What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney's axe? - We Are The Mighty
Articles

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?


During the George H. W. Bush Administration, the Navy and Marine Corps were pursuing two revolutionary aircraft. One was the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor intended to replace the CH-46 Sea Knight. The other was the A-12 Avenger, the planned replacement for the A-6 Intruder, the classic attack airplane made famous in the book and movie Flight of the Intruder.

Early on in the first Bush Administration, the Berlin Wall fell, thanks in no small part due to the Reagan defense build-up and more covert efforts (Peter Schweizer’s Victory tells that tale). For the world, the collapse of communism was a good thing. But for the V-22 and A-12, things started to get rough, as a “peace dividend” was eyed by politicians inside the Beltway. Then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney soon put both aircraft projects on the chopping block — the V-22 because of developmental test failures that resulted in several high-profile mishaps, and the A-12 for massive cost overruns well before a single airframe was ready to launch.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
Congress acted to save the V-22 (over Cheney’s objections). The Marines then stuck with the plane during a lengthy RD effort. What the Marines got as a result of that decision was a game-changer, particularly when compared to the CH-46 Sea Knight, as the included graphic from the Government Accountability Office shows. The V-22 can carry half of a Marine infantry platoon almost 400 miles from its base at speeds of up to 275 knots. Compare that to the CH-46E’s 184-mile combat radius, and top speed of 166 miles per hour, and the fact it could carry only a third of a Marine infantry platoon.

Marines found the V-22 to be effective in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Air Force Special Operations Command proved their version’s mettle in a raid against ISIS in Syria. To put it bluntly, the V-22 proved Cheney wrong, while the Marines and AFSOC were rewarded for their perseverance and faith in the new technology. In fact, the V-22 could even add a new mission not planned for in the initial specs: Aerial refueling.

As we know from history, the A-12 Avenger was not so lucky. Trying to make a point with his budgeteers about fiscal responsibility, Cheney made that cut stick.

So what did the Navy lose out on? For starters, let’s look at the plane the A-12 was supposed to replace.

The A-6 Intruder was an all-weather attack plane that was designed to carry a large bomb load (up to 18,000 pounds). At the time it was designed, stealth technology and smart bombs weren’t in the picture. But the plane gave valuable service, both during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, as well as also seeing action in smaller conflicts like the 1986 clashes with Libya and Operation Preying Mantis in 1988.

While the Avenger’s actual performance will not be known, some estimates are available, including a range of just over 900 miles, a top speed of 578 knots, and a bomb load of 5,000 pounds. Notable in this is that the plane was also slated to carry two AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AGM-88 HARMs for self-protection in addition to its bombload.

But the real game-changer was its stealth technology. The A-12, like the F-117, B-2, and F-22, would be able to evade detection by most radars, and deliver precision-guided weapons on to targets. Would it, like the V-22, have been able to do more? Again, we will never know.

These days, developing a new combat aircraft takes longer than it used to, as the F-35, V-22, and F-22 have proven. Part of it is because that to survive in a modern environment, the aircraft is, in one sense, a flying computer, running as much on software as it does jet fuel. There is a major implication to this. When your laptop has a software hiccup, it’s an inconvenience. When a software hiccup happens on a modern combat plane, it means the loss of an airframe, and possibly the pilot as well. So, the required level of reliability gets higher, and reaching that level of reliability will take longer and cost more money.

In an age where both Russia and China have become more hostile to the United States, and their militaries are bringing new weapons systems on line, one has to wonder if the presence of the A-12 would have helped.

Articles

6 employees fired from US embassy in Afghanistan for drug violations

The State Department has fired six employees at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan for allegedly using or possessing prohibited drugs, a particularly troubling infraction given the years-long U.S. effort to eradicate opium production in the country.


A senior State Department official said those who were embassy employees were fired and others who were contractors were released from their contracts.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
The Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan. Pictured here, a Marine posts security while members of the Afghan Narcotics Interdiction Unit search a compound during Operation Speargun in Urmuz, Afghanistan, March 26, 2012.

The official declined to say what led to the investigation, but the Wall Street Journal reported it was launched after a person was wandering about in a state of confusion.

A State Department official told Voice of America News on March 30 the fired workers “were found to have been using or in possession of prohibited substances.”

Opium production in Afghanistan is a major source of income for the Taliban and other insurgents.

Afghanistan is the source of more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin. Despite global efforts to stem the flow of narcotics, the United Nations says production reached near record levels in 2016.

The United States has spent more than $8 billion on drug interdiction in Afghanistan since the start of war against the Taliban in 2001.

Articles

This airman is one of only 9 to receive Air Force Cross since 9/11

Christopher G. Baradat would have just as well had the Air Force mail him his medal.


It’s been more than four years since the Afghanistan battle in which the former Air Force staff sergeant was credited with saving the lives of more than 150 allies, both American and Afghan. And three years since Baradat, who served with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Fort Bragg, received the Silver Star for those heroics.

And to this day, the former airman believes he was only doing his job when he braved enemy fire to communicate with vital air support amid a frantic battle with insurgents in the Sono Valley, a treacherous area known as a sanctuary for insurgents in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

“I don’t feel that I was doing anything above and beyond and heroic,” Baradat said shortly before being honored yet again in a historic ceremony in Florida. “I was doing the job that I was supposed to do.”

On April 20, Baradat and retired Master Sgt. Keary Miller, a former pararescueman, were each presented with the Air Force Cross in a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, home of Air Force Special Operations Command.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
The Air Force Cross is the service’s highest combat medal for valor, second only to the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

It was the first time in history the Air Force had awarded two Air Force Cross medals — the highest honor for valor an airman can receive outside the Medal of Honor.

