The deployment is significant because it will mark the first fighter jet landing on a British aircraft carrier in eight years.
Shortly after leaving, the crew carried out their first relief effort: two baby pigeons were found on board, which had to be fed porridge through a syringe and returned to land in a helicopter, the Royal Navy said.
“While our focus for the deployment is getting the new jets onboard for the first time, we are also prepared to conduct humanitarian relief, should we be called upon to do so. We just didn’t think that would be quite so soon,” Lieutenant Commander Lindsey Waudby said.
The jets will be flown by four F-35B pilots from the Integrated Test Force, a unit that includes British and American pilots.
On this mission, three British pilots — a Royal Navy Commander, a Squadron Leader from the Royal Air Force, and one civilian test pilot — will be joined by a Major from the US Marine Corps, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “As the US’s biggest partner in the F-35 programme, we jointly own test jets which are on track to fly off the deck of our new aircraft carrier later this year.”
He said the training will “strengthen our special relationship with US forces.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the third largest aircraft carrier in the world at 280 meters long and a weight of 65,000 tonnes. In total, there will be about 1,500 people on board, the Portsmouth News reported.
It is expected to be on active duty in 2021.
Before leaving for America the carrier was in Portsmouth, running helicopter tests using Chinook Mk 5 helicopters and Merlin Mk 2s:
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
A mysterious 2012 fire that basically destroyed a nuclear submarine while it was in port was caused by a not-so-bright contractor who wanted to get out of work early.
The USS Miami docked at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine in 2012, scheduled for a 20-month engineering overhaul and some regularly scheduled upgrades. While in the dock, a fire started on the sub, which spread to crew living quarters, command and control sections, and its torpedo rooms. Repairing the damage and completing the upgrades after the fire was estimated to cost more than 10 million and three years. By 2013, it was decided the sub would not be fixed and was eventually decommissioned after only 24 years.
The nuclear-powered Los Angeles class attack submarine, which took part in clandestine Cold War missions as well as firing cruise missiles to support operations in Iraq and Serbia, had earned the nickname “the Big Gun.” The ship was cut up for scrap in Washington state’s Puget Sound at the cost of million.
The perpetrator was Casey James Fury, a civilian painter and sandblaster who wanted to go home early. Fury set fire to a box of greasy rags. On appeal, he would complain to a judge of ineffective counsel, as his defense lawyer forced him to admit to setting the fire in exchange for a lighter sentence. According to counsel, he set that fire and a fire outside the sub three weeks later, because of his untreated anxiety.
Fury was sentenced to 17 years in prison, five years of parole, and ordered to pay the Navy 10 million in restitution, an amount prosecutors deemed “unlikely to collect.”
Probably a good call.
The ship caught fire at 5:41 p.m. and burned until 3:30 a.m. the next day. It took 100 firefighters to stop the fire. One of the responding firefighters called it “the worst fire he’s ever seen.” The Navy originally spent another million in initial repairs before deciding to scrap the Miami.
“There seems little doubt that the loss of that submarine for an extended period of time impacts the Navy’s ability to perform its functions,” U.S. District Court Justice George Z. Singal said at Fury’s sentencing. The Navy will just have to make do with the other 41 Los Angeles class submarines in the fleet.
People who love military documentaries can never seem to get enough of them. But there are only so many good ones out there.
There’s a reason every new history or military channel on TV turns into “The World War II Channel” for the first two years of their existence. Military history documentaries are awesome. We found six cool docs for the motivated viewer to watch on Veterans Day when the History Channel repeats its programming every eight hours.
And the cool thing is, you don’t have to have that pricey cable subscription to watch them. All these can be found on Snagfilms.com, which presents them completely free of charge.
The President and Magic Johnson celebrate 11/11/11 with world’s first NCAA game on an active aircraft carrier. Filmmaker Steven C. Barber and his entertainment company Vanilla Fire Productions were granted permission to shoot a documentary on the Veterans Day event The Carrier Classic held on 11/11/11 in San Diego, California. Barber funded this documentary and had full access to the Morale Foundation founders and participants in order to show this amazing event and the outstanding work and dedication the Morale Foundation has done with the U.S. military.
