The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

As part of a strategy to develop and deliver new robotics capabilities to future soldiers, Army researchers have partnered with world-renowned experts in industry and academia.

The University of Pennsylvania hosted a series of meetings in Philadelphia, June 5-7, 2018, for principal investigators and researchers from the Army’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance, or RCTA.


“We are coming together to tell each other what we’ve done over the last year,” said Dr. Stuart Young, a division chief in the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Maryland, and the RCTA’s collaborative alliance manager.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future
Principal investigators and researchers from the Army’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance meet at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia June 5-7, 2018, to coordinate efforts.
(U.S. Army photo by David McNally)

The group formed in 2009 to bring together government, industrial and academic institutions to address research and development required to enable the deployment of future military unmanned ground vehicle systems ranging in size from man-portables to ground combat vehicles.

Partners include:

• General Dynamics Land Systems – Robotics
• Carnegie Mellon University – The Robotics Institute
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology
• Florida State University
• University of Central Florida
• University of Pennsylvania
• QinetiQ North America
• Cal Tech/Jet Propulsion Lab

Young said the laboratory is focused on transitioning new capabilities to industry partners so they can continue to mature them.

“Since this is a basic and applied research program, we’ll transition it to them so they can get it into an experimental prototype in development,” he said. “Certainly the problem that we are working on is very hard. It is difficult to operate robots in the wild, anywhere in the world, but that’s the kind of problem the Army has to solve.”

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future
World-renowned robotics researchers from industry, academia and the U.S. Army are part of an alliance to explore futuristic robotics that may lead to new capabilities for the future force.
(U.S. Army photo by David McNally)

The Army’s vision is to make unmanned systems an integral part of small unit teams.

“We’re trying to go from tools to teammates so you can work side-by-side with them,” Young said, continuing with, “In order for robots to be teammates, they must operate in unstructured, complex environments.

“And then in order for the robots to be a useful teammate, they have to communicate naturally like a human does,” Young said. “We’re doing a lot of work in human-robot relationships, understanding concepts in the same way that humans do, trying to get the robots to understand those concepts in the same way so that the teaming can occur more naturally.”

Over the eight years of the alliance, researchers have achieved many milestones in the robotics field.

“New methods for robots to autonomously interact with and perceive the outside world have been developed to improve reasoning, situational awareness, trust and mobility in challenging battlefield environments,” said Dr. Jaret Riddick, director of the lab’s Vehicle Technology Directorate. “In the past eight years, researchers have teamed with academia and industry supported by the Robotics CTA to establish robotics technology critical to next generation Army objectives for multi-domain operation.”

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future
Geoff Slipher (right), the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Autonomous Systems Division chief speaks with Army researcher Chris Kroninger June 6, 2018, at the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance review at the University of Pennsylvania.
(U.S. Army photo by David McNally)

The alliance conducts research in four technical domains:
  1. Perception: Perceive and understand dynamic and unknown environments, including creation of a comprehensive model of the surrounding world
  2. Intelligence: Autonomously plan and execute military missions; readily adapt to changing environments and scenarios; learn from prior experience; share common understanding with team members
  3. Human-Robot Interaction: Manipulate objects with near-human dexterity and maneuver through 3-D environments
  4. Dexterous Manipulation and Unique Mobility: Manipulate objects with near-human dexterity and maneuver through 3-D environments

“We’ve certainly come a long way, and yes, we have a long way to go,” Young said. “We’ve made a lot of progress in understanding and developing new theory and techniques for communicating between the robots and the humans. We must generate more novel techniques to be able to address those types of problems.”

Researchers said the meetings in Philadelphia were a valuable experience as they continue to plan for a capstone event at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in 2019, where they will demonstrate the culmination of their research achievements to Army leaders.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 reasons why being a medieval knight would have sucked

There’s something romantic about being a knight — and no, we don’t mean sweep-a-fair-lady-off-her-feet kind of romantic. Between the tall tales of heroic deeds and depictions of gleaming, glorious suits of armor, the life of a knight has been made into something grander than it actually was.

The desire to take up sword and shield and live the life of a knight immediately goes out the window once you learn a little more about what that life was actually like. While your the experience of knighthood varied greatly between kingdoms, no matter which banner you bore, they all shared one common quality: life flat-out sucked.


The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

14 years of training and you’re just given a nice pat on the back and maybe a piece of land — not a castle, though, because those are expensive.

Your journey usually began at as young as seven years old

It wasn’t entirely impossible for a peasant-turned-warrior to be recognized for greatness and rise in status, but that was exceedingly rare (for reasons we’ll get into shortly). For the most part, knights were generally are born into the role. If your father was a knight or if you were of noble birth but far from the line of succession, knighthood was for you.

This meant that, for the most part, from the moment of your birth, you’d be expected to become a knight and fight for your lord. The process typically began at age seven. You’d be given off to a noble to learn as much as you could. The quality of this childhood hinged entirely on the whims of said noble. Then, at age 14, you’d become a squire.

Squires were, essentially, interns for proper knights who’d do all of the unpleasant or mundane tasks. Be a knight’s errand boy for seven more years, and you’ll finally earn your knighthood.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

At least the jousting would be fun…

You’re do far more than just fighting — and none of it was fun.

Being a knight meant far more than just showing up to do battle whenever summoned by your liege. At times of war, or if their number didn’t get called to go fight in some battle, they were expected to be local leaders among the large peasant society.

So, take all those years of learning to fight and throw ’em out the window, because you’re now the lead farmer until someone decides to raid your village. Occasionally, you’d do police duty and, more often, you’d be the mediator of local disputes, but that’s about it until it’s crusading time.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Still the best break down for how stupid chivalry actually was, read Don Quixote and remember that it was written intentionally to be a satire.

