Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

The U.S. Army announced that the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division (1/1 AD) stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, will convert from a Stryker brigade combat team (SBCT) to an armored brigade combat team (ABCT); and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division (2/4 ID) stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, will convert from an infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) to an SBCT.

“Converting a brigade combat team from infantry to armor ensures the Army remains the world’s most lethal ground combat force, able to deploy, fight, and win against any adversary, anytime and anywhere,” Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper said.



This conversion contributes to Army efforts to build a more lethal force and is an investment to increase overmatch against our potential adversaries — one more critical step to achieving the Army Vision. This effort also postures the Army to better meet combatant commander requirements under the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

“The Army leadership determined that we needed to covert two brigade combat teams to armor and Stryker in order to deter our near-peer adversaries or defeat them if required,” said Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, director of force management.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

A Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle.

(U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Ellen Brabo)

Conversion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, will begin in the spring of 2019 and spring of 2020 respectively.

This will provide the nation a 16th ABCT bringing the total number BCTs in the Regular Army (RA) and Army National Guard (ARNG) to 58. There will be a total of 31 BCTs in the RA, to include 11 ABCTs, 13 IBCTs and seven SBCTs. The ARNG will have a total of 27 BCTs, to include five ABCTs, 20 IBCTs and two SBCTs, ensuring a more balanced distribution between its light and heavy fighting forces.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran admits it has US Navy veteran in custody

Iran says it is holding a U.S. Navy veteran, confirming media reports about a case that risks further escalating tensions with Washington.

The New York Times reported on Jan. 7, 2019, that Michael White, 46, was arrested while visiting Iran and had been held since July 2018 on unspecified charges.

On Jan. 9, 2019, Iranian state news agency IRNA carried a statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi that confirmed the arrest, but did not specify when it had happened or what crime he was accused of.


Qasemi was quoted as saying that Iran had informed the U.S. government about White’s arrest within days of when he was taken into custody in the city of Mashhad “some time ago.”

The spokesman added that White’s case was going through the legal process and officials will make a statement at the appropriate time.

The U.S. State Department said it was “aware of reports” of the detention but did not provide further details, citing privacy considerations.

U.S. Navy veteran Michael White reportedly jailed in Iran

www.youtube.com

The New York Times has quoted White’s mother, Joanne, as saying she learned three weeks ago that her son was being held at an Iranian prison.

She said her son had visited Iran “five or six times” to see an Iranian woman she described as his girlfriend.

White’s incarceration was also reported on Jan. 7, 2019, by Iran Wire, an online news service run by Iranian expatriates.

White’s imprisonment could further worsen relations between Washington and Tehran, longtime foes.

Tensions have been high since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed crippling economic sanctions against Tehran in 2018.

At least five Americans have been sentenced to prison in Iran on espionage-related charges.

Among them is Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University student, who was given a 10-year sentence for espionage. He was arrested in August 2016 while conducting research for his dissertation on Iran’s Qajar dynasty. Both Wang and the university deny the claims.

Baquer Namazi, a retired UNICEF official, and his son Siamak, an Iranian-American businessman, were sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison for spying and cooperating with the U.S. government. The charges were denied by the family and dismissed by U.S. authorities.

Bob Levinson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, vanished on Iran’s Kish Island in 2007 while on an intelligence mission. Tehran has said it has no information about his fate.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is alarmed by the creation of the Space Force

Russia has expressed alarm over President Donald Trump’s pledge to maintain U.S. dominance in space and create a separate branch of the military called the “space force.”

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova voiced Russia’s concerns on June 20, 2018, a day after Trump said that “America will always be the first in space.” He also said, “We don’t want China and Russia and other countries leading us.”


In his latest directive on space matters, Trump called for the Pentagon to create a new “space force” that would become the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces — a proposal that requires congressional approval.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Zakharova said during a news briefing in Samara that Russia “noted the U.S. president’s instructions…to separate space forces from the air force,” saying, “The most alarming thing about this news is the aim of his instructions, namely to ensure [U.S.] domination in space.”

Zakharova accused the United States of “nurturing plans to bring out weapons into space with the aim of possibly staging military action there.”

She warned that if realized, such plans would have a “destabilizing effect on strategic stability and international security.”

