Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones - We Are The Mighty
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Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones

The Army is preparing to configure Abrams tank prototypes able to control nearby “robotic” wing-man vehicles which fire weapons, carry ammunition and conduct reconnaissance missions for units on the move in combat, service officials said.


Although still in the early stages of discussion and conceptual development, the notion of manned-unmanned teaming for the Abrams continues to gain traction among Army and General Dynamics Land Systems developers.

Algorithms are progressing to the point wherein they will be able to allow an Abrams tank crew to operate multiple nearby “wing-man” robotic vehicles in a command and control capacity while on the move in combat.

Also read: New Abrams protection system can detect, track and destroy enemy projectiles

Army researchers, engineers and weapons developers are preparing to prototype some of these possibilities for future Abrams tanks, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout warrior in an interview.

“As I look to the future and I think about game-changing technologies, manned-unmanned teaming is a big part of that. There’s a set of things that we think could be really transformational,” Bassett said.

This kind of dynamic could quickly change the nature of landwar.

Autonomous or semi-autonomous robotic vehicles flanking tanks in combat, quite naturally, could bring a wide range of combat-enhancing possibilities. Ammunition-carrying robotic vehicles could increase the fire-power of tanks while in combat more easily; unmanned platforms could also carry crucial Soldier and combat supplies, allowing an Abrams tank to carry a larger payload of key combat supplies.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
US Army photo

Also, perhaps of greatest significance, an unmanned vehicle controlled by an Abrams tank could fire weapons at an enemy while allowing the tank to operate at a safer, more risk-reducing stand-off range.

As unmanned vehicles, robotic platforms could be agile and much lighter weight than heavily armored vehicles designed to carry Soldiers into high-risk combat situations. By virtue of being able to operate without placing Soldiers at risk, tank-controlled ground drones could also be used to test and challenge enemy defenses, fire-power and formations. Furthermore, advanced sensors could be integrated into the ground drones to handle rugged terrain while beaming back video and data of enemy locations and movements.

“You don’t need armor on an auxiliary kit,” Michael Peck, Business Development Manager, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Manned Abrams tanks, therefore, could make use of advanced thermal sights, aided by robotic sensors, to locate and destroy enemies at ranges keeping them safe from enemy tank fire. Sensor robots could locate enemy artillery and rocket positions, convoys and even some drones in the air in a manner that better alerts attacking ground forces.

Land drones could also help forces in combat breach obstacles, carry an expeditionary power supply, help with remote targeting and check route areas for IEDs, Army and General Dynamics statements said.

Some of the early prototyping is being explored at the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, Warren, Mich.

Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley has consistently emphasized that manned-unmanned teaming and autonomy central to the Army’s preparations for the future, Bassett explained.

“The Chief has been really candid with us that what whatever we build for the future has that concept in mind that we are laying the architectures in that will support that,” he added.

Thus far in the Army, there are both tele-operated vehicles controlled by a human with a lap-top and joystick as well as platforms engineered with autonomous navigation systems able to increasingly perform more and more functions without needing human intervention.

For instance, TARDEC has developed leader-follower convoys wherein tactical trucks are engineered to autonomously follow vehicles in front of them. These applique kits, which can be installed on vehicles, include both tele-operated options as well as automated functions. The kits include GPS technology, radios, cameras and computer algorithms designed for autonomous navigation.

Also, the Army has already deployed airborne manned unmanned teaming, deploying Kiowa and Apache helicopters to Afghanistan with an ability to control the flight path and sensor payload of nearby drones in the air; in addition, this technology allows helicopter crews to view real-time live video-feeds from nearby drones identifying targets and conducting reconnaissance missions. Autonomy in the air, however, is much easier than ground autonomy as there are less emerging obstacles or rugged terrain.

Air Force Navy Robotics

The Army is by no means the only service currently exploring autonomy and manned-unmanned connectedness. The Air Force, for instance, is now developing algorithms designed to help fighters like the F-35 control a small fleet of nearby drones to conduct reconnaissance missions, test enemy air defenses and carry ammunition.

In similar fashion, Navy engineers are working on an emerging fleet of Unmanned Surface Vehicles able to create swarms of attacks small boats, support amphibious operations by carrying supplies and weapons and enter high-risk areas without placing sailors at risk.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Lockheed Martin photo

These developments represent the cutting edge of technological progress in an area known as “artificial intelligence.” Among other things, this involves the continued use of computers to perform an increasingly wider range of functions without needing human intervention. This can include gathering, organizing or transmitting information autonomously.

The technological ability for an autonomous weapons system to acquire, track and destroy a target on its own – is already here.

