our warriors, drove them to come up with a well-vetted solution within days,” Lt. Col. Jennifer S. Spires, 25th Air Force, a unit of the service dealing with intelligence, told Scout Warrior.
While some analysts projected that developing a solution could take 11 to 12 weeks, the 15th IS personnel were able to cut that time by nearly 90 percent, Air Force officials said.
“While we cannot talk about the tactics and techniques that the 15th IS recommended, we can say that in every case, any targeting package sent to the air component adhered to rules that serve to protect non-combatants,” Spires added.
The 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing provides a targeting package in support of the Air Component. (Photo: Scout Warrior)
“The supported command makes the final decision about when and how to strike a specific target. Once the theater receives the targeting package it goes into a strike list that the Combatant Commander prioritizes,” Spires said.
Also, Air Force Secretary Deborah James recently addressed an incident wherein two Air Force ISR assets were flying in support coalition ground operations — when they were notified of a small ISIS drone in the vicinity of Mosul.
“The aircraft used electronic warfare capabilities to down the small drone in less than 15 minutes,” Erika Yepsen, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Scout Warrior.
While James did not elaborate on the specifics of any electronic warfare techniques, these kinds of operations often involve the use of “electronic jamming” techniques to interrupt or destroy the signal controlling enemy drones.
Cyberattacks are the best way for America’s enemies to mess around with the United States without triggering a full-scale war. Let’s be real, if China and Russia saw real-world retaliation for every time they messed with U.S. computer systems, we’d be in the middle of World War III right now.
But aside from stealing military technology, hacking the names and bank accounts of every federal employee, and mucking about in some utility companies, their cyber intrusions have been little more than a nuisance up to this point. That’s not how American cyberwarriors operate.
When the United States and Israel conduct a cyber attack, there’s a good reason for it and the target is clear. Stuxnet, a malicious virus designed to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment program, was the sniper rifle of the U.S. cyber weapons arsenal.
First uncovered in 2010, the Stuxnet worm was introduced onto the computer systems of the Iranian uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. The program was specifically engineered to be on that particular server, one that had to be running Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software, that had to be using Siemens technology (specifically, Siemens 7), and had control over a programmable logic controller (PLC), controlling an electric motor. If all of these conditions didn’t exist, the program would eventually delete itself.
PLCs are a critical component of almost all major manufacturing facilities and automated machines, managing everything from traffic lights to pipe valves. There was only one place in the world where those conditions existed: the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Those motors were controlling the centrifuges that were enriching uranium for Iran’s nuclear program.
What this means is that whoever created the Stuxnet worm had an insider in the Natanz nuclear facility, one who knew the exact conditions malicious code would have to attack, as well as how best to permanently damage the facility’s operations, or at least set it back a little bit.
Moreover, since the computer systems at Natanz weren’t connected to the internet, the inside man would also have to be able to introduce the worm to the Natanz controlling systems. According to the Times of Israel, this was done by the CIA and Mossad, who set up a fake front company with the sole purpose of getting Dutch intelligence agents posing as technicians into the facility.
Once introduced, the worm lay dormant. Once awakened, it looks for the conditions that would begin its destructive sequence. At Natanz, it found those conditions and began to force the centrifuges to spin too fast for too long, damaging the mechanical equipment. Meanwhile data collection and reporting software tells monitoring engineers that all systems are operating normally.
At Natanz, Stuxnet damaged 1,000 of the estimated 5,000 gas centrifuges before Iran realized something was amiss. They would reportedly execute a number of personnel at the facility, although it’s not known if intelligence assets were killed in the fallout. The day the Iranian government revealed what happened there, two Iranian nuclear scientists were killed by car bombs, further complicating the program’s restart.
No intelligence agency has ever taken credit for the Natanz Stuxnet attacks, but evidence is clear that it was a highly-engineered bug, designed for a limited mission with a small target. But like most clandestine operations, there was unexpected blowback.
The Stuxnet virus escaped from the computers at Natanz and has since spread to other systems across the world, including European manufacturers and a Russian nuclear power plant – and possibly more. Stuxnet is difficult to find and is self-replicating, so computer systems infected by the worm may not realize it until it’s too late.
Violent jihadism as a governing ideology has been a significant feature of the global scene for nearly two decades.
There are certainly differences between say, the nature Al Shabaab’s control over Somalia in the early 2010s, the Taliban state’s governance of Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001, and ISIS’s “caliphate” in the present day.
But militant groups spurred by a combination of religious radicalism, violent disenchantment with the existing state system, revisionist philosophies of Islamic history, and a rejection of secularism and Enlightenment value systems have morphed into territorial political units with alarming frequency in recent years.
