Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses - We Are The Mighty
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Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
The Department of Defense’s first F-35 aircraft flying with an F-16 fighter jet above Destin, Florida | U.S. Air Force photo


The Air Force F-35 is using “open air” ranges and computer simulation to practice combat missions against the best Chinese and Russian-made air-defense technologies – as a way to prepare to enemy threats anticipated in the mid-2020s and beyond.

The testing is aimed at addressing the most current air defense system threats such as Russian-made systems and also focused on potential next-generation or yet-to-exist threats, Harrigian said.

Air Force officials have explained that, looking back to 2001 when the JSF threat started, the threats were mostly European centric – Russian made SA-10s or SA-20s. Now the future threats are looking at both Russian and Chinese-made and Asian made threats, they said.

“They have got these digital SAMS (surface-to-air-missile-systems) out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate. being able to replicate that is not easy,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Director of the F-35 Integration Office, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Surface threats from air defenses is a tough problem because emerging threats right now can see aircraft hundreds of miles away, service officials explained.

Furthermore, emerging and future Integrated Air Defense Systems use faster computer processors, are better networked to one-another and detect on a wider range of frequencies. These attributes, coupled with an ability to detect aircraft at further distances, make air defenses increasingly able to at times detect even stealth aircraft, in some instances, with surveillance radar.

While the Air Force aims to prepare for the unlikely contingency of a potential engagement with near-peer rivals such as Russia or China, Harrigian explained that there is much more concern about having to confront an adversary which has purchased air-defense technology from the Russians or Chinese.

Harrigian explained that the F-35 is engineered with what developers call “open architecture,” meaning it is designed to quickly integrate new weapons, software and avionics technology as new threats emerge.

“One of the key reasons we bought this airplane is because the threats continue to evolve – we have to be survivable in this threat environment that has continued to develop capabilities where they can deny us access to specific objectives that we may want to achieve. This airplane gives us the ability to penetrate, deliver weapons and then share that information across the formation that it is operating in,” Harrigian explained.

While training against the best emerging threats in what Harrigian called “open air” ranges looks to test the F-35 against the best current and future air defenses – there is still much more work to be done when it comes to anticipating high-end, high-tech fast developing future threats. This is where modeling and simulation play a huge part in threat preparation, he added.

“The place where we have to have the most agility is really in the modeling and simulation environment – If you think about our open air ranges, we try to build these ranges that have this threats that we expect to be fighting. Given the pace at which the enemy is developing these threats – it becomes very difficult for us to go out and develop these threats,” Harrigan explained.

The Air Force plans to bring a representation of next-generation threats and weapons to its first weapons school class in 2018.

In a simulated environment, F-22s from Langley AFB in Virginia could train for combat scenarios with an F-35 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, he said.

The JSF’s Active Electronically Scanned Arrays, or AESA’s, the aircraft is able to provide a synthetic aperture rendering of air and ground pictures.  The AESA also brings the F-35 electronic warfare capabilities, Harrigian said.

Part of the idea with F-35 modernization is to engineered systems on the aircraft which can be upgraded with new software as threats change. Technologies such as the AESA radar, electronic attack and protection and some of the computing processing power on the airplane, can be updated to keep pace with evolving threats, Harrigian said.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Lockheed Martin photo

Engineered to travel at speeds greater than 1,100 miles per hour and able to reach Mach 1.6, the JSF is said to be just as fast and maneuverable at an F-15 or F-16 and bring and a whole range of additional functions and abilities.

Overall, the Air Force plans to buy 1,763 JSF F-35A multi-role fighters, a number which will ultimately comprise a very large percentage of the service’s fleet of roughly 2,000 fighter jets.  So far, at least 87 F-35As have been built.

4th Software Drop

Many of the JSF’s combat capabilities are woven into developmental software increments or “drops,” each designed to advance the platforms technical abilities. There are more than 10 million individual lines of code in the JSF system.

While the Air Force plans to declare its F-345s operational with the most advanced software drop, called 3F, the service is already working on a 4th drop to be ready by 2020 or 2021. Following this initial drop, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops in two year increments in order to stay ahead of the threat.

The first portion of Block IV software funding, roughly $12 million, arrived in the 2014 budget, Air Force officials said.

Block IV will include some unique partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained.

Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet.  A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

In terms of weapons, Block IV will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air dropped bombs able to destroy targets on the move.

The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions.

These emerging 4th software drop will build upon prior iterations of the software for the aircraft.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb) JSF program officials said.

Following Block 2B, Block 3i increases the combat capability even further and Block 3F will bring a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
An F-35B dropping a GBU-12 during a developmental test flight. | U.S. Air Force photo

The AIM 9X is an Air Force and Navy heat-seeking infrared missile.

In fact, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided air-to-air missile for the first time recently over a Pacific Sea Test Range, Pentagon officials said.

The F-35 took off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and launched the missile at 6,000 feet, an Air Force statement said.

Designed as part of the developmental trajectory for the emerging F-35, the test-firing facilities further development of an ability to fire the weapon “off-boresight,” described as an ability to target and destroy air to air targets that are not in front of the aircraft with a direct or immediate line of sight, Pentagon officials explained.

The AIM-9X, he described, incorporates an agile thrust vector controlled airframe and the missile’s high off-boresight capability can be used with an advanced helmet (or a helmet-mounted sight) for a wider attack envelope.

F-35 25mm Gun

Last Fall, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter recently completed the first aerial test of its 25mm Gatling gun embedded into the left wing of the aircraft, officials said.

The test took place Oct. 30, 2015, in California, Pentagon officials described.

“This milestone was the first in a series of test flights to functionally evaluate the in-flight operation of the F-35A’s internal 25mm gun throughout its employment envelope,” a Pentagon statement said several months ago.

The Gatling gun will bring a substantial technology to the multi-role fighter platform, as it will better enable the aircraft to perform air-to-air attacks and close-air support missions to troops on the ground.

Called the Gun Airborne Unit, or GAU-22/A, the weapon is engineered into the aircraft in such a manner as to maintain the platform’s stealth configuration.