Pentagon doctrine is clear that, despite the pace at which autonomous weapons systems are within the realm of realistic combat possibilities, a human must always be in-the-loop regarding the potential use of lethal force. Nevertheless, there is mounting concern that potential adversaries will also acquire this technology without implementing the Pentagon’s ethical and safety regulations.

At the same time, despite the promise of this fast-emerging technology, algorithms able to match the processing power of a human brain are quite far away at the moment. Engineering a robotic land-vehicle able to quickly process, recognize, react and adjust in a dynamic, fast-changing combat environment in a manner comparable to human beings, is a long way off, scientist explain. Nonetheless, this does not mean there could not be reasonably short-term utility in the combat use of advanced autonomous vehicles controlled by a nearby Abrams tank crew.

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Navy tests unmanned ‘swarmboats’ to patrol ports

Securing a port can be the type of job that hits the three Ds: dull, dirty, and dangerous.


Often, those charged with that security operate using rigid-hull inflatable boats or other small craft – often in proximity to huge vessels like Nimitz-class carriers or large amphibious assault ships.

One wrong move, and Sailors or Coast Guardsmen can end up injured – or worse.

However, the Navy may be able to reduce the risk to life and limb, thanks to a project by the Office of Naval Research called Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, or “CARACaS.”

With CARACaS, a number of RHIBs or small craft can be monitored remotely, thus removing the need to put personnel at risk.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
An unmanned rigid-hull inflatable boat operates autonomously during an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored demonstration of swarmboat technology held at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. During the demonstration four boats, using an ONR-sponsored system called CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command Sensing), operated autonomously during various scenarios designed to identify, trail or track a target of interest. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

According to a U.S. Navy release, these “unmanned swarming boats” or USBs, recently carried out a demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, where they were able to collaborate to determine which one would approach a vessel, classify it, and then track or trail the vessel.

The USBs also provided status updates to personnel who monitored their activity.

“This technology allows unmanned Navy ships to overwhelm an adversary,” Cdr. Luis Molina of the Office of Naval Research said. “Its sensors and software enable swarming capability, giving naval warfighters a decisive edge.”

A 2014 demonstration primarily focused on escorting high-value ships in and out of a harbor, but this year, Molina noted that this year, the focus was on defending the approach to a harbor.

The biggest advantage of CARACaS? You don’t need to build new craft – it is a kit that can be installed on existing RHIBs and small boats.

Check out this video of CARACaS-equipped USBs:

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These massive submarines were actually stealthy aircraft carriers

After masterminding the attacks at Pearl Harbor, Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto knew that his country’s dominance of the Pacific Ocean would not last against the U.S.’s industrial might.


He began forming plans for a weapon that could terrify the U.S., especially eastern cities like New York and Washington D.C. He thought a campaign of vicious attacks on the east and west coasts would convince the U.S. to quickly sue for peace.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
The British HMS M2 launches her reconnaissance plane. Photo: Wikipedia

At the time, some submarines carried a reconnaissance plane. Yamamoto asked his engineers if they could devise a submarine that would instead carry three bombers each and have range to carry the bombers around South America to the east coast of the U.S.

What the engineers returned with would be I-400 class submarines. At 400 feet long and displacing 6.560 tons, they were the largest subs of the war. Each massive ship could sail for 37,500 miles without refueling and had a 115-foot long watertight hangar for the aircraft and an 85-foot catapult to launch them.

The planes landed on the water and were recovered using a crane on the deck. The M6A1 Seiran torpedo-bombers were designed for the I-400. They had wings that rotated and folded along the fuselage and even the tail folded down to fit in its tiny hangar.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Gif: Youtube

In addition to their aircraft, the subs carried a 140mm cannon, 4 anti-aircraft guns, and had 8 torpedo tubes.

To help the subs avoid U.S. Navy sonar, the subs were coated in a rubber and asphalt blend that absorbed sound waves.

Progress on the subs were slow and the initial order for 18 of them was eventually cut to just five due to materiel shortages. Yamamoto would be shot down and killed by U.S. Army Air Corps pilots before the first sub was launched.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
The I-401 submarine. Photo: Wikipedia

By the time the first sub took to the water at the end of December 1944, Japan was in rapid retreat across the Pacific. The original I-400 mission to attack the U.S. mainland had been scrapped long before.

The idea of using the planes to deliver biological weapons was considered, and then a Kamikaze attack on the Panama Canal was planned and canceled.