Baradat and Miller previously received Silver Stars for their respective heroics. But after a Department of Defense-wide review of valor awards from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they were among eight airmen who were selected to receive an upgraded medal.

The ceremony to honor them was hosted by the 24th Special Operations Wing and began with a flyover from the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds; included remarks from the highest-ranking Air Force officer, Gen. David L. Goldfein; and ended with memorial pushups for special operations airmen who have died in battle.

Baradat’s heroics are related to a battle in which he directed 13 500-pound bombs and more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition during three hours of intense fighting amid a mission to rescue allies trapped in a valley under Taliban control.

Also read: This airman saved 23 wounded troops during an insider attack

Miller, who served with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, is credited with dashing through deep snow and heavy fire multiple times to care for critically wounded U.S. troops during a 17-hour battle against al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan on March 4, 2002.

Baradat, who left the Air Force last year and now lives in California, said he was not seeking medals during the fight on April 6, 2013.

“I was just concentrating on doing my job,” he said. “It was a very busy, hectic situation.”

According to accounts of the battle, Baradat put his life on the line even as members of the Special Forces team and Afghan commandos he was attached to shouted for him to take cover.

The former combat controller, who provided an important link between ground forces and overhead aircraft, stood in an open Afghan courtyard as bullets hit the ground around him and zeroed in on the roughly 100 enemy fighters bearing down on his teammates with sniper fire, machine gun fire, and rocket-propelled grenades.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

Baradat orchestrated supporting fire from AC-130 and A-10 aircraft, synchronizing the attacks and coordinating flight paths overhead amid heavy enemy fire on the ground.

“It was very steep, rocky terrain,” he said. “There was some difficulty in identifying where stuff was happening.”

Baradat said his Special Tactics training prepared him for the battle. But at the same time, he credited the soldiers from the Fort Bragg-based 3rd Special Forces Group whom he fought alongside.

“I was just one piece of the puzzle,” he said. “I’m proud of how my team worked together that day and that I was able to do my job the way that I was trained to.”

Baradat and Miller are the eighth and ninth airmen to receive the Air Force Cross since Sept. 11, 2001.

All nine airmen have been part of the Special Tactics community. And five have come from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, which is the most decorated Air Force squadron in modern history.

On April 20, Baradat said he wished his old unit well.

“I hope that those guys are doing great,” he said. “I hope they all stay safe as they continue to do the work and continue the legacy of Air Force Special Tactics.”

Baradat spent roughly eight years in the Air Force, deploying three times to Afghanistan and once as part of a crisis response force in the Middle East.

In April 2013 he was part of a quick reaction force called to rescue 66 Afghan allies pinned down by fighters in the Sono Valley.

According to an account of the battle, Baradat and eight Special Forces soldiers went ahead of their convoy of armed vehicles, which were slowed by narrow and restrictive terrain.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
Calling in close air support is a pretty baller move. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

About half a mile from the allies they were sent to rescue, the troops came under attack and sprinted the length of several football fields to reach safety in a small mud compound.

There, Baradat began to communicate with overhead aircraft to try to repel the attack.

Then, as they moved closer to their trapped allies and the intensity of the enemy fire increased, Baradat left his concealed position to better coordinate a counterattack.

Ignoring the warnings of his teammates, and with the help of six A-10s and two AC-130s, he cleared the way for members of the team to reach their allies and leave the valley, continuing to direct a counterattack as the convoy left.

Baradat is credited with destroying 50 enemies and 13 enemy fighting positions.

Speaking on April 20, Goldfein said Baradat and Miller represent “the finest traits America can ask of its warriors.”

“When lives are on the line, you move carefully and deliberately into harm’s way with the protection of others on the mind,” he said. “You do what others cannot or will not do. And you do it because it must be done. And because there is no one better.”
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Everything you need to know about the B-1B Lancer

For more than 30 years the B-1B Lancer has proven itself as an essential part of America’s long-range strategic bomber force. Capable of carrying the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force, the B-1 can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.


Development

The Air Force’s newly acquired B-52 Stratofortress hadn’t even taken off for it’s first flight before studies for its replacement began. Research started in the realm of a supersonic bomber resulting in the development of the B-58 Hustler and XB-70 Valkyrie in the late 50s. Although cancelled, a joint NASA-U.S. Air Force flight research program continued to use the XB-70 prototypes, which were capable of reaching Mach 3.0, for research purposes into the late 60s.

During that decade Air Force began to move away from developing high and fast bombers in favor of low-flying aircraft capable of penetrating enemy defenses.

In 1970 Rockwell International was awarded the contract to develop the B-1A, a new bomber capable of high efficiency cruising flight whether at subsonic speeds or at Mach 2.2. To meet all set mission requirements, such as takeoff and landing on runways shorter than those at established large bases, the B-1A was equipped with variable-sweep wings.

The first prototype flight occurred on December 23, 1974, and by the late 70’s four prototypes had been built, however, the program was canceled in 1977 before going into production.

Flight-testing of the prototypes continued through 1981 when, during the Reagan administration, the B-1 program was revived. For the B1-B, the Mach 2.2 number was dropped and the maximum speed limit set to about Mach 1.2 at high altitude due, in part, to changes from a variable air inlet to a fixed inlet. Other major changes included, an additional structure to increase payload to 74,000 pounds, an improved radar and reduction of the radar cross section.

The first production B-1 flew in October 1984, and the first B-1B was delivered to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in June 1985. Initial operational capability was achieved on Oct. 1, 1986. The final B-1B was delivered May 2, 1988.

The B-1B holds almost 50 world records for speed, payload, range, and time of climb in its class.