The four-barrel 25mm gun is designed for rapid fire in order to quickly blanket an enemy with gunfire and destroy targets quickly. The weapon is able to fire 3,300 rounds per minute, according to a statement from General Dynamics.

“Three bursts of one 30 rounds and two 60 rounds each were fired from the aircraft’s four-barrel, 25-millimeter Gatling gun. In integrating the weapon into the stealthy F 35Aairframe, the gun must be kept hidden behind closed doors to reduce its radar cross section until the trigger is pulled,” a statement from the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter said.

The first phase of test execution consisted of 13 ground gunfire events over the course of three months to verify the integration of the gun into the F-35A, the JSF office said.

“Once verified, the team was cleared to begin this second phase of testing, with the goal of evaluating the gun’s performance and integration with the airframe during airborne gunfire in various flight conditions and aircraft configurations,” the statement added.

The new gun will also be integrated with the F-35’s software so as to enable the pilot to see and destroy targets using a helmet-mounted display.

The gun is slated to be operational by 2017.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldiers see real-time drone feeds from new handheld devices

The Army and Textron Systems are developing a lightweight, portable One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) that allows dismounted soldiers to view, in real-time, nearby drone video feeds using a modified frequency.


OSRVTs have been in combat with the Army since 2007. They are integrated into vehicle platforms, such as Stryker vehicles, allowing infantry to view feeds and control sensor payloads from nearby drones while on the move.

Related: The Army has new drones that can strike deep behind enemy lines

The laptop-like drone controllers are configured with an adapter kit so that they can operate from almost every Army vehicle. In fact, OSRVT software is hosted in the Army’s emerging Humvee replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Fielding of OSRVTs is currently 69 percent complete, Army officials said. This new technology allows soldiers, such as dismounted infantry not in vehicles, to view combat-relevant drone feeds while on foot.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Spc. Lavoyd Anderson from the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, prepares to launch his Raven unmanned aerial vehicle.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Current OSRVTs include a transceiver, antenna, and ruggedized tablet computer that enables an unmanned aircraft, Army Program Managers for OSRVT, UAS Common Systems Integration Office, have told Warrior.

Certain small, handheld Army drones, such as a Puma or Wasp, can be operated by dismounted soldiers. However, while quite useful in combat circumstances, they have a more limited range, endurance, and sensing ability compared to larger, medium-altitude drones, such as an Army Gray Eagle.

More: The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer

Other planned upgrades to the OSRVT configuration include a modified Ku-band Directional Antenna (KuDA) for mobile vehicle operations that will be ready this year and bi-directional technology by 2020. The Army plans to have additional communications security for the OSRVT in place by 2020 as well, Army developers said.

The OSRVT system supports level of interoperability three (LOI3) via a KuDA; LOI3 allows the OSRVT user to control the sensor payload (except weapons) when allowed by the primary operator.

Army OSRVTs have been fielded to active duty forces, reserves, and National Guard units.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Group. (Department of Defense)

Upgrades to the OSRVT supports and improves the Army’s current combat-zone progress with “manned-unmanned teaming.” This technology, already deployed in combat in Afghanistan, allows Kiowa and Apache attack helicopter crews to view video feeds from nearby drones and control the sensor payload from the air.

The new technology is slated to be ready by 2020, Army developers said.

Special Operations radio enables soldiers to view drone feeds

Harris Corp. is working with Special Operations Command to develop a new handheld, two-channel radio with an ISR receiver to enable drone video convergence, company officials said.

The radio, called RF-335, is designed to utilize wideband waveforms and a datalink to support full-motion video from nearby drones.

Read more: Move over Amazon, the Army also wants to deliver supplies with drones

“In the past, someone on the ground would have a traditional comms radio and use an ISR receiver. This converges those capabilities into one platform by pulling down video from the air, cross-banding the video into a two-channel radio,” Dennis Moran, senior vice president at Harris, said last year.

The radio functions like existing software programmable radios, using high-bandwidth waveforms to network voice, video and data across the force in real time. Setting up an ad hoc terrestrial network, the radios are designed to function as a battlefield network in austere environments where there is no satellite connectivity or fixed infrastructure.

Harris is also building upon this radio technology with an RF-345 two-channel, vehicle or soldier-mounted manpack radio.

“We add filtering so we can operate those radios close together without interference,” Moran said.

Articles

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

Countries that border the Pacific are taking part in a massive exercise called “Rim of the Pacific” or “RIMPAC.” Dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and thousands of people are practicing their warfighting skills in RIMPAC.


Military photographers and videographers have been sending out hundreds of excellent photos and videos from the exercise this year, and here are 19 of the best of what they’d captured:

1. Marines and U.S. allies attacked the beaches of Hawaii in a simulated amphibious assault

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
US Marines conduct an amphibious assault during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak)

2. Once the Marines hit the sand, they flooded out of their vehicles and got to work

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
US Marines land on the sands of Hawaii during a joint exercise beach assault with the Japan Self Defense Force. (GIF: US Marine Corps Cpl. Natalie Dillon)

3. Marine attack helicopters flew overhead and provided support to the guys on the ground

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
A Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 367 protects US Marines during a beach assault as part of Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak)

5. Ashore, infantry Marines prepped for the hard fight to the island’s interior

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
US Marines move their mortars forward during a beach assault in Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro)

6. At training areas past the sand, the Marines practiced assaulting buildings and bunkers

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
US Marines participate in an amphibious assault on Bellows Beach, Hawaii, during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: Royal New Zealand Navy Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn)

7. They even went to firing ranges to practice making stuff blow up

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
US Marines operate in Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii July 20, 2016. (GIF: US Marine Corps Cpl. Isaac Ibarra)

8. Out at sea, the Navy got in the action with a large formation of 40 ships that included some surprising participants …

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Forty ships and submarines sail in close formation during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ace Rheaume)

BTW, if you want to see hundreds of photos of these 40 ships sailing next to each other, just click on this link. Literally hundreds. There are different angles and close-ups on dozens of the ships available.