Kelsey Grammer narrates this amazing story of the young men and women of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (once known as JPAC) that embed themselves in beyond rugged and brutal conditions in order to bring our fallen service members home. The Battle of Tarawa finally has some closure after 69 years. US remains were flown back in a C-130 with a C-17 transfer back to Honolulu. DPMAA Team members are the unsung heroes that until now have been unrecognized and have worked in the shadows. That is about to change.
Narrated by four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris, “Return to Tarawa” follows the journey of World War II veteran Leon Cooper. Cooper — a U.S. Navy landing craft officer who in 1943 fought in the bloody battle — returns to the site in 2008 to investigate disturbing reports about the current state of the fabled “Red Beach.”
National Geographic presents “Arlington: Field of Honor,”a portrait of one of America’s most sacred places. Once little more than a potter’s field, Arlington National Cemetery has become a national shrine and treasury of American history. Now, discover how this revered site came to be, and how it serves as the final resting place for both the famous and obscure, from John F. Kennedy to the Unknown Soldier.
One thousand miles from anywhere lay a lonely outpost of coral and sea called Midway. It was here in 1942 where the U.S. and Japan fought one of the greatest naval battles of World War II and changed the course of history. And it is here again where Titanic discoverer Dr. Robert Ballard now leads a team of experts and four World War II veterans on the voyage of their lives. They’re on a race against time to do the impossible: find at least one of the five downed aircraft carriers. Join them as they pay their final respects to their fallen comrades.
“Honor Flight” is a heartwarming documentary about four living World War II veterans and a Midwestern community coming together to give them the trip of a lifetime. Volunteers race against the clock to ﬂy thousands of WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorial constructed for them in 2005, nearly 60 years after the war. The trips are called “Honor Flights” and for the veterans, who are in their late 80s and early 90s, it’s often the first time they’ve been thanked and the last trip of their lives. As the Honor Flight trip unfolds, Orville, Julian, Joe, Harvey and others share their stories and wisdom. While the program is meant to give something back to these humble heroes, the goodness they embody and their appreciation for life transforms everyone they meet.
Let’s chat retirement for a quick minute. You took the Blended Retirement System training, right? Probably because your boss told you to get it done so she could report 100 percent completion for your unit, right? And it was probably the most boring two hours of your life, right? So, now that we’re halfway through 2018, how much do you actually remember about BRS and retirement from that training? Not much, am I right?
Exactly. So let’s break it down.
Who’s eligible for BRS?
Anyone who was in the military as of Dec. 31, 2017, is automatically grandfathered into the High-3 Legacy retirement system. Remember, that’s the one where you multiply the number of years you serve by the average of your highest 36 months of basic pay by 2.5%. This option requires you to serve at least 20 years to qualify for retirement. However, if you have less than 12 years of service (active duty) or less than 4,320 points (Reserves/National Guard), then you have a choice to make. You can either stick with the High-3 system or opt into BRS.
First, let’s be frank. This is a highly personal decision, and quite honestly, we support you either way. But we (the Department of Defense) want to ensure you have the right tools and information to make the best choice for you and your family.
So. You need to take a hard look at your finances and your goals. Chat with your spouse or family. Make an appointment with your installation’s personal financial manager or another trusted advisor and run the BRS calculator. See which choice is best for you.
If you want to stick with the High-3, great! Enjoy that retirement and ride off into the sunset!
If you choose BRS, that’s great too! There are some great benefits to BRS, IF you decide it’s the best choice for you. So let’s look at how you can 1) take ownership of your retirement, and 2) make the most of it.
(National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)
Remind me again what BRS is?
Through the Blended Retirement System, you don’t have to serve 20 years to walk away with government-provided retirement benefits. So, if you don’t think you’ll make a career out of your military service (and that’s FINE!), BRS would be a great choice for you. If you do plan to serve 20 years, the important thing to remember is that if you opt into BRS early and maximize your Thrift Savings Plan contributions, you could have a retirement that is potentially equal to or more than what you might earn with the legacy retirement system.