Finally, the I-400 and I-401 were sent to destroy the U.S. carrier fleet at Ulithi Atoll before they could invade the Japanese mainland. The subs were to send their six bombers on Kamikaze attacks against the 15 carriers there.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones

To maximize the chance that the planes would reach their targets, the Japanese admiralty ordered the planes be painted silver with U.S. markings. Though the pilots protested, the illegally camouflaged planes were placed in the subs and sent to sea.

Luckily, Japan surrendered while the subs were staging for the attack. Both subs were captured by the U.S. Navy. American officers studied the ships but then sank them before Soviet officers could ask to see them. There was concern that the Soviet Union would develop its own version if it saw the I-400.

The subs were then lost for decades, but the I-401 was found in 2005 and the I-400’s final resting place was found in 2013.

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An Air Force legend who stole a Nazi plane just died at age 94

Bob Hoover was a U.S. Army Air Forces pilot stuck in a Nazi prison camp in Northern Germany after being shot down in 1944 over Southern France.


He’d spent 16 months as a POW and wasn’t going to stay there one minute longer. So he staged a fight between fellow prisoners, jumped over the Stalag’s barb wire fence, and stole an unguarded Focke-Wulf 190 from the nearby airfield.

He flew to Holland, which had just been liberated by the Allies.

As a child, he was inspired by his parents talking about Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. By age 15, he started a flying club at his high school. He took a job bagging groceries for $2 a week to pay for 15 minutes flying time. After becoming solo-certified, he began teaching himself aeronautical acrobatic moves.

He joined the Army Air Corps after enlisting in the Tennessee National Guard during World War II and was sent to Army Pilot Training School.

 

He wasn’t shot down until his 59th mission.

Jimmy Doolittle called Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man that ever lived,” high praise for a man who had been flying for just 10 years by the time the United States Air Force became an independent branch of service. Hoover became an Air Force legend, joining the ranks of Doolittle, fellow Stalag Luft I prisoner Gabby Gabreski, and Chuck Yeager — to name a few. He flew captured enemy planes and later, experimental airframes in the Air Force, including the P-80, F-86, and F-100 Super Sabre.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones

 

Hoover was also Chuck Yeager’s backup (and chase plane pilot) when Yeager broke the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 in 1947.

His time testing aircraft even led Hoover to design technology to advance the development of aviation, including the “Hoover Nozzle” and the “Hoover Ring.”

Throughout his life, Hoover earned numerous awards and accolades, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and the French Croix de Guerre. He was also inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and Aerospace Walk of Honor. The Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, and Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds inducted him as an honorary member. After awarding him the Living Legends of Aviation “Freedom of Flight” Award in 2006, the nonprofit renamed the award after him the very next year.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Hoover at his Living Legends induction in 2006.

Considered a “pilot’s pilot,” Hoover continued to fly in air shows until 2000.

Hoover’s death follows his wife Colleen’s in March. Yeager’s wife Victoria recounted the story of Bob and Colleen’s first date on her website.

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This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

There aren’t many places in the world where you can’t order a glass of American whiskey, sing along to the latest Top 100 song, or watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Hell, North Korea may be the only country in the world where you can’t easily buy a Coke.


American culture made its mark throughout the world, for better or worse. And it turns out, American troops are some of the country’s best cultural ambassadors.

It’s a time honored tradition for soldiers to “Americanize” Local Nationals where ever they go. The ice cream man in Baumholder, Germany, never failed to get a laugh out of my unit whenever he would use our slang through his thick German accent. The carpet salesman in Afghanistan kept up with the latest superhero films far more than any of us did. And Kuwaiti workers would clean out Porta-Johns, rocking blue jeans.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones

The nations that U.S. troops have partnered with have had their economies grow drastically. One of the best places in the world to see this is in post-war Japan.

America provided a “Security Umbrella” to its former enemy, letting the island nation to focus more of its GDP on manufacturing and reentering the international marketplace. Today, Japan is the fourth largest export economy, with it’s top export going to the United States.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Flyer for the Hell Fighters Band

As America shed it’s isolationist ways and entered World War I in Europe, the world got a glimpse of what we’ve been up to on the other side of the ocean. When stationed in Paris, African American soldiers brought with them jazz, swing, and ragtime music.

The soldiers, between conflicts, would perform their new style in music halls. French crowds went crazy for it. Lieutenant James Reese Europe and his Harlem Hellfighters traveled all across France and quickly became one of America’s first international celebrities.

Related: Here are 5 things the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ did that cemented their place in history

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
U.S Army photo by Staff. Sgt Kwadwo Frimpong

One nation that had plenty of American influence is South Korea. South Korean technology has boomed in recent years and has helped spawn K-Pop (The genre of music that gave the world Gangnam Style) and Hallyuwood (Korean film industry).