One such instance was in Mali in early 2012, when jihadists piggybacked on a long-simmering Tuareg autonomy movement — itself empowered by the collapse of Mali’s government in the wake of a shocking military coup — in order to take control of several population centers in Mali’s desert north. Among them was Timbuktu, a legendary center of trade and Islamic scholarship.
The jihadist occupation of Timbuktu was brutal but thankfully brief: In early 2013, a French-led coalition liberated the city after 10 months of militant control. Now, the rule of Al Qaeda-allied militants over the city is the topic of what might be the important movie of the past year.
The hypnotic and visually overwhelming “Timbuktu,” the work of Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako and an Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, is an intimate and terrifying inquiry into one of the defining authoritarian ideologies of the 21st century, as told from the perspective of the people who are actually suffering under its yoke. (The film is currently playing in New York and LA and will open in various other US cities in February and March.)
US movie audiences have usually met jihadists through the lenses of American sniper rifles, or lying prone in front of CIA interrogators. “Timbuktu” is hardly the only movie that’s portrayed them as political and social actors. “Osama,” a multi-national production about a girl living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that won the 2004 Golden Globe award for best foreign-language film, and Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf’s highly regarded “Kandahar,” about a Afghan woman who sneaks into Taliban Afghanistan to try to stop her sister from committing suicide, succeed in giving viewers a first-hand look at the societies that jihadists create and the horrors this visits upon the people trapped in them.
In the wake of ISIS’s takeover of a Belgium-sized slice of the Middle East, “Timbuktu” has more immediate resonance than either of those films. The movie opens with a pickup truck of fighters flying a black flag nearly identical to ISIS’s. As the opening credits roll, the fighters eviscerate a row of traditional figurines in a hail of machine-gun fire.
But the firmest sign that jihadist rule is something external, alien, and deeply unwanted comes in the next scene, when gun-toting fighters enter a mud-brick mosque without taking their shoes off. They tell the imam that they have come to wage jihad. The imam replies that in Timbuktu, people wage jihad (which has the double meaning of spiritual reflection and self-purification, in addition to earthly holy war) with their minds and not with guns.
The next hour and a half is a grisly survey of what happened when this 1400-year-old precedent was inverted.
The jihadists ban music — one of the most celebrated aspects of Malian culture — and then whip violators in public. They ban soccer, and then break up a group of children miming a game in silent protest. The jihadists speak a smattering of local languages and broken Arabic; their leader bans smoking only to sneak cigarettes under the cover of the town’s surrounding sand dunes.
In one of the more illustrative scenes, a female fish seller is told by one jihadist that women can no longer appear in public without wearing gloves. She explains to him that she can’t work unless she’s barehanded and then dares the fighter to cut her hands off on the spot.
In “Timbuktu,” the jihadists are power-tripping, thuggish and hypocritical. They are in the city to create a totally new kind of society and revel in their own insensitivity to local concerns.
But crucially they are not entirely outsiders, and some of the film’s most affecting scenes involve a Tuareg who joins with the jihadists occupying the town, a reminder that there are local dynamics at play. Just as importantly, the film hints at the context of state collapse and social chaos that allowed the jihadists to take over in the first place.
The movie’s primary narrative follows a Tuareg herder who accidentally kills a fisherman from a different ethnic group during an argument over his cows’ access to drinking water along a disputed riverbank. The film’s central conflict encapsulates the unresolved questions of ethnicity and resources that kept northern Mali in a state of crisis that the jihadists later exploited.
The herder’s treatment at the hands of Timbuktu’s new overlords depicts the imposition of an an outside ideology. But the killing is itself is a pointed example of how social turmoil can feed into a violent, totalitarian mania seemingly without warning. It harkens back to ISIS’s swift takeover of Iraq this past summer, a national-level instance of the dynamics that “Timbuktu” manages to boil down to an intimate, dramatic scale.
“Timbuktu” has a happy ending. Even if it isn’t part of the movie, the city was eventually liberated from jihadist control. The film depicts a now-extinct regime.
But the nightmare of “Timbuktu” is far from over. The liberation of the areas that ISIS rules will come at some indeterminate future date, and parts of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria are still under the control of extremists whose ideologies are not categorically different from what appears in the film.
“Timbuktu” is maybe the best cinematic depiction ever made of what millions of people around the world are suffering through.
