Air Force jets will control small groups of drones - We Are The Mighty
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Air Force jets will control small groups of drones

The Air Force Chief Scientist said F-35 pilots will be able to control a small group of drones flying nearby from the aircraft cockpit in the air, performing sensing, reconnaissance and targeting functions.


At the moment, the flight path, sensor payload and weapons disposal of airborne drones such as Air Force Predators and Reapers are coordinated from ground control stations.

In the future, drones may be fully operated from the cockpit of advanced fighter jets such as the Joint Strike Fighter or F-22, Air Force Chief Scientist Greg Zacharias told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“The more autonomy and intelligence you can put on these vehicles, the more useful they will become,” he said.

This development could greatly enhance mission scope, flexibility and effectiveness by enabling a fighter jet to conduct a mission with more weapons, sensors, targeting technology and cargo, Zacharias explained.

For instance, real-time video feeds from the electro-optical/infrared sensors on board an Air Force Predator, Reaper or Global Hawk drone could go directly into an F-35 cockpit, without needing to go to a ground control station. This could speed up targeting and tactical input from drones on reconnaisance missions in the vicinity of where a fighter pilot might want to attack. In fast-moving combat circumstances involving both air-to-air and air-to-ground threats, increased speed could make a large difference.

“It’s almost inevitable people will be saying – I want more missiles on board to get through defenses or I need some EW (electronic warfare) countermeasures because I don’t have the payload to carry a super big pod,” he explained. “A high powered microwave may have some potential that will require a dedicated platform. The negative side is you have to watch out that you don’t overload the pilot,” Zacharias added.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
US Air Force

In addition, drones could be programmed to fly into heavily defended or high-risk areas ahead of manned-fighter jets in order to assess enemy air defenses and reduce risk to pilots.

“Decision aides will be in cockpit or on the ground and more platform oriented autonomous systems. A wing-man, for instance, might be carrying extra weapons, conduct ISR tasks or help to defend an area,”  he said.

Advances in computer power, processing speed and areas referred to as “artificial intelligence” are rapidly changing the scope of what platforms are able to perform without needing human intervention. This is mostly developing in the form of what Zacharias referred to as “decision aide support,” meaning machines will be able to better interpret, organize, analyze and communicate information to a much greater extent – without have humans manage each individual task.

“A person comes in and does command and control while having a drone execute functions. The resource allocation will be done by humans,” Zacharias said.

The early phases of this kind of technology is already operational in the F-35 cockpit through what is called “sensor-fusion.” This allows the avionics technology and aircraft computer to simultaneously organize incoming information for a variety of different sensors – and display the data on a single integrated screen for the pilot.  As a result, a pilot does not have the challenge of looking at multiple screens to view digital map displays, targeting information or sensory input, among other things.

Another advantage of these technological advances is that one human may have an ability to control multiple drones and perform a command and control function – while drones execute various tasks such as sensor functions, targeting, weapons transport or electronic warfare activities.

At the moment, multiple humans are often needed to control a single drone, and new algorithms increasing autonomy for drones could greatly change this ratio.  Zacharias explained a potential future scenario wherein one human is able to control 10 – or even 100 – drones.

Algorithms could progress to the point where a drone, such as a Predator or a Reaper, might be able to follow a fighter aircraft by itself – without needing its flight path navigated from human direction from the ground.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
US Air Force

Unlike ground robotics wherein autonomy algorithms have to contend with an ability to move quickly in relation to unanticipated developments and other moving objects, simple autonomous flight guidance from the air is much more manageable to accomplish.

Since there are often fewer obstacles in the air compared with the ground, drones above the ground can be programmed more easily to fly toward certain pre-determined locations, often called a “way-points.”

At the same time, unanticipated movements, objects or combat circumstances can easily occur in the skies as well, Zacharias said.

“The hardest thing is ground robotics. I think that is really tough. I think the air basically is today effectively a solved problem. The question is what happens when you have to react more to your environment and a threat is coming after you,” he said.

As a result, scientists are now working on advancing autonomy to the point where a drone can, for example, be programmed to spoof a radar system, see where threats are and more quickly identify targets independently.

“We will get beyond simple guidance and control and will get into tactics and execution,” Zacharias added.

Wargames, exercises and simulations are one of the ways the Air Force is working to advance autonomous technologies.

“Right now we are using lots of bandwidth to send our real-time video. One of the things that we have is a smarter on-board processor. These systems can learn over time and be a force multiplier. There’s plenty of opportunity to go beyond the code base of an original designer and work on a greater ability to sense your environment or sense what your teammate might be telling you as a human,” he said.

For example, with advances in computer technology, autonomy and artificial intelligence, drones will be able to stay above a certain area and identify particular identified relevant objects or targets at certain times, without needing a human operator, Zacharias added.

This is particularly relevant because the exorbitant amount of ISR video feeds collected needs organizing algorithms and technology to help process and sift through the vast volumes of gathered footage – in order to pinpoint and communicate what is tactically relevant.

“With image processing and pattern recognition, you could just send a signal instead of using up all this bandwidth saying ‘hey I just saw something 30-seconds ago you might want to look at the video feed I am sending right now,'” he explained.

The Army has advanced manned-unmanned teaming technology in its helicopter fleet –successfully engineering Apache and Kiowa air crews to control UAS flight paths and sensor payloads from the air in the cockpit. Army officials say this technology has yielded successful combat results in Afghanistan.

