Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul - We Are The Mighty
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Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

The Air Force is surging forward with a massive, fleet-wide modernization overhaul of the battle-tested, Vietnam-era B-52 bomber, an iconic airborne workhorse for the U.S. military dating back to the 1960s.


Engineers are now equipping all 76 of the Air Force B-52s with digital data-links, moving-map displays, next-generation avionics, new radios and an ability to both carry more weapons internally and integrate new, high-tech weapons as they emerge, service officials said.

The technical structure and durability of the B-52 airframes in the Air Force fleet are described as extremely robust and able to keep flying well into the 2040s and beyond – so the service is taking steps to ensure the platform stays viable by receiving the most current and effective avionics, weapons and technologies, Eric Single, Chief of the Global Strike Division, Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The B-52 has a massive, 185-foot wingspan, a weight of about 185,000 pounds and an ability to reach high sub-sonic speeds and altitudes of 50,000 feet, Air Force officials said.

“Their structure, service life and air frames are good until around 2040. They are built very strong structurally. This is not a structural modification, but upgrades to the capabilities and the avionics,” Single explained. “You are taking this old structurally sound airframe and putting modern avionics, modern communications technology and modern weaponry into it.”

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
Photo: US Air Force

Known for massive bombing missions during the Vietnam War, the 159-foot long B-52s have in recent years been operating over  Iraq and Afghanistan.

The B-52 also served in Operation Desert Storm, Air Force statements said.  “B-52s struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and decimated the morale of Iraq’s Republican Guard,” an Air Force statement said.

In 2001, the B-52 provided close-air support to forces in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, service officials said. The B-52 also played a role in Operation Iraqi Freedom. On March 21, 2003, B-52Hs launched approximately 100 CALCMs (Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles) during a night mission.

Given the B-52s historic role in precision-bombing and close air support, next-generation avionics and technologies are expected to greatly increase potential missions for the platform in coming years, service officials said.

Communications, Avionics Upgrades

Two distinct, yet interwoven B-52 modernization efforts will increase the electronics, communications technology, computing and avionics available in the cockpit while simultaneously configuring the aircraft with the ability to carry up to eight of the newest “J-Series” precision-guided weapons internally – in addition to carrying six weapons on each wing, Single said.

Eight B-52s have already received a communications (coms systems) upgrade called Combat Network Communication Technology, or CONECT – a radio, electronics and data-link upgrade which, among other things, allows aircraft crews to transfer mission and targeting data directly to aircraft systems while in flight (machine to machine), Single explained.

“It installs a digital architecture in the airplane,” Single explained. “Instead of using data that was captured during the mission planning phase prior to your take off 15 to 20 hours ago – you are getting near real-time intelligence updates in flight.”

Single described it key attribute in terms of “machine-to-machine” data-transfer technology which allows for more efficient, seamless and rapid communication of combat-relevant information.

Using what’s called an ARC 210 Warrior software-programmable voice and data radio, pilots can now send and receive targeting data, mapping information or intelligence with ground stations, command centers and other aircraft.

“The crew gets the ability to communicate digitally outside the airplane which enables you to import not just voice but data for mission changes, threat notifications, targeting….all those different types of things you would need to get,” Single said.

An ability to receive real-time targeting updates is of great relevance to the B-52s close-air-support mission because fluid, fast-moving or dynamic combat situations often mean ground targets appear, change or disappear quickly.

Alongside moving much of the avionics from analogue to digital technology, CONECT also integrates new servers, modems, colored display screens in place of old green monochrome and provides pilots with digital moving-map displays which can be populated with real-time threat and mission data, Single said.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
Capt. Jeff Rogers (left) and 1st Lt. Patrick Applegate are ready in the lower deck of a B-52 Stratofortress at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., on Aug. 21, 2006. The officers are with the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

The new digital screens also show colored graphics highlighting the aircraft’s flight path, he added.

Single explained that being able to update key combat-relevant information while in transit will substantially help the aircraft more effectively travel longer distances for missions, as needed.

“The key to this is that this is part of the long-range strike family of systems — so if you take off out of Barksdale Air Force Base and you go to your target area, it could take 15 or 16 hours to get there. By the time you get there, all the threat information has changed,” said Single. “Things move, pop up or go away and the targeting data may be different.”

The upgrades will also improve the ability of the airplane to receive key intelligence information through a data link called the Intelligence Broadcast Receiver. In addition, the B-52s will be able to receive information through a LINK-16-like high-speed digital data link able to transmit targeting and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or ISR information.

The CONECT effort, slated to cost $1.1 billion overall, will continue to unfold over the next several years, Single explained.

Twelve B-52 will be operational with CONECT by the end of this year and the entire fleet will be ready by 2021, Single said.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
The B-52 and the 70,000 pounds of munitions it can carry. Photo: U.S. Air Force

Weapons Upgrade

The Air Force is also making progress with a technology-inspired effort to increase the weapons payload for the workhorse bomber, Single added.