9. … like the Coast Guard’s USCGC Stratton …

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
USCGC Stratton steams through the Pacific (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ace Rheaume)

10. … and a Chinese hospital ship, the Peace Ark

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
The Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark got in on the action of Pacific Rim. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ace Rheaume)

11. Onboard the Peace Ark, doctors and other medical personnel practiced treating patients and responding to humanitarian crises

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Chinese medical personnel aboard the hospital ship Peace Ark treat simulated injuries during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: Chinese Navy)

12. Another Chinese ship, the multirole frigate Hengshui, fired on targets to display its proficiency

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
The Chinese Navy frigate Hengshui fires its main gun at a towed target during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: Chinese Navy Senior Capt. Liu Wenping)

13. Under the waves, a New Zealand dive unit had to locate an 18-foot shipping container and assist in its recovery

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: New Zealand Defence Force Photographer Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn

14. A Canadian team found and interrogated an underwater wreck during their training

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Canadian divers held their training at an underwater range on July 17, 2016, as part of Rim of the Pacific. (GIF: Canadian Forces Combat Camera Master Corporal Christopher Ward)

15. Forces from four allied countries land on a “captured” beach on a Royal Australian Navy landing craft

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
A Royal Australian Navy landing craft transports Australian, New Zealand, Tongan, and US forces to a Hawaii beach on Jul. 30. (Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. William L. Holdaway)

16. Military vehicles laid down beach matting to prevent other vehicles from slipping on the loose sand. The matting can be laid down in combat to allow tanks and other heavy vehicles to assault towards their objectives quickly

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
An LX-120 front end loader lays down beach matting during Rim of the Pacific 2016. The matting makes it easier for follow-on vehicles to cross the loose sand. (Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. William L. Holdaway)

17. Royal Australian combat engineers cleared the way inland for allied forces by searching out mines and other simulated explosives

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Royal Australian Army Sgt. Connor Chamney syncs his mine calibration equipment Jul. 30. (Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. William Holdaway)

18. Air Force F-22 Raptors and a tanker aircraft assisted with the exercise, allowing the Air Force to improve its interoperability with the U.S. Navy and foreign militaries

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Three US Air Force F-22 Raptors refuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gregory A. Harden II)

19. The Mexican Navy sent small craft to southern California to practice working with U.S. Navy riverine craft, the small boats that patrol rivers and other tight waterways

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
A Mexican Navy coastal patrol boat practices tactical maneuvers during a mission with the US Navy’s Coastal Riverine Squadron 1 in Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan A. Nelson)

RIMPAC takes place on most even-numbered years and has been held 25 times since 1971. America’s traditional allies in the Pacific usually attend, but some rivals like Russia and China are common guests as well.

Articles

This company helps military children cope when their parents deploy

One toddler helped inspire a company that now helps hundreds of military children deal with one of the most stressful times of their lives: seeing their parents leave for deployment.


“It doesn’t have to be sad,” said Bridget Platt, the founder and CEO of Daddy’s Deployed and wife of a Marine Corps aviator. “And that’s what I wanted to do. Create this story where [kids] are the star even if their family is separated at the time.”

Founded in 2012, Platt’s company creates custom-designed children’s books that explain where mom or dad are going, what they’ll be doing, and how they’ll stay in touch through tools like Skype. The first book she ever created was for her own daughter, with pictures of the family literally cut out and glued onto the pages.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo courtesy of Daddy’s Deployed

But her inspiration came three years before, while working with a two-year-old girl named Claire at the child development center on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.

“She was perfectly behaved, would eat every meal, play outside, and she shared. She was potty-trained and would nap everyday,” Platt said. “And then her dad deployed and all of that changed. She started having accidents. She wouldn’t eat. She would literally cry out for him at naptime. And I remember thinking that somebody has to do something to help these kids but I was just too far from it at that point. We were newlyweds. We didn’t have any children so I couldn’t wrap my head around what that concept might be.”

Once she had her own children, and with the help of her brother — a Harvard Business School graduate — she put together a business plan, copyrighted a logo, and brought on a great illustrator to help with creating the book’s artwork.

Now, parents can go on the Daddy’s Deployed website (there’s a Mommy’s version as well) and order their books, after putting in their information such as their name and rank, branch of service, what kind of job they have, and their children’s names. In about three weeks, Platt and her team will send back a personalized book with the family drawn into their own story.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo courtesy of Daddy’s Deployed

“The whole point of it is that when the kids open page one they see their family in the story,” Platt said. “They see themselves in the story. They see their dog in the story. So that they know that it’s this happy, brightly colored vision of what their life could be or is going to be.”

Beyond the custom books relating to deployments, Platt told We Are The Mighty she has plans to expand her offerings. The company recently launched a book about military moves, and it is currently looking into selling eBooks and other interactive materials, such as audiobooks where the deployed parent can read the story to their loved ones.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo courtesy of Daddy’s Deployed

“My favorite thing is when people first look at the book that didn’t know about the company beforehand,” she said. “The most common thing that is said to me is, ‘why didn’t I think of this?’ And that shows me that there was a problem and we are answering it. And that is the best thing. My response is always the same: ‘I’m really glad you didn’t.’ But in my mind I’m like, ‘Yes! Thank you for saying that.'”

You can see more of Platt’s work on her company’s Facebook page or website.

NOW: These Striking Photos Show The True Nature Of America’s Veterans

Articles

Watch the Marines’ F-35 fire an 80-round burst from its gun pod

On July 6, at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland, US Marines carried out the first successful test of the F-35B’s GAU-22 gun pod, Business Insider has confirmed.


Five days later, the gun pod fired it’s first 80-round burst. Both tests were resoundingly successful, and the video is posted below.

Business Insider previously reported on the first test of the F-35A’s integrated gun, but the gun pod, which will be used on the F-35B and C variants, is an entirely different animal.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Pilots with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 exit F-35B Lightning II’s after conducting training during exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 20, 2016. | US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson

Instead of the integrated design of the US Air Force’s F-35A, the Marine Corps’ F-35B and the US Navy’s F-35C will feature a 220-round, 25 mm gun in a modular pod.