Senior Air Force leaders have said that the services’ new next-generation bomber program, Long Range Strike Bomber or LRS-B, will be engineered to fly manned and unmanned missions.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has said that the service’s carrier-launched F-35C will be the last manned fighter produced, given the  progress of autonomy and algorithms allowing for rapid maneuvering. The Air Force, however, has not said something similar despite the service’s obvious continued interest in further developing autonomy and unmanned flight.

Also, in September of 2013, the Air Force and Boeing flew an unmanned F-16 Falcon at supersonic speeds for the first time at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The unmanned fighter was able to launch, maneuver and return to base without a pilot.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
US Air Force

At the same time, despite the speed at which unmanned technology is progressing, many scientist and weapons’ developers are of the view that human pilots will still be needed – given the speed at which the human brain can quickly respond to unanticipated developments.

There is often a two-second long lag time before a UAS in the air can respond to or implement directions from a remote pilot in a ground station, a circumstance which underscores the need for manned pilots when it comes to fighter jets, Air Force officials said.

Therefore, while cargo planes or bombers with less of a need to maneuver in the skies might be more easily able to embrace autonomous flight – fighter jets will still greatly benefit from human piloting, Air Force scientists have said.

While computer processing speed and algorithms continue to evolve at an alarming pace, it still remains difficult to engineer a machine able to instantly respond to other moving objects or emerging circumstances, Air Force scientists have argued.

However, sensor technology is progressing quickly to the point where fighter pilots will increasingly be able to identify threats at much greater distances, therefore remove the need to dogfight. As a result, there may be room for an unmanned fighter jet in the not-too-distant future, given the pace of improving autonomous technology.

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This space plane is still on its secret mission in orbit

A classified unmanned space plane has been in orbit for over 500 days, but no one is telling the public what it’s doing.


Drones are in the news nearly every day. Tiny toys snapping exciting photos for our Instagram accounts. Commercial drones working for farmers and municipal agencies. Missile-armed drones performing strikes on enemy locations. Unmanned craft, in the air, on the ground, and in the sea, are conducting more missions for more people all the time.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
So what was this space drone actually doing on its secret missions up there in outer space? (Photo U.S. Air Force)

Operated by the United States Air Force, the X-37B is at the top of the drone pyramid and is pushing the outside edge of the envelope as you read this.

The X-37B, sometimes called the Orbital Test Vehicle, is a small unmanned reusable spacecraft built by Boeing that looks a lot like a small space shuttle. It’s 29 feet-long with stubby wings and angled tail fins. Unlike the famous shuttle orbiters that it resembles, however, it lacks a vertical stabilizer. It launches atop an Atlas V 501 launch vehicle inside the booster’s payload fairing and, at the end of its mission, returns to earth and lands on a runway like the 80s-era space shuttle.

What the space plane does while it’s up there, though, is mostly a mystery.

The first X-37B mission, OTV-1, flew in 2010 and lasted for 224 days — close to the X-37B’s designed 270-day endurance. The second mission, flown by a second X-37B, flew in 2011 and lasted 468 days. The third mission, performed by the first spacecraft, lasted an astounding 674 days. The current mission, dubbed “OTV-4,” was launched on May 20, 2015, and recently passed 500 days in orbit.

The Air Force is tight-lipped about how long OTV-4 will last, though it must last until at least March 25, 2017, if it’s going to break OTV-3’s record.

The X-37B program began as a NASA project. One of the X-37’s primary missions was to have been satellite rendezvous for refueling and repair, and the small space plane would have been carried to orbit inside a space shuttle’s cargo bay.

As the program progressed, however, the plan shifted to launching atop an expendable booster and, in 2004, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency took over the program. DARPA continued development of the X-37, resulting in the current X-37B for the US Air Force.

Once the project transferred to the military, it became classified.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
Doesn’t exactly look like a friendly little space drone does it? (Photo U.S. Air Force)

The spacecraft itself is not terribly secret. For the past six years, numerous news stories have been run about the “secret” space plane and many photographs have been published.

What the X-37B does while it’s up there on missions lasting well over a year, though, is the source of much conjecture. The fact sheet for the X-37B on the official Air Force web site describes the mission as “an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force. The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.”

That’s an explanation that doesn’t explain much, however, and doesn’t seem to justify the enormous expense of building, launching, and operating the spacecraft.

Of course, theories on the internet abound. Some have claimed that the X-37B is an advanced spy satellite. Some wonder if the X-37B could be an experimental space bomber. Others believe that the original mission of satellite rendezvous for maintenance could easily have been adapted to more nefarious purposes, such as interfering with or destroying satellites operated by nations such as Russia or China.

Ground observers have watched what they believe to be the X-37B make significant changes to its orbit, a maneuver in line with the space saboteur theory.

In 2012, during the OTV-2 mission, the editor of Spaceflight magazine claimed that the X-37B was probably spying on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1. Other experts, however, publicly doubted and dismissed the idea as improbable at best.

If you spend enough time online, you’re certain to find any number of wild ideas. One of the most outlandish theories about the X-37B is that it’s not unmanned at all. The idea is that a hibernating astronaut is onboard the space plane and that experiments are being conducted to prepare for long-duration manned missions to Mars or, perhaps, to station a quick-reaction force of soldiers in orbit for secret missions anywhere on the globe. Or above it.

Whatever the X-37B is up to, it seems to be doing a good job of it. Work is being done to make it possible for the drone to land at Kennedy Space Center on the space shuttle landing strip. Part of the shuttle Orbiter Processing Facility, without a mission since the shuttle program ended, is being modified to process X-37Bs.

A recent NASA presentation discussed the potential to develop a space ambulance which could service the ISS from the X-37B. An X-37C proposal, more than 50 percent larger than the current model, would possibly be able to carry astronauts.