The 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade, or IWBU, will allow the B-52 to internally carry up to eight of the newest “J-Series” bombs in addition to carrying six on pylons under each wing, he explained.

The B-52 have previously been able to carry JDAM weapons externally, but with the IWBU the aircraft will be able to internally house some of the most cutting edge precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, among others.

“It is about a 66 percent increase in carriage capability for the B-52, which is huge. You can imagine the increased number of targets you can reach, and you can strike the same number of targets with significantly less sorties,” said Single.

Single also added that having an increased internal weapons bay capability affords an opportunity to increase fuel-efficiency by removing bombs from beneath the wings and reducing drag.

The first increment of IWBU, slated to be finished by 2017, will integrate an internal weapons bay ability to fire a laser-guided JDAM. A second increment, to finish by 2022, will integrate more modern or cutting-edge weapons such as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, JASSM Extended Range (ER) and a technology called Miniature Air Launched Decoy, or MALD. A MALD-J “jammer” variant, which will also be integrated into the B-52, can be used to jam enemy radar technologies as well, Single said.

IWBU, which uses a digital interface and a rotary launcher to increase the weapons payload, is expected to cost roughly $313 million, service officials said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China wants you to know it’s not afraid of a trade war

The Chinese government blasted President Donald Trump’s announcement on March 22, 2018, that the US will impose new tariffs on imports from China and said they would introduce their own trade barriers in response.


Trump’s tariffs, which act as a tax on imports, will apply to goods worth about $50 billion annually and hit industries from aerospace to pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the crackdown will limit certain types of Chinese investment into the US.

In response, China is reportedly set to impose new a tariffs ranging from 15% to 25% on 128 different US goods, including fresh fruit, wine, modified ethanol, steel pipe, and more.

Also read: The FBI director called out China on its massive espionage effort

According to a statement from the government, the tariffs would apply to about $3 billion of goods annually.

Additionally, the government argued that the Trump administration’s use of national security as the basis for tariffs on steel and aluminum was a smokescreen and the restrictions were economic-based. Thus, under World Trade Organization rules China’s retaliation is legal.

The government also criticized the use of the national security rationale and said it destabilizes international order.

“The United States’ practice of restricting the import of products based on ‘national security’ has severely damaged the multilateral trade system represented by the WTO and seriously interfered with the normal international trade order,” the statement said.

The move significantly raises the possibility of increased trade tensions between the US and China. During the press conference to announce the new tariffs on March 22, 2018, Trump warned that the move was “the first of many.”

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photo from Moscow Kremlin)

In a statement on March 22, 2018, the Chinese Embassy in the US also warned that the country is not afraid of a trade war.

“China does not want a trade war with anyone,” the Chinese embassy in Washington DC said. “But China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war. China is confident and capable of facing any challenge. If a trade war were initiated by the U.S., China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures.”

Trump justified the move as a response to the theft of US companies’ intellectual property by the Chinese government. The report announcing the tariffs cited instances of US companies being forced to move patents to China or partner with a Chinese firm in order to do business in the country.

Related: How China is weaponizing capital all over the world

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also took a tough stance on a possibility of a trade war.

“We want no trade war with anyone, but if our hands are forced, we will not quail nor recoil from it. Therefore, if the day did come when the U.S. took measures to hurt our interests, we will definitely take firm and necessary countermeasures to safeguard our legitimate interests.”

Trump told reporters during the announcement of the tariffs that China and other countries had taken advantage of the US for too long and the president’s goal was to reduce the $375 billion trade deficit with the country.

More: Taiwan could be the flashpoint for the next global war

Zhang Xiangchen, China’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization, told Reuters on March 22, 2018, that China is preparing action against the US in response to the new tariffs and other tariffs Trump recently put in place.

“My colleagues in the capital have been preparing those options and this response,” he said. “We still cherish the multilateral trading system very much, although there’s a flavor of trade war in the air.”

Articles

The ‘Field of Dreams’ game got an A-10 Warthog flyover

A flyover by military aircraft at sporting events has gone from an impromptu nuisance to a major tradition. Along with the singing of the national anthem, a military flyover evokes an unrivaled level of patriotism, especially before playing America’s pastime, baseball.