This means that the Navy and Marine variants, which launch from aircraft carriers or amphibious assault vessels, will have the option of excluding the gun to save weight and increase fuel efficiency.

Here’s the GAU-22 ripping a target with pinpoint accuracy:

While the F-35 has fielded some criticism for its gun, which at 55 rounds per second can empty its entire magazine in under four seconds, the gun actually makes sense for the type of close air-support environment that the F-35 is expected to operate in.

The much-loved A-10 Warthog, which holds 1,350 rounds, is ideal for flying low and slow, loitering in the sky, and delivering its precise fire to provide close air support. But this makes sense in only uncontested air space.

The F-35’s smaller magazine capacity reflects the future of close air support as military planners envision it. The F-35 will usher in an era of quick and precise strikes that leverage a suite of sensors, electronic-warfare capabilities, and stealth.

Watch the full video of the GAU-22 gun pod firing an 80-round burst for the first time below:

MIGHTY TRENDING

How this soldier escaped the killing fields to join the US Army

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord will celebrate the diversity and honor of its service members, including Sgt. Maj. El Sar, I Corps command chaplain sergeant major, a Cambodian-born American who lived through atrocities as a child in his homeland and is now proud to call America home.

More than 1 million people reportedly died as a result of the Khmer Rogue communist regime’s Cambodian genocide from 1975 to 1979, at the end of the Cambodian civil war. A 1984 British film, “The Killing Fields,” documented the experiences of two journalists who lived through the horrific murders of anyone connected with Cambodia’s prior government.


It was more than a film for Sar, who lost several family members to the horrific killings. He spent time in refugee camps and prisons before arriving in America as a 12-year-old refugee with his mother and siblings.

“I’m proud to be an Asian American,” Sar said. “I don’t forget my heritage — but I’m glad to be an American.”

As a child, Sar grew up in the jungles of Cambodia. He lived through the Vietnam War, Cambodian civil war, Khmer Rogues’ Killing Fields, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and Thai refugee camps and housing projects, he said.

“I was slapped, thrown in prison, hands tied behind my back, shot at, nearly drowned in a river, walked three days and nights through the thick jungles of Cambodia and evaded Vietnamese troops, the Khmer Rouge, pirates, criminals, Thai security forces and (avoided) more than 11 million landmines,” Sar wrote in a Northwest Guardian commentary published in February 2018.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Sgt. Maj. El Sar, I Corps command chaplain sergeant major.

He told of the deaths of his grandparents, father, a brother, uncles, aunts and other relatives. His remaining family members were robbed by Thai security forces.

Sar and his mother, Touch Sar, older sisters, Sopheak and Phon, and younger brothers, Ath and Ann, came to America as refugees. They arrived in Houston, Texas, June 26, 1981.

At that point, Sar had never been to school and had “zero knowledge, skills, abilities or understanding of life,” he said; however, “Coming to America was like arriving in Heaven.”

He learned English by watching television.

“I watched a lot of commercials, like for Jack in the Box and (Burger King) ‘Where’s the beef?'” he said, with a laugh.

In 1989, Sar graduated from Westbury High School in Houston and earned a criminal justice degree from the University of Houston in 1994. Next, he graduated from the Houston Police Academy in 1995.

Although Sar had long wanted to become a police officer, he realized a stronger passion and joined the Army in August 1996.

“I followed my dream to serve my country,” he said.

After basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Sar began a 21-year military career that included multiple deployments and duty stations. He has been at JBLM since June 2017.

“I like travel; I like deployment, and I love serving my country,” he said.

Sar initially wanted to be in the Infantry, but he was told he is color blind, to which he adamantly disagrees. Testing revealed he’d make a good chaplain’s assistant, he said.

Sar became a Christian while watching a film about Jesus while in a refugee camp in Houston.

“I learned about Jesus and how he sacrificed and died for me,” Sar said.

Being a military chaplain is the perfect fit for Sar, he said.

“I can go in the field shooting and spend time helping people,” he said. “I love taking care of America’s sons and daughters.”

Sar and his wife, Lyna, have three children ranging from 9 years old to 11 months.

The couple met through his aunt in Cambodia, who lived in the same village as Lyna.

“One year later, I asked God and he gave me the go ahead,” Sar said. “We’ve been married 15 years. She is a wonderful woman.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The first blood test for detecting brain injury is cleared by FDA

You’re throwing a football around in the yard with your neighbors. While stretching out as far as you can to catch the pass, you slam your head hard against a pole going for the ball. Seeing stars and feeling confused, you take a seat. Wouldn’t it be nice if a test could say whether you have a brain injury?


Brain injury can happen from a fall, while in combat, or during training exercises. Thanks in part to research funded by the Dept. of Defense and the U.S. Army, Banyan Biomarkers has created the first-ever brain trauma blood test. On Feb. 14, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration cleared marketing of the Banyan Biomarkers’ Brain Trauma Indicator, or BTI™.

Also read: Major advances occurring in traumatic brain injury care for veterans

The BTI can identify two brain-specific protein markers, called UCH-L1 (Ubiquitin Carboxy-terminal Hydrolase-L1) and GFAP (Glial Fibrilliary Acidic Protein). These proteins rapidly appear in the blood and are elevated 12 hours following an incident where a head injury occurs and can signify if there is bleeding in the brain. The two protein markers won’t be elevated if your brain is uninjured or if you have a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), otherwise known as a concussion.

“When these proteins are elevated, there may be blood in the brain,” said Kathy Helmick, acting director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). “A hematoma, or blood in the brain, may indicate a more serious brain injury has occurred, which could require rapid evacuation for neurosurgery to remove a clot in the brain.”

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

The first thing a doctor tries to rule out with suspected brain injury is the potential for serious complications, like losing consciousness, going into a coma, or death. According to the research results and FDA clearance, the blood test can help medical professionals determine the need for computed tomography (CT) scans in patients suspected of having a concussion. It also can help prevent unnecessary radiation exposure for patients.