You had to follow a strict code of “chivalry”

The word “chivalry” derives from the Old French word, “chevalerie” which meant “horseman.” Over time, the gallant knights, typically astride horses, took on their own code of ethics. The word “chivalry,” over the years, then became synonymous with “gentlemanly,” but it meant much more than just treating ladies right (and, in this case, “ladies” refers exclusively to women of noble birth).

This code dictated much of your life. How strict was it? Well, knights were almost always godly men. So, if you were to skip church for one day, you may find yourself stripped of your knighthood entirely — but, of course, it’d all depend on if you come from noble status or not.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

You could basically rob or kill anyone of a lesser status and no one would blame you. Tough break.

(Photo by Christopher Favero)

Your compatriots were usually always snobby nobles who rarely followed the code

The honorable few that earned their way into knighthood would be held to a much different standard than the knights who got their position from being the king’s second cousin’s kid.

Knights who got their position from a noble birth could do whatever they felt, facing little-to-no consequences. Even if the kingdom was very religious, noble-born knights could attack members of the clergy and get away with it if they had a good-enough excuse. You? The guy who earned it? There’s no way you’d be able to talk yourself out of that.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

On the bright side, the more ornate the armor, the more likely it was that the person had no idea how to actually fight.

(Photo by Patrick Lordan)

You had to buy your own gear

The biggest barrier to entry for those warriors-turned-knights was the absurdly high cost of equipment. Remember, this was centuries before governments decided to arm their troops for combat. Since being a knight meant that you were paid in land ownership (or sometimes just the “glory of your lord”), you probably didn’t even get paid actual money.

So, any armor or weapons you needed had to be purchased on the side — with money you were never given. It was no problem for the knights of noble birth, but other knights would have to work the land and sell goods to earn enough just to fight.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Then again, being a knight is so easy that a penguin could do it.

(Edinburgh Zoo)​

Your title meant little after gunpowder was introduced

From the days of Charlemagne onward, knights were highly respected and highly revered across the lands. Then, this fancy new gadget called the “firearm” showed up and made your skill in battle immediately and entirely pointless.

During the Tudor period, armies learned that firearms and cannons could shred through a knight’s heavy plate armor with ease. All of that hard work, dedication, and money put toward becoming a knight was rendered meaningless by whoever had a bullet handy. As everyone focused on using firearms, the need for a literal knight in shining armor quickly dwindled.

That’s not to say that the title of being a knight is entirely worthless. It’s just more of an honorary title that’s given to great people who bring credit to their homeland — not just skilled fighters.

MIGHTY CULTURE

An inside look at the Air Force’s only cryogenics plant

Kadena Air Base, Japan (AFNS) — Providing the base and various other units on the island with cryogenic products – whether it be in a liquid or gaseous form – is the plant’s priority.

“We produce the liquid oxygen and the liquid nitrogen here for our organizations across the island to make sure they get the product they need to make the mission happen,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Pannell, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant noncommissioned office in charge of cryogenic productions.

The production plant provides services for a range of reasons, whether it be for pilots or patients, the plant handles it all and can also be the difference in life or death in some instances.


“We manufacture liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen for various organizations to use…Breathable oxygen at high altitudes for aircraft, liquid nitrogen to fill tires for the aircraft so they don’t explode if they hit the ground too hard and the hospital has various uses for oxygen and nitrogen as you could imagine…It’s important,” said Senior Airman Christopher Tallan, 18th LRS cryogenic production operator.

While other bases have to purchase their liquid oxygen and nitrogen from external providers, Kadena Air Base is able to support the mission directly as well as save money.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

A beaker of liquid oxygen sits filled July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)

“I don’t like to solely rely on other people because I know if we do it ourselves, it’s going to be done the right way and I think this is really valuable for the Air Force because we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to save money,” Pannell said. “We should really strive to be innovative and this is something I push down to my Airmen – to be innovative and think of new ways to do things.”

With innovation comes plenty of learning opportunities – and growing pains.

“It’s been challenging at times because everyone is learning a new plant,” Pannell explained. “We have to learn the ins and outs; everyone here is growing.”

Providing these services can prove to be rather complex. From separation of atmospheric air to expansion and cooling, the job is chemically impossible to do without machines.

The machine – production plant – typically runs one week at a time for 24 hours a day and enables the production of about 50 gallons an hour.

While the machine is doing its job, the rest of the team is ensuring it works properly.

“We have to do hourly checks to make sure nothing is malfunctioning,” Tallan said. “We’re responsible for knowing what’s supposed to be going on. With such a big plant and so many pipes, we have to make sure that nothing is in a pipe that shouldn’t be in it, and make sure things are at the right temperature in the pipes they’re supposed to be in.”

With such a unique and vital mission role, working at the only operational cryogenic production plant in the Air Force seems to be a great source of pride and inspiration for those in the career field.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Senior Airmen Michael Hall and Christopher Tallan, both 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operators, prepare to fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)


“I love my job; I love coming to work. I work in a cryogenic facility – it’s insane,” Tallan laughed. “I always thought about the cryo guys and how badly I wanted to go for one day and see…It’s different when every single day you’re holding a sample of liquid oxygen and you can feel it boil inside the beaker…I love it.

Along with the job being cool – literally and figuratively – it also demonstrates the importance of smart investment and innovation with promises of bettering the success of the Air Force mission as a whole.

“I take it as a personal challenge to myself and my team to do our best and actually show higher leadership that this is a legitimate plant and it could benefit not just Pacific Air Force, but other areas – especially overseas,” Pannell said.