So, when the MLB decided to pay homage to the classic film Field of Dreams with a game at the Iowa field between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox, the Air Force knew that the flyover had to be a special one.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
One of the A-10s at Whiteman AFB prior to taking off for the game (U.S. Air Force)

The 303rd Fighter Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri was assigned the honor of the Field of Dreams game flyover. This was an excellent choice since the 303rd flies what has become America’s favorite plane, the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Also known as the Warthog, the A-10’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, the Air Force now has two dedicated demonstration A-10s, which sport throwback tribute paint schemes for air shows. Given the plane’s popularity, it made sense to fly it over the Field of Dreams game.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
The A-10 pilots who performed the Field of Dreams flyover (U.S. Air Force)

What makes the A-10 flyover even more special is its crew. All four A-10 pilots are actually from or have a connection to Iowa. Capt. “Pistol” Rindels has family from Waterloo, Iowa, Maj. “Zero” Carlton is from Sioux City, Iowa, Maj. “Jewcy” Berry is from Des Moines, Iowa, and flight lead Lt. Col. “Deuce” Siems is from Dewitt, Iowa. Siems in particular was already familiar with flying over the Field of Dreams.

“I first flew over this area back in like 1992, ‘93 time frame, in a small Cessna, just learning to fly.” Siems recalled. “So now fast forward, 30 years, and I’m flying an A-10 Warthog. It’s awesome.”

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
One of the flyover A-10s taxis at Whiteman AFB (U.S. Air Force)

Between Field of Dreams star Kevin Costner leading the players in their throwback uniforms out onto the field from the corn and the perfectly executed A-10 flyover from Iowa pilots, the Field of Dreams game on August 12, 2021 was certainly one for the ages.

Articles

Today in military history: First Battle of the Marne begins

On Sep. 5, 1914, the Battle of the Marne — which would save Paris from German forces — began.

Fighting had started the month before, with Germany making aggressive advances on the western front hoping to defeat the French before facing Russia to the east. As the German forces advanced on the French capital, the retreating Allies stumbled upon some luck.

Precise and accurate plans of the attack on Paris were found on a slain German officer. With this information, the French and British armies positioned themselves to defend the city. They were so close to the city limits, in fact, that 600 Parisian taxi cabs were enlisted to drive French troops to the battle front. 

After six days of fighting, and 100,000 soldiers killed or wounded, the Allies had achieved their first victory, but the war had just begun. Four years later, the Marne would be the site of another historic battle — one in which the American’s 3rd Infantry Division would add to their legendary status and the epitaph “Rock of the Marne.” But that is another story for another day.

Articles

101-year-old British D-Day vet breaks skydiving record

A 101-year-old D-Day veteran has become the oldest person in the world to skydive.


Bryson William Verdun Hayes completed a tandem skydive from 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) with members of his extended family on Sunday at an airfield in Honiton, southwestern England.

Among those jumping were Hayes’ son, grandson, great-grandson and great-granddaughter.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
Bryson William Verdun Hayes broke the Guinness World Record for oldest skydiver by three days. (AP photo via NewsEdge)

At the age of 101 years, 38 days, Hayes broke the Guinness World Record held by Canada’s Armand Gendreau, who jumped in 2013 at 101 years, three days.

When he landed, Hayes said he was “absolutely over the moon” at the achievement. The jump raised money for the Royal British Legion, a veterans’ organization.

Hayes said he had wanted to try skydiving when he was 90, but was talked out it at the time by his late wife. He jumped for the first time last year at 100.

Hayes served in the British Army during World War II, and was awarded France’s Legion of Honor for his heroic actions.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of October 11th

Just as a step away from the regularly scheduled news that is probably left in better hands than the “meme guy,” did you know that former President George W. Bush had his museum debut at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. this week?

Yeah. And I mean, they’re actually pretty good. He’s got plenty of artwork that you can find around, but his most recent series has been stylized portraits of wounded Post-9/11 veterans – with the exception of the veteran’s eyes, which are drawn realistically. I’m no art critic, but I can tell that it draws you in, and you find yourself staring into the very souls of the veterans, and the rest kinda pulls you into how they feel.

I guess that goes to show you that after he got his “Presidential DD-214,” even the former commander-in-chief made a name for himself in the art world. See? Now can you all get off my back for using my GI Bill on a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree?


Anyways, here are some memes while I reevaluate my creative endeavors.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Army Veteran Style)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Call for Fire)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Photo via US Army WTF Moments)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Grunt Works)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Disgruntled Decks)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Articles

Mattis makes a statement about Marine ‘misconduct’

The purported actions of civilian and military personnel on social media websites, including some associated with the Marines United group and possibly others, represent egregious violations of the fundamental values that are upheld at the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today in a statement.


“The chain of command is taking all appropriate action to investigate potential misconduct and to maintain good order and discipline throughout our armed forces,” Mattis said.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
General Mattis.

“Lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of fellow members of the Department of Defense is unacceptable and harmful to the unit cohesion necessary to battlefield victory,” the secretary continued. “We will not excuse or tolerate such behavior if we are to uphold our values and maintain our ability to defeat the enemy on the battlefield.”

Related: It’s not a scandal; it’s sexual harassment — Marines investigated after sharing nude photos without consent

Defense press operations director Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today that Mattis spoke several times during his confirmation process about military service and unit cohesion and how those are predicated on the core values of trust and mutual respect.