For decades after Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, doctors, scientists and the Department of Veterans Affairs have all struggled to determine what happened to the roughly 25-30% of Gulf War veterans who suffer from a mysterious mix of symptoms from a seemingly unknown cause. The condition and its host of symptoms became known as Gulf War Syndrome, or Gulf War Illness, and wasn’t immediately recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A Congressional committee went on to suggest a number of possible underlying causes of the condition that were present in the war zone, including depleted uranium dust and pyridostigmine bromide used to protect against chemical nerve agents. They blamed the VA for its lack of experience in environmental health and toxicology.
In that same committee meeting, the House of Representatives recommended a medical research body other than the VA or DoD look into the condition, and that’s exactly what happened.
A body of research has been conducted that has since shed new light on Gulf War Syndrome. The VA has since recognized a number of conditions that are now “presumptive,” meaning gulf War veterans don’t need to prove they happened as a result of military service. This includes:
Other undiagnosed conditions, such as weight loss, fatigue, unexplainable pain and some heart conditions
Researchers at Georgetown University have also discovered physical evidence of the condition in the brains of Gulf War veterans. Nerve fibers connected to pain receptors in the brains of these veterans fire differently than in other humans. This means Gulf War veterans could feel pain while doing something as simple as changing a shirt.
The same researcher who conducted that study, Dr. James Baraniuk, also found that there may be two distinct subsets of Gulf War Illness. By scanning the brains of more than 30 Gulf War veterans before and after moderate exercise, Baraniuk noted changes in two areas of the brain, each correlating to a different set of symptoms.
One group experienced changes in the area of the brain responsible for processing pain, which was consistent with their symptoms. The other group, who reported cardiovascular symptoms, specifically, increased heart rates while doing something as simple as standing up did not have significant activity in that part of the brain.
Instead, the brain of the cardiac-centric group showed decreased activity in the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for fine motor control, cognition, pain, and emotion. Healthy patients showed no changes.
“While these findings present new challenges to treating people with Gulf War illness, they also present new opportunities,” said Stuart Washington, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow and lead author on the study.
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:
The U.S. Air Force may end the careers of four Texas pilots it believes were dealing ecstasy and pot.
There were no witnesses. No drug paraphernalia were found. The officers’ drug tests all came back clean.
The evidence the Air Force found? Text messages between those involved through a search conducted before a warrant was granted. The texts themselves were quotes from “Pop Another Pill” by JellyRoll, songs by Warren G., Miley Cyrus and quotes from the 2005 film “Wedding Crashers.” The pilots’ took a trip to Las Vegas, where Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” became a theme of their textual conversations after they heard it on the radio.
The four Airmen are already off of flight status, stripped of their wings, and have huge, glaring blemishes on their records, which will hurt their Air Force careers as well as any possibility of becoming a commercial pilot once they leave the Air Force.
One pilot told his buddy who was at a wedding to come meet him on the town afterward and to “bring you[r] bridesmaid bitches.” The pilots also joked about “poppin pills” and “smokin’ bud.” According to The Daily Beast, one of the accused wrote his commanding officer:
“I can’t imagine a scenario in which a group of Air Force officers would be texting about engaging in criminal acts if that’s what they actually had done,” told the CO. “Maybe I’m naive in this regard, but it makes no sense to me.”
No matter where you try to hide, Army Special Forces will find you.
That message is clear by watching this video. Special Forces soldiers catch up with some insurgents in what looks like the only structure in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, it’s like finding Luke Skywalker’s house on Tattooine.
However, Skywalker didn’t have SF hunting him down. The door opens and all hell breaks loose. ISIS should know that, especially since they just freed 70 hostages from their clutches.
Long before he played the greatest Starfleet officer of all time and directed the immortal ‘The Voyage Home‘ Leonard Nimoy spent 18 months in the Army reserve. According to Military.com, Nimoy achieved the rank of sergeant and spent much of his army service “putting on shows for the Army Special Services branch which he wrote, narrated, and emceed.”
Nimoy acted in the following instructional film along with future “Davy Crockett” star Fess Parker. It addressed what was then called combat fatigue, or the emotional and psychological toll of warfare. The film shows how Marine Corps psychologists were supposed to treat combat fatigue sufferers, giving a glimpse into how the wartime military of the 1950s dealt into the still-vital question of how to address the mental health needs of its troops. Nimoy appears as the first of the two Marines in the clip to undergo treatment.
This clip was made in 1954, shortly after the Korean War ended and 12 years before Star Trek premiered on NBC.
The idea of chowing down on some insects doesn’t sound too appetizing, but when you’re on the brink of starvation, it might be your best option. When you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere, food sources can get pretty scarce. On top of all that, even if you were to catch a small game animal while enduring the elements, you’d still have to start a fire and cook that sucker to avoid ingesting any nasty parasites.