Featured image: Senior Airman Michael Hall, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operator, fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

8 even more incredible facts about ‘Rambo’

When We Are The Mighty sat down with Sylvester Stallone, Sly revealed some truly astonishing things about one of action movie history’s most beloved characters: John Rambo. Most of us blacked out when Stallone revealed that Rambo didn’t originally join the Army but came to in time to learn a few great things that make the character much deeper than we ever imagined.

That was just info from Stallone. It turns out there’s much more, so we dove a little deeper.


Read: Amazing behind the scenes facts about Rambo – from Stallone himself

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Rambo is almost a god in Papua New Guinea

Somehow, the character of John Rambo has entered the folklore of the Kamula people on the island nation of Papua New Guinea, despite limited access to film and television. The Rambo of folklore is said to be a gunrunner who fought in the 10-year civil war in nearby Bougainville, and will come back to defend Papua New Guinea in case of World War III. In Kamula culture, along with other tribes, Rambo is said to symbolize peak masculinity.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Rambo’s trademark knife wasn’t supposed to exist

In the book First Blood, on which the movie and character John Rambo is based, Rambo never had a survival knife of any kind, let alone a giant one to use to bring down the entire police force of Hope, Wash. Stallone added the knife for effect, hoping to make the weapon a character all on its own.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Rambo wasn’t a killer – originally.

John Rambo never actually kills anyone in First Blood. There is only one death in the entire movie, and that happened as an accident when an overzealous cop falls from a helicopter while shooting at Rambo. In subsequent movies, that all changes of course. Rambo’s body count is 76 in First Blood: Part II, and 132 in Rambo III. In Rambo, he appears to kill the entire Burmese Army with one .50-cal.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Stallone hated the first cut of First Blood.

The first time Stallone saw the edit for First Blood, he hated it. It was three and a half hours long, and Rambo’s dialogue was terrible. At first, Stallone wanted to buy the film so he could burn it. Instead of that, he re-cut the film to 93 minutes with most of his dialogue removed, which is what you see when you watch it today.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Without ‘Rambo’ there would be no ‘Predator’

When Rocky Balboa took on Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, no one in Hollywood was quite sure who Rocky’s next opponent could possibly be. The joke was made that Rocky would have to fight some kind of Alien in Rocky V. After a while, Screenwriters Jim and John Thomas began to take the idea seriously and wrote a Rocky-Rambo Hybrid movie that we call Predator.

In Rocky V, Rocky fought a former student named Tommy Gunn. In the street. Outside a bar. In case you were wondering.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

John Rambo was almost played by John Travolta

Imagine how different action movie lore would be today if Sylvester Stallone hadn’t been in the writing and casting process. John Travolta was considered for the role of the former Green Beret and one-man wrecking crew before Stallone stepped in and nixed the idea.

Travolta also almost became Forrest Gump and Pete “Maverick” Mitchell of Top Gun fame.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Arthur John Rambo of Lincoln County, Mont. gave his life to save his fellow soldiers in Tay Ninh, Vietnam.

There actually is a John Rambo on “The Wall.”

Arthur John Rambo was an artilleryman with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam. He was mortally wounded by multiple hits from rocket-propelled grenades on Nov. 26, 1969. As he and his fellow artillerymen came under heavy mortar fire, a nearby self-propelled howitzer took an RPG hit and caught fire. Rambo cleared his fellow soldiers out of the way and attempted to drive the vehicle, still burning, away from the area where it wouldn’t be a threat. He did so successfully, but the vehicle took two more RPGs. The last, killing Rambo in action. Arthur John Rambo was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

“Nothing is over!” Damn right.

Rambo commits suicide. In the book.

… and in the original cut of the movie. Remember when Sylvester Stallone re-edited the entire movie? Rambo killing himself didn’t make the final cut, even though that’s what happens in the book. Instead, Stallone asked a few Vietnam vets what troubles they face, and Stallone wrote a speech at the end of the movie to let the world know.

That original movie sounds awful. Thank god for Sylvester Stallone.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Soldiers can now serve their country…playing video games

Over 6,500 soldiers are already hoping to be part of a new Army esports team that will compete in video game tournaments nationwide in an effort to attract potential recruits.

“It’s essentially connecting America to its Army through the passion of the gaming community,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, NCO-in-charge of the budding team.


About 30 soldiers are expected to be picked for the team and some of the first positions could be filled summer 2019. Only active-duty and Reserve soldiers are currently allowed to apply.

Those chosen will be assigned to the Marketing and Engagement Brigade for three years at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where the Army Recruiting Command is headquartered.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

More than 6,500 Soldiers have already applied to join the Army esports team, which was created to boost recruiting efforts in the gaming community.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux)

While they will not become recruiters, team members will receive a crash course on Army enlistment programs to answer questions from those interested in learning about the service.

Once built up, the team will fall under an outreach company that will also include an Army rock band and a functional fitness team.

Not everyone on the team will compete. Those who will may train up to six hours per day on video games, Jones said, adding that gameplay sessions would be live streamed or recorded for spectators to watch.

Esports has ballooned in popularity in recent years with millions of followers.

In August 2018, the Washington Post reported that esports could generate about 5 million in revenue this year in North America. In 2017, a major esports tournament in China also drew a peak of more than 106 million viewers — roughly the same number of those who watched 2018’s Super Bowl.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

“It’s something really new and it’s been gaining a lot of steam,” Jones said.

While on the team, soldiers will still conduct physical training, weapons qualifications and other responsibilities that come with being a soldier. They will also have to maintain certifications in their military occupational specialty.