Operational history

The B-1B was first used in combat in support of operations against Iraq during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. In 1999, six B-1s were used in Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force, delivering more than 20 percent of the total ordnance while flying less than 2 percent of the combat sorties.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
A B-1B Lancer takes off from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to conduct combat operations April 8, 2015. Al Udeid is a strategic coalition air base in Qatar that supports over 90 combat and support aircraft and houses more than 5,000 military personnel.
(Photo by James Richardson)

During the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, eight B-1s dropped nearly 40 percent of the total tonnage delivered by coalition air forces. This included nearly 3,900 JDAMs, or 67 percent of the total. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the aircraft flew less than 1 percent of the combat missions while delivering 43 percent of the JDAMs used. The B-1 continues to be deployed today, flying missions daily in support of continuing operations.

Active squadrons

The 9th and 28th Bomb Squadrons, 7th Bomb Wing, and the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Dyess AFB, Texas

34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons, 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota

Did you know?

  • The B-1B is nicknamed “The Bone” due to the phonetic spelling of its model designation B-ONE.
  • The B-1B has flown 12,000-plus sorties since 2001 in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • With it’s rapid deployment capability and long-range the B-1B can strike targets anywhere in the world from it’s home station.

Aircraft stats

Primary function: Long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber
Contractor: Boeing
Power plant: Four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engines with afterburner
Thrust: 30,000-plus pounds each engine
Wingspan: 137 feet (41.8 meters) extended forward, 79 feet (24.1 meters) swept aft
Length: 146 feet, (44.5 meters)
Height: 34 feet (10.4 meters)
Payload: 75,000 pounds Internal (34,019 kilograms)
Speed: 900-plus mph (Mach 1 plus)
Ceiling: More than 30,000 feet (9,144 meters)
Armament: Approximately 75,000 pounds of mixed ordnance: bombs, mines and missiles
Crew: Four (aircraft commander, copilot, and two combat systems officers)
Unit Cost: $317 million
Initial operating capability: October 1986
Inventory: Active Duty, 62 (2 test); Air Force Reserve, 0; Air National Guard, 0

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
(Graphic by Maureen Stewart)

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

6 “creepy” DARPA projects that will save lives

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is known for both world-changing programs, like the internet, and creepy ones, like synthetic blood. Although it draws flack for creating multiple types of terminators, the Department of Defense’s “mad scientist” laboratory is still cranking out insane inventions that will save the lives of war fighters and civilians.

Here are six of them:


What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

A British poster advocating blood donation.

(Imperial War Museums)

Synthetic blood

We figured that intro may make some people curious, so we’ll talk about synthetic blood right up top. DARPA pushed the project in 2008 and the first batch of blood went to the FDA in 2010. Unfortunately, no synthetic blood has yet made it through FDA approval.

But DARPA backed the venture for a reason. The logistics chain to get blood from donors to patients, including those in war zones, can be insane. Blood shipments to Iraq and Afghanistan often end up being 21 days old when they arrive, meaning there’s only one more week to use it. Synthetic blood could be universal O-negative blood with zero chance of spreading infections and have a much longer shelf life.

So, sure, it’s creepy. But the lives of millions of disaster victims and thousands of troops are in the balance, so let’s press forward.

www.youtube.com

Remote body control

Yeah, we’re talking dudes with remotes controlling the bodies of other living animals. Sure, the organisms being controlled were beetles, not humans, but still, creepy.

But the cyborg insects worked, and could eventually see deployments around the world. The big benefit to using them? They were designed to carry chemical sensors into warzones to help identify IED and mine locations. The inventor who first got cyborg beetles into the air pointed to their potential for tracking conditions in disaster zones and even finding injured people in the rubble.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

A schematic showing the physical nature of deep brain stimulation.

(University of Iowa)

Brain implants

The process of implanting electrodes into the brain is even worse then you’re probably imagining. Doctors can either jab a large electrode deep into the brain, or they can create a lattice and plant it against the side of the brain,allowingsome brain cells to grow into the lattice. Either way:metal inside your skull and brain.

But, brace yourselves, amazing medicine is already being done with these things, from alleviating Parkinson’s symptoms to treating depression to allowing amputees to control prosthetics. And DARPA is doubling down, calling for new implants and procedures that will allow direct connection to 1 million neurons, way up from the few hundred possible today.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

A person shows off his tattoo with biostasis instructions. DARPA is looking at biostasis protocols that might work in emergencies.

(Photo by Steve Jurvetson)

Frozen soldiers

You’ll see this fairly often on mystery and conspiracy websites, “DARPA wants frozen soldiers.” Those same websites sometimes also claim that the U.S. is going to unleash an army of White Walkers and Olafs over the ice caps to destroy Russia. Or they’ll have reports of immortal soldiers who will presumably suck the blood of the innocent and wax poetic about how hot Kristen Stewart is.

In actuality, DARPA just wants to put injured people in biostatis to give medical personnel more time to evacuate and treat them, potentially turning the “Golden Hour” of medevacs into the “Golden Couple of Days.” This could be done by rapidly lowering blood temperatures, something the medical community has looked at for heart attack victims. But DARPA’s program focuses on proteins and cellular processes, hopefully allowing for interventions at room temperature.

If it works, expect to see the process in use in a war with near peers who can force our medevac birds to stay on the ground, and expect to see it quickly copied to ambulance services around the world.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

The schematic of a proposed nanorobot.

(Graphic by Waquarahmad)

Robot nano-doctors in our bodies

Imagine whole pharmacies inside every soldier, floating through their bloodstreams, ready to deliver drugs at any time. DARPA’s In Vivo Nanoplatforms program calls for persistent nanoparticles to be planted inside organisms, especially troops, but potentially also civilians in populations vulnerable to infection.

The idea is to have sensors inside people that can provide very early detection of disease or injury, especially infectious diseases that spread rapidly. That’s what they call, “in vivo diagnostics.” Other groups would also get “in vivo therapeutics,” additional nanoparticles that can provide extremely targeted drugs directly to the relevant infected or injured cells and tissues.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

A SCHAFT robot competes in the DARPA robotics challenge it eventually won.

