Let's talk about why a quarter of Singapore's air force is based in the US - We Are The Mighty
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Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US

The Republic of Singapore Air Force is one of the world’s most modern air forces. It is also very large (100 combat planes) compared to the size of the country (276 square miles – less than a quarter of the area of Rhode Island). One could wonder how they fit all their planes in there?


The answer is, they don’t. In fact, about a quarter of Singapore’s primary combat jets, a total of 40 F-15SG Strike Eagles and 60 F-16C/D Fighting Falcons, aren’t based in Singapore at all. They’re in the United States.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
A F-15SG with the 428th Fighter Training Squadron. (USAF photo)

You’ll find ten of Singapore’s F-15SGs at Mountain Home Air Force Base, the home of the 366th Fighter Wing (which operates F-15E Strike Eagles). They are assigned to the 428th Fighter Training Squadron.

Fourteen of Singapore’s F-16C/D fighters are at Luke Air Force Base, the home of the 56th Fighter Wing, which handles training for not only the F-16, but for the F-35. They are assigned to the 425th Fighter Training Squadron.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
A Singaporean F-16D Fighting Falcon with the 425th Fighter Training Squadron. (USAF photo)

So, why is roughly one-fourth of Singapore’s combat aircraft inventory stationed across the Pacific Ocean, well over 8,500 miles away? Well, the answer is Singapore’s small size, and its poor geography. Singapore is really an island nation pushed smack dab between Malaysia and Indonesia, and its airspace is less than six miles across.

One thing you need for flight training, though, is space, and a lot of it. This is especially true with high-performance fighters like the F-15SG and F-16C/D.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Map of Singapore, showing just how little airspace there is for training. (CIA map)

Transport helicopter pilots and basic flight training are done in Australia, where the trainees, it is safe to assume, can guzzle all the Foster’s they want. Jet training for the Singaporean Air Force is done in France. Oh, and eight of Singapore’s 17 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters are based near Tucson, Arizona.

In essence, Singaporean flight trainees get to see a lot of the world before they join a front-line unit. Not a bad way to enter service.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Good news for knees: Army will test out lighter body armor plates

U.S. Army equipment experts plan to test lighter-weight, individual body armor plates by summer 2019, according to a recently released Defense Department test and evaluation report.

The Army’s multi-component Soldier Protection System body armor features hard-armor plates designed to stop rifle rounds. They’re known as the Vital Torso Protection component of the system.


Commanders can choose from the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI, or the X Threat Small Arms Protective Insert, known as XSAPI, in addition to corresponding side armor plates of the same protection level. The XSAPI armor, which weighs slightly more, is for higher threats. All plates fit into the new Modular Scalable Vest, or MSV.

The Army has started fielding the MSV, which weighs about five pounds lighter than the older, Improved Outer Tactical Vest.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US

Sgt. Michael Graham, an intelligence advisor with the 4th Infantry Division Military Transition Team, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, wears his Improved Outer Tactical Vest during a combined-battlefield circulation with the Iraqi Army.

(Photo by Spc. Aaron Rosencrans)

The Army intends to test new, lighter-weight armor plates in third quarter of fiscal 2019, according to the Fiscal 2018 Annual Report from the Defense Department’s Director, Operational Test and Evaluation.

The report offers very little detail about the plates the service intends to test, but Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, who commands Program Executive Office Soldier, talked about ways the Army is trying to lighten plates in October 2018 at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting.

The Army has been working with industry to reduce the weight of body armor plates by as much as 30 percent, Potts said.

One way to do this is by adjusting the standard of allowable back-face deformation, or how much of the back face of the armor plate is allowed to move in against the body after a bullet strike.

The Army is changing the allowance to 58mm standard instead of the conservative 44mm standard it has used for years, Potts said, who added that there is “no significant” risk to soldiers.

The change allows companies to adjust the manufacturing process, which could lead to a lighter plate, he said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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How Venezuela became unstable after losing its most heavy-handed dictator

Venezuela’s possession of the largest oil reserve in the world should have made her, at least according to economists, the global economic leader. For decades, Venezuela was a nation rich in petroleum reserves. There was a time when former President Hugo Chavez invested considerable amounts in socialist programs to provide free heating oil for the poor – in America. Yes, our America.

However, the current economic turmoil isn’t what one would think of. There are socialist and communist countries worldwide still hobbling along; why is Venezuela such a sh*t show? Starting in 2014, the country’s GDP plunged to a level that not even the U.S. reached during the Great Depression. Aside from its inhabitants’ inability to access food, resource-deprived hospitals lacked soap, necessities, antibiotics, and the political sphere was slowly spiraled into turmoil. President Nicholas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was marred with accusations of polling irregularities and voter intimidation. This was coupled with colossal street protests and a massive military uprising triggered by the opposition.