While Russia has a branch of the military called “space forces,” their activities are “purely defensive,” the spokeswoman insisted.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 reasons immigrants should serve in the military

Serving in the Armed Forces of the United States is an honor and gaining citizenship a privilege. A common misconception is that joining the military will guarantee the coveted certificate. The military guarantees a fast track to citizenship if one is already eligible for it. Military service will not erase inconsistencies in someone’s legal status. However, for those who are eligible for citizenship, joining the military can be everything you’ve ever wanted.

Here are 7 reasons immigrants should serve in the military:

1. The military is a melting pot

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
During a pumpkin carving contest, one squadron learned that it is comprised of 32 Airmen who either immigrated or migrated to the U.S. from 18 different countries and territories. (U.S. Air Force photo by Nicholas Pilch)

Joining the Armed Forces will expose you to different languages, cultures and religions. It brings people together who would otherwise never have met to form lifelong bonds. I’ve interacted with people from every walk of life. I’ve seen prejudice people change over the course of time after they realize they came from a bubble. That stereotypes are a two-way street; you won’t jump to conclusions as quickly such as; some people are not racist, they’re just a**holes.

2. You will understand the culture better

I’ve never gone hunting before until I went on leave with one of my buddies. I learned that ‘can’t have sh*t in Detroit’ is more than a meme. My Jewish peer had kosher MREs – and they’re delicious. There are so many things that make Americans who they are, and you can explore all the regions of the U.S. with people who have your back. I admit I didn’t like country music before the service but that was because I was only exposed to bad country music on the radio. You get to try so many kinds of foods and treats by sharing care packages with one another. You ‘get’ people better.

3. Life as a civilian will be easier to navigate

Learning to get along with the troops during training and deployment is different than getting along with civilians. You’ve been baptized in fire and most civilians have not. It doesn’t mean they’re less or weak, just different. Handling difficult personalities is a trait that will get you far in life. You can also choose to just ignore difficult people and carry on. The years in the service will give you the experience to read people better and choose whether to engage or not.

4. You gain a new family

When I joined the military it was just my mother, stepfather, and I. My sister wasn’t born yet and seeing large groups of families support their kids stung a little bit. When you’re a first-generation immigrant you don’t have the luxury of a support system. No one was there to see me off or welcome me back from my first deployment. Not a pity party, just facts. On my second deployment, I had a group of friends from other units and my then-girlfriend waiting for me. By the time I returned from my final deployment there was group as big as the others – all American, all Marines. When you join the military as an immigrant you’ll never be alone ever again.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Clifford Mua, 41st Flying Training Squadron student pilot, an immigrant from Cameroon.

5. Knowing multiple languages increases your pay

If you know languages that are critical to the mission of the United States you can earn extra pay. You can also attend language classes with permission from your unit free of charge. (Unless it’s Spanish — believe me, every Latino tried).

6. Job skills learned in the military are useful when you get out

The job skills learned in the military will be able to give you an advantage when you join the workforce or college after your service is over. Even the skills learned in the infantry transition well into the entertainment industry. The chain of command of a movie production team is very similar to that of an infantry battalion.

7. No one can question your patriotism

This one is self-evident, when you join the military as an immigrant you do not inherit your freedom, you forge it with your bare hands. The Star Spangled Banner sounds sweeter, the flag waves higher and no one can question your loyalty to our great country. I became a citizen on active duty — I’m in my uniform on citizenship certificate photo. When you are legally eligible there are no roadblocks, just fair winds and following seas.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch these airborne veterans sing a paratrooper classic

Our veterans have done a lot for the country over the years. They keep us safe from terror organizations and dictators who would use weapons of mass destruction for selfish politics. They took down Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. They’ve led singalongs of somewhat inappropriate songs. Wait… what?