(Department of Defense)

Sweating robots

DARPA didn’t directly call for sweating robots, but the winner of their robotics challenge was from SCHAFT. Their robot can “sweat” and outperformed all of the other competitors. So, what’s so great about giving robots the ability to stink up the showers with humans? Is it to allow them to evolve into Cylons and seduce us before killing us?

Nope, it’s for the same reason that humans sweat: Robots are getting more complex with more motors and computing units on board to do more complex tasks. But all of that tech generates a ton of heat. To dissipate this, SCHAFT tried pushing filtered water through the robot’s frame and allowing it to evaporate, cooling it. Spoiler: It worked. And robots that can better cool themselves can carry more powerful processors and motors, and therefore perform better in emergencies.

Articles

Watch this female MMA fighter and combat-veteran Marine share her home base

Liz Carmouche is a force to be reckoned with inside the female mixed martial arts world. But before she was fighting for belts, she was fighting to protect and defend us all as a Marine. 

Carmouche’s passion for service was rooted in childhood and she knew one day she wanted to raise her own right hand for her country, just like her father did for the Air Force. “Being around all of those military personnel it really just made a strong connection for myself and me wanting to fulfill a desire to go into service as well,” she explained. 

Growing up in Okinawa, Japan gave her the opportunity to see and work alongside all branches of service. But there was one in particular which called to her.  “The Marine Corps really stood out for me,” Carmouche shared. 

After enlisting in 2004 and going through boot camp at Parris Island, she was stationed in San Diego as an aviation electrician. Carmouche fell in love with the city and eventually made it her home. 

In her first five years of service, she deployed to Iraq three times.

“My service changed me in a very positive way,” she said. Once Carmouche transitioned out of the Marine Corps in 2009, she began opening gyms — fitness had always been a passion. 

“Very soon after leaving the military I started my professional career in MMA. I participated in organizations like Strikeforce and UFC Bellator,” Carmouche explained. “I was fortunate enough to come to this place on my journey where I’ve partnered with USAA and ESPN to give a tour of my home base here.”

As both a military child and veteran, she recognized the power of home. Though she is a private person, Carmouche said welcoming the film crew inside was actually a blast. They were amazing to work with and her wife and son enjoyed the process, she shared. 

So, what will viewers be most surprised to learn about Carmouche as she welcomes them into her home? “The livestock,” she said laughing. “I basically have a mini-farm in my backyard.” In partnership with USAA, ESPN’s YouTube Channel aired the episode on Tuesday August 24, 2021. 

Her 5-year-old son is just starting to really ask questions about her time in service. “He’s getting to an age where he’s starting to understand it. I don’t think he really knows but he’s seen my uniforms and pictures. He thinks it’s cool but I don’t think he knows yet what it means to be a service member,” she explained. 

As for what drove her to begin competing in MMA, many would be surprised to learn it was actually a Marine Corps officer who suggested it. After initially being unsure, it didn’t take long to be all in. “I absolutely fell in love with it and wanted to get more involved with training. The first time I got hit in the face, whatever it was about it, had me hooked,” Carmouche laughed.

For her, getting hit wasn’t as bad as it seems. For many veterans who’ve witnessed and been through combat, the life stressors after service can sometimes often pale in comparison. 

“The coping mechanisms you develop by being in combat in places like Iraq transfer over to everything,” she explained. “All the lessons you learned, stresses, experiences and overcoming things in life can help you adapt to any situation.”

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
Photo courtesy of Carmouche

And adapt she did. 

Now 11 years later, her transition from service brought her right where she wants to be. It’s a feeling she hopes all veterans will find for themselves. “I have many veteran friends who didn’t know who they were without the military. My biggest message is that they can find their identity again,”Carmouche said. “If they believe in themselves and recognize that the things they’ve been through have made them more resilient than anyone out there, they can do it.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Unit Cartoonist’s account of the ‘Spooge Banger’

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is a now a master photographer, cartoonist and storyteller.

(The featured cartoon courtesy of the author. A flash-bang is a concussion grenade that does not produce primary fragmentation, only extreme sound and blinding flash that serves to stun an enemy momentarily upon a room entry.

Depicted is a team preparing to enter a room of unknown threat posture, substituting the flash-bang preparation drill with a can of “explosive” spray adhesive. “Lid’s off!” replaces the usual “Pin’s out!” referring to the flash-bang’s safety pin whose removal is the last step before throwing the grenade.

In the final scene, the threat is neutralized by the exploding can of “spooge” rendering the threat stuck to walls, floors, and other incapacitating postures.)


What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

(A typical Flash-Bang grenade used by Law Enforcement; no fragmentation, just loud extreme loud noise and flash. Flash-Bangs are categorized as non-lethal riot control devices.)

“Spooge” somehow became the nickname for the cans of spray adhesive we used to stick paper targets, bull’s eyes, and the like to a target stake downrange. It simply was the quickest and most convenient way to stick paper to cardboard and get on to the business of sending maximum rounds down range on a near-daily basis.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

(In all its glory, the 3M Super 77CA Multipurpose spray adhesive can)

Spray adhesive was for paper on cardboard. For attaching cardboard to a wooden target, slat roofing tacks were used. Roofing tacks are a short nail with a very wide and flat head. It happened that when our Delta brother, Cuz, was hurriedly attaching a fresh target paper he noted his target backing was pulling apart from the wooden target slat.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

Not wanting to lose the time to run the 150 meters back to the target shed to retrieve a proper hammer, Cuz decided that the spooge can already in his hand possessed sufficient merit to serve to pound in the tack. Within a few smacks on the roof tack with the bottom edge of the can it burst, completely engulfing his head and face.