This East Asian country had U.S. troops stationed there since the ’50s. All males between age 18 and 35 have been conscripted for a mandatory two year obligation. With this, many of the Republic of Korea Army soldiers are also sent to train and serve with the U.S. Army.

KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army) soldiers form strong bonds of friendship with their American counterparts. Through this program, many Koreans learn of American culture and vice-versa.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Guerra

No matter where US troops are sent, they are sometimes the first actual interactions locals have with Americans. Some places refuse to serve Americans, others welcome them with open arms.

As long as you’re not a jack a–, you’ll be embraced. Even if you are brash, just be funny.

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US sets up ballistic missile defense system in South Korea

U.S. Pacific Command has deployed the first elements of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, to South Korea, implementing the U.S.-South Korean alliance’s July decision to bring the defensive capability to the Korean Peninsula.


Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
U.S. Pacific Command has deployed the first elements of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, to South Korea, implementing the U.S.-South Korean alliance’s July 2016 decision to bring the defensive capability to the Korean Peninsula. (DoD photo)

North Korea’s accelerating program of nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches constitute a threat to international peace and security and violate multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, Pacom officials said, adding that the THAAD ballistic missile defense system deployment contributes to a layered defense and enhances the alliance’s shield against North Korean missile threats.

“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” Navy Adm. Harry Harris, Pacom commander, said. “We will resolutely honor our alliance commitments to South Korea and stand ready to defend ourselves, the American homeland and our allies.”

The THAAD system is a strictly defensive capability, and it poses no threat to other countries in the region, Pacom officials said. It is designed to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight.

Pacom joint military forces remain vigilant in the face of North Korean ballistic missile threats and provocations and are fully committed to working closely with South Korea to maintain security in the region, officials said.

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How the Viet Cong managed to avoid being victims of their own booby traps

The booby trap was one of the signature tactics the Viet Cong used against American troops in Vietnam. Punji sticks, snake pits, and hidden grenades are as synonymous with the Vietnam War as the song “Fortunate Son.”

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Seriously, is it even a Vietnam movie if there’s no CCR?

But even for the Viet Cong, the dense, dark jungle canopy of what is supposed to be their home turf can get confusing and disorienting. So how can a retreating VC know how to find the booby traps they laid for the GIs after a few days or weeks away from that area? It seems impossible, but the VC thought of that.

In order to avoid falling victim to their own simple but effective traps, they created a system to clandestinely mark the traps. So whether it’s the “Grenade in a Can,” “the Mace,” or even a simple snake pit, they developed a way to warn themselves and other VC as well as show them a route to avoid the trap. 

Luckily for American troops, Marine Corps engineers established the Demolitions and Mine Warfare School to use captured mines, bullet traps and other deadly devices captured from the VC to teach soldiers how to avoid them. If possible they might even teach Marines how to rewire them. 

Viet Cong fighters would set traps in the places they believed the American troops would actually walk. If they thought the American GI would notice the trap, the VC would place a secondary trap to get anyone who avoided the first one. These are the lessons taught by the Marines at the Demolitions and Mine Warfare School.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Day one of class (…probably)(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan C. Mains/Released)

Markings used by the VC who laid these booby traps would indicate what kind of trap it was, the location of it and which way the trap would explode, where applicable. Some of them were fairly obvious, such as rectangles or pyramids made of bamboo. Others were not as noticeable, such as formations of broken sticks on the ground, bamboo spikes pointed a certain way or palm leaves on the ground, either specially folded or with a stick wound through it. 

Just like they learned about the VC’s secondary booby trap, U.S. engineers eventually picked up on these signals too. Not only did they pick up that special code, they learned how to use it against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese as well. 

Using the code, Americans could change how the VC moved through an area and even make them walk headlong into their own booby traps. 

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Seriously… the stones on these guys. (U.S. Army)

The VC noted how effective their traps were by returning to the sites where they all were set and noting how many had been triggered. They could adapt the most effective ones to other areas by reusing the styles already triggered. If American GIs got wise to the pit traps, for example, the Viet Cong would just start using arrow traps or cartridge traps instead. 

The booby traps of Vietnam were psychologically difficult for the soldiers and Marines on search and destroy missions in the bush. So even though the VC had the market cornered on hidden booby traps in the jungle, it’s nice to know there were some American troops out there turing the tables on these terrible weapons. 

Feature image: Wikimedia Commons

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Here’s the most influential US general you’ve never heard of

Winfield Scott, the longest-serving general officer in the history of the United States Army, served an astonishing 53 years in a career stretching from the War of 1812 to the Civil War. Known as “Ol’ Fuss and Feathers” for his elaborate uniforms and stern discipline, he distinguished himself as one of the most influential U.S. commanders of the 19th century.