The classified little space plane is a bit of a mystery but certainly one of the most exciting drones in use today. Even if we aren’t sure what’s it doing.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Behind the scenes of the Trump-Macron bromance

French president Emmanuel Macron arrived April 23, 2018, as the first world leader President Donald Trump invited for a state visit.

Friendship bloomed between the two leaders in the year since Macron’s election victory, including dinner at the Eiffel Tower, an epic handshake battle, and publicly gushing about each other.


Macron ran as part of a centrist party of his own creation with globalist goals, and has grown increasingly close with Trump despite their fundamental policy differences.

A cheery public image and the successful joint airstrike by the US, Britain, and France on Syria’s government forces in response to the chemical attack set an optimistic stage for the state visit and future partnerships in policy. But the reality of future potential could be overblown, Brookings Institution foreign policy fellow Célia Belin warned.

“There are areas where the French/American cooperation can be strong and immediate, especially when they share a common, precise goal like in the small, punitive strikes on Syria,” Belin said. “But overall they won’t have the same approach on a number of things.”

Macron founded the République en Marche, or the Republic on the Move, to provide France with a reformist alternative to far-right parties that share Trump’s suspicion toward globalism and favoring of closed borders.

“Macron was just talking last week about how there’s a civil war in Europe between a liberal democracy and authoritarianism,” Ian Bremmer, president of geopolitical-risk firm Eurasia Group, told Business Insider. “If he was being honest about the US, he’d say the same thing and Trump would be on the other side.”

The roots of their bromance

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
President Donald Trump and President Emmanuel Macron
(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Trump and Macron’s strong relationship is due in no small part to their common backgrounds, said former US diplomat and Global Situation Room President Brett Bruen.

Macron rose to prominence in French banking, an uncommon path to the presidency comparable to Trump’s roots in real estate.

“He understands intrinsically this kind of language that Trump needs to hear,” Bruen said. “Trump needs to hear profit and loss, he needs to hear return on investment.”

After another tough week of legal troubles facing his personal lawyer, Trump insulated the state dinner from his recent troubles, breaking precedent by excluding Democrats and the media from the guest list.

Their personal relationship is at the center of Macron’s state visit, as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said ahead of the French president’s arrival April 23, 2018, the administration expected an “open and candid discussion because of the relationship they built.”

Other world leaders could learn from Macron

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
French First Lady Brigitte Macron, French President Emmanuel Macron, President Donald Trump, and First Lady Melania Trump
(DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro)

Though their personal chemistry is often in the spotlight, it’s Trump’s high-profile legal troubles that could hinder the kind of progress Macron is hoping for, Bremmer said. Macron notably wants Trump to keep the US in the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has called “the worst deal ever.”

“Trump is under an enormous amount of pressure domestically,” he said. “No matter who Trump meets with, his focus is mostly on the investigation. You see that with his tweets, you see that with his statements.”

As for their partnership so far, Macron has already succeeded in getting close to the president in a way no other world leader has, Bruen said, and that could serve as an example to other world leaders in how to deal with Trump because of his unique approach to policy.

“It’s a model for other world leaders to look at if they want to get things done, not just get along,” Bruen said. “They have to find a way to establish that common ground with an unconventional leader — and Trump won’t be the only unconventional leader.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants to know why it failed to launch rockets into space

Russia’s latest space launch failures have prompted authorities to take a closer look into the nation’s struggling space industry, the Kremlin said Dec. 28.


A Russian weather satellite and nearly 20 micro-satellites from other nations were lost following a failed launch from Russia’s new cosmodrome in the Far East on Nov. 28. And in another blow to the Russian space industry, communications with a Russian-built communications satellite for Angola, the African nation’s first space vehicle, were lost following its launch on Dec. 26.

Asked about the failures, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Dec. 28 that authorities warrant a thorough analysis of the situation in the space industry.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
Luna satellite schematic as drawn by the CIA. (Image: CIA)

Amid the failures, Russian officials have engaged in a round of finger-pointing.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s military industrial complex and space industries, said in a television interview that the Nov. 28 launch from the new Vostochny launch pad in Russia’s Far East failed because the rocket had been programmed to blastoff from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan instead of Vostochny. He accused the Russian space agency Roscosmos of “systemic management mistakes.”

Roscosmos fired back, dismissing Rogozin’s claim of the flawed programming. It did acknowledge some shortcomings that led to the launch failure and said a number of officials were reprimanded.

Rogozin quickly riposted on Facebook, charging that Roscosmos was “trying to prove that failures occur not because of mistakes in management but just due to some ‘circumstances.'”

The cause of the failure of the Angolan satellite hasn’t been determined yet. Communications with the satellite, which was built by the Russian RKK Energia company, a leading spacecraft manufacturer, were lost after it entered a designated orbit.

Also Read: 3 crew members return to earth from International Space Station

Russia has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets to launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station. A trio of astronauts from Russia, Japan and the United States arrived at the space outpost last week following their launch from Baikonur.

While Russian rockets have established a stellar reputation for their reliability, a string of failed launches in recent years has called into question Russia’s ability to maintain the same high standards for manufacturing space equipment.

Glitches found in Russia’s Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a yearlong break in Proton launches.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik is helped out of the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft just minutes after he, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Bresnik, Nespoli and Ryazanskiy are returning after 139 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 52 and 53 crews onboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The suspension badly dented the nation’s niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches. Last year, Russia for the first time fell behind both the U.S. and China in the number of launches.