“Outside of that, there will be esports training,” Jones said. “So whatever game they’re playing in, they’ll not only be playing it, but be coached in it to get better.”

The team, he said, shares a similar concept to that of other Army competitive teams that continually train, such as the Golden Knights parachute team, World Class Athlete Program and Army Marksmanship Unit.

“Esports is like traditional sports,” he said. “Nobody can just walk in and expect to play at a competitive level.”

The Army, he said, already has talented gamers out there who can compete in events.

in January 2019, a few soldiers competed at PAX South in San Antonio as a way to introduce Army esports to the greater gamer community.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

A few Soldiers competed at PAX South in San Antonio as a way to introduce Army esports to the greater gamer community Jan. 18-20, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux)

In one of the events, a Street Fighter V tournament, two soldiers placed first and second.

“This is the perfect opportunity to showcase not only to the Army, but to the civilian populace and the esports industry that we also have what it takes,” Jones said of the events.

Recruiters from the San Antonio Recruiting Battalion also joined them and were able to generate some leads with potential recruits, he added.

There are plans to do the same at the PAX East exposition in Boston in late March 2019.

As a gamer and a recruiter himself, Jones said the team can help bridge the civilian-military gap by breaking down misconceptions some young people may have about the Army.

Being able to play their favorite video games with others who share the same passion is also a bonus.

“For a lot of soldiers, to include myself, it’s like a dream come true,” Jones said. “This is just one of those ways we can start the conversation.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy is basically jamming a quarter of America

GPS has become increasingly important to our lives. Not only do Waze, Uber, and many other applications heavily rely on global positioning system. Our cellular networks rely on GPS clocks, banking systems, financial markets, and power grids all depend on GPS for precise time synchronization. In the finance sector, GPS-derived timing allows for ATM, credit cards transactions to be timestamped. Computer network synchronization, digital TV and radio, as well as IoT (Internet of Things) applications also rely on GPS-clock and geo-location services.

In an operational environment jamming GPS signals represents both a threat and an important capability. In addition to serving an important purpose in navigation on land, sea and in the air, GPS also provides targeting capability for precision weapons along with many other tactical and strategic purposes.


For this reason, the U.S. military frequently trains to deny or degrade GPS signals on a large-scale. In 2017, we went inside Nellis AFB to get a firsthand demonstration of how easy and how quickly the U.S. Air Force can jam GPS signals for training purposes.

For instance, the U.S. Navy’s CSG-4, that “mentors, trains and assesses Atlantic Fleet combat forces to forward deploy in support and defense of national interests”, is currently conducting GPS Interference testing in the East Coast area. As an FAA NOTAM (Notice To Airmen), issued for airspace in eight of the FAA’s Air Route Traffic Control Centers, warns, GPS could be degraded from Caribbean and Florida north to Pennsylvania west to the eastern Louisiana, while the tests are conducted Feb. 6 – 10, 2019, at different hours.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

The area affected by GPS interference operations.

(FAA NOTAM)

GPS-based services including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), the Ground Based Augmentation System, and the Wide Area Augmentation System, could be unreliable or lost in a radius extending several hundred miles from the offshore operation’s center, the FAA said.

In 2017, we went inside Nellis AFB to get a firsthand demo from member of the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron (527th SAS) who showed us how easy and how quickly the U.S. Air Force can jam GPS signals for training purposes: in only a few seconds members of the 527th SAS used commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment to jam local GPS reception making many public services unavailable.

This is not the first time such GPS-denial operations take place. It has already happened on the West Coast in 2016 and, more recently, on the East Coast, at the end of August 2018:

As happened in all the previous operations, we really don’t know which kind of system is being used to jam GPS. However, it must be an embarked system, considered that the source of the jamming is a location off the coast of Georgia, centered at 313339N0793740W or the CHS (Charleston AFB) VOR 173 degree radial at 83NM (Nautical Miles).

As mentioned, not only the military is so heavily reliant on GPS.

AOPA estimates that more than 2,000 airports — home bases to more than 28,600 aircraft — are located within the area’s lowest airspace contour. The East Coast test is “unacceptably widespread and potentially hazardous,” said Rune Duke, AOPA senior director of airspace, air traffic and aviation security, in an article on AOPA website.

Here’s another interesting excerpt from the same article that provides examples of how the GPS testing has affected general aviation:

A safety panel held in September 2018 ended with the FAA deadlocked on a path forward. In November 2018, AOPA reported on instances of aircraft losing GPS navigation signals during testing—and in several cases, veering off course. Instances have been documented in which air traffic control temporarily lost the tracks of ADS-B Out-equipped aircraft.

In a vivid example of direct hazard to aircraft control in April 2016, an Embraer Phenom 300 business jet entered a Dutch roll and an emergency descent after its yaw damper disengaged; the aircraft’s dual attitude and heading reference systems had reacted differently to the GPS signal outage. This issue was subsequently corrected for this aircraft.

AOPA is aware of hundreds of reports of interference to aircraft during events for which notams were issued, and the FAA has collected many more in the last year. In one example that came to AOPA’s attention, an aircraft lost navigation capability and did not regain it until after landing. During a GPS-interference event in Alaska, an aircraft departed an airport under IFR and lost GPS on the initial climb. Other reports have highlighted aircraft veering off course and heading toward active military airspace. The wide range of reports makes clear that interference affects aircraft differently, and recovery may not occur immediately after the aircraft exits the jammed area.

Pilot concern is mounting. In a January 2019 AOPA survey, more than 64 percent of 1,239 pilots who responded noted concern about the impact of interference on their use of GPS and ADS-B. (In some cases, pilots who reported experiencing signal degradation said ATC had been unaware the jamming was occurring.)