That’s right! Recently, a video went viral on Facebook showing Vince Speranza, a World War II paratrooper, leading others along in singing the paratrooper classic, Blood on the Risers, a parody of immortal Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Paratroops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade jump from a C-130 transport. They use static lines to ensure their main chutes open. (DOD photo)

Blood on the Risers is probably most famous from its rendition in the award-winning HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. This morbidly funny tune is a cautionary tale about what happens when one fails to follow proper exit procedures during an airborne jump. The grim lyrics follow a young, rookie paratrooper who, after his chute fails to deploy, plummets to his death. The extended version, however, goes on to reveal that the singer has a son who would later join the 101st Airborne Division, serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, and be killed in action.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Later versions of Blood on the Risers depict the son of the song’s hero serving with the 101st Airborne, pictured above during the operation that took out Uday and Qusay Hussein, during the War on Terror. (US Army photo)

In some ways, it’s very much like the Navy’s Friday Funnies — a way to use humor to get important safety information through to the troops. This is especially important for something so routine as hooking into a static line.

Watch the video below and feel free to join in on the singalong! Don’t worry, the Screaming Eagles have a pretty dark sense of humor — it’s all in good fun.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A 64-year-old Frenchman accidentally ejected himself from a fighter jet because he was stressed out by the ride

A 64-year-old man in France accidentally ejected himself from a fighter jet flying at 2,500 feet aboveground after pressing a button in panic because he was stressed out by the ride.

According to a recently published report from a French government agency, translated by CNN, the man’s company had organized the surprise ride in a Dassault Rafale B jet as a gift in March 2019.

Investigators with France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, who published their report in early April, found that once the man was in the air, he became so stressed by the ride that he pressed the ejector button in panic and was thrown from the aircraft, where he then parachuted down to the ground.


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His parachute in the air, far from the aircraft.

France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety

According to the investigation, the man, whose name has been withheld in the report, had no experience with military aircraft and had no interest in flying in a Dassault Rafale B jet before his company surprised him with the ride.

He was wearing a smartwatch at the time of the flight, which allowed investigators to record him having a heart rate between 136 to 142 beats per minute just before taking flight. A normal heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

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The man safely landing on the ground.

France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety

The man then got in the jet, which took flight in a three-plane exercise. It was 2,500 feet above the ground when he pressed the eject button.

His helmet wasn’t properly attached, according to the report, and went flying in midair. But he landed on the ground with no serious injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital to be evaluated.

The pilot landed the plane safely, too, and experienced minor facial injuries in the incident.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Strategic Commander calls for modernizing ‘nuclear triad’

The nuclear triad, which is composed of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers, “is the most important element of our national defense, and we have to make sure that we’re always ready to respond to any threat,” the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said on Feb. 26, 2019.

“I can do that today because I have the most powerful triad in the world,” Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said.

Hyten and Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, spoke Feb. 26, 2019, regarding their respective commands at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal year 2020 defense budget request.


Flexibility of the triad

The Nuclear Posture Review, released in 2018, validated the need for a modernized nuclear triad, Hyten said.

Each leg of the triad is critical to effective nuclear deterrence, he said.

The bombers which carry nuclear weapons “are the most recallable element,” Hyten said. “They’re the most flexible element of the triad.”

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

The B-52 Stratofortress.

Bombers can be deployed and recalled by the president before they deploy their weapons.

Submarines are the most survivable element, he said. “It allows us to hide from our adversaries and make sure we can respond to any surprise attack.”

ICBMs are the most ready element to respond to a surprise attack, he said, and they create the most significant targeting problem for adversaries. There are more than 400 separate targets across the United States. All would have to be independently targeted by an adversary, Hyten explained.

“That targeting problem is hugely problematic [for an adversary] and creates a significant advantage for us,” he said. “When you put those three together, you get this great operational capability. It provides for us the ability to respond to a failure in any one of those legs.”

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

LGM-30G Minuteman III.

Russia and China have also recognized the need for having their own triad, Hyten told the senators.

Russia started its nuclear triad modernization program in 2006 and is about 80 percent completed, the general said. By 2020, they’ll most likely be about finished, he said, and the U.S. will just be starting to modernize its triad. “That is not a good place to be from a national security perspective,” Hyten said.

China will soon have a creditable triad threat as well, he added.

Need to modernize

Nuclear modernization does not mean building a new class of nuclear missiles, Hyten said. It’s about improving the existing triad.

For instance, the aging communications system that links sensors to shooters and commanders needs to be replaced, he said.

Also, new ground- and space-based sensors and radars need to be built to detect the launch of missiles, the general added.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How US troops helped with the Thai cave rescue

Defense Department personnel continue to assist in the rescue operations in Thailand to evacuate the remaining four boys and their coach from a flooded cave system, the director of defense press operations said July 10, 2018.