All Held Accountable

“Our leaders at all levels of the chain of command will be held accountable to ensure that each member of our military can excel in an environment that maximizes their talents and [will have] no patience for those who would degrade or diminish another service member,” Davis said.

The secretary will meet with uniformed and civilian leaders in the days ahead and ensure that they are taking all appropriate actions to maintain good order and discipline, the captain added.

“The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating…web sites and other services are looking into the matter, as well,” Davis said.

Values

“Our values extend on- and off-duty, and we want personnel experiencing or witnessing online misconduct to promptly report matters to their chain of command,” the captain said.

Also read: Marines’ nude photo scandal is even worse than first realized

Davis said service members who might feel uncomfortable reporting alleged online misconduct to their chain of command have alternative avenues that include family support services, equal opportunity offices, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, the inspector general and law enforcement.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Catholic Church is trying to oust an African dictator

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has refused to relinquish power for more than a year, and the Catholic Church has emerged as the leader in the fight against him.


Since December 2017, when Kabila again refused to step down, the church and a spiritual group called the Lay Coordination Committee have organized a handful of protests, all of which have ended violently.

Most recently, anti-government protests in the capital city of Kinshasa on Feb. 25, 2018, left four people dead and two more injured, according to the Associated Press.

Related: These are the living descendants of infamous dictators

Kabila’s refusal to step down has also aggravated violence between government forces and multiple armed groups in other areas of the country. This includes the Kasai and Kivu regions, where mass atrocities have been carried out by both sides, killing and displacing thousands in the last few years.

Here’s what’s going on:

President Joseph Kabila took power of the DRC in 2001 after his father’s assassination.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila.

Kabila helped unify the country after the two Congo wars of 1996-97 and 1998-2003, bringing back international business and raising GDP.

But at the same time, his government has been accused of gross incompetence, corruption, and human rights abuses.

Source: AFP

Kabila was supposed to step down after his two-term mandate expired on December 19, 2016, but he stayed on after invoking a controversial law requiring a successor to be elected. This sparked a wave of protests.

Also read: 6 most stubborn world conflicts happening right now

In January 2017, the Catholic Church brokered a deal between Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and opposition parties that elections would be held in December 2017 and that Kabila would step down.

In December 2017, Kabila again refused to step down, saying that an election would have to be held at the end of 2018 because the government didn’t have enough money.

Election officials have even said that, because of continued financial and logistical problems, the election might be even held later than that.

With opposition parties in disarray, the Catholic Church, which had previously tried to stay neutral, organized anti-government protests together with a spiritual group called the Lay Coordination Committee.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
The Cathedral of Notre Dame, Republic of Congo. (Image via Flickr user David Stanley)

In the first demonstration on Dec. 31, 2017, seven demonstrators were killed by government forces.

On Jan. 21, 2018, another protest was held in which government forces killed 5 more protesters, firing live rounds and tear gas into crowds of demonstrators.

“We were dispersed by tear gas, stun grenades, and live bullets. We have again seen deaths, injuries, priests being arrested, and the theft of citizens’ property,” Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo said after the protests, according to Reuters.

“How can you kill men, women, children, youths, and old people all chanting religious songs, carrying bibles, rosaries, and crucifixes? Are we now living in an open prison?”

Source: Al Jazeera

But the church and the LCC have not stopped.

Related: The 21 most authoritarian regimes in the world

They organized another protest on Feb. 25, 2018, after mass, but government forces surrounded the churches that were planning to participate in the demonstrations before the parishioners could even take to the streets.

As police confined them, many churchgoers prayed and chanted slogans.

But violence soon erupted.

Police again fired live rounds and tear gas into crowds, and even beat, kicked, and arrested priests and protesters who were peacefully marching, which the video below shows.


 

Source: Jason Stearns

The violence reportedly left four dead and 47 more injured.

Source: Associated Press

The political violence unfolding in Kinshasa and other cities has also aggravated conflicts in different regions of the country, namely the regions of Kasai and Kivu.

In Kasai, the Congolose military has been battling a militia group called Kamuina Nsapu since August 2016, and in the Kivu, it has been battling an Islamist group called the Allied Democratic Forces since the 1990s.

Source: US News

The fighting between the two sides in Kasai has left more than 3,300 people dead and 1.4 million displaced since August 2016.

Dozens of mass graves have also been found in the region, which the Congolese military blames on the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

More: 4 of the craziest assassination attempts in U.S. history

But the UN has also hinted that the Congolese military dug the graves after battling the militia.

Meanwhile, in Kivu, the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces killed 15 UN peacekeepers and five Congolese troops in December 2017.

Late February 2018, the Congolese military attacked an ADF base, and gruesomely massacred a number of its fighters.

Between June and November 2017, “at least 526 civilians were killed … at least 1,087 people were abducted or kidnapped for ransom, and there were at least 7 incidents of mass rape,” according to Human Rights Watch.