Cuz’s ballistic eye protection was glued to his face, and his hair was covered. He staggered around blindly and calling out:

“Little help… a little help over here — we have a situation!”

We quickly engage in the attempt to pull his eye protection away from his face so he could see again, a ponderous and painful process.

“Well guys… that’s why we wear this safety equipment, you know?” he recited flatly, mimicking a certain redundant preaching that was certain to result from the incident.

“Cuz, I think you better just head on straight home from here and see about getting that spooge out of your hair; there’s not much else you can accomplish here… unless you want to finish hammering that nail with a fresh can…” our Troop Sergeant joked.

As fortune would have it, Cuz’s Mrs. was a hairdresser and knew just how to work the glue from out of Cuz’s hair and off his face. She did a remarkable job; when Cuz returned to work the next day, there was not so much of a hint of the adhesive in his hair, a vision that I found truly extraordinary.

For sure I endured the nagging and pining need for a cartoon to portray the event. As bizarre as it was, it was sure to be a cinch to find the humor…the humor in a can of target spooge that blew up in Cuz’s face like a… a flash-bang grenade. There it was; the vision in my head of spooge cans replacing bangers in a tactical building entry, the bad guys glued to the walls, floors, and fixtures. I stuck a fork in it *cuz* it was done.

Soon enough, I felt Cuz’s eye on me for a time, then he finally approached me when I was alone; I felt I already knew what was coming and was right:

“Yo Geo… this isn’t going to find its way into the cartoon book, is it?”

Oh, the shame! Yet again a man was missing the glory of being immortalized in the Unit cartoon book. I had to remind him; I had to remind them all that they WANTED to be in the cartoon book for the balance of time, though it might not be a thing they recognized immediately. I had to explain to Cuz the same way I had to explain it to every candidate:

Just because you got hurt or injured or humiliated due to an unfortunate blunder committed while on the job… do NOT think you should get a pass for that from the unit Cartoonist. That will not happen — if you dance you’re going to have to pay the band, and if you have to pay the band you might as well make sure it plays your favorite tune!

“Recall if you will that the cartoonist has a measure of reputation to maintain with his public. The fact that you make the cartoon book is purely a business decision, one entirely devoid of any emotion or sympathy… a cold, impersonal, heartless business decision. I am the cartoonist; I AM THE BAND!

Articles

The Navy relies on these awesome missiles to stop China’s ‘carrier killer’

China’s Dong Feng-21D medium-range ballistic missile — otherwise known as the “carrier killer” — looms large in people’s minds as a weapon of ultimate destruction.


It’s designed to do exactly what the name implies: kill American and allied carriers, sending thousands of sailors to a watery grave.

But the Navy has been working to protect carriers from enemy ballistic missiles for decades. Here are three missiles that could stop a DF-21D in its tracks.

1. The Standard Missile-3

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
The Japanese navy ship JS KONGO launches a Standard Missile-3 against a ballistic missile during a Dec. 18, 2007, test. (Photo:

The SM-3 is the Navy’s preferred tool for defeating an incoming ballistic missile. The system is deployed on Aegis ballistic missile defense ships in the U.S. Navy and KONGO-class destroyers in Japan’s navy.

These missiles primarily engage their targets in space at the height of the ballistic missile’s flight path. To hit a DF-21D, the Aegis system will need to be on or near the projected flight path. Keeping carriers safe may require keeping an Aegis ship equipped with SM-3s permanently co-located with the carrier.

2. Standard Missile-6

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship’s aegis weapons system. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The SM-6 is really designed to take down cruise missiles and perhaps the occasional jet, but the Navy has been testing its capability when pressed into an anti-ballistic missile role. In a Dec. 14 test, an updated SM-6 fired from an aegis destroyer successfully struck down a medium-range ballistic missile.

These are much cheaper than SM-3s, but the SM-6 is a final, last-ditch defense while the SM-3 is still the first call. That’s because SM-6s engage targeted missiles during their terminal phase, the final moments before the incoming missile kills its target. If the SM-6 misses, there isn’t time to do anything else.

3. The Army’s THAAD missile

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from a THAAD battery located on Wake Island during Flight Test Operational (FTO)-02 Event 2a, conducted Nov. 1, 2015. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency Ben Listerman)

The Terminal, High-Altitude Air Defense missile is a radar-guided, hit-to-kill missile that engages ballistic missiles either in the edge of space or soon after they enter the atmosphere. It might be capable of engaging a DF-21D after it begins its descent to the carrier.

The system is rapidly deployable and the Army has already stood up five air defense artillery batteries with the new missiles. One battery is deployed to Guam and plans are ongoing to deploy another to South Korea.

The main problem for the Navy when using THAAD to protect its ships is that the THAAD system is deployed on trucks, not ships. It’s hard to keep land-based missiles in position to protect ships sailing on the open sea.

Articles

How the KGB trained its ‘illegal’ sleeper agents

Contrary to what some science fiction and superhero movies might have you believe, the KGB – the Soviet Union’s state security and intelligence service – didn’t grow its agents in laboratories. They didn’t have superpowers and they didn’t have supernatural combat training. 

What they did have was exceptional intelligence, training, and preparation. Jack Barsky was born Albrecht Dittrich in Soviet-dominated East Germany. He trained as a chemical engineer and chemistry professor before he was recruited by the KGB in 1969. In his book, Deep Undercover, he recalls the process by which he learned to be a KGB “illegal” living in the United States.

While studying for his PhD in chemistry, the KGB sent him to East Berlin to learn to adapt to a new, unfamiliar environment. While there, he decided to join permanently. He left his family behind to learn Morse code, short wave radio, cryptography and a language. Dittrich chose English. While in East Berlin, he also learned how to recognize and ditch a surveillance team. 