There are three main parts of BRS that make it different from the High-3 Legacy system:
Defined benefit: Monthly retired pay for life after at least 20 years of service. This is part of BOTH retirement options. However, under BRS, the defined benefit multiplier changed from 2.5% to 2.0%. So apply this to the formula:
High-3: Number of years you serve X Average of your highest 36 months of basic pay X 2.5%
BRS: Number of years you serve X Average of your highest 36 months of pay X 2.0% (This results in about a 20% reduction in monthly retired pay. However, you have the opportunity to make up the difference by maximizing your TSP contributions and receiving the government matching funds.)
Defined contribution: Government automatic and matching contributions of up to 5 percent of basic pay to your Thrift Savings Plan. Even if you’re sticking with the legacy system, TSP is still something you should consider. While the government won’t match your contributions (that’s BRS only), TSP is a great way to augment your monthly retired pay.
Continuation pay: A one-time, midcareer bonus in exchange for an agreement to perform additional obligated service. It’s a direct cash payout, much like a bonus, and is only available to service members enrolled in BRS. Service members who are eligible may receive a payment of at least 2.5 times your monthly basic pay. Reservists and members of the National Guard are eligible to receive 0.5 times their monthly basic pay as if serving on active duty. However, this is unique to each service, so ensure you check with your Manpower/Personnel office to find out more information. You can find more information on continuation pay here.
So, if you opt into BRS and serve 20 years or more and qualify for retirement, you have a pretty sweet deal. But the cool part is that even if you DON’T stay for retirement (which again, is totally OK), you still walk away with your TSP. And don’t worry, you’re always vested (entitled to) your own contributions and earnings. However, to become vested in the Service Automatic Contribution (1%), you must have completed two years of service. After two years of service, you are considered fully vested.
AND what’s even cooler is that, say you get out of the military completely and you get a civilian job with a 401(k) — you can roll your TSP into that company’s retirement fund. Or, you can choose to leave your TSP alone until you’re of the age to tap into it (which is 59 1/2, btw). Even if you’re not contributing to it anymore, your TSP will continue to grow over time based on the market’s performance. So, you could potentially have a tidy sum that you can access when you finally retire from working. Let’s just call this what it is … a win-win.
First and foremost, like we said already, it’s critically important that you make this decision fully armed with the information you need to make the best choice possible for your financial future. That means going to your installation’s financial manager, talking with your spouse or someone you trust. Deeply consider what you want your life after the military to look like, how you’ll get there and how either the High-3 system or BRS can help you get there.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael E. Davis Jr., Maryland National Guard Public Affairs Office)
If you are one of those folks who is grandfathered into High-3 and choose to stay there, then there’s nothing you need to do. Just keep going to work, doing great things and getting closer and closer to retirement.
If you decide that BRS is the way to go, remember that you have until Dec. 31, 2018, to opt in. That can be done via MyPay if you’re a Soldier, sailor, Airman or Coast Guard member, or MarineOnline for you Marines. Once it’s done though, you can’t change your mind. The decision is final.
Then, after that, double check your TSP contribution to ensure that you receive the government matching benefit. If you opt in, you automatically receive the 1 percent government contribution. But YOU have to physically adjust anything after that to ensure you receive the government matching. If you don’t make any TSP changes, your existing contribution rate stays the same, even if that is zero. And if you can’t afford to contribute the full amount right now, that’s totally OK. But think about what you can contribute now and then factor in pay raises or bonuses for potential opportunities to increase your contribution when you can.
If you’re a Reservist, this applies to you, too. But your TSP contributions come from your weekend drill pay. But, any time you’re on long-term active duty orders, your contributions will continue, but come from your basic pay.
So, let’s recap for a hot minute.