On the contrary, if you find a source of edible insects, you can just pop them into your mouth and get some lifesaving nutrition. Keep an eye out for these bugs if you find yourself in a bind.
These are probably the most popular insects to munch on. In fact, you’ve probably had a few crawl into your mouth while camping without even knowing it — don’t worry, it happens. You can efficiently collect these nutritious little bugs from their hills. Sure, you’re invading their personal space, but you have to eat, too.
Just make sure they’re not the painful kind first.
That’s good eatin’!
No, we’re not referring to young individuals who are learning martial arts. We’re talking about those little ugly things that jump from seemingly nowhere and land on your arm.
Packed with the protein you need to sustain yourself until you can find help, grasshoppers can be easily collected and stored for a quick snack throughout the day.
Though their name may have you believe otherwise, you can actually eat these suckers if you’re super desperate. Although they don’t look all that enjoyable, like most insects, they’re packed with the energy-providing protein you need to push yourself out of a desolate area.
It’s dinner time!
Another excellent source of protein and energy, termites can be found devouring large pieces of wood. These six-legged pests aren’t know for being filled with parasites, which means they’re good to eat. Once you find a log that’s been hollowed out by these eager eaters, give it a shake and watch them crawl out.
Also known as the “potato bug,” this little thing isn’t technically an insect — it’s actually a terrestrial isopod crustacean. Sure, maybe it doesn’t belong on list of bugs, but it does tastes similar to shrimp. They can be boiled in hot water just before being enjoyed by a struggling camper that’s to hold on for dear life.
Maybe we’re exaggerating a bit, but they do taste better than they look. Trust me.
Never-before-seen photos reveal the Bush administration’s shocked reactions to the September 11th attacks, moments after the towers were struck.
Each image depicts the crushing gravity of that fateful day, as reflected in the eyes of President George W. Bush, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet and many other White House staffers.
The photos were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from journalist Neirouz Hanna of PBS Frontline. The photos were taken by the vice president’s staff photographer.
You can see more of the recently-released photos on Flickr, and our selection of photographs below:
China’s no-holds-barred military modernization program has included some attention-grabbing new technologies seemingly drawn from the recesses of science fiction. In addition to the development of artificial intelligence technology, experiments in weather control, and the development of microwave “heat ray” weapons, Beijing has also reportedly pursued programs to genetically engineer super soldiers.
And if a recent Chinese news report is to be taken at face value, the Chinese military has already deployed troops equipped with strength-enhancing exoskeleton suits to the disputed Sino-Indian Himalayan border.
According to a report by the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, a detachment of Chinese border guard troops wearing the exoskeleton suits hauled a supply delivery to a mountaintop outpost in China’s southwestern Ngari prefecture — a Himalayan territory within the Tibetan Autonomous Region that includes portions of China’s contested border with India. In a video news report posted online, Chinese soldiers don devices that attach to their legs and waists, providing extra propulsion and support as they shouldered loads (containing food parcels to celebrate the Lunar New Year) up a rugged mountain trail at a reported altitude of roughly 16,700 feet.
Chinese forces first advertised their use of the exoskeletons in the Himalayan region in February, according to Chinese news reports, which touted the technology as a way to increase an individual soldier’s load-carrying capacity — especially at high altitude. An October CCTV video showed Chinese soldiers lifting heavy crates with the assistance of another, more substantial exoskeleton suit variant with a brace that extends the length of the wearer’s spine.
While eye-catching, the varied Chinese exoskeleton suits are more or less analogous to the designs currently being tested by the US military. Last year, the US Army began a four-year, $6.9 million research program to evaluate exoskeleton suits for military use. The suits under review are designed to artificially enhance the physical performance limits of a soldier — allowing him or her to run faster, jump higher, and carry heavier loads.
“As we explore the more mature exoskeleton options available to us and engage users, the more we learn about where the possible value of these systems is to army operations,” David Audet, a division chief in the Soldier Effectiveness Directorate at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, told Army-technology.com.
The US Army is currently evaluating multiple exoskeleton variants, including designs by American defense firms such as Lockheed Martin and Dephy.
Lockheed Martin’s Onyx suit includes leg attachments that resemble therapeutic leg braces connecting to a waist belt. The Onyx uses electromechanical knee actuators, multiple sensors, and an artificial intelligence computer to boost human strength and endurance, according to Army-technology.com.
“Before the army can consider investing in any development above what industry has done on their own, we need to make sure that users are on board with human augmentation concepts and that the systems are worth investing in,” Audet said.