While Kabila has blamed militia groups for much of the violence, his own troops have been accused of carrying out a bulk of the human rights violations, according to Jason Stearns of the Congo Research Group.

With tensions continuing to rise, and Kabila seemingly intent on holding as long he can, only time will tell what the future holds for the DRC.

Articles

Here’s what an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities might have looked like

For the better part of the past decade it was one of the most consequential questions in international affairs, with an answer that could potentially spark a war between two Middle Eastern military powers.


Just how close was Israel to attacking Iran’s nuclear program? And if Israel ever launched a preventative strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, what would such an operation actually look like?

A blockbuster report by the Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous provides one possible answer. According to Entous, Israel planned a daring — and, in the US’ view, disastrous and even suicidal — commando raid on Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility in the early 2010s. Fordow ishome to 2,700 uranium enrichment centrifuges and is housed inside a hollowed-out mountain on an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base.

“Cargo planes would land in Iran with Israeli commandos on board who would ‘blow the doors, and go in through the porch entrance’ of Fordow, a senior US official said,” according to Entous. “The Israelis planned to sabotage the nuclear facility from inside.”

At some point in 2011 or 2012, Israel was apparently serious enough about this plan to violate Iranian airspace in the course of its preparations: “Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site,” Entous reported.

The “dry run” could have been doubly aimed at signaling the seriousness of Israeli intentions — and Israeli military capabilities — to a US administration that was then in the process of opening backchannel nuclear negotiations with Tehran. But the US took the possibility of an Israeli strike seriously enough to alter its defense posture in the Persian Gulf in response to a possible Israeli attack, sending a second aircraft carrier to region for some unspecified period of time, the Journal reported.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

Until the Iran nuclear deal was signed this past July, an Israeli strike on Iran was one of the most intriguing — and perhaps terrifying — hypothetical scenarios in global politics. Israeli officials often argued the country was capable of launching an attack that would destroy or severely disable many of Iran’s facilities. At times, Israel pointedly demonstrated its long-range strike capabilities. In October of 2012, Israeli jets destroyed an Iranian-linked weapons facility in Khartoum, Sudan, a city almost exactly as far from Israel’s borders as Iran’s primary nuclear facilities.

A September 2010 Atlantic Magazine cover story by Jeffrey Goldberg laid out what were believed to be the requirements of a successful Israeli attack on Iran’s facilities. Israel has no strategic bombers; its fighters would have to use Saudi airspace in order to make it to Iran while maintaining enough of a fuel load to return to base. Some of its planes might have had to land in Saudi Arabia to refuel, or even use a temporary desert base as a staging area. (One of the intriguing unanswered questions in the Wall Street Journal story is whether Israeli planes crossed into Saudi airspace during the alleged “dry run.”)

As Goldberg notes, it wouldn’t be enough for Israel just to destroy Iranian facilities. The Israeli mission would also have to have a ground component to collect proof of a successful strike.

The consequences of a direct hit on Iran’s facilities — something which might require the most sophisticated military operation in Israel’s history — are unknowable ahead of time. Perhaps an attack would touch off a devastating escalation cycle in which Iranian linked terrorists attacked Israeli and US assets abroad, Iran launched attacks on Saudi targets to retaliate for their perceived cooperation, and the Iranian proxy militia Hezbollah unleashed its arsenal of 200,000 rockets at Israel.

Or maybe a jittery Tehran would hold back, cutting its losses after a superior military’s direct hit on one of the regime’s most important strategic assets. After all, neither Bashar al Assad nor Saddam Hussein retaliated when Israel destroyed their nuclear reactors from the air in2007 and 1981, respectively.

But administration of president Barack Obama was worried enough about the possible outcome of a strike to make the prevention of an Israeli attack one of it major foreign policy priorities. As Entous stresses, the US withheld information from Israel on the progress of its talks with Iran out of fear that Israel might attempt to sabotage the talks or use an attack to preempt a diplomatic resolution to the Iran issue.

Whether this was a legitimate fear was perhaps less important than the fact that the tactic worked: Israel hasn’t attacked Iran yet, and the Iran Deal substantially raises the costs of a future strike for Israel. The deal signed this past July may or may not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But it effectively removes an Israeli strike against the country from the realm of possibility into the foreseeable future.

As Entous’s reporting indicates, it wasn’t that long ago that Israeli officials really were thinking seriously about an Iran strike — enough to risk sending their planes into enemy territory, and raising tensions with their top ally.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Inside the crazy supermax prison where El Chapo just arrived

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a notorious drug kingpin of Mexico, has finally arrived in Florence, Colorado. It’s here, at the Administrative Maximum U.S. Penitentiary where he will spend his life sentence (+30 years, according to a judge).

El Chapo escaped Mexican prisons twice, in 2001 and 2014. However, his stay this time around seems to be much more permanent— this supermax prison is nicknamed “the Alcatraz of the Rockies” and has never had a prisoner escape since its founding in 1994.


Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

The layout of a traditional supermax cell.

El Chapo, 62, arrived at the facility on July 19, two days after his life sentence. He joined other high profile offenders like the “Unabomber,” an Oklahoma City bombing conspirator, and the 1993 World Trade Center bomber.

All 400 inmates at the ADX spend 23 hours a day in a soundproofed cell, and then have one heavily supervised hour of “rec” time. Their supervised hour of rec time is observed while both handcuffed and shackled. Phones are banned, and there is an extremely “limited” version of television available (meaning: black and white recreational, religious, and educational programming).

Everything in the cell is made of stone, and is structurally attached to the wall or floor. The bed is made of concrete with a small pad as a mattress, a small concrete stool is molded to the ground, and a couple of small shelves jut out from the wall near their in-cell sink.

The design of every cell is centered around eliminating threats. Some cells have a shower, to further limit contact with guards, but they have a timer to eliminate the threat of flooding. The toilet shuts off if blocked. The sink has no tap.

Inside the Supermax Prison Where El Chapo Will Be Housed

www.youtube.com

Inmates can earn more daily rec time after a year, depending on their behavior. They don’t remain there forever, the long-term “goal” is a three-year stay, and then a transfer to a less restrictive prison.

However, there is considerable controversy surrounding the impact of extended confinement and isolation on mental health. In 2012, 11 inmates filed a federal class-action suit against the prison, citing alleged chronic abuse and a failure to diagnose mental health properly.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

The maximum security doors where inmates are confined 23 hours a day.

I spoke with an unnamed corrections officer— to have her speak on the would-be escape attempt that she thwarted in her prison. Her prison is a level 4 (out of 5) and is home to violent prisoners, but none as high profile or as repeatedly violent as the offenders at ADX supermax. This helps give a sense at the futility of an escape plan in a prison that isn’t even as comprehensive as the ADX supermax.

“While walking up to post with no radio, I [saw] an inmate standing in the doorway.” she said, “I observed what appeared to be a water bottle hanging from the roof and when he noticed the look on my face, he took off quickly. I rounded the side of the house (a common term for each individual living complex in a prison) to get a better look, I realized it was a huge braided rope made of sheets, with a weighted water bottle anchored to the end of it. But, it had been caught on razor wire and was dangling.”

“It turned out to be an attempted escape that had gone wrong.” She continued, “There were bags of food and black clothes on top of the house, and a huge foot-long metal rod sharpened to a point hidden underneath the rope.” And that was a level 4.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Top 5 veteran influencers you need to check out this Veterans Day

The title of “influencer” is almost cringe-worthy these days. From entitled social media personalities who complain when they have to pay full price at a restaurant, to the viral hot takes from people who are pandering to their audience, there’s definitely plenty of “cringe” to go around.

But what about the veteran social media personalities who are out making a positive difference, or at least making your day a little brighter? You know, the ones who aren’t thriving on division or ego, but rather on their own talent to entertain and inspire.


This Veterans Day, We Are The Mighty is highlighting the top five veteran influencers that we think you should really be paying attention to. From modest followings to millions of followers, these are the service members who turned their trigger fingers into Twitter fingers … who went from dropping bombs to dropping dope memes … who went from … sorry, I’ll stop. Just make sure you check them out!

Justin Lascek | @justin.lascek

Recently severely wounded. Green Beret Medic.

Justin is a relative newcomer to the social media scene, but with just a single photo, he inspired millions of people and established himself as someone worth following.

On Sept. 6, 2019, he posted a photo to Instagram from his hospital bed. Wearing his green beret, a pair of sunglasses, and an epic beard, he flexed for the camera while almost completely naked, covered in fresh scars, and missing his lower legs. The caption read:

“Six months ago, give or take a day, my life was changed. Chaos. Pain. Survival. Scared. I’m going to die. Tell her I love her. Wish I had been better. Everyone do your job. In 2018 I wanted to die. I figured my luck would run out after the close calls on the first trip. And it did. But brothers and sisters, known and unknown, kept me here.

And I’m alive. And since the blast, I have never wanted to die. I was strapped into the Skedco during a hellish movement for the boys. The sun was in our faces. I gripped their hand and knew I didn’t want to die.

And I’m alive. It can be surreal when the reality hits. But my soul isn’t in turmoil. There was so much uncertainty last year, but now it’s clear without wavering or uncertainty.

Because I’m alive. Cheating death and myself gives an understanding of how special life is. Not just for me, but everyone. Especially you, the one who hurts, the one who thinks death will end the pain. I see you. Stay with us a little longer.

And be alive.”

It’s hard to read that and not be inspired, and we have a hunch that his 39,000 followers on Instagram agree with us. The post ripped through timelines and news feeds like a lightning bolt, and he has continued to publish even more motivational posts since then. He might still be recovering from his wounds, but this Special Forces medic continues to be ‘Doc’ by inspiring the masses.