Who is the president?

This should not be an explicit question, but it remains one of the most speculative things in Venezuela. Shortly after president Maduro had been sworn into a second-year term, the opposition chief, Juan Guaidó, declared himself acting president. Unsurprisingly, the sitting president did not take his rival’s move lightly – calling it a U.S. plot to oust him.

Despite several attempts by the opposition chief to switch the military’s allegiance, the armed forces remained loyal to President Maduro. The military maintained that his constitutional presidency would remain unchanged.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Guaidó (left) has the support of the U.S., but not the Venezuelan military (White House)

During his first term, president Maduro reigned in an era encapsulated with a free-fall of the country’s economy. After the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, many Venezuelans blamed him for the spiraling economic turmoil and political uncertainties. At the same time, several candidates had been barred from contesting, others imprisoned or fleeing the country for fear of being jailed.

The opposition-controlled national assembly did not recognize Maduro’s re-election by arguing that the presidency was vacant. Despite the overwhelming support Mr. Guaidó received from the U.S. and many Latin American countries, he does not exercise much power pragmatically.

The Security Forces

As the impasse between the disgruntlement among the Venezuelan population intensifies by Mr. Guaidó’s failure to oust President Maduro, armed forces have been a critical key player in the crisis. This is evidenced by unfruitful talks between the government and opposition coupled with continuous sweeping sanctions from the U.S. Given that president Maduro has frequently awarded the army frequent pay raises and control of major industry sectors, some analysts fear that U.S. sanctions will not be enough to drive Maduro out of office. Still, the economy continues to plummet.

Distribute all ‘zero’ of the wealth

In a once-prosperous economy that no one ever imagined would experience astronomical poverty levels, the hyperinflationary Venezuela economy continued for the sixth year in a row, according to Aljazeera. In a 2019 ENCOVI study, close to 96% of the Venezuelan population is composed of consumers with no access to education and critical social amenities. That was 14% higher than the 50% figure recorded the previous year and the most significant year-over-year leap yet recorded. When measured exclusively in terms of income levels, over 96% of the population lives in abject poverty – showcasing metrics unmatched in Latin American countries.

Although president Nicholas Maduro frequently blames the U.S. government’s sanctions for his woes, the rise in poverty is greatly attributed to inequality. At the same time, rampant inflation has rocked the country and left citizens with an average daily income of 72 U.S. cents in 2020. Despite having the world’s richest oil fields, Venezuela does not produce domestically-made goods, resulting in overreliance on imports. Soaring inflation, a broken healthcare system and rising political temperatures have plunged an already jeopardized Venezuelan economy into a meltdown never witnessed before.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

The B-2 Spirit is one of the most clandestine and rare planes in the world. Only 21 were ever built, and they reportedly have a stealth profile similar to that of a large bird despite their 170-foot wingspan. And they’re invisible to many infrared seekers, despite four large engines.

Here’s how engineers made a massive plane with large engines nearly invisible to systems designed to detect threats exactly like the B-2.


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The B-2’s stealth profile is the result of extensive computer testing that wasn’t possible before its design. While the F-117 and B-1 were stealth aircraft, they were designed by nerds with slide rules and minimal computer modeling because the technology and the computers necessary simply didn’t exist.

But when it was time to design the B-2, the all-powerful nerds had super computers and leveraged them to create a model that had no flat surfaces with which to reflect radar directly back to the sensor. While a machine with no flat surfaces is harder to manufacture, the increase in stealth was deemed worthy of extra costs.

If the B-2 were flying directly towards the radar, most of the waves would actually be reflected 90 degrees away from the receiver, giving the radar operators next to nothing to work with.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Husband and wife B-2 Spirit pilots pose with one of the rare aircraft. The engine intakes are visible to the left and right of the cockpit.
(Avery family courtesy photo)

But of course, the flying wing would lose most of its stealth if the engines were mounted outside of its high-tech form. So the engines were mounted inside with special openings for intake and exhaust that, again, would not reflect radar waves back to the dish.

That exhaust opens its own can of worms. After all, aircraft can be tracked by their infrared signatures, if only from relatively close ranges. So, the B-2 needed tech that would let it diffuse or mask its infrared emissions at ranges as short as possible.

It has a few (mostly classified) systems to help with this. The exact shape of the exhaust helps a lot, but it also cools its exhaust and mixes it with the outside air to create a final exhaust that is at nearly the same temperature as the air flowing into the intake.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Germaine McCall, aircrew flight equipment NCO in charge, 509th Operations Support Squadron, carries a life support equipment to be cleaned and inspected upon the arrival of a B-2 Spirit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, August 28, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

This greatly frustrates pursuing missiles and fighters, but obviously still leaves it vulnerable if someone spots the plane and talks fighters into the vicinity to hunt it.