He was so good at avoiding detection, only one KGB surveillance team ever got the best of him. It led to the new agent’s belief that he was smarter than everyone else in the intelligence organization. He could also decrypt messages at the rate of 100 words per minute. 

The KGB also taught him an advanced means of using invisible ink to send letters through the mail. It began with writing an “open letter,” to a false family member or friend. This is the letter one would read upon opening. 

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
“Dearest mother… did you know they have more than one TV channel here?!” (Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

He would then use a piece of contact paper and a pen to write the secret message, one that could only be read if someone knew the secret message was there. It was sent to one of many flagged KGB addresses. Only KGB headquarters, called “The Center,” would know how to develop it. 

They also taught him how to recruit Americans sympathetic to the Soviet Union.

On top of the spycraft, he also had to learn to adapt to his new environments, wherever they would be, with whatever means he had at his disposal. He learned the nuances of American English watching TV. His “legend” – the background narrative of his American life – said that his mother, an immigrant, spoke German at home, which is why he had a slight German accent. 

An American working for the KGB in Moscow blessed his American English well enough that the KGB decided to send him to the U.S. to be an illegal, a sleeper agent living under an assumed identity in the United States. 

To enter the United States, he would first have to get a real identity, beginning with a real birth certificate. KGB illegals would use birth certificates from recently deceased Americans who were roughly their same age, requesting the certificates through the mail. Once they had the birth certificate, they could get other legal documents. 

Dittrich’s first attempt to enter the U.S. involved getting the birth certificate of an American named “Hank” while posted in Montreal, Canada. He learned a lot of American English while watching U.S. television in Canada, which gave him a more believable American accent. Although that mission was a bust, The Center had an authentic one waiting for him in Moscow.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
“Dy-no-MITE! Oh, I’m using that for sure…” (Image by Pavlofox from Pixabay)

His new identity was that of American Jack Barsky. Within weeks of obtaining that official document, KGB agent Jack Barsky was living in New York City and had received a library card, a driver’s license and was working as a bike messenger. 

The KGB’s biggest goal was an authentic American passport. An illegal with a real U.S. passport would be used to bring the entire system down, Barsky says. But it was not to be. Barsky not only never received a passport, he was eventually recalled to Moscow under the penalty of death.

By this time he had a family in New York (he also had a family in East Berlin). But the birth of his daughter in the United States prompted him to ignore Moscow’s warning. To find out how Jack Barsky managed to stay in New York without retribution from the Soviet Union, read his book, Deep Undercover


Feature Image by Roberto Lee Cortes from Pixabay

Articles

5 things you learned about America while being deployed overseas

Being deployed overseas means time away from family, friends and embarking on a life-changing journey that will probably change the way you think forever.


You may not see it at first, but the longer you’re away, you’ll start to form your own opinions about the world around you — especially the home you left.

Related: 7 ways to surprise your spouses when they return from deployment

So check out what we learned about America from our time deployed overseas.

1. There’s no place like America

After the first few months, your fighting spirit usually tends to die out, then you really do begin to believe those classic words Dorothy from Kansas once spoke. This motivation is usually what gets you through the rest of the deployment.

America and its people are certainly flawed, but we love them anyway.

2. Bigger problems

Stateside you have all types of bills, some family drama and if you’re living in the barracks, room inspections.

Now that you’re deployed half way around the world, those issues still exist, but you put them on the back burner. Although combat stress can get pretty jarring, many prefer that headache over fighting heavy traffic.

3. Americans are true supporters

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

Mail call doesn’t come around too often, but when it does, it’s like Christmas no matter the time of year. Many don’t have families back home to support them while they’re off fighting the bad guys. So Americans from across the U.S. often come together and pack up goodies and send them off to deployed service members around the world.

4. How good American air smells

Being stationed on a small patrol base, you incinerate all the trash you accumulate in a burn pit not far away from where you eat, sleep and stand post. The smell can be pretty nasty.

Come home after a year-long deployment and smell that good old fashion America breeze.

Also Read: 4 insane things service members can do to stay awake

5. How little stuff we need to survive

As Americans, we buy a lot of crap we don’t need but convince ourselves we do. Live for months on an aircraft carrier or on a patrol base and you’ll have maybe 10 square feet of personal storage — you’ll still get by just fine with a whole lot less stuff.

Articles

Here’s everything you need to know about the Army’s new fitness standards

On Jan. 2, the Army began administering the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or “OPAT,” to all recruits to assess their fitness for military occupational specialties. The OPAT also will be used to assess some Soldiers who are reclassifying into a different MOS.


What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
Spc. Daniel Geray, 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, California Army National Guard, breathes heavily during the interval aerobic run of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) event of California’s 2017 Best Warrior Competition Nov. 1-5, 2016, at Camp San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California. (Army National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

Army Recruiting Command estimates that the OPAT will be administered to about 80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets annually. Soldiers moving into more physically demanding MOSs also will have to meet the OPAT standard, said Jim Bragg, retention and reclassification branch chief for Army Human Resources Command.

Under the OPAT, there are four physical demand categories, Bragg explained.

  1. Heavy (black).
  2. Significant (gray).
  3. Moderate (gold).
  4. Unqualified (white).

When a Soldier wishes to reclassify to a new MOS, from the significant category to the heavy category, for example, he or she will need to take the OPAT. However, a Soldier whose new MOS falls within the same or a lower level physical demand category will not need to take the OPAT.

The Soldier’s commander will be responsible for ensuring the OPAT is administered prior to approval of a reclassification, Bragg said. As with any reclassification action, the battalion-level or brigade-level career counselor will administer the OPAT.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
Going into a tougher job? Better have the guns to do it. (U.S. Army photo)

When it comes to recruiting, Brian Sutton, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command, said the OPAT is not meant to turn away or weed people out.