While Russia plans to continue to use Baikonur for most of its space launches, it has poured billions of dollars in to build the new Vostochny launch pad. A launch pad for Soyuz finally opened in 2016, but another one for the heavier Angara rockets is only set to be completed in late 2021 and its future remains unclear, drawing questions about the feasibility of the expensive project.

Work at Vostochny also has been dogged by scandals involving protests by unpaid workers and the arrests of construction officials accused of embezzlement.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Coast Guard is interested in buying the Army’s new birds

The U.S. Coast Guard is watching how the Pentagon handles its Future Vertical Lift helicopter program over the next decade as its own MH-65 Dolphin fleet’s flight hours continue to climb, the commandant of the service said Oct. 26, 2018.

“We’re watching the Department of Defense very carefully with Future Vertical Lift,” Adm. Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard’s 26th commandant, said during the annual Military Reporters & Editors conference outside Washington, D.C.


He explained that the MH-65, the Coast Guard’s primary aircraft used aboard cutters during deployments, will pass 30,000 flight hours. The service has 98 in its inventory.

“We’re in our ‘Echo’ upgrade — that’s our next iteration [life extension],” Schultz said. “We have to keep those things in air for a while, probably into 2030.”

Part of the Department of Homeland Security, which is facing years-long budget constraints, the Coast Guard will also push to keep its MH-60 Jayhawk fleet, similar to the Navy‘s Sea Hawks and Army‘s Black Hawks, flying past its intended service life.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones

A rescue swimmer deploys from an MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter.

(U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian McCrum)

“We’re probably going to push those out to about 30,000 hours,” Schultz said.

Explaining that manufacturing has ended for the Dolphin, he said, “We need to press in that gap here in the 2018-to-early-2030 timeframe.”

MH-60s passed down from the Navy will help bridge the gap, but Future Vertical Lift also show promise, Schultz said.

Future Vertical Lift is a Pentagon program to field a new family of helicopters such as the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk, as well as the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), by 2028. While the Army has invested the most time in the program, other services have also indicated interest in FVL platforms.

Schultz said today’s Coast Guard fleet is comprised of rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, noting that new C-130s have helped prolong its transport fleet.

Like the Air Force, the Coast Guard maintains a mix of older C-130Hs, but it’s moving to an all J-model fleet. The fiscal 2018 budget gave the service permission to purchase its 15th J-model.

Schultz said the Coast Guard needs 22 newer C-130s overall. “We’re optimistic there might be a 16th in the [fiscal 2019] budget,” he said.

The service also inherited 14 C-27J Spartan aircraft from the Air Force in 2014.

“We do sit in that discretionary, non-defense part of the budget, so we’re competing with a lot of national priorities,” Schultz said. “[But] I can build a very strong case for a bigger Coast Guard.”

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

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12 signs you may be ‘motarded’

It’s perfectly fine to love the military and take pride in serving, but some go way above and beyond as “motards.”


While it’s not politically correct, the commonly-used term describes some people in the military that are so motivated, it annoys everyone around them. Stemming from “moto” — short for motivation — the term “is used to describe some overbearing [Marine or soldier] who [is] extremely loud and obnoxious all the time. He is so motivated even in the sh–tiest situations that everyone wants to kick him in the teeth,” according to Urban Dictionary’s hilarious description.

We all know at least one of these people. If any of the following sounds a little too familiar, then it just might be you.

1. You use the term “behoove” and you are dead serious about it.

It’s often sounded out, like “be-who-of-you,” which is actually not a thing. But you’d never know that, having listened to your first sergeant tell you it would “be-who-of-you to make sure you have a designated driver if you’re going to drink this weekend.” We get it, behoove is a real word. Doesn’t make it any better when you say it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=16v=dw6HQ1wGClo

2. There’s an inspirational quote in your email signature block.

There’s no across-the-board standardized format in the military for what’s supposed to be in your email signature block, but most people put something along the lines of their name, rank, and phone number. Then there are others who want to jam in their email address (Why? We know your email address, you sent us a freaking email), an inspirational quote that gets an eye-roll from most recipients, and a two-page-long message saying the contents of the email are private. Thanks, we got it.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones

3. You speak in the third person.

They should really pass a law against this.

4. Your closet is filled with military t-shirts, including one that has your rank on it.

If you’re a young private or PFC and you are rocking that sweet military t-shirt showing the ladies your name is Tactical Tommy, we can let this one slide (only for your first six months in). But if you are out in public wearing a shirt with your rank on it, good Lord. Head on down to the Gap or something. We heard they have good sales.

5. When you hear a question, you repeat it back to the person, and then add, “was that your question?”

This may be a Marine Corps-centric thing. As part of the Corps’ formal instructor training, most learn the proper way to answer a question is to repeat it back word-for-word, ask “was that your question?” and then proceed to answer the question. This method is certainly good for a big room full of people so they all know what the question was, but not so good when you’re at the dinner table.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones

6. You have a “screaming eagle” haircut and actually think it looks good.

Bonus points if you have the infamous “horse shoe.” When you go to basic training, you get your head shaved as a way of saying goodbye to the old civilian you. Then over time, you “earn” back some of that hair as you move along in training. While you should keep your hair relatively short for regulation’s sake, that doesn’t mean you should have the military equivalent of a mohawk (or moto-hawk, if you will).

If you have any questions, please refer to the glorious flowing locks of “Chesty” Puller or Medal of Honor recipients John Basilone and Audie Murphy.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones

7. You’ve corrected someone on their civilian attire when you were off base.

You may think you’re maintaining good order and discipline at all times, but what you are really doing is being a dick. Instead of jumping on someone you don’t even know for a supposed civilian attire violation at the local gas station, how about you just let this one slide? We’re quite sure the apocalypse won’t happen as a result.