Except the B-2 has another trick up its sleeve that makes even that less likely. It’s actually extremely quiet, so much so that people at sporting events with B-2 flyovers have reported being able to speak to one another as the plane flies past.

Anyone who has worked with most other jets knows that you can typically hear them before you see them, often by a matter of hundreds of feet. It’s the sound that lets you know to look for the plane, but the B-2’s tiny acoustic signature means that most observers on the ground won’t know there’s anything in the sky to look for.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit flies past a crowd of spectators during the 2018 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom on July 14, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball)
 

Combined, this makes the B-2 a plane with little radar observability, that’s too quiet for most people on the ground to notice it flying nearby, and it gives off little heat, frustrating missiles and fighters sent to down it.

All of this still requires good pilots and planning. Determined defenders could use low-frequency radar waves and skilled fighters to hunt down a B-2 following a too-populated or well-defended route. But the last element of B-2 stealth comes from good intelligence, allowing pilots and planners to send the bombers in through relatively undefended routes or through routes the B-2 can defeat.

Because that’s a big part of the B-2’s mission. It’s not supposed to act as the primary bomber in most circumstances. It’s a first-wave attacker, clearing the air defenses on the ground and opening “alleys” for less stealthy aircraft. Ideally, they get a picture of the air defenses they will attack from reconnaissance aircraft like the RC-135 and are then able to dismantle them piece by piece.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
An Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., takes off March 27, 2016, in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations.
(U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joel Pfiester)

But the B-2 can and has been sent against other targets, including bunkers in Iraq housing command and control elements during the invasion of that country. This is particularly useful when planners need to eliminate a target too early in the timeline to dismantle the air network first.

After all, if an enemy commander shows himself at a rally in the capital during an air campaign, you aren’t going to wait for the B-2s to finish opening the air corridors, you’re just going to send in B-2s to the final target (or you send B-1s if the B-2s can’t get there in time). You can get the radars later.

And that’s what’s so great about the B-2. While the plane costs more dollars per hour of flight than many others and carries fewer bombs than planes like the B-52 and B-1, it can hit targets that few other platforms can, largely because of its amazing stealth.

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3 major ways Bob Hope helped veterans

Bob Hope’s support for our military was so prolific and enduring that he is one of only two civilians who have received honorary veteran status.

In 1997, Congress passed a measure to make Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. military in recognition of his continued support for the troops. At the time, Hope was the only civilian to be recognized in such a way (he now shares the honor with philanthropist Zachary Fisher who, in 1999, would become the second honorary veteran).

He has so many accolades to his name that it’s nearly impossible to track, but these are some of our favorites:

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US

1. He entertained the troops from 1941-1991

On May 6, 1941, he performed his first USO Show at March Field in Riverside, California, which was a radio show for the airmen stationed there. He went on to headline for the USO 57 times during more than 50 years of appearances, providing entertainment for the troops from World War II through the Persian Gulf War.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Letter from prisoner of war, Frederic Flom, written on back of wrapper, Feb. 24, 1973.
(Bob Hope Collection, Library of Congress)
 

2. He advocated for the release of POWs during the Vietnam War

During his 1971 Christmas tour, Hope met with a North Vietnamese official in Laos to try to secure the release of American POWs. When F-105 pilot Frederic Flom heard about this, it lifted his spirits and prompted him to write Mr. Hope a letter of thanks.

On his last day in office, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Bob Hope the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
The Bob Hope Veterans Support Program was launched in 2014 with a generous seed grant from The Bob Hope Legacy

3. His legacy continues to improve the lives of America’s military community

The Easterseals Bob Hope Veterans Support Program provides one-on-one employment services, as well as referrals to other resources, to meet the unique needs of military personnel and veterans transitioning out of the military into a civilian job, starting their own small business or pursuing higher education.

Since launching in 2014, the program has served thousands of veterans and families with employment support and referrals to other resources, placing hundreds into civilian positions and countless more pursuing education degrees. Free to veterans, who do not need to have a disability to participate, the program was launched with a generous seed grant from The Bob Hope Legacy, a division of The Bob Dolores Hope Foundation, which supports organizations that bring HOPE to those in need and those who served to protect our nation consistent with the legacy of Bob Hope.

To date, The Bob Hope Legacy has donated more than 2 million dollars in support of Easterseals’ military and veteran services.

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This is the White House plan to play ‘chicken’ with Beijing in the South China Sea

President Donald Trump approved a plan to check Beijing over its continued militarization of and actions in the South China Sea.


Over the last few years, China has ambitiously built up islands on reefs and atolls in the South China Sea and militarized them with radar outposts, military-grade runways, and shelters for missile defenses.

Military analysts believe China hopes to expand its air defense and identification zone into the western Pacific and build a blue-water navy to rival the US’s, but six other countries also lay claim to parts of the region.