“It is designed to put the right people in the right jobs and to ensure we keep our recruits safe while doing so,” he said.

OPAT scoring is gender neutral, he added. All Soldiers, male and female, must pass the same physical standards for their desired career field.

The test will be administered to everyone coming into the Army: officer, enlisted, active, Reserve and Guard. It will be administered by any command responsible for Soldier acsessions — including Recruiting Command and Army Cadet Command — after the Soldier swears in but before he or she begins training.

OPAT measures muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, explosive power and speed. It consists of four individual tests:

  1. The “standing long jump” is designed to assess lower-body power. Participants stand behind a takeoff line with their feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. They jump as far as possible.
  2. The “seated power throw” is designed to assess upper-body power. Participants sit on the floor with their lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall. They hold a 4.4-pound (2-kilogram) medicine ball with both hands, bring the medicine ball to their chest and then push or throw the medicine ball upwards and outwards at an approximate 45-degree angle. The throw is scored from the wall to the nearest 10 centimeters from where the ball first contacts the ground.
  3. The “strength deadlift” is designed to assess lower-body strength. Participants stand inside a hex-bar and perform practice lifts to ensure good technique. They then begin a sequence of lifts starting with 120 pounds, working up to 220 pounds.
  4. The “interval aerobic run,” always performed last, is designed to assess aerobic capacity. The evaluation involves running “shuttles,” or laps, between two designated points that are spaced 20 meters apart. The running pace is synchronized with “beeps,” produced by a loudspeaker, at specific intervals. As the test progresses, the time between beeps gets shorter, requiring recruits to run faster in order to complete the shuttle. Participants are scored according to the level they reach and the number of shuttles they complete.

Here is a quick breakdown of the four physical demand categories incorporated into the OPAT:

  1. “Black” is for MOSs with heavy physical demands, like those of the combat arms branches, that require lifting or moving 99 pounds or more. To attain black on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 5 feet, 3 inches in the standing long jump; 14 feet, 9 inches for the seated power throw; 160 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:14 minute mile over the course of 43 shuttles.
  2. “Gray” is for MOSs with significant physical demands that require frequent or constant lifting of 41 to 99 pounds and occasional tasks involving moving up to 100 pounds. To attain gray on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 4 feet, 7 inches in the standing long jump; 13 feet, 1 inch for the seated power throw; 140 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:20 minute mile over the course of 40 shuttles.
  3. “Gold” is for MOSs with moderate physical demands, such as cyber, that require frequent or constant lifting of weights up to 40 pounds or when all physical demands are occasional. To attain gold on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 3 feet, 11 inches in the standing long jump; 11 feet, 6 inches for the seated power throw; 120 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:27 minute mile over the course of 36 shuttles.
  4. “White” is unqualified. A recruit or Soldier who attains white has failed to meet OPAT’s minimum standards.

Sutton noted that if a recruit fails the OPAT, he or she can request to retake the test. If the recruit cannot eventually pass the OPAT color designator for his or her MOS, it may be possible to renegotiate the contract to allow the recruit to enter an MOS with a lower physical demand OPAT category, the minimum being gold.

Articles

5 countries before and after they fell to authoritarian rule

Regimes rise and fall. The Roman Empire lies in ruins and most of the former European colonies have regained their independence. Yet, each of these regimes leaves a long-lasting print on the land they rule. By shaping the laws, the economy and the livelihood of the inhabitants’ leaders control the culture. Some of these legacies are so beneficial that they endure through history. For example, the democracy of Ancient Greece is the foundation of many modern Western governments. Other leaderships shape their country for the worst, leaving nothing but poverty, instability and oppression behind. Those regimes, covert tyrannies or open dictatorships, are often lead by the incompetent or the uncaring. Those that rule with an iron fist and refuse to allow any opposition from threatening their position. When personal power is more important than the good of the people, the entire country pays the price.

1. Iran

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
Female protestors during the Iranian Revolution, 1978 (Wikimedia Commons)

When thinking of Iran, one pictures Sharia law, bearded men and women covered from head to toe. Yet, this image of the country is less than fifty years old. Unlike many dictatorships, Iran is not an underdeveloped country. The setback brought about by the Islamic Revolution has more to do with human rights than with the economy. The economy has not suffered much from the change of regime. On the other hand, the population and particularly the women and the LGBTQ+ community, have had to face immense difficulties. Before 1979, Iranian women enjoyed rights equal to those of the Western countries.

Women were an important part of the workforce. They had roles in politics and art, and even gained the right to vote in 1963. Most of these rights were reversed by the new theocratic government. Women who do not respect the oppressive Sharia law face fines, lashes, jail time or even death, depending on the gravity of the offence. Homosexuality is outlawed and punishable by death. Political repression is severe and the use of torture or imprisonment without trial is common against dissidents. No music, film, book or cultural support can be created and distributed without official permission. Freedoms of speech and press are non-existent. The development of a country is not only measured by the economy, and although Iran’s GDP is growing, it’s defined by its systematic violation of basic human rights.

2. North Korea

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
A very telling NASA image showing the difference in night-time lighting in North Korea vs. South Korea, taken in 2017

What better example of the consequences of tyranny than comparing the development of two neighboring countries with a common history and culture but who are now ruled by very different regimes. Korea was split in two at the end of WWII in 1945. Kim Il Sung came into power in North Korea in 1948. His failed attempt at reuniting the two countries in 1950 resulted in a bloody war that left both Koreas devastated. Although at the beginning of his rule, North Korea was able to expand its economy, to the extend that economist Joan Robinson called it a “miracle,” that trend stopped in the 1970s. Kim Il Sung consolidated his power and instituted a cult of his person, turning himself into a god-like figure.