Astin Muse | @amuse31 & @ArmyAmuse

Former Drill Sergeant. Current Army Recruiter. Entertainer.

If Astin Muse weren’t still in uniform, she’d probably be a star on Saturday Night Live. This U.S. Army drill sergeant turned recruiter has made herself military-famous with hilarious sketch comedy that she films herself and posts on the internet. The sketches range from sarcastic observations about life as an NCO, to hilarious reenactments of basic training buffoonery.

The military hasn’t always made it easy for her to pursue laughs though. Muse has had to go to battle with military leadership trying to shut her down, citing obscure military regulations as a way to clamp down on her social media profiles. Fortunately, she’s been able to continue the comedy with a few compromises that really hasn’t affected the quality of her sketches. With 128,000 followers on Facebook and 29,000 followers on Instagram, there are plenty of people who appreciate her brand of comedy either way.

The best part? She frequently offers actual career advice to her active duty followers who need an objective outside opinion. Afterall, she’s a non-commissioned officer in the greatest Army in the world first, comedian second!

Jack Mandaville | @JackMandaville

Writer. Entertainer. Vietnam veteran. Best friends with Scott Stapp. Single mom. Compulsive liar.

We seriously don’t understand how Jack Mandaville isn’t an A-list comedian celebrity yet. With only 33,000 followers on Instagram, this former Marine and Iraq war veteran is a once-in-a-generation talent that, so far, the veteran community has been able to keep to ourselves.

He started off as one of the founding writers behind the infamous DuffelBlog satire website, before going on to work at RangerUp where he and fellow funnyman Pat Baker cooked up hilarious internet videos on the regular. After stealing the show as one of the supporting cast in the feature film “Range 15”, Jack has gone on to produce near-daily internet marketing videos for companies like StrikeForce Energy, Black Ops Grooming, and Black Rifle Coffee Company by day, and headline Vet TV’s “Checkpoint Charlie” series by night.

If you like to laugh, if you appreciate brutally honest humor that takes no prisoners, or you’re just entertained by a man that clearly has no shame, then Jack Mandaville is a must-follow.

Jennifer Marshall | @Jenn13Jenn13

Private Investigator @deepsourceinvestigations. Host @thecw. Max’s Mom in Stranger Things 2. Actress. Patriot. Veteran. Volunteer for Pinups for Vets.

With acting credits on hits like Stranger Things, Hawaii Five-O, and NCIS, Navy veteran Jennifer Marshall is a serious talent making her way through Hollywood. But there’s more to the sailor-turned-actor than meets the eye: She volunteers for non-profit Pin-Ups for Vets, and before that, she spent time teaching in East Africa. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a private investigator for Deep Source Investigations in California.

With 12,000 followers on Instagram, Marshall offers a peek behind the curtains of the many productions she has worked on, while simultaneously advocating for a variety of veterans issues that often go unresolved, or even worse — unnoticed. And if you like what she has to say on Instagram, then you’ll love her as a host on The CW’s “Mysteries Decoded”!

Vincent “Rocco” Vargas | @vincent.rocco.vargas

Army Ranger. Drill Sergeant. Border Patrol Officer. Actor on FX’s The Mayans. Author. Entrepreneur.

You may know him as Ranger Vargas if you served alongside him during his time at 2nd Ranger Battalion, or even Drill Sergeant Vargas if you had the pleasure of going through Basic Training with him at the helm. But most reading this probably know him as “Rocco” from his Article 15 Clothing days making satirical military comedy videos alongside Mat Best and Jarred Taylor.

But these days, he’s known for his role as “Gilly” on FX’s Sons of Anarchy spin-off Mayans M.C. Vargas did the near-impossible when he landed that role, as many Youtube sensations never quite make the jump into a traditional acting career. The show is in its third season, and promises to be just the start in what will likely be a long acting career for the combat veteran-turned-thespian.

If you’re one of his 146,000 followers on Instagram, then you also know that he keeps himself busy on and off the set. He’s published multiple books, hosts the Vinny Roc podcast, and founded Throwbacks Barber Company — now open and cutting hair in Utah. This is one veteran on the go, and is definitely worth keeping up with on social media!

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s big propaganda win is moving attack subs near the US

Russian media reported on March 16, 2018, that its military snuck nuclear attack submarines near US military bases and left undetected just weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin hyped up his country’s nuclear capabilities.


“This mission has been accomplished, the submarines showed up in the set location in the ocean and returned to base,” Sergey Starshinov, a Russian navy submarine officer, told Russian state-owned media. Starshinov said the vessels came and went “undetected” and that, without violating the US’s maritime borders, they got “close enough” to US military bases.

The Russian media, known for trafficking in propaganda to glorify Putin and the state’s military, will reportedly release a TV series on the exercises.