In 2016, an international court at The Hague deemed China’s maritime claims unlawful and excessive, but China rejected the ruling outright and has continued to build military installations and unilaterally declare no-fly and no-sail zones.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
US Navy and Republic of Singapore ships in the South China Sea. US Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Angela Henderson

When a country makes an excessive naval claim, the US Navy challenges it by sailing its ships, usually destroyers, close to the disputed territory or through the disputed waters as a way of ensuring freedom of navigation for all. In 2016, the US challenged the excessive claims of 22 nations — China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping passes, were the most prominent.

China has responded forcefully to US incursions into the region, telling the US the moves were provocative and that they must ask permission, which doesn’t align with international law or UN conventions.

“China’s military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security, and regional peace and stability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in response to US bombers flying in the region.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. | PLA

Under former US President Barack Obama, the US suspended freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, the US made just three such challenges. So far, under Trump, the US has made three challenges already.

“You have a definite return to normal,” said chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White

“This administration has definitely given the authority back to the people who are in the best position to execute those authorities, so it’s a return to normal,” she said.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
The conflicting claims on territory in the South China Sea. Graphic from naturalflow Flickr

Freedom of navigation operations work best when they’re routine in nature and don’t make news.

They serve to help the US establish the facts in the water, but in the South China Sea, those facts all indicate Chinese control.

When Chinese military jets fly armed over head, when Chinese navy ships patrol the waters, and when Chinese construction crews lay down the framework for a network of military bases in the South China Sea, the US’s allies in the region notice.

An increased US Navy presence in the area won’t turn back time and unpave runways, but it could send a message to allies that the US has their back and won’t back away from checking Beijing.

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This French general is best remembered for his failed suicide attempt

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
General Charles Denis Bourbaki. (Don’t let those medals fool you.)


General Charles Denis Bourbaki forged a long career fighting in the French Second Empire’s wars in North Africa, the Crimea, and Italy. He served as a lieutenant with the Zouaves from 1836 to 1838 and received a promotion to captain in June of 1842. He quickly rose to the rank of Colonel by 1851 and received advancement to general of division in 1857. He served with distinction at the Battles of Alma, Inkerman, and the assault of Sebastopol during the Crimean War. He fought in the Franco-Austrian War of 1859 and in July of 1870, was nominated as aide-de-camp to Emperor Napoleon, earning renown as one of his most resourceful generals.

With the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, he took command of the First Army of the North. Like most of Napoleon III’s most senior generals, he too proved to be unprepared and unqualified for the war. The Prussian superiority in modern firearms and tactics proved to be too much for the French, who at one time seemed to possess the best army in the world. The Franco-Prussian War ended the myth of French military superiority.

Famed Marxist philosopher and war correspondent Friedrich Engels called the January 1871 Battle of the Lisaine “Bourbaki’s shipwreck.” The battle and subsequent flight of Bourbaki and his army left most of his surviving soldiers without winter clothing, ammunition, or provisions.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
His Army’s surrender is immortalized in a 360-degree painting on display in Lucerne, Switzerland. (Bourbaki Panorama)

Five days after his First Army of the North met defeat at the hands of the Prussians, Bourbaki and 80,000 surviving troops reached the French city of Besançon on their way to the Swiss border in search of sanctuary. They were cold and dispirited.

The choices were grim: flight across the neutral Swiss border or surrender to the victorious Prussians. The condition of his shattered ranks, coupled with the censure for his indecisiveness and poor decision-making during the battle, proved to be unbearable for Bourbaki. In thirty-plus years of campaigning, the general had never experienced defeat on this scale.

“The whole behaviour of Bourbaki, from the 15th to the 26th, seems to prove that he had lost all confidence in his men and that consequently he also lost all confidence in himself,” Engels reported in The Pall Mall Gazette on February 18, 1871. No one ever questioned Bourbaki’s bravery, but his ability to command an army left much to be desired.

Bourbaki’s staff officers worried about his mood over the days leading up to January 26. They intentionally hid his sidearm from him because they were afraid that he would attempt to take his life. Bourbaki located a gunsmith in the city to purchase another weapon, but the gunsmith turned him away, warned of Bourbaki’s suicidal intentions.

But the stubborn general was resolute. He would not be joining his men on their journey to Switzerland.

He commandeered a pistol from one of his aides and retired to his quarters. It was exactly seven o’clock on the evening of January 26, 1871 when his aides heard the single crack of a gunshot echo from Bourbaki’s room.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Bourbaki likely used a weapon like this “Pistolet Cavaliere Modele 1822 TBIS” – the sidearm issued to French officers at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War.

One of Bourbaki’s aides burst through the door of his room and discovered the general slumped over on his bed with his face and head covered with blood. He was miraculously still alive, still able to speak but unable to recall the names of his staff officers.