Interestingly, “stop buzzer” is the code word, pilots may radio to the ATC when testing affects GPS navigation or causes flight control issues:

Pilots who encounter hazardous interruption of GPS navigation or who have flight-control issues should be aware that they can say the phrase “Stop buzzer” to air traffic control, which initiates the process of interrupting the testing to restore navigation signal reception, Duke said.

During previous GPS-interference events, pilots declared emergencies, but the jamming continued because ATC did not understand that the emergency was related to the GPS interference. According to the Pilot/Controller Glossary, “stop buzzer” is a term used by ATC to request suspension of “electronic attack activity.” Pilots should only use the phrase when communicating with ATC, or over the emergency frequency 121.5 MHz, if a safety-of-flight issue is encountered during a known GPS interference event. Using this unique phrase when experiencing an unsafe condition related to GPS interference will ensure that ATC and the military react appropriately by stopping the jamming, Duke said.

“Pilots should only say ‘stop buzzer’ when something unsafe is occurring that warrants declaring an emergency. They should make sure ATC knows that the emergency is GPS-related and that halting the GPS interference will resolve the emergency,” he said.

Despite the complaints from the civilian side, dominating the GPS “domain” is crucial to win. Consequently, along with the periodic testing like the one underway in the U.S. southeastern coast, GPS jamming has become a common operation of the most recent Red Flag exercises that include simulated scenarios where warfighters train to operate in an environment where electronic and cyber-attacks may disable GPS capability.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

Military Life

5 insults only troops can say to their comrades

A defining trait among the military community is the ability to completely insult someone one minute and drink with them the next.


Troops can get down right heartless by civilian standards. But what keeps troops and veterans from being just pure assholes is that no one is mocking their brother out of hate. It’s just part of the culture — besides, our buddies are firing their own shots right back.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

You’re a piece of sh*t if you say they’re the lowest of the low. But if you say they eat crayons, well, that’s our joke.

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Branch stereotypes

The stereotypes are usually that Marines are dumb, airmen are primadonnas, soldiers are fat and lazy, sailors are gay, and Coasties don’t actually exist. Obviously, these aren’t 100% true. They’re jokes even if you have come across a handful dumb Marines or fat soldiers.

Want to know what happens to a civilian if they jump in and call Marines dumb? Ask that former teacher in Pico Rivera, California.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

Soon, you f*cking squids. Soon….

(Meme via /r/Military)

Interservice “hatred”

You’ll see some outright “hatred” for the other branches, especially when it comes to our Academies playing each other in football. If your service loses the game, your entire formation is screaming, “Oh man! F*ck the [other branch]! At least we don’t focus on playing some stupid game!”

And that’s at it’s most savage. Generally, it’s kept at “Go Army, beat Navy!” and vice-versa. An attack on one branch by an outsider is treated as an attack on all branches.

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

And that’s only because Jodie is the most hated fictional person in the military.

(Meme via /r/Military)

Deeply personal jabs

If you’ve spent nearly every waking second with the same people for god knows how long, you learn every detail about their personal life. Nothing remains a secret and nothing stays off-limits.

What better cure is there for a terrible personal tragedy, like an unfaithful spouse, than having your best bros mock you for crying?

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

This is honestly one of the hardest parts about leaving the service. Letting all of our creative swear words go to waste.

(Meme via the Salty Soldier)

Expletive-filled (yet creative) rants

Expletives in conversation are like adding a bit of spice to a meal. It’s how you add some extra “uhmph” to a statement. “I don’t like you” has far less sting than “f*ck you” and it’s a sure way to get your point across to most people. Except vets and troops.

Obscenities lose their magic after you’ve been desensitized to them throughout you’re entire career. Telling your peer to “eat sh*t” just becomes a substitute for “hello!”

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

The age-old “we all bleed red” saying is known best by the troops. And we wouldn’t want anyone else by our side than our brothers.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Dan Yarnall)

Politically incorrect jokes

Once you’ve spent years in training, months in combat, and nearly a life time of brotherhood with someone, it’s only then can troops tell a joke to each other that would shock the average civilian.

The only reason these kinds of (crass, insensitive, and hilarious) jokes are kept between the two is because there isn’t a shred of hatred in there. Not saying it’s right or even justifiable — only saying that if it’s between two people who’ve been to hell and back, it’s meant with the best of intentions. After what we’ve seen, gallows humor is the perfect coping mechanism.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why a free Vermont was the first to distrust Benedict Arnold

This may come as a surprise to anyone who is not a Vermont native: Back during the Revolutionary War, Vermont was its own free country, similar to how Texas, California, and Hawaii once governed themselves before eventually joining the Union. During its fourteen-year tenure, Vermont and its militia, known as the Green Mountain Boys, served as a key ally in aiding against the British.

The Green Mountain Boys were led by one of the founders of Vermont, Ethan Allen. Allen’s legacy, as recorded in American history books, showcases his military prowess, his leadership in an independent Vermont, and an undying hatred for the man that is now synonymous with treason, Benedict Arnold — a hatred that started well before his infamous betrayal.


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In spirit, the Green Mountain Boys still exist today as the Vermont National Guard

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Avery Cunningham)

Once upon a time, control of the lands between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River was fought over by New York and New Hampshire. Both sides had claims to the land, but both were highly disputed (though many sided with New Hampshire).

Allen had been traveling the northern portion of the lands when he heard of a small, pro-independence riot that ended with the British killing two colonists in Westminster. Allen and the Boys marched on Westminster to demand that the King remove the oppressors — but bigger problems were brewing.