The DOD effort consists of 42 deployed military personnel and one member from the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand, Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.


“Coordination and interaction with Thai military, Thai government, and other multinational civilians and government entities remains extremely positive and effective,” he said.

U.S. personnel have staged equipment and prepared the first three chambers of the cave system for safe passage, he said. They are assisting in transporting the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system, and are providing medical personnel and other technical assistance to the rescue efforts, he added.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

Saman Kunan died while laying oxygen tanks for a potential rescue of the trapped boys.

(Facebook)

Multinational rescue effort

“We continue to fully support the multinational rescue effort and pray for the safe return of the remaining members of the team,” Manning said.

The soccer team and their coach entered the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand on June 23, 2018, and were trapped by floodwaters. Eight boys have been rescued so far.

Manning paid tribute to former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who died after delivering oxygen tanks in the cave.

“The death of the former Thai Navy SEAL illustrates the difficulty of this rescue,” Manning said. “His sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

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

Lists

9 reasons you should have joined the Marines instead

Do you remember that day you arrived at the armed forces recruiting office years ago? Sure, you do.


Every day, young men and women walk in with the prospect of serving their country. While some decide against joining, others sign their name on the dotted line and ship off to boot camp.

Most people didn’t take the time to think about what the military branch can do for them — they were just eager to join.

If you didn’t pick the Marine Corps, you freakin’ messed up, and here are nine reasons why.

Also Read: 9 reasons why you should have joined the Army instead

1. The Marine Corps’ dress blue uniform is hands down the coolest looking one in the military.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
(Source: Marines.com)

2. The Marines have the best birthday parties ever, and they take celebrities as their dates.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Sgt. Scott Moore and his guest, actress Mila Kunis attend the 236th Marine Corps birthday ball.

3. The Marine Corps emblem — the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor — is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. You could be wearing one now if you would’ve joined.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Semper Fi!

4. They have the toughest boot camp in the military. So just graduating says a lot about an individual.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Every recruit loves their DI.

5. Some of the most successful actors served in the Marine Corps. Drew Carey, Gene Hackman, and WATM’s good friend Rob Riggle just to name a few.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Actor and Marine veteran Rob Riggle.

6. You could have been a part of some major military moments in history. Marines have fought in every American conflict since they were created in 1775.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Marines raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

7. Since all Marines are considered riflemen, you’ll learn to eat concertina wire, piss napalm, and put a round through a flea’s ass at 200 meters.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

8. Anyone can claim the title of a sailor if you have been on a boat. Anyone call themselves a soldier if they listen to a lot of rap music. Lastly, anyone can call themselves an airman if you’ve flown once or twice. But the title of a Marine is never just handed out — it’s earned.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Two U.S. Marines guard two local nationals during enemy contact.

9. When there’s a significant conflict poppin’ off anywhere around the world, America sends in the Marines first. It’s best fighting force when you need to settle things down.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

MIGHTY TRENDING

Gen. Martins just enacted a media blackout at Guantánamo

The Pentagon’s chief war crimes prosecutor, who, for six years, has been the most public booster of the military commissions, has decided to abandon a years-long practice of briefing reporters and holding news conferences.


“This is a principled decision based on the law and the posture of these cases,” prosecutor Brig. Gen. Mark Martins said Oct. 29. “And it’s the right time.”

More restrictions may be to come. In a 2014 court filing in the Sept. 11 terror attacks case, prosecutors suggested to the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, that he may want to impose a gag order on all lawyers in the high-profile tribunal.

They argued that lawyers offering commentary or other information outside of court could prejudice the possibility of “a fair trial by impartial members” — a jury of US military officers, yet to be chosen — in the death-penalty case against accused plot mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other alleged accomplices. No trial date has been set.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
FBI photo of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from 2001, used in several FBI wanted posters.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Ben Sakrisson described Martins’ decision as part of an overall rethinking of public affairs strategy by the overseer of the war court, Convening Authority Harvey Rishikof. Throughout the Obama administration, the Pentagon regularly staged news conferences that gave the prosecutor, defense attorneys and families of terror victims a podium at the close of war court hearings.

Now, according to Sakrisson, “this is just the prosecution stepping away from engaging with the media directly. I wouldn’t characterize this change as extending to the defense teams.”