8. You actually think running with a gas mask on is fun.

We’re not saying running with a gas mask is a bad idea. Plenty of troops serving during the 2003 Iraq invasion would probably think being prepared physically to operate in that environment is a good thing. But running with a gas mask is not, nor will it ever, be fun.

9. You won’t ever put your hands in your pockets in civilian clothing and think people who do so are “nasty.”

Despite what you may have heard, pockets have incredible functionality, to include being able to hold keys, change, and ID cards. They can even keep hands warm! But perhaps most shockingly of all, putting your hands into the pockets of your jeans has no bearing on whether you are a good or bad soldier.

10. You require civilians to address you by your rank.

No.

11. There is a giant vinyl sticker showing all the ribbons you’ve ever been awarded on the back window of your lifted pickup truck.

One of the tenets of selfless service is the thought that you serve without the expectation of recognition or gain. You know, modesty and all that good stuff they teach you at boot camp. No one cares that you have three Good Conduct Medals and they certainly don’t want to see it while they are sitting behind you in rush hour traffic.

And take off those idiotic “Truck Nutz” for Chrissakes.

12. As soon as you get promoted to NCO, you tell your best friends they need to address you by your rank.

You were literally a lance corporal with the rest of us 27 seconds ago. Get the hell out of here.

NOW: The top 5 military-themed songs that aren’t written by Toby Keith

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here is what you need to know about the possible first female CIA director

After the firing of former-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the selection of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement, President Donald Trump nominated Gina Haspel to take over as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.


According to a report by Fox News, Haspel, 61, has served with the CIA since 1985 and has received numerous awards, including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Donovan Award, the Intelligence Medal of Merit, and the Presidential Rank Award.

“I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” the nominee said in a statement.

Her career includes involvement in covert actions and the nomination has drawn widespread praise, including commendations from John Brennan, Director of the CIA under the Obama Administration. Haspel made history as the agency’s first female Deputy Director and will again mark a milestone as the first woman to run the CIA.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
CIA Director Mike Pompeo was nominated to serve as Secretary of State, replacing Rex Tillerson. (CIA photo)

Haspel’s service also included tours as Chief of Station (the CIA’s top officer) in multiple countries and service as Chief of Staff for the CIA director and Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service. Senator Richard Burr, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, praised the nomination and announced his intention to move for her quick confirmation to the post.

The nomination has drawn a firestorm of protest, with dissenters, including Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, noting she ran a CIA “black site” and alleging she was involved in torture.

Dr. James Mitchell, an Air Force veteran who got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior member of al-Qaeda, to spill his secrets, sharply disputed the characterization of the “enhanced intelligence” techniques as torture.

Air Force jets will control small groups of drones
After the 9/11 attacks, Gina Haspel ran a CIA site where high-ranking al-Qaeda terrorists were interrogated. (National Park Service photo)

“If it was torture, they wouldn’t have to pass a law in 2015 outlawing it because torture is already illegal, right?” Mitchell asked during a December 2016 event at the American Enterprise Institute. “The highest Justice Department in the land wouldn’t have opined five times that it wasn’t torture — one time after I, personally, waterboarded an assistant attorney general before he made that decision three or four days later, right?”

MIGHTY GAMING

6 infantry tasks we hope to never see in video games

Let’s be honest with ourselves, if video games were to depict the average day for a grunt, they would be boring. Even if they showed field training, there are still a lot more tedious things going on than shooting guns and blowing things up. The reality is that in the modern era, military video games like Call of Duty or Battlefield lied to everyone about military life.

If you joined because you thought it would be fun based on a video game, you might feel robbed. You probably cleaned more floors than battlefields and you probably sprayed more window cleaner than bullets. Infantry life isn’t as exciting as you thought, is it?

There’s definitely a lot you do outside of combat that you hope will never make it into any video games because it does, it will be a terrible experience for everyone involved.


Air Force jets will control small groups of drones

Digging the fighting holes will make you rage-quit.

(U.S Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. David Diggs)

Digging fighting holes

Easily at the top of the list. Can you imagine paying for a bad ass looking military shooter game just to end up spending half of it digging a hole to shoot from?

In real-life, it probably takes you ten hours because three hours in you discovered the world’s biggest rock and you spent the last seven hours using a tiny shovel to cut through it like it’s California in 1850 and you found some gold in that bad boy.

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Press “F” to slightly bend your knees so you don’t pass out.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jerrod Moore)

Formation

If you think un-skippable tutorials are bad, just be glad you don’t have to stand still for two hours waiting for your company Gunnery Sergeant try and figure out how to say, “To all who shall see these presents, greetings,” as if it was written in Hebrew.

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Spades Simulator 19?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Jackson)

Standing-by

This is the life of a grunt: you spend most of your day sitting in your room waiting for someone to give you a task. Usually they end up telling you to clean something thirty minutes before you’re supposed to be cut loose for the day. And it will take you until Midnight.

Funny enough, video games are just one of many things to do while you stand-by so what would you do in a video game that had this?

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Imagine this scenario as the loading screen between missions.

(U.S Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick Osino)

Weapon maintanence

To be fair, Far Cry 2 had a mechanic and you would have to clean your weapon periodically or it would jam on you. What we mean is going through a Call of Duty campaign and then the post-credit mission is to spend 14 hours at the armory cleaning everything because you just put the entirety of the Department of Defense’s ammunition store through it in a single go.