Related: Here’s how this Marine learned to cope with traumatic brain injury

Prior to discovering these biological protein markers, medical professionals had to rely on symptom reporting and other more subjective means to evaluate patients with few signals of more serious head injury.

“This technology helps us identify red flags after you suspect a head injury so that you can get the person to definitive care,” Helmick explained. “Most times, the blood test will be negative and the medical provider will continue with a concussion evaluation.”

Lt. Col. Kara Schmid said U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command will “begin limited user testing with the device in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.” Schmid is a project manager for the Neurotrauma and Psychological Health Project Management Office at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “Improvements could make the device more supportable by the military health system.”

The Department of Defense has been seeking a method for diagnosing and evaluating TBI in service members for over a decade. According to DVBIC, over 375,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI since 2000. Approximately 82 percent of those TBI cases are classified as a concussion.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
More than 294,000 military service members have suffered from traumatic brain injury. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

According to Kelley Brix, MD – who is a branch chief for interagency research and development at the Defense Health Agency – the need for diagnosing milder forms of brain injury sparked research questions that were funded as part of a greater TBI research portfolio.

“The research question became centered on if the brain releases anything detectable into the blood stream when there is damage,” said Brix. “The answer is yes. This is a big project with a successful outcome. But, it’s only part of our large portfolio looking at improved ways to diagnose and treat TBI.”

Helmick says knowing whether blood, swelling, or bruising on the brain has taken place helps with understanding the severity of the TBI.

More: Helmets just got new technology to protect your brains

“These two proteins give us a window of insight into what is going on in the brain,” said Helmick. “We have lacked objective devices and data in TBI, especially with concussion. The reason biological markers are so important is because they are accurate, sensitive, and objective.”

Making the machine required to run the blood test smaller and more portable is a work in progress, as currently it’s intended for use in a laboratory. Logistical constraints of the BTI device make deployment to the force a challenge.

“There is active work going on to reduce the 3-4 hour timeframe for getting test results, which could make it even more usable for austere environments,” Helmick said. “This blood test is an example of a significant public-private success and a huge advancement in the field of TBI.”

Articles

Here’s a tragic reminder that Americans are still in the fight in Afghanistan

The Pentagon released the name of a Special Forces soldier who was killed by an improvised bomb attack during a night raid with Afghan commandos in the restive Helmand province, a reminder that the fight continues 15 years after American troops first landed there.


Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, was killed while accompanying Afghan special forces on a raid near Lashkar Gah. Thompson was a Green Beret with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces group based in Washington and died Aug. 23 alongside six of his Afghan comrades.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, died Aug. 23, 2016, of wounds received from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Another American servicemember was wounded in the attack and remains in stable condition at a hospital in Afghanistan, officials say.

“This tragic event in Helmand province reminds us that Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and there is difficult work ahead even as Afghan forces continue to make progress in securing their own country,” Pentagon chief Ash Carter said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan and our NATO partners to bolster the capabilities of the [Afghan national defense and security forces] so they can provide the people of Afghanistan the peace they deserve.”

The deaths came on the eve of a brazen attack on the American University in the Afghan capital Kabul that killed 14 and wounded 35. No Americans are among the casualties so far.

The top spokesman for the NATO mission in Afghanistan said special operations troops, many of them Americans, are on missions nearly every night throughout the country advising Afghan commandos who are targeting Taliban holdouts in key areas. He said that about 10 percent of Afghan special forces missions include NATO troops, but they’re not usually engaged in the fighting.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Commandos from the 7th Special Operation Kandak prepare for the unitís first independent helicopter assault mission, March 10, 2014, in Washir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan The mission was conducted to disrupt insurgent activity. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard B. Lower)

“This is something that we do nationwide [so] it’s possible that we have some NATO [special operations force] element out in the field on any given night,” said Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland during an Aug. 25 press conference. “Our role in that, of course, is that we don’t participate, we don’t go on the objective, but we provide the assistance they require.”

Cleveland said about 80 percent of Afghan special operations missions are conducted solo, with another 10 percent incorporating NATO and U.S. help in the rear, including intelligence and surveillance support.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
A U.S. Special Forces soldier, attached to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, and an Afghan National Army commando, of 6th Special Operations Kandak, scan the area for enemy movement after taking direct fire from insurgents during an operation in Khogyani district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, March 20, 2014. Commandos, advised and assisted by U.S. Special Forces soldiers, conducted the operation to disrupt insurgent freedom of maneuver. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Connor Mendez)

He added that the Taliban have been unable to hold any major city or town, and typically raid a checkpoint, steal equipment and are pushed out by Afghan forces some time later.

The operation in which Thompson was killed included an effort by Afghan special forces to interdict Taliban insurgents on the outskirts of the key Helmand town of Lashkar Gah. It was a “fairly large operation,” Cleveland said.

“It was an effort to clear out Taliban strongholds so conventional forces could move in,” he said.

Though violence has been on an upsurge as the summer fighting season crests, officials say the Taliban isn’t able to mount an effective, large-scale assault to win coveted territory and sanctuary.

“The idea that they’re this invincible force, moving ahead and claiming territory we don’t believe is accurate,” Cleveland said. “We don’t think there’s a massive, invincible offensive coming from the Taliban.”

Articles

Browning’s great-great-great grandchildren: 3 badass new 1911s (and 2011s)

The venerable 1911 has been in military service for over a century now — in every branch, in every war America’s fought. Once the old Model 1873 Colts proved themselves in the Philippines and the results of the Thompson-Legarde tests became known, the transition to the .45 caliber round was set.


And so it was, as articulated in the recommendation passed on to the War Department.

“…a bullet, which will have a shock effect and stopping effect at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver, should have a caliber not less than .45.”

Enter Saint Browning, hallowed patron of automatic fire; John M. Browning began testing his iconic semi-auto in 1910. It was formally adopted by the Army in 1911, and by the Navy and Marine Corps two years later.