Read Also: Released Gitmo detainees implicated in terror attacks on Americans

Family members and victims of terror attacks — chosen by Pentagon lottery and brought to the base as guests of the prosecution — will still be permitted to talk to reporters if they want, he said. “Going forward I expect there will be press conferences of some manner. But the final forum of participants is still under discussion.”

When Martins first started doing press conferences in a wooden shed built for $49,000 to look like a Pentagon briefing room, dozens of reporters would travel to Guantánamo. Broadcasters in particular needed the question-and-answer session because recording is forbidden at the post-Sept. 11 court.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Lead prosecutor for the government Brig. Gen. Mark Martins answers questions from reporters during a post military commissions session Jan. 29, 2015 at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. Army Photo by Sgt. Adrian Borunda.

For reporters who couldn’t make the trip to Cuba, the Pentagon would broadcast the news briefings to a viewing site at Fort Meade outside Washington, DC.

Under the Pentagon’s war court rules, the prosecutor needs explicit permission from the convening authority to speak with reporters about the hybrid military-civilian justice system set up in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Defense lawyers don’t. Many of them are civilians paid by the Pentagon, and the Manual for Military Commissions lets them talk freely with reporters about unclassified information, guided by their professional ethics.

The Pentagon “has a lot of restrictions around publishing or speaking to the press, designed to give a unitary message from the Department of Defense,” said defense attorney Jay Connell. The manual essentially waives a defense attorney’s obligation to puppet a US government talking point.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
Defense Attorney Jay Connell. Photo from Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Connell, who regularly briefs reporters, represents Mohammed’s nephew, Ammar al Baluchi. He argues the rules recognize his duty “to inform the public about what’s going on in military commissions.”

Related: The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

For example, while Martins would recite how many legal motions were argued, how many hours of court were held, and how many pages of evidence were turned over, Connell would try to contextualize what happened in court from the defense point of view.

“So many things which happen in the military commissions relate to larger themes of secrecy, larger themes of torture, and larger themes of unfairness,” he said. “My goal in a press conference is to explain what happened that week in the larger context of Guantánamo.”

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse.

For now, soldiers record the briefings and the videos are posted on a Pentagon war court website set whose motto is Fairness * Transparency * Justice.

If the managers of media policy no longer host news conferences in the shed, Connell said, they’ll brief elsewhere. And, “if they get rid of the video recordings, then we would probably go to Facebook Live.”

Martins decided to pull the plug on press conferences soon after the Army postponed his Nov. 1 retirement until 2019. He has had the job for six years, and serves as both the chief overseer of war court cases and a case prosecutor in the Sept. 11 and USS Coledeath-penalty trials. Neither trial has a start date.

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.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
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.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams
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

Security Airmen getting new special ops-like helmets

The Air Force has been busy this summer. From providing the latest class of recruits to Space Force to issuing better fitting body armor to women airmen, it seems like the protectors of the sky are really looking to expand and develop on its commitment to its force. This comes after the push in 2018 for Air Force defenders to get updated weapons, along with revised training and fitness standards.

Now, security airmen are next in line to receive a uniform upgrade. Soon, they’ll be issued new special ops-like helmets. This next generation of ballistic helmet is just the latest initiative that the Air Force is taking to ensure its personnel remains safe.


This new helmet is going to replace the older and far less-adaptable Advanced Combat Helmet. The ACH is what security forces currently wear, and many airmen have complained about its bulk and weight. Adding to the challenges is that the ACH is designed for ground units, so airmen have struggled with it, and in some cases, have had to outfit and modify it with bulky additions to accomplish different mission sets.

Not only will the new helmet come with better padding, built-in railings to easily attach accessories, but they’ll also be lighter and cooler. The Air Force Security Forces Center is now sending out new ballistic helmets as it phases out the ACH.

The 71st Security Forces Squadron, located at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, was the first squadron to receive the helmet. Soon airmen everywhere will receive the upgrade.

An Air Force press release said that the initial response to the new helmet has been positive. Master Sgt. Darryl Wright, 71st SFS logistics and readiness superintendent, said that the new version is the “most agile helmet” he’s worn in 19 years.