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Before you can even go on a mission, you would have to do this for an entire week.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Stormy Mendez)

Annual training

Would you pay for a video game that forced you to spend at least 25% of your play time at the base theater listening to your chain of command lecture on different subjects that they’re vaguely qualified to speak on? Maybe that could be a downloadable content release that comes out after everyone stops playing it.

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Imagine if every update just erased your swim qual data.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert Brown)

Swim qualification

Part of the real-life tutorial is being taught survival swimming in boot camp but the military thinks after two years you’ll forget so they make you do it again. It’s like getting through that one water level you always hated (you know what we mean) just to do it again after a few missions.

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This Southern preacher rose to the rank of general in the Confederate Army

A total of four clergymen-turned-soldiers rose to the rank of general during the American Civil War. Three of these four holy men would fight for the Confederacy. The “gallant preacher soldier” of the Confederate Army of Tennessee proved to be the ablest military commander of the bunch, and arguably lived the most remarkable life.


Mark Perrin Lowrey was born in 1828 and grew up in Tennessee, one of 11 children. His father passed away at an early age, leaving the Lowrey family “with little means.” The widowed Mrs. Lowrey relocated the family to Mississippi in 1845. Mark embarked on an endless hunt to pull his family out of poverty beginning in his adolescent years, dirtying his hands to make a dime at the expense of his education.

At the age of 19, Mark Lowrey joined the Second Mississippi Volunteer Regiment as a private with thoughts of finding laurels on the battlefield in Mexico. His service in the Mexican-American War was far from glorious and rewarding. He contracted a nasty case of measles and was bedridden for weeks. His regiment never had a chance to see active service before the war ended. At a minimum, he at least gained a “taste of military discipline and tactics” that would serve him well a decade or so later.

After the war, Lowrey found work as a brick mason. He provided room and board to a local teacher in his home, who in exchange helped to advance his meager education. He impressed and later married the daughter of a wealthy farmer in 1849 at the age of 21. Most likely under the influence of his new bride, Lowrey “yielded to the call of my church,” abandoning his dogged pursuit of wealth. He took his religious vocation a step further when he entered the Baptist ministry in 1853 and “never indulged a moment’s thought of turning from the old calling to make money.”

Pastor Lowrey was “quietly pursuing” his theological studies when the Civil War erupted in 1861. He attempted to remain neutral in the war that tore friends and families apart and fueled many to rash behavior stating, “In political questions I took no part, as I did not think it became a minister of the gospel to engage in the heated discussions that then prevailed throughout the country, and naturally led to the indulgence of immoderate feelings and passions.” The influential pastor found it nearly impossible to avoid the topic of secession since “there was no neutral ground to occupy” in his home state of Mississippi. Many parishioners of his community petitioned him to make speeches related to fighting for the independence of their state, while at the same time serving in his customary role as a spiritual guide and instructor.

Despite his neutral position on secession and his vow to non-violence, Pastor Lowrey was urged to accept a field command in the Confederate Army, owing to his Mexican War experience and social position within his community. “All felt that every man who could bear arms should rise up and stand between his home and the enemy, and he who would not do so was deemed unworthy to be called a Mississippian. Churches felt they had no use for pastors then – fighting men were in demand,” Lowrey afterward evoked. He was elected captain then colonel by a vote from a sixty-day regiment in 1861. He reluctantly hung up his clergyman’s jacket and donned the uniform of a Confederate officer. The thought of his home state being overrun by an invading army was the final shove that led him to modify his stance of neutrality explaining that, “The thought of sitting still until the enemy would overrun my home and family was more than I could bear.”

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General Mark Perrin Lowrey

His regiment was discharged after sixty days without seeing any fighting, and Lowrey anticipated a peaceful return to his congregation. The clamor for his service was initiated for a second time when the call for a new regiment surfaced following the Battle of Fort Donelson, and those he commanded from disbanded sixty-day regiment “begged me to go with them.” He was elected colonel of the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment and led the regiment at the Battle of Perryville on October of 1862. He was wounded in the left arm but refused to leave the field. He fully recuperated eight weeks later and rejoined his regiment, fighting at the Battle of Murfreesboro. He received a promotion to brigadier general in October of 1863 after hard fighting in the Battle of Chickamauga, winning the commendation of his division commander, the fabled Patrick Cleburne.

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The “Christian warrior” still practiced his religious profession while in camp and encouraged the soldiers under his command to embrace Jesus as their savior. He led passionate sermons and was rumored in one instance to have baptized 50 men in two weeks in a nearby creek. He was a superb orator and natural leader of men, and also proved to be an efficient soldier who transformed into a “stern, determined, and unfaltering” commander on the battlefield. He was one of the four brigade commanders Major General Pat Cleburne praised in his division declaring that “four better officers are not in the service of the Confederacy,” and had the notoriety of being the only general of the division who was not killed or severely wounded during the war. St. Michael was certainly looking over him.

The high-water mark of Lowrey’s military career came at Ringgold Gap in 1863. There his 1,330-man brigade and the remainder of Cleburne’s division fought a rearguard action against a Union corps in a bid to save Braxton Bragg’s fleeing army in the aftermath of the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Missionary Ridge. His brigade stabilized the Confederate right wing inspired by his bold exploits. General Cleburne noted in one dispatch after the battle that “My thanks are due to General Lowrey for the coolness and skill which he exhibited in forming his line…without a doubt saved the right of this army.” His brigade afterward received official thanks from the Confederate Congress.