While planning for retirement might not be on your mind now, it’s really, really important that you take a second to thoroughly think through your options: BRS v. High-3. And if you’ve made your decision and BRS is it, ensure you opt in by the deadline, Dec. 31, 2018. However, after Dec. 31, 2018, your retirement choice will be irrevocable. If you’ve already opted in, or once you do so, ensure your TSP contributions are adjusted to maximize your TSP and ensure you receive the government matching capability. You’ll be able to adjust your TSP contributions at your leisure any time moving forward.
We just ran through a lot of pretty dense stuff. But, like we said, we, the Department of Defense, are totally cool with whatever choice you make. We just want to ensure you have the tools and resources to make an educated decision. Your retirement is your future – be sure you’re financially prepared for it — and give yourself a high five for making the right choice for you!
Osama bin Laden is dead. ISIS has been disbursed to the winds. Al-Baghdadi saw the wrong side of Army Special Forces. That means it’s open season on terrorists’ most-wanted leaders. Since no one usually wants to carry this mantle, the United States government sometimes has to decide for them. In the weeks following the death of ISIS’ first caliph, the State Department announced a $10 million reward for two members of our old enemy, al-Qaeda.
If you’re looking for a cool couple of million and have some spare time…
Michael Evanoff, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, told reporters that the State Department was announcing a reward for two senior members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It’s offering million for information on Sa’ad bin Atef al-Awlaki and up to million for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi. The United States alleges the two terror group members have encouraged its membership to make attacks against the United States and its citizens.
Al-Qosi is a Sudanese national who was Osama bin Laden’s driver and cook from 2006 to 2010. He was captured by American forces and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, where he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. The former driver and cook was released to Sudan in July 2012 in exchange for his cooperation. Al-Awlaki is a senior commander for AQAP who was also a field commander for AQAP fighting the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen.
Which means he’s probably as good at war as the Saudis.
Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi is not any kind of field commander or operative, at least not that the United States has released. The Supreme Court has since ruled material support for terrorism is not a war crime and therefore cannot be prosecuted under the Guantanamo military tribunals, but he has not challenged his previous convictions. Instead, he turned to advocating support for attacks on American nationals and American military forces worldwide, which put him in the State Department crosshairs.
At the Second Battle of Mukalla in 2015, Sa’ad bin Atef al-Awlaki was a field commander who led troops against the Saudi coalition. American troops were stationed near Mukalla, but not much is known about the interactions between U.S. and AQAP forces during the battle. AQAP was forced to abandon the town.
Professor Frances Arnold won a 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research initially funded by the U.S. Army in new enzyme production that led to the commercial, cost-effective synthesis of biofuels tested on the U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters in 2013, and are now approved by the aviation standards body for use in commercial aviation.
Arnold is only the fifth woman to win the prize in its 117-year history.
Gérard Mourou, a French scientist and pioneer in the field of electrical engineering and lasers, won a 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for Army-funded research in fundamental physics that led to new developments high-intensity, ultrashort laser pulses which led to a number of commercial advancements from masonry, i.e., drilling tiny holes, to medicine’s Lasik eye surgery.
With a modest single investigator grant from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Army Research Office in the 1990s, Arnold demonstrated the ability to modify an enzyme that provided robust native activity but at higher temperatures. Through a process of protein sequence alteration and selection, directed evolution stretches the boundaries of enzyme activity and function beyond what nature provides.
During this grant period, Arnold also developed a computational algorithm called SCHEMA which provides a means of improving molecular evolution searches toward targeted protein sequence alterations. Through SCHEMA, she demonstrated that this algorithm can be used to design variations of a model protein that confers functional diversity (e.g. enhanced activity, enhanced thermal stability, altered substrate specificity).
Dr. Frances Arnold, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.
(California Institute of Technology photo)
In 2003, the Army began funding Arnold through the Army’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (AICB) in Santa Barbara. There, Arnold has utilized SCHEMA to design novel activities for a broad host of enzymes including activity and stability improvements in enzymes capable of degrading cellulosic biomass toward renewable fuel synthesis and developed new machine learning tools to enhance the selection of novel engineered enzymes.