It’s a badass and much beloved pistol, and rightly so — that is, no doubt, why so many manufacturers continue to build them today.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

Some are, of course, some better than others. But here are three beautifully crafted and ridiculously rugged modern versions of St. Browning’s famous design.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

1. STI International DVC Tactical 2011 – Texas Proud

That’s correct, they call it the 2011; it’s a 21st century weapon, hand crafted in Texas.

STI International says they designed the weapon with tactical shooters in mind, incorporating the most functional features of their competition guns to do so. It’s coated in a low visibility DLC (Diamond Like Coating) finish, and uses a TiAIN (Titanium Aluminum Nitride), copper-tinted barrel. (We’re not sure if the copper tint is anything more than an aesthetic feature, and we don’t care — these things are sexier than fifty panty-less Suicide Girls in a tight t-shirt).

The DVC Tactical 2011  features slide lightening cuts, a threaded barrel, accessory rail, an aggressively stippled grip, and undercut trigger guard. Sights are standard, so you’d have to change them out if you’re going to put a can on it. Sights are Tritium Fixed Ledge, Trigger is 3.5 lbs with an ambi safety, and it uses a Dawson Precision Tool-Less guide rod.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

It’s available in either .45 or 9mm.

PERFORMANCE FEATURES

•BBL- 5.00 inch Threaded Bull Barrel, TiAIN coating

•FINISH- Diamond Like Carbon, Black Color

•MAGAZINES- 2 ea / 140mm, Black Color

•TRIGGER- 3.5 lbs w/Ambi Safety Lever

•SIGHTS- Tritium Fixed Ledge Sights

•GRIPS- 2011 DVC Stippled, Black Color

•OTHER- Dawson Precision Tool-Less Guide Rod, Tactical Magwell, Thread Protector, Picatinny Under-Rail

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

Learn more here.

While you’re on their website, you might also check out their H.O.S.T. series gun, which are built to host sights with an RMR plate. H.O.S.T. stands for Holographic Optic Slide Top. It’s designed to, you guessed it, host a sight, light, and/or suppressors. The slide top is milled to accept a micro-red dot optic, comes with a removable cover plate and adapter plates for a wide variety of pistol optics.

 

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

2. Wilson Combat EDC 9 – Arkansas Goodness for Decades

The Wilson Combat EDC is designed for “…hard use and everyday concealed carry.” It’s built with what they call their Enhanced Reliability System, and like all their guns is built in their facility near a small town in NW Arkansas. Bill Wilson and his outfit have been building guns there since the ’70s.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

It’s a compact, carbon steel frame with a 4-inch Tri-Top slide, 4-inch stainless cone barrel with flush cut reverse crown, a fluted chamber, and fluted barrel. The ERS portion of the EDC9’s features includes a spring-loaded extractor, match grade fluted (single lug) barrel, adjustable elevation sights, and…

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

Ah, to hell with it, we’ll just let them tell you . They’ll do it better.

The “ERS” includes: robust spring-loaded external extractor that improves extraction in all conditions with all types of ammunition; A match grade, fluted barrel with single lug geometry to reduce cycling friction, enhance slide velocity, and improve feed reliability; Removal of the frame rails around the mag opening to further reduce friction and promote function in adverse shooting environments; A low mass, Tri-Top slide profile for reduced muzzle flip and enhanced cycling and our Tactical Adjustable Battlesight (TAB) for easy point of impact elevation adjustment. Wilson Combat 

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

SPECS

  • Available Calibers: 9mm
  • Magazine Capacity: 9 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 4″
  • Overall Length: 7.6″
  • Sight Radius: 5.6″
  • Height: 5.1″
  • Width: 1.3″
  • Weight Empty: 38 oz
  • Weight Loaded: 42 oz
  • Accuracy Guarantee: 1.5″ at 25 yds

Learn more about it here.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Image courtesy Greg Skaz Photography

3. The Dan Wesson Discretion – New York State of Style

This 1911 was purpose built for the ever-increasing number of people who enjoy shooting with suppressors. That’s why it comes with an extended, match-grade stainless barrel and high Tritium sights. A ported slide, serrated trigger and competition-worthy trigger (as they describe it) all contrive to make it a pleasure to shoot.

Available in .45 or 9mm, it also features a ball end mill cut, fairly aggressive checkering on both the front strap and mainspring housing, a long, slotted trigger with a serrated face, and a 1913 Pic rail.  The square hammer and top rib running down the slide give it a unique appearance.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

Learn more here.

Even if you’re not interested in the Discretion, you should visit that page and scroll to the bottom. Their 360 view is pretty damn cool.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Image courtesy Greg Skaz Photography

They’ve definitely evolved from the 1911s your great grandpappy used to service Nazis — and from the ones in the trenches a couple decades earlier.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Pentagon will move its data to the cloud

The Pentagon is accelerating an acquisition plan to migrate its defense networks to the cloud as part of a sweeping effort to modernize and streamline its data systems and better defend against cyberattacks, a DoD announcement said.


The initiative, launched last Fall by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, is now grounded in a specific, fast-paced acquisition plan to keep pace with fast-moving technological change.

“DoD is using a tailored acquisition process to acquire a modern enterprise cloud services solution that can support Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret requirements. Known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud, the planned contracting action will be a full and open competition,” a Pentagon statement said.

The Pentagon has released a Request for Information to industry and is planning an industry day March 2018 as a precursor to the planned contract awards.

Led by a recently established Cloud Executive Steering Group, cloud migration program leaders are now in the analysis and fact-finding phase of this process to determine how many contracts will best meet DoD’s needs, officials said.

The acquisition effort is broken up into two distinct phases, according to DoD developers; phase one includes cloud acquisition and phase two “will work with offices throughout the department to build cloud strategies for requirements related to military operations and intelligence support,” a Pentagon statement said.

Read more: Pentagon will aggressively implement new Electronic Warfare strategy

“Technologies in areas like data infrastructure and management, cybersecurity and machine learning are changing the character of war. Commercial companies are pioneering technologies in these areas and the pace of innovation is extremely rapid,” Shanahan writes in the memo, released last Fall.