Born in Virginia , he briefly studied at the College of William and Mary before leaving to study law, and served for a year as a corporal in the local militia. He received a commission as a captain of artillery in 1808, but his early career was less than auspicious. He vehemently criticized Senior Officer of the Army James Wilkinson for allegations concerning treason, and after a court-martial was suspended by the Army for a year.

After being reinstated, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel as the War of 1812 was getting underway. Serving in the Niagara Campaign, he was part of surrendering American forces during the disastrous crossing of the river into Ontario and exchanged in 1813.

After his successful capture of Ft. George, Ontario in 1813, he was promoted to brigadier general at the exceptionally young age of 27. He played a decisive role at the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane, earning him acclaim for personal bravery and a brevet promotion to major general, but his severe wounds during the second battle left him out of action for the rest of the war.

Following the war, Scott commanded a number of military departments between trips to Europe to study European armies, whom he greatly admired for their professionalism. His 1821 “General Regulations of the Army” was the first comprehensive manual of operations and bylaws for the U.S. Army and was the standard Army text for the next 50 years.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Legend says he can be summoned if you put your hands in your pockets while in uniform and say “Winfield Scott” three times. (Portrait by George Caitlin/ Wikimedia Commons)

After serving in a series of conflicts against the Indians, including the Blackhawk, Second Seminole and Creek Wars. When President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee removed from Georgia and other southern states to Oklahoma in 1838-39, Scott commanded the operation in what became known as the “Trail of Tears,” when thousands of Cherokee died under terrible conditions during the long journey.

In 1841, Scott was made Commanding General of the U.S. Army, a position he would serve in for 20 years. When President James Polk ordered troops to territory disputed with Mexico along the Texas border, Scott appointed future president general Zachary Taylor to lead the expedition while he stayed in Washington. This was under pressure from Polk, who worried about Scott’s well known presidential aspirations. When the Mexican War subsequently broke out, Taylor grew bogged down in northwest Mexico after an initial series of victories, and it became clear that the northern route to Mexico City was no longer viable. Scott decided to personally lead a second front in order to break through to the Mexican capital.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
A little war going on is no excuse to not look your best. (Copy of lithograph by Nathaniel Currier, 1847/Wikimedia Commons)

Scott and his army’s landing at Vera Cruz, Mexico marks the first major amphibious landing by a U.S. army on foreign soil, and they seized the strategic port after a short siege. Roughly following conquistador Hernan Cortes’s historical route to Mexico City, U.S. forces won a series of victories against generally larger Mexican armies. Scott showed great skill in maneuver warfare, flanking enemy forces out of their fortifications where they could be defeated in the open. He successfully gambled that the army could live of the land in the face of impossibly long supply lines and after six months of marching and fighting, the U.S. seized the capital, putting the end to most resistance. The campaign had been a resounding success, with no less an authority than the Duke of Wellington, hero of Waterloo, declaring him “the greatest living general.”

Scott was an able military governor, and his fairness towards the conquered Mexicans gained him some measure of popularity in the country. But his vanity and political rivalry with Taylor, along with intercepted letters showing a scathing attitude towards Washington and Polk, lead to his recall in 1848.

Scott’s presidential aspirations were dashed when he badly lost the 1852 election to Franklin Pierce after a lackluster campaign. Continuing as commander of the Army, he was only the second man since George Washington to be promoted to Lieutenant General. By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, however, Scott was 75 years old and so obese he couldn’t even ride a horse, and Lincoln soon had him replaced by general George B. McClellan. His strategic sense had not dulled. His “Anaconda Plan” to blockade and split the South, first derided by those seeking a quick victory, proved to be the strategy that won the war.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Scott’s Great Snake by J.B. Elliot (Library of Congress)

Scott was a vain man, prone to squabbling with other officers he held in contempt, and his political aspirations lead to great tensions with Washington during the Mexican War. His command of the “Trail of Tears” put him at the forefront of one of the most disgraceful episodes in the U.S. treatment of Native Americans. But his determination to turn the U.S. Army into a professional force, his immense strategic and tactical skill, and a career that spanned over five decades makes him one of the most influential figures in U.S. military history.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force wants 30 percent more tankers for China fight

The US Air Force needs more tanker aircraft to ensure that America’s heavy hitters can take the fight to China should a conflict arise, according to the service’s senior leadership.

“The challenge in the Pacific is the tyranny of distance, and that means tanker squadrons are very important,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told Congress in October 2018, Voice of America reported, noting that the Air Force plans to increase the number of tanker squadrons from 40 to 54 by 2030.