Most notably, as a transition of Army basic research funding, Arnold co-founded a start-up company (Gevo) in 2005 that received its initial funding through the AICB applied research program. Gevo’s business goal was to scale-up processing systems that utilize SCHEMA-designed enzymes incorporated into microorganisms for the cost-effective synthesis of biofuels. From these beginnings, Gevo developed into a business that is the world’s only commercial producer of renewable isobutanol and in 2013, the US Army successfully flew the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter on a 50/50 blend of Gevo’s ATJ-8 (Alcohol-to-Jet).
“This recognition validates the way ARO pursues basic research,” said ARL’s Dr. Robert J. Kokoska, program manager in microbiology.
“Twenty years ago, an ARO program manager recognized a potentially unique and exciting approach that could change the way biology can be used to expand the possibilities and range of biochemical synthesis. As Prof. Arnold successfully pursued her vision in large part through this modest initial investment and then through the AICB, the Army can take great pride in knowing that it helped nurture this ground-breaking research which has provided valuable tools for enhancing the creativity of biologists and engineers within the Army research enterprise and the research community at-large. The exciting Army-impactful industrial biofuel transition further validates ARO’s basic research investments,” Kokoska said.
Dr. Gerard Mourou, Nobel Laureate in Physics.
(University of Michigan photo)
Arnold is the Linus Pauling professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.
The Nobel Prize in Physics winner, Mourou, was initially funded while he was at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There, he created ultrashort, high-intensity laser pulses, called chirped pulse amplification, that were used to develop a positron source for positron spectroscopy. According ARO program manager Dr. Richard Hammond, this research will lead to new kinds of directed energy sources for the Army. Mourou continues his research at the Ecole Polytechnique, public institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, a suburb southwest of Paris.
“It is good the world recognizes the value of the research funded by ARO,” Hammond said.
“This research opened the door to an entirely new kind of physics, both in spectroscopy to and high intensity physics interaction leading to directed energy include X-rays, neutron beams and beta rays. This work could lead to developments in new detection mechanisms of future failure of rotors in helicopters, finding voids in materials for electronic and photonic devises, and in radiation therapy,” Hammond explained.
Arnold shares the prize in chemistry with George Smith, who developed a method known as phage display, where a bacteriophage — a virus that infects bacteria — can be used to evolve new proteins.
Mourou shares the prize in physics with Dr. Donna Strickland, of Canada, who is only the third woman to win the prize in physics.
When the coalition of Western and Arab allies banded together to fight ISIS, the idea of fighting the good fight was met with a lot of zeal. When Jordanian fighter pilot First Lieutenant Muadh al-Kasasbeh was captured and burned alive by the terror organization, Jordan’s King Abdullah vowed “punishment and revenge” and led to the Jordanian King, an accomplished fighter pilot himself, releasing a photo of himself in his flight suit, geared for battle.
The Western world was wowed once more when a female pilot from the United Arab Emirates, Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, led that country’s air war against Daesh. Many in the West aren’t familiar with the customs of each individual Arab country, especially when it comes to their views on the rights of women.
“She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat ready pilot, and she led the mission,” Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“We are in a hot area so that we have to prepare every citizen,” Al Mansouri said. “Of course, everybody is responsible of defending their country — male or female. When the time will come, everybody will jump in.”
The allies still allow U.S. planes to use their bases, but now the Gulf states who spearheaded the effort against ISIS are focused elsewhere. Emirati forces joined Saudi Arabia in fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Jordan also joined in the effort in Yemen. Qatar limited its sorties to reconnaissance missions.
Bahrain last struck targets in Syria in February, the UAE in March, Jordan in August, and Saudi Arabia in September.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter criticized local allies efforts, saying the Gulf states, known as the GCC or Gulf Cooperation Council, saying “some of the Gulf states are up there at 30,000 feet. If you look at where the Iranians are able to wield influence, they are in the game, on the ground.”
“The reason they lack influence, and feel they lack influence in circumstances like Iraq and Syria, with [ISIS],” Carter continued, “is that they have weighted having high-end air-force fighter jets and so forth over the hard business of training and disciplining ground forces and special-operations forces.”