His seat and status were passed down to his son, Kim Jong Il, and his grandson, Kim Jong Un, current president of North Korea. Their successive authoritarian rule has led to possibly the worst human rights track record in the world. According to the UN “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” Compared to the technologically and humanely advanced South Korea, North Korea has an obsolete and decrepit infrastructure. Its people face chronic power outages, shortages of food and basic necessities, and a total absence of the most basic freedoms. There, to disagree is to condemn three generations of one’s own family to hard labor or death. The reunification of the two Koreas, two parts of the same original country, still seems a very long way down the road.

3. Sudan

The legacy of Omar Al-Bashir, former leader of Sudan, is a bloody ethnic cleansing in Darfur and a country broken in half. Al-Bashir orchestrated a coup in 1989, only four years after the previous dictator, Gaafar Nimeiry, was ousted from power. If Nimeiry had caused the economic ruin of the country through indiscriminate borrowing, he brought about ten years of peace and stability – before encouraging conflict between Christians in the south and Muslims in the north by attempting to impose the Sharia law. On the other hand, Al-Bashir was able to somewhat stimulate growth in the country, but his brutal regime was marked by gruesome conflicts. The war in Darfur, which started in 2003, is an armed conflict between ethnicities that is regarded as attempted genocide.

It led to a major humanitarian crisis, as civilian populations were the primary targets of attacks from either side. Al-Bashir’s government was accused of financing some of the rebel groups. South Sudan took its independence in 2011 to break away from Al-Bashir’s rule but remained in a state of unrest due to its violent past. Since the end of Al-Bashir’s tyranny in 2019, the new government has abolished the Sharia law and is working towards democracy. However, the inflation that started in 2012 has seriously damaged the economy and the conflict in Darfur hasn’t stopped. Sudan still has a long way to go to find peace again.

4. Venezuela

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?
Protests in Altamira Square in the capital of Caracas are met by Venezuelan National Guard, 2014 (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the most recent examples of a country’s fall to dictatorship is Venezuela. Until a few years ago, it was the richest country in South America. Its economy has now completely collapsed and the current president Nicolas Maduro has become an autocrat. Amidst the worst economical crisis the country has ever known, Maduro leads a reign of terror on journalists, protestors, and his opponents. In 2017, at least 46 protestors were killed by the government security forces.

Meanwhile, the people are dying from starvation and a sharp increase in malaria cases. The inflation has gone up over 1,300,000% since Maduro’s election in 2012, while the GDP growth in 2018 was -16%. It hasn’t been positive since 2012. The people of Venezuela now have no money, no jobs, no medicine, no food — and no freedom. It is difficult to see a way out. The country’s leader is more concerned about staying in power than he is about his citizens’ wellbeing.

5. Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe was once called the “breadbasket of Africa.” It was the second-largest economy on the African continent after Egypt. When Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980, its agricultural products were widely exported, feeding people all over Africa. Unfortunately, the reign of Mugabe has led the country to economical ruin. It is estimated that $1 billion out of its $13 billion annual GDP is lost to the corruption of Mugabe’s government. Although the country boasts one of the best educational systems in Africa, the graduates have no place to go as the unemployment rate reaches 80%, the highest in Africa.

Hyperinflation is so severe that local currency is worthless and has been replaced by U.S. dollars or South African rands. Mugabe has encouraged the expulsion and the murders of white farmers, leaving large areas of arable lands unexploited or in the care of incompetent hands. This lead to massive shortages in food and other commodities. The only reason Mugabe has been able to stay in power until November 2017 is because of the brutality of his regime. Through corruption, intimidation and violence, he has won election after election, all the while stealing the country’s resources and leading the once fertile country of Zimbabwe to ruin.

Articles

The ambitious US Air Force plan to make a flying aircraft carrier

U.S. Navy aircraft carriers are a dominant presence in waters around the world, and interestingly enough, the Air Force once tried to make a flying version.


During World War II, bomber aircraft could fly thousands of miles to their targets, unlike gas-guzzling fighters, which had much shorter ranges. This was a big problem for bombers, since they were sitting ducks without fighter escorts.

After the war — amid the beginnings of the Cold War and the rise of long-range strategic bombers — Air Force Maj. Clarence “Bud” Anderson began testing a coupling system on a C-47 Skytrain in 1949, according to The Dakota Hunter. Using a lance on the wingtip, the World War II ace successfully connected with the ring mounted on a C-47.

From the book “Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling”:

In short order Anderson acquired confidence in his ability to make the link-up and maintain the proper attitude in coupled flight. He found that it was easy to accomplish the coupling in less than half a minute. Once the lance was lined up with the coupling ring, a small decrease in throttle setting was adequate to decelerate the Q-14B and engage the coupling mechanism.

The testing became known as Project FICON (Fighter Conveyer) during the 1950s. The goal was ambitious: Get fighters linked up to the larger aircraft, turn off the engines, refuel, and enjoy the ride. And if the enemy showed up, delink and defend the bomber.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

The project sounded simple, but it was far from it. In a disastrous setback during a test hookup between a B-29 and an F-84 in 1953, the smaller fighter flipped over onto the bomber’s wing right after both connected, and both planes crashed and killed everyone on board.

The tests still continued despite other mishaps. But the project was eventually canceled due to other technological advances that made the concept of a “flying aircraft carrier” obsolete. Instead of a large aircraft towing around smaller ones on its wingtips, the Air Force debuted the KC-97 Stratofreighter in 1951, which used a “flying boom” to transfer fuel to smaller fighters.

What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

The KC-97 has since been retired, but the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is still in service today, extending the range of all types of U.S. aircraft.

NOW: Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

Do Not Sell My Personal Information