“When we project into the 2025, 2030 timeframe, our pacing threat, we believe, is China,” Wilson further explained to Congress. The tanker plans are part of a larger initiative to boost the overall strength of the Air Force.

The Air Force secretary announced in September 2018 that the service intends to increase the total number of force operational squadrons by nearly 25%, raising the number by 74 to a total of 386 squadrons. The expansion is in service of the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, which point to great power competition as the greatest threat.

In response to criticism about the potential costs, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis argued, “It’s expensive. We recognize that. But it’s less expensive than fighting a war with somebody who thought that we were weak enough that they could take advantage.”

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

(NATO photo)

Aerial refueling aircraft play a critical role in extending the operational range of America’s fighter and bomber aircraft.

In recent months, as tensions between Washington and Beijing have soared to “dangerous” levels, the US has increasingly sent B-52H heavy long-range bombers through the East and South China Seas. There have been over half a dozen flights since August 2018, with the most recent flight taking place on Oct. 10, 2018, a spokesperson for Pacific Air Forces told Business Insider on Oct. 12, 2018.

Tankers have typically accompanied the bombers on these flights, which China has characterized as “provocative.”

While the Air Force is upping its game, China is believed to be doing the same through intense research into advanced anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) weapons systems, including a new very long-range air-to-air missiles designed to cripple slower, more vulnerable support aircraft in the rear, such as tankers and airborne early warning aircraft.

The missile is suspected to have a range of around 186 miles, farther than US air-to-air missiles.

China does not necessarily need to defeat elite planes like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in battle. It only needs to keep them out of the fight. China has also invested heavily in integrated air defense systems relying on indigenous and foreign combat platforms.

Some of the weapons systems China is looking at have made appearances in military exercises, but it is unclear how close China is to actually fielding these systems.

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

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Marine gets arrested for throwing drunken foam party in Air Force hangar

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
FILE PHOTO: Foam suppression system being tested on Scott Air Base. (Credit: Staff Sgt. Paul Villanueva II/US Air Force)


Mix one U.S. Marine with alcohol and throw in the possibility of a huge foam party and you get an alcohol-related incident on Kadena Air Base.

That’s according to Navy Times, which reported on Tuesday that Air Force officials were investigating how a drunk Marine entered an aircraft hangar on Kadena on May 23 and turned on the fire suppression system at around 1:45 a.m., releasing flame retardant foam close to at least one aircraft.

“The details of the incident are currently under investigation,” 2nd Lt. Erik Anthony told Stars and Stripes in an email. “Kadena’s capabilities and readiness have not suffered.”

The unnamed Marine was arrested shortly after the incident, but details on the Marine’s level of intoxication, his or her unit, or who made the arrest, were not released.

NOW: The US nuclear launch code during the Cold War was weaker than your granny’s AOL password

MIGHTY TRENDING

A Vietnam veteran is returning to thank the doctors who saved his life

Five decades after being shot in Vietnam and almost losing his leg, former Army Spc. John Fogle will make good on a promise he made to the surgeons at the 22nd Surgical Hospital in Vietnam who saved his life.


Before he was transported to a general hospital in Japan, Fogle told his surgeons he would drop them a line and let them know how he was doing. He never did write, but instead, in May, he will fulfill his promise of reconnecting — in person.

Fogle was injured in combat on July 25, 1969. Although over time he forgot their names, he never forgot the doctors who saved him and when he learned of a reunion planned for the surviving members of the 22nd Surgical Hospital staff, Fogle decided to seek them out in hopes of inviting them to the event.

Also read: This is what the average ‘doc’ carried on patrol in Vietnam

Vietnam Vascular Registry

One of his first stops in his search was the Vietnam Vascular Registry, developed by Dr. Norman Rich, chair emeritus of the surgery department at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

In 1966, the Vietnam Vascular Registry was developed by Rich at the Walter Reed General Hospital based on cases he had seen while serving in Vietnam along with hundreds of other cases added by colleagues. The registry documented and analyzed blood vessel injuries in Vietnam, resulting in documentation of more than 10,000 injuries from about 7,500 American casualties in Southeast Asia. Each patient entered into the registry was assigned a consecutive number and given a vascular registry card stating the registry’s purpose.

Army Abrams to get robotic attack drones
Army Spc. John Fogle recovers at the 249th General Hospital at Camp Drake, Japan, in 1969 from wounds he received in Vietnam. (Courtesy photo by John Fogle)

Rich has maintained the registry for more than 50 years. If stretched out completely, the entire registry itself would be about 114 linear feet, he noted. In 2016, the registry was digitized by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, making it much easier to search and find records from vascular patients seen during Vietnam. The originals were sent to the National Archives and Records Center in St. Louis.