Cloud migration has received much attention in recent years, and this new effort strives to accelerate cloud development and add a specific, measurable structure to an otherwise broad-sweeping or more loosely configured effort. For instance, the Pentagon has emphasized a move toward broader use of Windows 10 in a move to quickly embrace more commercial systems and cloud systems.

However, many of the various acquisition efforts have been stovepiped or, by some estimations, in need of greater integration and interoperability. DOD’s ongoing Joint Information Environment (JIE) and Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) efforts are emerging as efforts to address these challenges.

The Pentagon’s Joint Regional Security Stacks will increasingly use cloud technology and move to more off-the-shelf technology, such as Windows 10, according to senior Pentagon IT officials.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008 (Image by David Gleason via Wikipedia)

JRSS is on track to reduce the physical footprint of servers and — that it will support cloud technology structures.

JRSS is also engineered to increase security and intrusion detection technologies. The security of the network is centralized into regional architectures instead of locally distributed systems at each military base, post, or camp, according to a previous statement from the Defense Information Systems Agency.

“Deploying JRSS enables the department to inspect data, retrieve threat and malware data on the network and troubleshoot, patch, protect and defend the network,” a DISA statement said.

Shanahan’s new program could bring nearer-term achievable metrics to the ongoing JIE initiative. At the same time, there is a chance it could also help accelerate the ongoing movement toward greater domestic and international data consolidation efforts already underway with JRSS.

A key element to cloud migration, considering that it involves movement toward more virtualization and a decreased hardware footprint, is that emerging software upgrades and programs can quite naturally have a faster and more ubiquitous impact across a range of data systems.

When it comes to data security and resilience against intruders and cyberattacks, the cloud could be described as consisting of a two-fold dynamic. In one sense, data consolidation through cloud architecture can potentially increase risk by lowering the number of entry points for intruders – yet it also affords an occasion to identify patterns across a wide swath of interconnected systems.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

Furthermore, cloud technologies can facilitate standardized security protocols so that attempted breaches can be more quickly detected. Along similar lines, JIE proponents explain that although greater interoperability could increase vulnerabilities, various networks can be engineered so they can both share data while also leveraging routers, switches and IP protocol specifics to separate and secure networks as well.

An often-discussed phenomenon seems to inform Shanahan’s push for faster cloud migration, namely that multi-year government developmental programs are, in many instances, generating technical systems which are potentially obsolete by the time they are completed. Commercial innovation, therefore, coupled with an open architecture framework, is intended to allow faster, wide-sweeping upgrades more consistent with the most current and impactful innovations.

“I am directing aggressive steps to establish a culture of experimentation, adaptation, and risk-taking,” Shanahan’s memo states.

The integrated DoD effort is closely aligned with various US fast-moving cloud efforts among the US military services.

Army cloud migration

DISA and the Army are working with industry to extend commercial cloud technology to mobile devices as part of a broad effort to both improve access to data and provide security for forces on the move.

Drawing upon hardened commercial cloud networking technology, soldiers, sailors or airmen using smartphones and tablets will have secure access to classified networks. By extension, a commercial cloud can enable secure networking such that smartphone applications themselves can be better protected, DISA leaders have explained.

As part of this broadly-scoped DOD effort, industry giants like Microsoft are working with the services to extend cloud-based security and connectivity to mobile devices.

The Army’s Unified Capabilities (UC) program, for example, is an example of how this strategy can be implemented.

More reading: This vet group says the Pentagon is disclosing private data on millions of troops

The UC effort is based on an Army-ATT collaborative effort to leverage the commercial cloud to improve networking interoperability using voice, video, screen sharing and chat functions for one million service business leaders on both classified and unclassified networks.

“Unified Capabilities is one of the first commercial cloud-based solutions that will be delivered across the Army Enterprise,” Sergio Alvarez, product lead, Enterprise Content Collaboration and Messaging, told Warrior Maven in an interview last Fall.

By using a commercial cloud, users will be able to draw upon software to access voice services from any Army-approved end user device — desktops, laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy L. Wood)

Forward-deployed or dismounted soldiers will have an ability to connect and share combat-relevant data from farther distances, potentially beyond an otherwise limited network.

“There are many benefits to COTS — including saving money on initial investment, meeting IT requirements while avoiding costs, lowering maintenance investments and enabling cost-effective new upgrades,” an Army statement said.

The service will also provide video conferences and desktop sharing services, as well as multi-user chat functions.

As is the case with desktop systems, the strategy for this kind of cloud execution is often described in terms of centralized control – decentralized execution.

When it comes to more traditional fixed locations, increased cloud networking and security at a central server location brings the added benefit of helping implementation and security for the ongoing Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) effort.

Navy analytics strategy

Fall 2017, the Navy unveiled a data analytics strategy document designed to accelerate IT modernization, consolidation of information, innovation and efforts to keep pace with commercial technological progress.

The “Navy Strategy for Data and Analytics Optimization,” which incorporates faster network cloud migration, calls for cloud migration and rapid transformation of training, concepts, and policies designed to make data analytics faster and more efficient.

Recognizing that the pace of technological change is often faster within industry and commercial enterprises, the strategy is woven around the premise that new solutions, software updates or improvements in operating systems and data analysis often emerge quickly.

Continued reading: Inside the Department of Defense’s Fire School

With this in mind, the strategy also heavily emphasizes a growing need to look for open source solutions for expediting IT acquisition.

When embracing commercial innovation might not make sense for a government developmental IT effort, the strategy calls for increased collaboration with academia and industry.

“It is paramount that we become able to adapt faster to data-driven innovations, create new innovations and deploy those innovations,” the strategy states.

The text of the strategy articulates a few goals, such as an ability to “predict and inventory the right data analytics to meet the demands of DON (Department of the Navy) data consumers and decision makers — and — deploy and operate innovative solutions with minimal time to market.”

As a way to accelerate the key aims of the new strategic effort, the Navy’s Chief Information Officer is establishing a new Data and Analytics Consortium to define emerging policies, share lessons learned and help establish best practices.