According to the Atlantic, the Obama Administration consistently complains about local allies, notably Turkey and the Gulf, expecting the U.S. to fight their regional enemies more than U.S. national security.
Over the years, it has become a running joke of sorts that Batman’s glorified fanny pack contains whatever items he needs to fulfill his current mission, regardless of how unlikely a scenario the caped crusader may find himself in. This leads us to the query of the hour- what has Batman’s utility belt been shown to contain?
Up until the release of Detective Comics #29, which formally introduced the idea of Batman having a utility belt, Batman’s costume had, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary belt that stored a single gadget- the bat rope with a grappling hook.
Whats in Batmans Utility Belt & Other Bat Gadgets? – Know Your Universe | Comicstorian
In Detective Comics #29, writer Gardner Fox decided to expand his tool-set, establishing that the Dark Knight wore a belt with numerous pouches containing various gadgets he may need while fighting crime- the first revealed being small glass pellets that when thrown released a large cloud of obscuring, choking gas.
From there things became a bit more elaborate. For example, among other things the utility belt was shown to include a giant balloon figure of batman that can be inflated remotely (Batman #115), a mini Geiger counter (Batman #117), and even a small disk made of asbestos inexplicably revealing his secret identity (Detective Comics #185).
In the 1958 comic Batman #117, it even shows him carrying shark repellent, for all those times one needs to fend off sharks while fighting crime on the streets of Gotham… If you’re curious, in this case Batman was underwater on an alien planet. Lucky for him, he remembered to pack his shark repellent and used it against an angry alien, reasoning that “if it works on the killers of the deep on Earth” it might just scare away a similar creature on an alien planet. We mention this because it gives the infamous scene in the 1966 Batman film where Adam West fends off a shark in mid-air with some handy Shark Repellent Bat Spray some context. Glorious, 1950s era context with pure West.
Later comics also establish that Batman has gadgets specifically designed to counter single members of his rogues gallery such as an antidote to the Joker’s Joker toxin, a Bat-heater to combat Mr Freeze, and special gloves that augment his punching power to fight on a more even playing field with the superhumanly strong villain Bane. Not just for enemies, Batman also apparently keeps what’s needed on hand to take out his allies as well, including a little bit of kryptonite, just in case.
It should also be noted here that in his very earliest comic outings, Batman’s utility belt had space for a handgun. Yes, as sacrilege as this would be in modern times, early versions of Batman had no qualms about shooting bad guys dead.
As for more day to day things, Batman’s utility belt further carries: A first aid kit containing basic surgical tools and various anti-toxins, an acetylene torch that can “cut through the hull of a battleship”, a forensic kit for analysing crime scenes, batarangs, a communication device, keys for the Batmobile, a rebreather in case Batman is ever submerged underwater, Batcuffs (special handcuffs designed to restrain even superpowered individuals), a lockpick, a high resolution camera and in some cases and the aforementioned grappling hook. In addition, the belt also contains numerous darts and pellets designed to subdue, incapacitate or otherwise stun criminals non-lethally when thrown. It also is variously shown to have a flamethrower, and EMP, a sonic devastator, remote claw, napalm, explosive gel, a cryptographic sequencer, and grenades of various type.
In the Batman and Robin film, the belt is even shown to contain a bat-credit card, which, if Batman is to be believed when he flashes it, is something he never leaves home without. And, to be honest, while this scene is often made fun of by the masses, it does at least accurately demonstrate a way for Batman to use his greatest super power- being rich.
In any event, as you might be gathering at this point, writers for Batman really do use his utility belt as a deus ex machina of sorts, usually introducing an amazingly specific gadget seemingly perfectly suited to solve whatever problem Batman has at a given time, with that gadget often never being mentioned again in later depictions.
In an effort to explain away their lazy writing in a semi-plausible way, the comic authors established in Batman canon that the hero obsessively plans every encounter to the most minute detail and has safeguards in place for any eventuality. Thus implying that the exact contents of his utility belt at any given time vary considerably from day to day, though even just going with the staple items that are supposedly always there, the storage capacity of this belt would give Hermione Granger’s handbag a run for its money.