Fogle had held onto his registry card, sent by Rich from the Vietnam Vascular Registry, for more than 50 years. Once he connected with Rich, he was able to reference his assigned registry card number, making it relatively easy for Rich to access his medical records from the 22nd Surgical Hospital. The records provided the names of Fogle’s doctors, among them Dr. Monroe Levine, who assisted in the surgery on his right leg and arm.

‘They performed miracles’

Fogle has foggy memories of the day he was injured, so over the years, it was hard for him to remember the names of those doctors who first operated on him in the 22nd Surgical Hospital. However, he will never forget being shot while flying in an observation helicopter.

Related: How the Vietnam draft wasn’t as random as you think

He was on the lookout for signs of enemy activity, as the crew chief, and as they flew over a canyon, they surprised the Viet Cong, who began firing at their helicopter. Fogle was shot three times down his right side, leaving him with a severed femoral artery and a compound fracture in his femur. He remained conscious, though, and continued firing back to suppress the enemy’s fire and protect his crew, which included the pilot, who sat just two feet away. They were able to get out of there quickly and landed safely, arriving at the 22nd Surgical Hospital which was only 12 miles away. Fogle’s actions later earned him an Air Medal.

About 10 minutes after he had been shot, Fogle was being pulled into the 22nd Surgical Hospital, which he recalls had four fully equipped operating rooms, totally air-conditioned. The unit’s mission was to help stabilize the wounded before transporting them to the 249th General Hospital at Camp Drake in Japan.

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The 22nd Surgical Hospital in Vietnam, marked with a red cross, where Army Spc. John Fogle was first treated in 1969. (Courtesy photo by Terry Caskey)

“They performed miracles in there,” Fogle said. At the time, he said, his leg was a big “question mark.” Surgeons in that unit prepared him for transport to Japan, and told him he “wasn’t out of the woods just yet.” He made it to the general hospital, where he underwent more surgeries. His recovery, over the years, was smooth and he has not had any other major issues.

“I was very fortunate,” Fogle added. “I could’ve easily lost my leg.”

He added that many surgeries were performed at the 22nd Surgical Hospital, over a long period of time, so it would have been hard for the doctors to remember each patient. In looking through his records obtained through the registry, Fogle said he learned that Levine had seen four other patients that same day.

“That’s why these notes [in my records] are so important,” he said.

Reconnecting

After learning Levine’s full name, it didn’t take long for Fogle to find that the doctor is still practicing medicine in Colorado. The two connected over the phone, and are now looking forward to meeting again, after all these years, at the reunion, which will take place in Florida. Fogle sent his records to Levine to look through, hoping to help jog his memory before they meet in May, 2018.

More: A Vietnam vet’s daughter wrote this funny, heartfelt obituary for her dad

Fogle considers himself very lucky. After leaving the military, he’s really only had to limit himself to certain sports and activities because he did suffer muscle loss, which throws off his balance to this day. He was able to go back to school after his military service and became an electrical engineer. A few years ago, he retired after a fulfilling, 38-year career.

Had it not been for the work of Levine, as well as the others in that unit and throughout his care and recovery, Fogle might not be where he is today.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him again in person,” Fogle said.

Rich was pleased to hear Fogle reconnected with one of the surgeons who saved his leg.

“This is what makes it valuable,” he said, referring to the extensive Vietnam Vascular Registry. “It is really reassuring that what we were doing has merit.”

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This video shows how an Iraqi soldier saved his comrades from a suicide bomber

A video that reportedly captures the dramatic moment an Iraqi soldier saved his squad by driving his bulldozer into an incoming Islamic State group suicide bomber, has emerged this week.


The footage, which was shot from the dash cam installed inside the driver’s cabin, was taken in West Mosul where IS have been making their last stand against a massive operation to retake the Iraqi city.

It shows the driver deliberately ramming his bulldozer into an incoming IS car bomb in the narrow streets of the extremists’ final Iraqi bastion.

“Sir, I stopped it,” the driver, named in media reports as Mohammed Ali al-Shuwaili, can be heard saying as the smoke from the explosion fills his cabin.

“Thank God you’re alright,” his commander responds.

The New Arab could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Baghdad forces first took the eastern side of the city before crossing the Tigris and attacking the more densely packed western section of Mosul.Iraqi forces launched the massive operation to retake Mosul from IS nearly seven months ago, fighting their way into the jihadist-held city.