The issue of who Vermont belonged to was put on hold when the 13 colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. In the meantime, the people of Vermont opted to rule and defend themselves. The only real military within their borders was Allen’s Green Mountain Boys.

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Which means Benedict Arnold’s entire career is based off of a guy saying “Yeah, sure. Whatever.”

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, an irregular Connecticut militia asked Allen and his boys to join them in taking Fort Ticonderoga. Allen realized joining the colonies was the right thing to do for Vermont and mustered his men to the assault himself.

On May 9th, the day before the assault, Allen first met Benedict Arnold. One of the very first things to come out of Arnold’s mouth was a demand that Allen relinquish control of his men to him. The Green Mountain Boys may not have been a standing army at the time, but they were excellent fighters and they were fiercely loyal to Allen.

They argued all throughout the night. Allen believed he should lead his men because, for the last seven years, they had trained, fought, and died together. Arnold believed he should lead because he received a commission from the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, which meant he was totally capable of leading troops into battle.

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At that point, who can really say no?

The assembled men refused to acknowledge Arnold’s authority, but Allen agreed to allow Arnold to be in the front of the formation with him — a decision that meant Arnold could be seen as a leader on paper, but not be responsible for any of the heavy lifting.

The Green Mountain Boys moved on Fort Ticonderoga at 2 a.m. while the British were sleeping. They managed to sneak through the fort undetected (except for a lone sentry who was knocked out) and Allen pulled his cutlass on the Fort’s commander as he slept. Allen demanded complete surrender.

So, Fort Ticonderoga fell to the colonists without a single shot fired and only one concussion.

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“Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!”

Shortly afterwords, Allen and Arnold went on to take Fort Crown Point and Fort St. John. It was the success of the Green Mountain Boys that gave the colonists the foothold they needed to begin the Revolutionary War.

Allen and Arnold remained at odds with each other. Benedict Arnold kept asserting his authority over Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point to the Continental Congress. Allen was willing to step down under the provision that his men would be paid the same as Continental Army soldiers, which they were. And so Benedict Arnold was given the credit for the work of the Vermonters.

Benedict Arnold would urge the Continental Congress to invade Quebec next. Both Allen and Arnold lead men into Quebec. There, Ethan Allen’s forces lost at the Battle of Longue-Pointe and were subsequently imprisoned. While Allen rotted in prison, Benedict Arnold’s name was heralded as a great military mind — that is, until he made his offer to surrender West Point for £20,000.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Stumbling block or bargaining chip? The fate of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan

The fate of some 5,000 Taliban prisoners jailed in Afghanistan is threatening to turn into a major stumbling block in efforts to end the 19-year war in the country.

The Taliban is demanding the release of the detainees before the launch of direct negotiations between Afghans and the Taliban over a permanent cease-fire and a future power-sharing arrangement.


Those intra-Afghan talks, slated for mid-March, will begin after the United States and the Taliban sign a historic peace deal that will trigger the phased withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

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Experts said the issue of Taliban prisoners could be a key obstacle in launching the country’s peace talks or, conversely, be used as a bargaining chip to exact concessions from the militants.

There are fears that the release of thousands of Taliban fighters could deprive the Kabul government of a key amount of leverage and undercut the peace process by strengthening the Taliban’s position on the battlefield.

‘Trust-Building Measure’

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan on February 26 that Kabul will free 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the release of 1,000 members of the Afghan security forces held by the militants.

Shaheen said the “trust-building measure” was a prerequisite for the launch of the intra-Afghan talks.

He added that the prisoner release was part of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal, although Afghanistan is not a signatory to that bilateral agreement.

But the Taliban and the United States have not yet disclosed the contents of the deal.

The Kabul government has ruled out releasing the prisoners before the start of talks.

“When we, as the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, enter into negotiations with the Taliban and they demand the release of their prisoners, it will naturally be discussed, and will take into account the laws and interests of our people and [our decision] will be based on the consensus that will arise at that stage,” said Sediq Sediqqi, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman, on February 20.

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‘Quid Pro Quo’

Omar Samad, a former Afghan diplomat who is now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said the issue could be used as a “political stumbling block or a bargaining chip.”

“Bargaining chip can mean quid pro quo,” he said.

Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said the Afghan government could offer the Taliban a major concession before intra-Afghan talks with the expectation that the militants will reciprocate.

Kugelman said that could mean the insurgents agreeing to reduce violence during the negotiations, which analysts expect to be complicated and protracted.

The United States and the Taliban agreed to a weeklong reduction of violence across Afghanistan before the signing of the peace deal. The partial truce has largely held, with a dramatic decrease in Taliban attacks from around 75 per day down to under 15.

The militants contest or control nearly half of the country.

A similar truce during intra-Afghan talks has been mooted, although the Taliban has not commented on the possibility.

But analysts warned that there was a risk in the government giving away one of its primary bargaining chips at such an early stage of the peace process.

“The Taliban has ample leverage because it’s in no hurry to conclude a peace deal,” said Kugelman. “If it receives a major concession it may hold out and demand more before giving something up in return.”

10,000 Taliban Prisoners

There are an estimated 10,000 Taliban prisoners being held in Afghanistan. But the militants have said that some of those detained were accused of being sympathizers or members of the group, often to settle old scores, and are not actually combatants.

There have been several high-profile prisoner swaps and releases of insurgents since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 that toppled the Taliban regime.

In November 2019, two Western hostages were released from Taliban custody in exchange for three senior Taliban prisoners, including Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network, a powerful Taliban faction.

The prisoner swap was seen as an attempt to kick-start U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly ended the talks over rising Taliban attacks.