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Lowrey afterward fought in the Atlanta Campaign and at the Battles of Franklin and Nashville. He barely avoided death in Nashville from the bullet of a Union sharpshooter. The bullet killed an unassuming soldier instead of the preacher general. Disenchanted with the war, he resigned in March of 1865 and returned to his religious vocation, declaring that he would rather be remembered “as a Christian and a minister of the gospel than as a soldier.” He established the Blue Mountain Female College in 1873 and died in February of 1885 from a heart attack.

Lowrey was a rare case of a clergyman taking up a rifle to defend his flock, when necessary, against the wolves.

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A French soldier just broke the long-distance shooting record by hitting a target over 2 miles away

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French Warrant Officer Benjamin, of the 1st Regiment of Chasseurs d’Afrique. (Photo by French Ministry of Defense)


A French soldier has broken the world’s long-distance shooting record after successfully hitting a target from over two miles away.

On August 22, a Warrant Officer Benjamin, the leader of the armored platoon in the 1st Regiment of Chasseurs d’Afrique, and his support team broke the world record for long-distance shooting after successfully hitting a target 2.29 miles (3695 meters) away.

This feat broke the previous, and still impressive, record of hitting a target from 2.11 miles (3400 meters) away.

According to a French militarypress release, Benjamin and his team prepared for three years to break the world record. But it was not until a training in June 2014 that the team realized that a record-breaking shot was within their reach. During that month of training, the team managed to hit a target of 1.84 miles (2960 meters) in four out of seven attempted shots.

Following this success, the team continued to work with a goal of roughly 2.29 miles in mind. At such distances, a number of factors come into play that could influence the shot, such as atmospheric pressure and slight variations in wind speed.

To compensate, the team trained on the technical aspects of the shot and only practiced the actual shooting on a range once every two weeks.

The emphasis on technique and teamwork payed off. On August 22, at the range in Canjuers, Warrant Officer Benjamin scored his winning hit of 2.11 miles. Still, he believes that full credit does not just belong to him.

“These shots are feasible only with a team,” he said in a French military press release. “Target spotters, wind spotters, radio link, a coach for corrections, it is truly a team sport.”

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Marine ‘Uber Squad’ will get suppressors, M27s, commando gear

Grunts, eat your hearts out.


As the Marine Corps continues to emphasize innovation and experiments with new gear, service officials are getting ready to equip a single infantry squad with an enviable range of equipment, from suppressors to polymer drum mags and special operations-issue hearing protection.

It’s part of an 18- to 20-month experiment that Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade is calling the “Über Squad.”

Wade, the gunner, or weapons officer, for 2nd Marine Division out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, said the plan is for the 13-person unit to keep all the gear for a full training workup and deployment cycle to somewhere in Europe.

The squad will come from Lejeune’s 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, though the originating company has yet to be chosen.

The squad is set to be a miniaturized, weapons-focused version of what the Corps is doing with its “experimental battalion,” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller announced in 2016 that 3/5 would serve as a testing platform for technologies ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles to robots mounted with machine guns, all while remaining an operational infantry battalion.

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U.S. Marines will get helmets with built-in hearing protection. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Santino D. Martinez)

The unit deployed to the Pacific this spring. As part of its experimental efforts, 3/5 Marines have been equipped with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. The M27 is carried by Marine automatic riflemen, but service officials have discussed the possibility of fielding the weapon as the new service rifle for all or most infantrymen.

Wade has pioneered similar efforts within 2nd Marine Division. He spearheaded an effort last year that put rifle suppressors in the hands of three different companies within 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, to assess how troops fared using them on deployments around the globe.

For this effort, every Marine in the Über Squad will be equipped with an M27; a suppressor; and Ops-Core helmets used by U.S. Special Operations Command with built-in hearing protection systems that muffle noises loud enough to damage eardrums, while magnifying other sounds to maintain troops’ situational awareness.

“This capability protects [Marines’] hearing from high explosives and other loud noises we can’t mitigate in combat,” Wade said. “But digitally, it allowed you to hear ambient sound.”

Experiments to date with suppressors on whole infantry units have shown they work well – so well that a squad leader might not be able to locate his or her own squad by sound on the other side of a hill.

“Not only do we need hearing protection, we need hearing enhancement,” Wade said.

He also plans to fit the section of company-level M240 medium machine guns supporting the squad with suppressors, using equipment borrowed from SOCOM to suppress both barrels of the guns.

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A US Marine fires an M249 light machine gun. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)

Following the kitted-up squad through training and the Corps’ traditional pre-deployment event, the integrated training exercise, or ITX, at Twentynine Palms, California, will give Marines the chance to assess the value of the various gear elements and whether they add net cost or value to the warfighter.

Wade said he is looking forward to seeing his Über Squad contend with Range 400, one of the Corps’ most dynamic ranges and the only one for which overhead fire is authorized.

“For … 30 years, I’ve been running Range 400,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve ever ran it with a maneuver element that is suppressed and a company-level machine gun element that is also suppressed.”

As a bonus, Marines in the squad will be equipped with Magpul 60-round polymer drum magazines. Military.com reported back in January that various conventional and special operations units were testing the drum in small quantities as a substitute for traditional 30-round magazines.

While the drums offer a lot of portable firepower, there’s also a question of weight to consider. Wade said he planned to set the unit up with about 100 of the drums and let each Marine figure out how many he needed to fight effectively.

“What I think I’m going to find is that, with the ingenuity of the lance corporal, everything is going to find its place,” he said. “My assumption is they’re ultimately going to be carrying one [drum].”

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Marines will assess the value of the various gear elements. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Devan K. Gowans

The effort to equip this squad will take shape over the next month, Wade said.

While the technology the Marines will carry is not new or experimental the way a gun-wielding robot is, it has never been issued to individual Marines at the squad level.