The helmets are part of the Air Force Security Forces Control initiative to modernize not just weapon systems but also individual protective gear. Included in this refresh is contingency support equipment and deployable communications systems, both of which will be paramount to successfully defeating the enemy in future conflicts. In the future, the Air Force plans to roll out a newly revised M18 modular handgun system, M4A1 assault rifle, M110A1 semi-automatic precision engagement rifle, M320A1 grenade launcher, and modular, scalable bests.

“We’re identifying salient characteristics of the best individual equipment industry has to offer at the best value to achieve standardization across the force,” said Lt. Col. Barry Nichols, AFSFC director of Logistics. “This effort is instrumental in keeping Defenders throughout the security forces enterprise ready and lethal with procurement of the most cutting-edge and innovative equipment available in order to accomplish missions safely and effectively.”

These changes all come after the Air Force’s Year of the Defender 2019 exercises, where the service conducted a detailed and extensive review of all security forces. This review explored areas that could be improved upon, both in terms of equipment and gear to tactics, training, and general morale boosts. To date, the Air Force has successfully worked through over 900 specific items that needed to change and has spent almost 0 million to update their gear.

The Air Force currently field about 25,000 active-duty security forces airmen. There are an additional 13,000 in the Air National Guard and Reserve components. Of the forces 38,000 airmen, about 98 percent are enlisted. This aligns the entire branch of the Air Force with the Army’s lightest light infantry unit.

Brig. Gen. Andrea Tullos, career security forces officer, said that the Air Force has “expeditionary roots,” and that the branch is “a blend between light infantry and a military police company.”

Collectively, these big changes are helping the service gain air superiority over the peer adversary that could potentially pose a big threat to the military. As the Air Force continues to look toward the future and the likelihood of conflicts with either Russia or China, the Air Force needs to be able to pick up the slack safeguarding forward-deployed squadrons instead of relying on ground forces. This new helmet upgrade is yet another step to making sure that can happen.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The amazing thing the SR-71 did the day before its retirement

Usually, when someone or something retires, it’s because they’ve grown a little older — and maybe a little slower — over time. Maybe their skills aren’t as useful as they once were, so they opt to spend their sunset years peacefully watching others take over their old duties.

But not the SR-71 Blackbird. It went out with a sonic boom.


The SR-71 was in the prime of its amazing life. This was a titanium bird designed to outrun and spy on the Russians, a bird that was fooling Russians even before it was assembled.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

(Laughs in Blackbird)

When the Blackbird was retired in 1990, not everyone was thrilled with the idea. Much of the debate around the SR-71’s mission and usefulness was because of political infighting, not because of any actual military need the plane couldn’t fill. Still, the program was derided by Congressional military and budget hawks as being too costly for its designated mission. Some speculate the old guard of Air Force Cold Warriors had long since retired and newer generals couldn’t explain the plane’s mission in the post-Soviet order.

Whatever the reason for its retirement, the Air Force’s most glorious bird was headed for the sunset — but not before making history and setting a few more records.

Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

An SR-71 refuels in mid-air during sunset.

(U.S. Air Force)

When it was operationally retired in 1990, a Blackbird piloted by Lt. Col. Raymond E. Yeilding and Lt. Col. Joseph T. Vida was tasked to fly one last time from Palmdale, Calif. to its new home at the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Apparently, they had somewhere to be in the D.C. area that day, too.

During that Blackbird’s final flight on Mar. 7, 1990, the plane and its pilots set four new speed records:

  • West Coast of the United States to the U.S. East Coast – 2,404 miles in 68:17.
  • Los Angeles, Calif., to Washington, D.C. – 2,299 miles in 64:20
  • Kansas City, Mo., to Washington, D.C. – 942 miles in 25:59
  • St. Louis, Mo., to Cincinnati, Ohio – 311 miles in 8:32
Army to upgrade firepower for two brigade combat teams

(U.S. Air Force)

The SR-71 refueled in mid-air over the Pacific Ocean before beginning its transcontinental journey. It arrived at Dulles International Airport to a throng of onlookers and well-wishers who knew a good thing when they saw one.

Addressing the full Senate after the historic, record-setting 1990 flight, Senator John Glenn told the assembly that the flight would be remembered as “a sad memorial to our short-sighted policy in strategic aerial reconnaissance.”

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