Two doctors rushed to perform immediate surgery. They discovered a 12mm ball lodged into his temporal muscle. No fracture of the skull was found and the general appeared to only suffer slight amnesia from the concussion of the bullet’s impact.

Bourbaki attributed his attempted suicide to the fact that he was denied a glorious death in battle. But by June, the war was over and he resumed his duties in the French Army.

He lived another 26 years and died in Cambo-Les-Bains on September 22, 1897, well-established among the public as the French general whose failed suicide became his legacy.

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Here’s the story behind the Commander-in-chief’s nuclear ‘football’

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
The military aide with ‘the football.’ (Photo: Business Insider)


In the shadowy world of nuclear operations, seconds count. America’s nuclear warriors train daily to deliver awesome firepower in less time than it takes to microwave a slice of pizza.

The United States introduced the atomic bomb in 1945. The Soviet Union followed suit in 1948. An arms race ensued, with each side trying to top each other in destructive power. The nuclear triad, a triumvirate of submarines, bombers, and long-range missiles, was the pinnacle of that arms race.

The name of the game in nuclear strategy is survivability. And that’s what the triad was designed to achieve. Quiet submarines can hide beneath the waves. Bombers can escape to the skies in the event of an incoming attack. And hardened intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBMs, are so numerous it would require a massive nuclear first-strike to neutralize all of them.

So what does it take to unleash nuclear hell? The massive power lies in the hands of one man, the President of the United States. It’s a responsibility that Harry Truman, who ordered the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, said was the most difficult of his Presidency.

In the entire United States military, nowhere is the chain of command thinner than the nuclear command and control network. In a normal military unit, there are two dozen degrees of separation between the National Command Authority and the warfighter. In the shadowy world of nuclear operations, there’s perhaps 2 or 3. When the decision is made, the order shoots like a bolt from the blue to bomber, missile, and submarine crews. When they launch, only the bomber crews have the option of recall.

President Kennedy lamented the responsibility. He thought it “insane that two men, sitting on opposite sides of the world, should be able to decide to bring an end to civilization.”

After the US-Soviet arms race hit its apogee during the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy reportedly asked a few common sense, but insightful, questions about the nuclear chain of command. He wanted to know how he would order the Pentagon to launch a nuclear strike. And he was curious how nuclear crews would know the order came from the President.

The answer became one of the most visible signs of the President’s authority, the nuclear football. It’s a briefcase carried by a rotating cast of President’s military aides, officers from each service handpicked for their competency.

The football’s small size, power, and mystery have created something of a mythos around the non-descript briefcase. The term “finger on the button” has become synonymous with awesome responsibility. And the assumption is that the football has a big red button inside, one where the President hits when he wants to unleash Armageddon.

The reality isn’t nearly as sexy. The football is in some ways like many briefcases. It holds documents. The term football came from the original nuclear war plan, code-named Dropkick by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. The thinking was that in order to execute a dropkick, you need a football.

The contents are highly classified. But former military aides have revealed a few key details about the football’s mysterious contents. It contains, most importantly, the authentication codes to America’s atomic arsenal. Those authenticators are the classified realm’s holiest of the holy, quite literally the keys to the nuclear kingdom. The briefcase also contains a menu of retaliatory options for the President. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to nuclear war than a massive retaliatory blow. Whether to hit big or hit small is the President’s alone.

Along with the football, the President carries with him a small identification card with a series of codes on it. The codes verify his identity, and must accompany the football’s authenticators and war plans when ordering a nuclear strike.

Almost every President has a football fumble. During LBJ’s tenure, a military aide was stunned when he discovered six months’ worth of changes to nuclear procedures were not in the briefcase. When Reagan was shot, his special identification card was stuck in a small plastic hospital bag along with his other personal effects. George HW Bush once left his military aide (and associated football) behind after a tennis match. So did President Clinton. His military aide had to spring several blocks back to the White House, football in tow.

During the heyday of the Cold War, the Soviets also had a small satchel that accompanied the General Secretary. The Russian version had an electronic device that generated an unlock code. During the 1991 coup, conspirators seized both the Russian football and Gorbachev’s aide. The device was reportedly sabotaged by loyal officers during the coup, leaving the fading Soviet Union without access to their nuclear forces.

In America’s case, the invention of nuclear weapons created an anomaly in US history. The Presidency was devised to operate under a series of checks and balances. It was the Founding Father’s way of restraining executive power. Nuclear launch authority has no such check and no such restraint. The power is the President’s alone, and today remains perhaps the most awesome responsibility in history.

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How Easterseals helped this veteran build a life after service

This post is sponsored by Easterseals.


When he finished his enlistment and left the Army in 2012, Alex Ortega wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do for his post-military career.

With no specific plan for a civilian career, Ortega decided school was the best option. But he still wasn’t sure what direction to take.