In 2014, five senior Taliban members were released from the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for a captured U.S. soldier, Bowe Bergdahl.

All five former Guantanamo Bay detainees are based in Qatar, where they have taken part in negotiations with U.S. officials.

In 2013, former President Hamid Karzai controversially released scores of Taliban prisoners from a formerly U.S.-run prison near Kabul as an attempt to convince the militants to open direct talks with Kabul.

The move failed to convince the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. Analysts said some of those freed returned to the Taliban, bolstered their ranks, and increased the insurgency’s efficacy on the battlefield.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

One American ally is trying to make another a literal island

A senior Saudi official seemed to confirm that Saudi Arabia is moving forward with ambitious plans to turn rival nation Qatar into an island.

“I am impatiently waiting for details on the implementation of the Salwa island project, a great, historic project that will change the geography of the region,” Saud Al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said on Twitter.


The tweet appears to confirm rumors that Saudi Arabia is moving forward with plans to dig a canal along its 38-mile (61 kilometer) border with Qatar, referred to as the “Salwa Project.”

Al-Qahtani, who has long been an advocate of the project, did not provide specific details on how or when the project would begin.

Previous reports, including one in state-linked news site Sabq, said the canal was still awaiting government approval, but was expected to be 650 feet (200 meters) wide and 50-65 feet (15-20 meters) deep.

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Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Initial estimates put the cost of the project at around $US745 million (2.8 billion Saudi riyals).

In June 2018, reports surfaced in Makkah Newspaper which said that five international companies been invited to bid for the project, slated for completion by end of year. Sources told Makkah that Saudi authorities were set to announce the winner of the contract deal by late September 2018.

According to local media, the government plans to turn the canal into a tourist site, but may also convert the area into a military base and a nuclear waste burial site.

Saudi Arabia has not yet officially commented on the project, though Saudi guards took control of the Salwa border crossing in April 2018, cutting off Qatar’s only land link, and further isolating the peninsula that has been diplomatically cut off by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

Featured image: The Pearl is a purpose-built artificial island off the coast of Doha, connected to the mainland by a bridge.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

Is cold weather training good for your immune system?

Freakin’ Russia, man! That country is everywhere in the news these days. Whether it be unexplained deaths of Putin’s opposition, election meddling, weird political memes, or @lookatthisRussian they seem to be everywhere.

Because of this borderline second Cold War, the U.S. military has taken a renewed interest in cold-weather training. Russia is a cold place, and a foreseen conflict will probably occur, at least partially in the Arctic Circle. Not because it’s a “Cold” war, read a textbook!


With the potential that you may end up in some type of cold weather environment either in training or on an Op, it’s a good idea to take a look at what that exposure to the frigid cold may have on your body and mind.

You may have heard of cold shock proteins, you may have even dabbled with a cold shower or some Wim Hof breathing. Let me spare you the Ice Man’s Polish accent and just get to the good things that cold exposure is doing to your body.

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Sgt. Bruce Allen, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, proceeds to the rally point after completing an airborne training jump at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska, in January 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña, Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson Public Affairs)

Strengthens the immune system

Cold exposure three times a week for six weeks actually increases the number of immune cells that you have. Of course, that’s not the only magic combination of exposure that you have to do, it’s just what’s been tested.

Winter swimmers have some insane immune systems. It used to be just them bragging, but some real research has backed them up. It appears the cold water is making these people superhuman.

But that’s not the only benefit to cold exposure. There are a lot more ways that cold exposure can help you maximize your training returns.

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A Soldier prepares to climb out of a hole cut into an ice-covered Big Sandy Lake after jumping in the water as part of cold-water immersion training for Class 19-01 of the Cold-Weather Operations Course on Dec. 13, 2018, at Fort McCoy, Wis.

(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis)

Improved mood

Depressed? Angry? Outlook grim? Hop in an icy lake; it may be just the thing you need to shake your funk.

When you expose yourself to the cold, your body releases this hormone called norepinephrine (AKA noradrenaline) to constrict your blood vessels. This decreases the amount of heat you lose from your blood by decreasing the surface area of the blood.

There are a few side benefits to norepinephrine, one of which being that it also functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain that helps increase vigilance, attention, and mood.

Makes sense why a cold shower wakes you up!

If you’re a fan of hormones and neurotransmitters, check out how they impact your appetite in my free Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide.

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Cold Weather Leaders Course 19-004 students fire from the standing supported position at the Northern Warfare Training Center’s Black Rapids Training Site during the 10-kilometer biathlon March 12, 2019.

(Army photo/John Pennell)

Fixes your brain

Cold shock proteins are these things that form when you experience extreme amounts of cold exposure. They tend to be rather awesome for you. This is where some of the real hype about cold exposure comes from.

Scientists have even found that in mice, cold exposure results in this cold shock protein called RBM3.

If this seems questionable to you, check this out to see how these types of experiments actually work.

RBM3 appears to fix lost connections in the brain!

If you at all worry about dementia or just losing your mental edge, cold exposure should be on your to-do list.

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In addition to cold-water immersion training, students were trained on a variety of cold-weather subjects, including skiing and snowshoe training as well as how to use ahkio sleds and other gear.

(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)

Inflammation management

Inflammation is the key driver in the aging process, meaning the more you can manage unnecessary inflammation, the more likely you are to slow the aging process.

The aging process includes a lot more than just developing wrinkles. Things like joint degeneration, memory loss, slower recovery times, digestive efficiency are all included in the aging process. Basically, anytime something stops working the way you want it to, that’s the aging process.