Wade plans to survey Marines at the start and end of the effort about their personal feelings and perceptions carrying the gear, and will couple those observations with objective data showing how the squad stacks up against other units at exercises such as ITX.

“We want to know what the Marines’ perception is, do the Marines have confidence in [the gear],” he said.

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Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse

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Photo: Lance Cpl. Stephen Stewart/USMC


Being a military spouse is a job. A job that requires grace and standing on your head while sewing new rank onto your spouse’s 15 sets of uniforms. It’s a job that commands that you hold your head high while certain people question or scoff at the value of your position.

Let me tell you a story that you probably already know a little too well.

A young girl is told by her parents that she can do anything, that she can be anything she wants to be, as long as she sets her mind to it. She works hard in school and graduates at the top of her class. She sets her sights high and has high career aspirations.

In college, she meets the man of her dreams. This young man, too, has big dreams. His dreams involve serving his country and protecting their freedom. As college comes to an end, the young man receives orders to be stationed overseas and the young girl must make a choice – chase after the career that she has been working towards all these years or choose the man that has unexpectedly entered her life and has become her life. She chooses love. Five years later she takes a moment to reflect and decides that if she could go back in time, she would still make that same choice all over again. She would choose love. She would always choose love.

That does not mean that it has been an easy journey. Life as a military spouse has been a bumpy ride – a worthwhile ride, but a bumpy ride nonetheless. In the early days of being a military spouse overseas, I struggled with the transition from being independent to being a dependent. I no longer had an identity other than being a dependent. I had my husband’s social security number memorized better than my own. I couldn’t even pay my own cell phone bill without my husband present or a power of attorney.

I went through various stages of grief. At first I was angry. “Do you have any idea what I have given up so you can pursue your dreams?” Then I was sad. I would ask through tears, “What is my purpose?” After some time, I made it to acceptance. I understand that I am supporting the greater cause. Every choice that I have made until now has led me to this point. I am successful, but in a very different sort of way than I believed in growing up. Before, I thought success was measured in career status and income level. Now I understand that there are different kinds of success. I have a loving husband, a beautiful baby, and a home that we can call our own.

Every day military spouses everywhere are working hard, often in single-parent-type circumstances, to find a way to make our career goals fit into our unusual lifestyle. It’s a cost that’s difficult to comprehend before you experience it.

Giving up the dream job for a PCS.

Finding out your career field is nonexistent at a new duty station.

Not knowing how you are going to balance everything while he’s away this time.

Even though I am in the acceptance phase of my journey, it doesn’t mean that snarky remarks from others don’t hurt. Someone very close to me said the other day, “Enjoy your day at home. I’m on my way to work because I don’t have a husband that supports me.” Others have made comments about how it must be nice to be a stay-at-home wife (and now mom). While they would never say it to my face, I have heard people comment about other military spouses being lazy or not doing anything with their lives. These comments are usually made from a combination of both humor and misunderstanding. It’s time to stop making assumptions based on the surface-level appearance of each other’s situations. Every military spouse has a story and we have all made sacrifices to live the life we are living.

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Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

Afghanistan set new records for opium production in 2016 despite an $8.5 billion USD counternarcotics campaign investment by U.S agencies, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) stated in its latest quarterly report to Congress.


The report said that opium production increased 43 percent in 2016, while poppy eradication hit a 10-year low and was “nearly imperceptible.”

It said that the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conduct an annual survey with financial contributions from the United States and other donors.

UNODC estimated that the potential gross value of opiates was $1.56 billion USD — or the equivalent of about 7.4 percent of Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — in 2015.

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Afghan contractors unload bags of fertilizer at the Nawa district government building compound in the Helmand province of Afghanistan Oct. 13, 2009. The Afghan government is distributing the fertilizer to residents to support alternatives to poppy. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Harris, U.S. Marine Corps)

“The latest 2016 UNODC country survey estimates opium cultivation increased 10 percent, to 201,000 hectares, from the previous year,” the report said adding that “the southern region, which includes Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, and Daykundi provinces, accounted for 59 percent of total cultivation. Helmand remained the country’s largest poppy-cultivating province, followed by Badghis and Kandahar.”

“Deteriorating security conditions, a lack of political will, and the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics’ ineffective management all contributed to the paltry eradication results in 2016,” the report said.

Poppy “cultivation remained near historically high levels compared with the past several decades.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s “narcotics industry — coupled with rampant corruption and fraud — is a major source of illicit revenue,” the report said.

The “opium trade provides about 60 percent of the Taliban’s funding.”

“Since the collapse of the Taliban government, the opium trade has grown significantly and enabled the funding of insurgency operations. Taliban commanders collect extortion fees for running heroin refineries, growing poppy, and other smuggling schemes,” according to the report.

“Powerful drug networks, mainly run by close-knit families and tribes, bankroll the insurgency and launder money. There have been media reports and allegations of corrupt government officials participating in the drug trade,” it said.

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The Taliban is an Islamic extremist group that ruled Afghanistan until the U.S military intervention following the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attack in New York and Washington, D.C. that killed more than 3,000 people. The Taliban allowed al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as its training base for attacks against the U.S. and other western nations.

“Traffickers provide weapons, funding, and material support to the insurgency in exchange for protection, while insurgent leaders traffic drugs to finance their operations,” the report said.

Afghanistan “remains the world’s largest opium producer and exporter — producing an estimated 80 percent of the world’s heroin.”

John Sopko, head of SIGAR, recommended that President Donald Trump establish “a U.S counternarcotics strategy, now years overdue, to reduce the illicit commerce that provides the Taliban with the bulk of their revenue.”