While in school one of his classmates, a military veteran like him, mentioned help available through the Easterseals Bob Hope Veterans Support Program.

An Easterseals employment specialist helped Ortega by guiding the former soldier through the process of crafting a plan for his post-military education and to find work in a professional field.

The specialist helped Ortega retool and improve his resume — such as translating military-specific tasks and jobs he held during his six years in the Army into similar, equivalent duties in civilian employment. With the specialist’s help, Ortega was able to detail his military experience on his resume in a way that was clearer and more relevant to potential civilian employers.

That assistance paid off. Today, Ortega works as a veteran peer support specialist at a leading university in Southern California.

“An employment specialist will help that veteran accomplish his or her goals, which is very important,” he said. “I’m very thankful for Easterseals and the employment mentorship. They provided great mentorship and guidance for me and assisted in the transition … from my military experience to my civilian job now that I’m completely happy and content in.”

Ortega said he’s grateful to the work of the Easterseals Bob Hope Veterans Support Program, which “is making a big difference in the lives of veterans like myself.”

Ortega is among many veterans and their spouses who have received help, guidance and resources through Easterseals and the Bob Hope Veterans Support Program. The transition assistance program gives veterans and their families some peace of mind after they leave the military and have to reset themselves or their families for a new chapter of life — whether they want to find civilian employment, pursue college or technical training, or start a small business.

Funded with a seed grant from The Bob Hope Legacy, the support program was launched in 2014 and provides referrals and resources, including one-on-one support for transitioning veterans and reservists and National Guard members who are leaving active duty.

The program provides resources that fit each veteran’s interests, skills and goals. Specialists help them write resumes, sharpen interviewing skills, learn how to network and boost their confidence to help them obtain work with potential employers. The program also helps with direct referrals to partner agencies who can provide housing, legal assistance, counseling or child care.

Support is free for post-Sept. 11, 2001, veterans leaving active or reserve duty who intend to work in San Diego County or Orange County and who have received an honorable, general or other-than-honorable discharge. A veteran does not need to have a disability to be eligible for the program.

The service also is available to spouses or registered domestic partners of veterans who are unable to work due to a disability.

The transition program is part of Bob Hope’s legacy, and its impact is felt in veterans like Ortega. He follows a long lineage of military service in his family, including his father, brother and an uncle who all served in the Army like him.

Growing up, Ortega often watched videos of Bob Hope as he entertained tens of thousands of U.S. troops during his famous USO shows and worldwide tours.

“For a well-known comedian to come out like that and boost the morale of the troops in tough times, it’s a game-changer, and it really helps the veterans get through the day and deployment,” he said. “It really brings a touch of home, a piece of the United States to wherever they were.”

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This is how researchers are trying to stop sand from killing aircraft engines

If you’ve ever seen some of the DOD videos – or photos, for that matter – from Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re often accompanied by huge clouds of dust as helicopters come in for a landing.


But here’s what you don’t see; the damage the sand and dust does on the engines of those helicopters.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter comes into land at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan following a mission. Note the huge cloud of dust. (UK MoD photo via Wikimedia Commons)

That matters – because the engines of helicopters and jets have one naturally-occurring enemy: FOD, which stands for “foreign object debris.” According to an FAA fact sheet, FOD was responsible for the June 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people.

What the fact sheet doesn’t mention is that sand and dust are also foreign objects to an engine. What they do isn’t as spectacular as what happened in Paris almost 17 years ago, but it can be just as lethal.

Worse, while regular FOD walks can handle the larger objects, you can never quite get all the sand and dust away from an air base in Afghanistan or Iraq. So, there is a need to figure out how to keep the sand and dust from damaging engine components.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
A UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter lands as U.S. Army paratroopers secure the area in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, July 23, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the helicopter crew is assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The soldiers evacuated a wounded insurgent. (US Army photo)

The Department of Defense recently released a video about efforts to address this. For instance, one of the researchers in this video one component in the T-700 engine is supposed to last 6,000 hours, but sand and dust reduce that to 400 hours – 1/15 of the planned operating life.

The price tag for the component in question? $30,000. That is a minor inconvenience. When a helo goes down, things get even uglier.

So check out the new ways researchers are attacking the problem of sand-damaged engines.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Hong Kong riot police will be rocking futuristic ‘RoboCop-style’ body armor

Police in Hong Kong have imported a new type of anti-riot body armor from China which are said to be lightweight and bulletproof and can reportedly protect against attacks using sharp and flammable objects.

Kong Wing-chueng, Hong Kong Police Force’s Senior Superintendent, said Aug. 27, 2019, that new protective suits were purchased for police who have been confronting over 12 weeks of violent pro-democracy protests.

“As a responsible employer, we purchase any equipment that provides the best protection to our officers,” he said, according to the Post.