Inflammation occurs when we hurt ourselves like a swollen joint. Inflammation also occurs from stress. If you’re always stressed, you’re always experiencing increased amounts of inflammation. Remember, more inflammation means more aging.

To help the physical symptoms of inflammation, try some cold exposure like cold water immersion or cryotherapy.

The cause of your chronic stress will take more effort; some simulated life-threatening danger may help, also meditation is a great help.
How you burn more fat through COLD EXPOSURE

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Burns more fat

The best for last. It appears that cold exposure increases the amount of brown fat we have. Brown fat is fat that is much more active than other fat tissue. The browner, fat tissue is, the more active it is because of the increased number of mitochondria that it has.

More active fat cells help us warm our bodies in cold environments through what’s called non-shivering thermogenesis. Basically, your body heats up without shivering. The amount of heat that you produce from this effect requires energy to conduct, AKA calories.

More brown fat means you have a higher metabolism. A higher metabolism while maintaining the same amount of food you normally eat is basically the same thing as going on a diet. That’s science for you.

Here’s some more science on other ways to burn fat!Cold exposure is another tool you should keep in your toolkit to keep yourself in the fight. That being said, it won’t make up for missed training sessions or a shitty diet. If you want to learn how to maximize cold exposure, diet, or your training, shoot me an email at michael@composurefitness.com.

Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!

I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.

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Cold exposure is another tool you should keep in your toolkit to keep yourself in the fight. That being said, it won’t make up for missed training sessions or a shitty diet. If you want to learn how to maximize cold exposure, diet, or your training, shoot me an email at michael@composurefitness.com.

Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!

I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.

Articles

Watch these chefs try to turn Army food into gourmet cuisine

The standard U.S. Armed Forces field ration is, above all other considerations, designed to make you emotional.


Sure, an MRE needs to be nutritious. Obviously, it also needs to be lightweight, packable, durable, quick, and easy to prepare. It’s got to have a long shelf life because who knows when it’ll be called up for active duty. And at the end of the day — and not just because it’s the end of the day — the damn thing ought to taste good.

After years of research and development, laboratory refinement, and testing in the field, the military has the MRE dialed to within an inch of its life. Private, does your dinner have “Vegetable Rotini” stamped on its olive drab shrink wrap? Yes? Then, by God, you can trust that when you just add water, the thing you find rehydrated on the end of your spork will resemble a rotini (Vegetable Class) to the highest degree achievable by military science.

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Our host finds his feelings at the bottom of the feed bag. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl trusted in the prowess of the military’s culinary industrial complex. After all, he named his show after its signature offering.

When he visited the labs and testing facilities of the United States Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA, he was excited to spend some quality time covering familiar territory. What he didn’t count on was the depth of the emotional response that many of his interview subjects had to meals they’d eaten as soldiers in the field. And it turns out, that response is no accident.

We want it to be a quality meal that we provide to them. We don’t know if that’s going to be their last meal.

 –Stephen Moody, Director, Combat Feeding Directive

Watch host August Dannehl and fellow veteran Mike Williams, currently the Executive Chef of West Hollywood restaurant Norah, transform the military’s utilitarian ration MRE into a mouthwatering “Jambalaya Risotto with Duo of Duck.” 

Meals Ready to Eat can be seen on KCET in Southern California, on Link TV Nationwide (DirecTV 375 and DISH Network 9410), and online at KCET.org.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US bombed its anti-ISIS headquarters as Turkish troops advanced

The US military destroyed its own anti-ISIS headquarters in Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 16, 2019, to prevent them from falling into the hands of fighters backed by Turkey.

According to WSJ, Turkish-backed troops advanced on the facility, which had been used to equip and train SDF fighters against ISIS, on Oct. 15, 2019, leading US officials to quickly withdraw US troops and destroy the base on Oct. 16, 2019.

As the Turkish-back fighters moved closer, US troops attempted to repel them, using F-15s and Apache helicopters as a show of force to warn them away while US troops were still there. But, according to The Wall Street Journal, the airpower failed to dissuade the Turkish-backed forces; SDF fighters fled and set fire to their part of the base, and US troops left before US assets destroyed the base.


Insider reached out to the US operation in Syria to request more information about what assets were used to destroy the base, but did not receive a response by press time. It is also unclear what was being held in the base, although The Wall Street Journal noted that it had previously been used to store light arms and ammunition for the SDF.

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An AH-64D Apache Longbow.

Oct. 11, 2019, Turkish forces fired at an American position in Syria; while no casualties were sustained it came after reassurances from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley that Turkey knew where US troops were stationed. An officer familiar with the situation told The Washington Post that the incident was likely not accidental, as Turkish forces were aware of the US position, and had been for months.

“#Coalition forces continue a deliberate withdrawal from northeast #Syria. On Oct. 16, 2019, we vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory, Raqqa, and Tabqah,” Col. Myles. B. Caggins, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS, tweeted Oct. 16, 2019, referring to the base, the LaFarge Cement Factory, on which US forces carried out strikes.

Two F-15E Strike Eagles conducted an airstrike on the LaFarge factory to keep munitions and military equipment from the hands of the Turkish-backed armed groups, a coalition spokesman said.

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F-15E Strike Eagle.

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are on their way to Ankara to try and broker a ceasefire. The two officials are set to meet with Erdogan, according to The New York Times.

The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey due to its incursion in what was Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria, but pressing pause on a 0 billion trade deal between the two NATO allies and re-imposing a 50% tariff on Turkish steel exports has not deterred Erdogan. Pence and Pompeo, along with the State Department’s special envoy for Syrian affairs James Jeffrey and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, are expected to threaten harsher sanctions should Erdogan refuse a ceasefire.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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