US Special Operations Command (SOCCOM) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have also built exoskeleton suits of their own. Comprising a roughly 700-pound suit replete with anti-ballistic, full-body armor and an array of sophisticated sensors, the SOCCOM design was deemed unwieldy and unworkable and was ultimately canceled, according to industry reports.
The DARPA exoskeleton is a so-called soft suit that facilitates easier freedom of movement while providing extra power to a soldier’s waist, hips, thighs, and calves.
China and India share a 2,000-mile-long border in the Himalayas, which includes some of the harshest terrain and environmental conditions on earth. It is an ideal testing ground for China’s burgeoning exoskeleton technology.
Much of the region is above 14,000 feet in altitude. It is arid and cold, with severe exposure in places. The unfiltered sunlight at high altitude can cause blindness if not wearing the right sunglasses. And the lack of oxygen can cause lethal afflictions like pulmonary and cerebral edemas to strike without warning.
Deployed troops have to spend weeks acclimating to the reduced oxygen levels at such heights before they’re able to perform their duties. For the Indian army, this takes place at an outpost on the Chang La pass — which, at 17,586 feet in altitude, is roughly the same height as Mount Everest base camp.
Tensions between China and India inflamed in May after reports of fistfights between Chinese and Indian border patrols at two different sites along the so-called Line of Actual Control, or LAC, which denotes the two countries’ Himalayan frontier in a remote Indian region called Ladakh.
Chinese units have also claimed territory near Pangong Tso, a high-altitude lake that marks part of the Himalayan frontier between the two countries. The two sides have overlapping claims on the lake. A hand-to-hand brawl in June left 20 Indian soldiers dead; Chinese troops have also used microwave weapons to harass Indian troops, according to news reports.
Both Indian and Chinese forces are in the midst of a phased withdrawal from the contested Himalayan border region, Indian news outlets report. The bilateral moves are intended to restore the border area to its status prior to last summer’s escalated tensions.
“Both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner,” Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said Feb. 11.
Feature photo: Screenshot from YouTube courtesy of Chinese Media Perspective
The military command responsible for defending the the US and Canada from attack responded to more Russian military flights near Alaska last year than any year since the end of the Cold War, the four-star general leading the command said Tuesday.
US Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written testimony that “Russia continues to conduct frequent military operations in the approaches to North America.”
“Last year,” the general told lawmakers Tuesday, “NORAD responded to more Russian military flights off the coast of Alaska than we’ve seen in any year since the end of the Cold War.” These flights involved heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence assets.
VanHerck said that the Russian military flights near Alaska “show both Russia’s military reach and how they rehearse potential strikes on our homeland.”
The Russian military aircraft, which include Tu-160 and Tu-95 long-range bombers, Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft, and A-50 early warning and control planes that are regularly accompanied by Su-35 fighters, are typically intercepted by US Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to NORAD whenever they fly into the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.
No Russian military aircraft has at any point breached US or Canadian airspace, which extends out to 12 nautical miles from the US coastline.
Russian long-range air patrols were fairly common during the Cold War but became less frequent in the aftermath. In recent years, these flights have again become frequent occurrences.
The US military also conducts bomber flights near Russia, which have prompted the Russian military to scramble interceptor aircraft in response.
In addition to frequent military flights near Alaska, the Russian Navy also conducted exercises focused on maritime approaches in the Arctic and Pacific. The drills also involved anti-submarine patrols and anti-ship cruise missile launches in the US exclusive economic zone, an area that extends out 200 miles from a country’s coastline.
In his written testimony, VanHerck asserted that “Russia presents a persistent, proximate threat to the United States and Canada and remains the most acute challenge to our homeland defense mission.”
VanHerck argued that Russian leaders “seek to erode our influence, assert their regional dominance, and reclaim their status as a global power through a whole-of-government strategy that includes information operations, deception, economic coercion, and the threat of military force.”
The general said that should the US wind up in conflict with Russia, “we should expect Russia to employ its broad range of advanced capabilities—nonkinetic, conventional, and nuclear—to threaten our critical infrastructure in an attempt to limit our ability to project forces and to attempt to compel de-escalation.”
He also called attention to Russian newer offensive capabilities such as advanced cyber and counterspace weapons, as well as hypersonic weapons.
VanHerck told the Senate Armed Services Committee in the coming years, “Russia hopes to field a series of even more advanced weapons intended to ensure its ability to deliver nuclear weapons to the United States,” pointing to the Poseidon torpedo, one of several “doomsday” weapons Russian President Vladimir Putin touted a few years ago.
The general’s comments come as the US military focuses intently on China, which Department of Defense leadership has called “the pacing challenge” for the US. The Biden administration has repeatedly made a point of identifying China as the priority challenge.