Sources told the South China Morning Post that 500 sets of the suits had been purchased from a manufacturer in China. Police sources told the Post that it was the first time Hong Kong forces received supplies from the mainland, having previously imported gear from the United Kingdom or France. Britain suspended its sale of teargas and other crowd control equipment to Hong Kong in June, citing allegations of police brutality against protesters.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US

New anti-riot armor used by Hong Kong police imported from China has garnered comparisons to RoboCop for its futuristic appearance.

(China Commodities/Chinese Ministry of Commerce)

Chinese state tabloid Global Times confirmed the order for 500 sets of the anti-riot armor, citing the suits developers, Guangzhou-based Guangzhou Weifu Science Technology Development. According to the report, the armor is more lightweight than other suits used by police, and provide better protection against knives, bullets, and flammable objects.

According to the Times, Guangzhou Weifu Science Technology Development also provide protective gear to other countries, including Israel, Iraq, Morocco and Jordan. The company says on its website that it has worked on over a dozen projects with China’s Ministry of Public Security.

A Hong Kong police source told the Post that each suit costs 0, while the Times estimates that suits cost roughly 0. The police source told the Post that the suits were “bullet-resistant” and could protect officers from sharp objects and small firearms, like a “.22 caliber handgun.”

Police told the Post that the suits had been delivered on Friday to Ngau Tau Kok police station in East Kowloon, and were then distributed to other officers stationed across the city.

The suit appears similar to those used by Chinese forces and has been compared to “RoboCop”

The suits appear similar to those used by Chinese police in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong and has seen a buildup of Chinese troops within the last few weeks. The suits feature scaled shoulder armor which also runs along their arms, a protective chest plate and jointed leg coverings, and were used in joint training exercises August 2019.

The suits have garnered comparisons to “RoboCop,” a 1987 American film character who was a cyborg law enforcement officer.

The futuristic armor arrives as tensions in Hong Kong continue to escalate.

On Aug. 25, 2019, protesters clashed with police in the Tsuen Wan area in Hong Kong’s north. An offshoot group of protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at forces and reportedly chased police with metal pipes. Police responded by pointing live firearms at protesters, with one firing a warning shot into the air.

Police also used water cannons to disperse crowds for the first time since protests began.

On Aug. 27, 2019, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vowed to tackle protests using any legal means necessary and did not rule out invoking sweeping emergency powers to quell the violence.

“All laws in Hong Kong – if they can provide a legal means to stop violence and chaos – the [Hong Kong] government is responsible for looking into them,” Lam said.

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

Articles

History shows that successful military leaders don’t always make good political ones

Political analysts are buzzing this week over rumors that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is seriously considering a high-ranking former Army general as his running mate. And while many on the right — and even some on the left — are applauding the move, history shows former military leaders don’t necessarily make good political ones.


Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former top spy for the military, has been a vocal Trump supporter since he left the Army as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, and has recently taken on a role as a foreign policy advisor for the campaign. But lately, his name has been floated by Trump associates as a potential vice president for the Republican real estate mogul.

“I like the generals. I like the concept of the generals. We’re thinking about — actually, there are two of them that are under consideration,” Trump told Fox News in reference to his VP vetting process.

A pick like Flynn might appeal to a broad political spectrum. He’s a registered Democrat, has leaned pro-choice on abortion, and has criticized the war in Iraq and the toppling of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. But he’s also been a critic of Hillary Clinton and her handling of classified information and was forced to retire after publically denouncing the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

And while a no-nonsense, general officer style might work in a service environment and appeal to voters looking for something new, history shows plenty of landmines for military men who turn their focus from the battlefield to the ballot box.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
(Photos: US Department of Defense)

While two of America’s most senior officers in history, General of the Armies George Washington and General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, enjoyed successful careers as presidents after military service, their compatriot General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant led an administration marked by graft and corruption.

On the list of generals-turned-president, Andrew Jackson and Rutherford B. Hayes were respected in their times, but Jackson’s wife died due to illness aggravated by political attacks during his campaign.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Maj. Gen. Zachary Taylor was a hero in the Mexican-American War but he struggled as a president. Photo: Public Domain

Zachary Taylor ran as a political outsider and then found himself outside of most political deals cut during his presidency. Benjamin Harrison’s administration was known for its failure to address economic problems which triggered the collapse of 1893. James A. Garfield’s assassination early in his presidency is sometimes cited as the only reason he is known as an inconsequential president instead of a bad one.

So, why do successful general officers, tested in the fires of combat and experienced at handling large organizations, often struggle in political leadership positions?