Articles

The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

Soldiers from the 193rd Infantry Brigade and Airmen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron land after a parachute jump as a part of Emerald Warrior.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/USAF

An MC-130J Commando II from the 9th Special Operations Squadron taxis for departure from the Red Horse Landing Zone in support of Emerald Warrior.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Staff Sgt. Matthew Plew/USAF

NAVY

An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/USN

Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) tip their caps to the crew of the MilitarySealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14) following a weapons onload.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke/USN

ARMY

Paratroopers, assigned to U.S. Army Alaska‘s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, push toward an obstacle during a combined arms maneuver live fire exercise, part of Exercise Spartan Phoenix.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Staff Sgt. Daniel Love/US Army

A soldier, assigned to 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, loads a M240 machine gun during a gunnery exercise on Camp Konotop, Poland.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Sgt. Brandon Anderson/US Army

MARINE CORPS

Philippine Marines train with U.S. Marines attached to the III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Installations Pacific during a fast-rope exercise.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Lance Cpl. Ryan C. Mains/USMC

A Marine scout sniper candidate with Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment looks through the scope of his rifle during a stalking exercise in the vicinity of SR-10 aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: Sgt. Austin Long/USMC

COAST GUARD

A beautiful sunset view aboard USCGC STRATTON WMSL 752 to end a great weekend of Service to Nation.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: USCG

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City conducts training with the Great Lakes Maritime Academy to prepare for future ops.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses
Photo: USCG

NOW: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

AND: The 14 best military non-fiction books of all-time

OR: Watch the top 10 American Civil War movies:

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

The Chinese Communist Party’s ‘People’s War’ on COVID-19

The novel coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It spread throughout the nation in January, and then across the world. Now, there are over 1.2 million confirmed cases across more than 183 countries and regions.

The Chinese state’s slow response to the outbreak and its lack of transparency have led some to claim that Covid-19 will be China’s ‘Chernobyl moment’. These criticisms remain valid despite China’s later mobilisation to contain the virus’s spread, which was largely the result of work by medical professionals and a strong community response. The Chinese Communist Party’s ineffective command and control mechanisms and its uncompromising restrictions on information in the early stages of the crisis helped transform a localised epidemic into a global pandemic.


Chinese authorities only confirmed the outbreak three weeks after the first cases emerged in Wuhan. As the virus spread, the CCP’s crisis-response mechanisms slowly kicked into gear. On 20 January, President Xi Jinping convened a politburo meeting, which put China on an effective war footing. Wuhan and all major Chinese cities were locked down and the People’s Liberation Army assumed command over disease control efforts.

Shortly after the politburo met, an order was issued to the National Defence Mobilisation Department (NDMD) of the Central Military Commission to launch an emergency response to combat the epidemic. The order required the ‘national defence mobilisation system to assume command of garrison troops, military support forces, and local party committees and governments at all levels’.

As ASPI’s Samantha Hoffman has noted, the NDMD ‘creates a political and technical capacity to better guarantee rapid, cohesive, and effective response to an emergency in compliance with the core leadership’s orders’. To that end, the NDMD has subordinate departments at the provincial level responsible for mobilising economic, political and scientific information and equipment and organising militia, transport readiness and air defence.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

The CCP’s defence mobilisation system is based on the Maoist ‘people’s war’ doctrine, which relies on China’s size and people to defend the country from attack. The aim is to lure the aggressor deep into the battlefield, wear them down and then strike decisively. In this whole-of-society approach, civilians, militia and the PLA all play a part.

On 26 January, the World Health Organization reported 1,985 Covid-19 cases in China. One day later, premier Li Keqiang, by then in charge of containing the outbreak, visited Wuhan to inspect its disease control measures. On 2 February, Li and Wang Huning (a member of the politburo and one of the top leaders of the CCP) chaired a meeting of the Central Leading Small Group for Work to Counter the Coronavirus Infection Pneumonia Epidemic (新型冠状病毒感染肺炎疫情工作领导小组). Chinese authorities were starting to develop situational awareness as Covid-19 spread to all provinces.

The number of confirmed cases more than doubled from 11,821 on 1 February to 24,363 on 5 February. On 6 February, Chinese state media reported that Xi had referred to a ‘people’s war‘ in a telephone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. News of Xi’s declaration reached Western media, which had earlier noted his public absence. On 7 February, Li Wenliang—the doctor detained by police for alerting the public to the virus in November 2019—died of Covid-19, triggering significant public anger and frustration at the Chinese authorities.

The CCP attempted to neutralise this anger by having officials and public figures express sympathy for Li Wenliang on social media. As public discontent waned, Xi took a more prominent role in the national response. His visit to Beijing’s disease control centre was covered by state media outlets, indicating that his ‘people’s war’ declaration was intended to garner public support for his campaign.

The CCP’s next step was to shore up support within the PLA. On 11 February, the PLA’s official newspaper, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, ran an editorial explaining the urgency and achievability of the mission and followed that with numerous articles that sought to boost the PLA’s morale. The messaging was intended to ensure that the party had the military’s absolute cooperation.

China’s leadership took an early step by constructing the Huoshenshan Novel Coronavirus Specialist Hospital in Wuhan, modelled on the Xiaotangshan Hospital that was built to treat SARS in 2003. First to be mobilised were state-owned enterprises, which erected the hospital in 10 days starting on 23 January. Next, militia units installed medical equipment and beds while others disseminated propaganda via social media to publicise the hospital and other CCP initiatives between 25 January and 1 February.

Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

The deployment of state-owned enterprises, the militia and the PLA was a major test for the CCP’s mobilisation system. While it proved effective in the middle and later stages of the pandemic, the lack of transparency and poor command and control systems in the early stages heightened the risk to international public health to unacceptable levels.

Effective crisis management requires more than whole-of-society mobilisation. A senior WHO official, Michael Ryan, observed that Covid-19 ‘will get you if you don’t move quickly’. If there’s anything to learn from the CCP’s response, it’s that decisiveness, transparency and rapid response are crucial to effective disease control in a crisis.

It appears that Xi did too little before it was too late.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.