Also read: Russians are making fun of election ballots skewed for Putin

The Pentagon did not respond to request for comment on this story.

The incident remains unverifiable with deniability baked in. If Russian submarines truly came and went undetected, no credible third party could likely verify the exercises. The fact that the military drill will become a TV series suggests that it was carried out, at least in part, for propaganda purposes, rather than practical military needs.

The submarines, which carry long-range cruise missiles that can fire from underwater, have no business coming close to the US, as they have an effective range of more than 1,500 miles. The submarines named by Russian media are powered by nuclear reactors but have no nuclear weapons.

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
A Varshavyanka-class submarine. (Photo from Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation)

The incident comes as Putin prepares for an election on March 18, 2018, though he is expected to win handily. Putin has limited which opposition figures can run and controlled the state’s access to information throughout.

Russia frequently engages in propaganda to glorify its military, as it did when it recently deployed early-stage supposedly stealth fighter jets to Syria. After a few days of dropping bombs on undefended villages in Syria, Russia declared the planes, which are designed for high-end warfighting against US stealth jets, “combat proven.”

In February 2018, Russian military contractors suffered a humiliating defeat to the US military in Syria, with airstrikes and artillery wiping out up to 300 Russian nationals while US forces suffered no combat losses, a US General has confirmed.

Does it matter if Russia can sneak its submarines around like this?

Both the US and Russia have heavily entrenched mutually-assured-destruction nuclear postures, meaning that any nuclear strike on the US by Russia would be immediately returned by US missiles fired from silos, submarines, and airplanes pummeling Russia.

Related: Russia threatened the UK with nukes after nerve agent attack

Russia is currently facing increasing scrutiny and sanctions over its meddling in the US’s 2016 presidential election and its alleged role in the poisoning of former spies in Britain. Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on energy exports, and the weak price of oil and competitiveness from the US and other players have crippled its economy, though it continues to spend heavily on the military.

Despite having four times the population, Russia’s GDP is roughly equivalent to Canada’s and military sales and power remain one of its few lifelines to national prestige.

Though the US and Russia are Cold War foes increasingly at odds over foreign policy, the only recent significant clash between the two countries came in February 2018, during the battle in Syria which Russia overwhelmingly lost.

Articles

These are Hollywood’s 5 most awesome military spouses

As any career military person knows, the job is next to impossible without support on the homefront. And making that support happen isn’t easy.


So in honor of #MilitarySpouseAppreciationDay (let’s get it trending, people), WATM presents our choices for 5 times Hollywood did right by military spouses (considering Hollywood’s ability to get it right, period, of course):

1. Madeleine Stowe as Julie Moore in “We Were Soldiers” (2002)

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

Madeleine Stowe portrays Julie Moore, wife of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, the commander of the Army unit that finds itself in the middle of the first major battle of the Vietnam War. Stowe does a great job of showing Julie’s support for her husband’s career choice (while making sure he gets over his bad self from time to time) and strength when the word of casualties starts returning stateside.

2. Sienna Miller as Taya Kyle in “American Sniper”

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
(Photos: Warner Bros.)

“At its essence, this is a human story between two people: one of whom is doing these extraordinary, unimaginable things so far from home and the other who is trying to hold her family together,” Miller said. “And having met Taya [Kyle] I felt a responsibility to do it justice.”

3. Barbara Hershey as Glennis Yeager in “The Right Stuff”

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
Chuck (Sam Shepard) and Glennis (Barbara Hershey) enjoy a quiet moment before he risks life and limb attempting to break the speed of sound. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Barbara Hershey’s tough and sexy portrayal of Air Force legend Chuck Yeager’s wife Glennis is only a minor part of the movie, but her peformance is pitch perfect in terms of capturing what kind of woman it takes to be the wife of a military man who willingly rides into the jaws of death on a regular basis. Signature line: Chuck (played by Sam Shepard) looks at Glennis and says, “I’m fearless, but I’m scared to death of you.”

4. Meg Ryan as Carole Bradshaw in “Top Gun”

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul

Carole Bradshaw knows how to party and keep her man’s focus where it belongs (“Take me to bed or lose me forever”) as well as take care of the homefront while her husband “Goose” is out there feeling the need for speed. And she’s the model of sorrow and strength after he dies while ejecting from an out-of-control F-14.

5. Debra Winger as Paula Pokrifki in “Officer and a Gentleman”

Air Force advances massive B-52 overhaul
Paula (Debra Winger) with Zach (Richard Gere) right before he carries her out of the factory and into life as a Navy wife. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Okay, Debra Winger doesn’t play a military spouse in “Officer and a Gentleman,” but she does play a girlfriend who is about to become a military spouse, which is a very important part of the process. Marital success rates notwithstanding, the cities around training bases have bred more military wives than anyplace else, and Winger’s portrayal of the fetching Paula accurately captures how and why that happens.

 

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