In the course of the fighting, security forces have faced a seemingly endless waves of IS car bombs, which when detonated erupt into towering fireballs.

Such attacks have featured heavily in the jihadi group’s latest propaganda films.

Iraqi officers said on Tuesday that Iraqi forces have recaptured nearly 90 percent of west Mosul from IS, which is on the “brink of total defeat”.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, told a news conference in Baghdad that IS now controls just over ten percent of west Mosul.

The drive to retake Mosul has been supported by a campaign of US-led coalition air raids in and around the city.

IS now controls just a handful of neighborhoods around the Old City, one of the country’s heritage jewels.

Half a million people are currently displaced as a result of the Battle for Mosul, and some 250,000 civilians are estimated to still be trapped inside the city’s west.

Click here to watch the dramatic video.

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(Source: The New Arab)

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This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil

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American troops hauling gear up a snowy mountain on Attu. (Photo: U.S. Army)


The attempt by the Japanese to take Midway Island and seize control of it resulted in one of the most decisive naval battles in military history, with the Japanese losing four aircraft carriers and the United States gaining the upper hand in the Pacific. But a diversionary effort by the Japanese during the campaign marked the only ground fighting on U.S. home soil during World War II.

The Japanese attack on the Aleutian islands off Alaska in June of 1942, a mere six months after Pearl Harbor and shortly after a series of disastrous U.S. defeats in Asia, was meant as a feint to draw away American forces while the Japanese invaded Midway island. It would also threaten any U.S. attempts to attack Japan using the chain as a base. The archipelago of over 150 islands reached to within just 750 miles of Japanese territory and was seen as a real threat to their homeland. The occupation of U.S. soil, even that as remote as the Aleutian islands, also served as a blow to American morale.

U.S. intelligence was alerted of the impending invasion, but despite sightings of the approaching Japanese fleet, terrible weather made tracking it impossible. The Japanese carriers with the fleet bombed U.S. positions at their Dutch Harbor island base, inflicting heavy damage. American attempts to counterattack and destroy the fleet were consistently foiled by bad weather. The islands of Attu and Kiska in the chain were both occupied by June 7, 1942, though again severe storms and fog led to canceling the seizure of other islands.

The conquest of U.S. soil, even that as remote as the Aleutian islands, came as a severe shock to the American public. There was widespread speculation that the islands would be used as a jumping off point for attacking Alaska, or more fantastically the American mainland. Much of this apprehension was relieved by the destruction of the main Japanese carrier fleet at the Battle of Midway, defeating much of the purpose of the invasion. The Japanese forces found themselves practically marooned in some of the most hostile conditions imaginable.

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A captured Japanese Zero – a real intelligence coup. (Photo: U.S. Army)

With no logistical ability yet available to retake the islands, the U.S. could only harass the Japanese garrisons and the convoys resupplying them. U.S. air raids and submarine attacks took a heavy toll on Japanese shipping, but it was not until March of 1943 and after the naval surface action at the Battle of the Komandorski Islands that much headway was made. After the battle, the Japanese were reduced to using submarines to resupply their troops on the islands.

When the joint U.S.-Canadian operation to retake Attu began in May 1943, the Japanese soldiers retreated to high ground rather than contest the landing. The following bloody battle, with both sides plagued by chronic supply shortages, frostbite, and disease, dragged on for over two weeks. The Japanese garrison, starving and running out of ammunition, launched a massive banzai charge that penetrated all the way to U.S. rear echelon before being stopped. Over 2,000 Japanese dead were counted afterward, along with a minuscule 28 survivors. More than a thousand Americans died in the battle.

The assault on Kiska on August 15, 1943, was much more anti-climatic. A huge American-Canadian force landed there after weeks of bombing, but after much searching found the island deserted. The Japanese had used the cover of fog to bring in ships to evacuate two weeks earlier. The bombing and infantry attack had all been against a barren rock, and the only allied casualties were from friendly fire in the fog, frostbite, and disease. The Japanese withdrawal marked the end of the first and last foreign occupation of U.S. soil since the War of 1812.

The reality was that the remote, sparsely populated volcanic islands with notoriously bad weather and terrain would never serve as a major invasion route for either side. Though the Japanese garrisons managed to maintain themselves in the harsh conditions, they had nowhere near the numbers or the support to launch an invasion onto the mainland, and their primary goals were crushed by the disaster at Midway. U.S. plans to use the island chain as a launchpad for invading Japan never materialized beyond some bombing raids on Japan’s northern Kuril islands.

In the end, the atrocious weather and remote location turned what seemed such a promising strategic theater useless for everyone.

 

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