The two jobs exist in very different atmospheres. While military organizations are filled with people trained to work together and put the unit ahead of the individual, political organizations are often filled with people all striving to advance their own career.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Painted: The British burn the White House in 1814, also known as the last time strongpoint defense was the most important thing a vice president could know. (Library of Congress)

And while backroom deals are often seen as a failure of character in the military, they’re an accepted part of doing business in politics. One senator will scratch another’s back while they both look to protect donors and placate their constituencies.

Plus, not all military leaders enter politics with a clear view of what they want to accomplish. They have concrete ideas about how to empower the military and improve national security, but they can struggle with a lack of experience in domestic policy or diplomacy after 20 or 30 years looking out towards America’s enemies.

These factors combined to bring down President Ulysses S. Grant whose administration became known as the “Era of Good Stealings” because of all the money that his political appointees were able to steal from taxpayers and businesses. It wasn’t that Grant was dishonest, it was that he failed to predict the lack of integrity in others and corrupt men took advantage of him.

Of course, at the end of the day it’s more about the man than the resume, and Flynn and McChrystal both have traits to recommend them. McChrystal was seen as largely successful as the top commander in Afghanistan where he had to work long hours and keep track of the tangled politics of Afghanistan.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US
Gen. Stanley McChrystal may have more experience with Afghan politics than American. (Photo: Operation Resolute Support Media via Flickr)

Flynn has spent years in Washington as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Beltway may be full of duplicity and tangled deals, but it isn’t much worse than all the terrorist organizations and hostile governments Flynn had to keep track of for the Department of Defense.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that neither man will end up next to Trump at the podium. The rumors say that McChrystal has not been contacted and is not interested in being the next vice president. Flynn appears to be more open to the idea but registered as a democrat for years, something that would make him impalatable for many Republican party leaders.

If one of them does end up on the presidential ticket, they should probably buff up on their Eisenhower, Washington, and Grant biographies, just to be safe.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch a Russian Su-34 Fullback fire a rocket at a close target during ground tests

Videos of gun and missile tests taken at the Russian GkNIPAS range are extremely interesting. The one of the Su-34 is pretty unusual too.


The top image, showing a Russian Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback attack aircraft firing what appears to be an S-25 rocket at a close concrete target was filmed at the GkNIPAS FKP, the Russian State Governmental Scientific-Testing Area of Aircraft Systems.

Created on Jun. 27, 1941, “GkNIPAS” is one of the largest ranges in Russia and the leading one for the testing of aviation technology products (both aircraft and weapons). The site is located in a forest area about 60 km to the southeast of Moscow, and includes 50 facilities scattered across an area that covers about 10,000 hectares (100 sqkm)..

The range installations and computer-related systems, allow for testing in the areas of:

  • Study on the impact of air and space conditions and electromagnetic effects on the air-launched weapons;
  • Aeroballistic research used to examine the ballistic trajectories of aircraft and weapons at supersonic and hypersonic speeds;
  • Research of interaction between the weapons and the lauch platform;
  • Research on the impact of heat and vibrations on weapons during transport and storage;
  • Test of rockets and their engine systems;
  • Studies of the erosive effect on the protective coatings of aircraft weapons arising from aerodynamic and thermal loading
  • Research of aircraft effects on atmospheric ozone layer;
  • Research on the characteristics of aerosol formations and two-phase flows
  • Tests of the emergency escape and lifesaving equipment of aircraft;
  • Tests for national and international certification purposes of parts and systems of commercial aircraft with human-like dummies
  • Study of the dynamics of parachute systems.

Here below you can find an interesting video showing many of the activities carried out at the Russian range, including the Yak-130 ejection seats test; the Su-34’s 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon ground firing and what seems to be a test of the ability of the Su-25’s armour to stop bullets.

www.youtube.com

Back to the Su-34, the aircraft entered in active service with the Russian Aerospace Forces in 2014. It is a two-seat strike fighter with a maximum range of 4,000 km, a payload of up to 12,000 kg on 12 hardpoints, the ability to carry R-77 and and R-73 missiles, a 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon, and a Khibiny ECM suite. For more details about the aircraft take a look at the infographic we posted here.

Let’s talk about why a quarter of Singapore’s air force is based in the US

Rocket test.

The top image of the Su-34 firing a rocket was sourced from a video about the development of the Fullback that you can watch here. It is at least interesting and rare to see an AAM (Air-to-Air Missile) tested on the ground from a plane with the extended landing gear. I honestly can’t remember of similar tests on other aircraft (but I may well be wrong, in such case please leave a comment or point me to a video that I would be glad to see). Usually, gun testing and calibrations are carried out with aircraft on the ground (hence with extended landing gear). But recent video has shown a Russian Su-25 using laser-guided air-to-ground projectiles in an air-to-air role against a Tu-16 bomber, hence it’s probably not too surprising. BTW, at around 30:23 of the video linked above, you can see the aircraft’s Chief Designer Rollan Martirosov who passed away recently.

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

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