Speaking of planning for any eventuality, the belt has numerous inbuilt security systems to prevent unauthorized use including a tracking beacon and an explosive charge so Batman can destroy it as a last resort if he ever loses it. The belt can also only be accessed by Batman and the various compartments and pouches will only open in response to a specific finger pattern.
The belt is also supposed to be constructed from a titanium alloy that makes it near indestructible, except, we guess from whatever explosive he used for its self destruct mode.
Of course, it’s at this point we feel compelled to point out that in the 1960s Batman TV show, early editions of his utility belt can very clearly be shown to be made up of common household kitchen sponges clipped to a yellow belt…
But to sum up, Batman’s superhero fanny pack contains a bafflingly array of equipment to fight crime, from shark repellent to kryptonite, that somehow all fits neatly into his tiny belt thanks to the magic of lazy comic writing.
Speaking of Batman’s obsessive planning, the comic JLA: Tower of Babel notes that Batman has plans in place to take out his own teammates, keeping detailed dossiers describing how to best deal with heroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash. Batman’s obsession with being prepared for every scenario is such that he even keeps a file detailing how to kill himself should the need arise. For anyone curious, Batman notes that the easiest way to kill him would be to distract him by taking an innocent person hostage then take him out like any other mortal man. Although, given countless villains have used this exact strategy against him with little effect, we’re thinking maybe Batman’s planning abilities may be a little overestimated.
This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.
The Pentagon says U.S. military commanders were told by their Russian counterparts that there were no Russians in a paramilitary force whose attack on a base in eastern Syria early February 2018 led to a massive counterstrike by U.S. forces.
The comments by Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White on Feb. 22, 2018, add another piece to the puzzle surrounding the Feb. 7 incident, which Moscow said this week caused dozens of casualties among fighters from Russia and other former Soviet republics but did not involve uniformed Russian troops.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other U.S. military officials have repeatedly said that U.S. military commanders were in contact with their Russian counterparts at the time of the clash. But White’s comments are the clearest to date that the U.S. military was told there were no Russians in the attacking force.
“The strike in Syria — our strikes were done out of self-defense. We were very clear about that. We saw those — that group moving towards us. We still don’t know, and I won’t speculate, about the intentions or the composition of that group,” White said.
“What I can tell you is that we used our deconfliction phone line, and we used it before, during, and after the strike. And we were assured by the Russians that there were no Russians involved,” she said.
The clash in Deir al-Zor Province appears to be the first time that U.S. forces engaged directly with Russians in Syria, where Russian forces are backing President Bashar al-Assad’s government in a devastating seven-year civil war.
The revelation that Russian mercenaries were killed stoked fears of an outright hostile confrontation between Russians and U.S. forces. But the Russian government has distanced itself from the incident and its public comments have been subdued.
The United States has said that air and artillery strikes launched after as many as 500 pro-government forces attacked a base housing U.S.-backed opposition forces and U.S. military advisers killed about 100 of the attackers.
No Russian official directly acknowledged that Russian citizens were involved until Feb. 15, 2018, when Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that about five people who were “presumably Russian citizens” may have been killed.
On Feb. 20, 2018, the Russian Foreign Ministry said “several dozen” citizens of Russia and other former Soviet republics were wounded in the lopsided exchange.
With accounts from relatives and acquaintances of Russian fighters in Syria mounting, some open-source researchers and media reports have said that dozens or hundreds of Russians were killed.
Believe it or not, the Germans were not surprised that the Allies were ready to invade Fortress Europe as a means of bringing World War II to an end. As a matter of fact, in much of Europe, the Nazis were ready for whatever the Allied troops were going to throw their way. The Nazis knew about the military build-up in England, and even the lowest-ranking Wehrmacht trooper knew the invasion would come at some point.
Luckily, the Allied powers still had a few tricks up their sleeves.
They didn’t think Normandy would be the target.
The ideal point of an invasion of Europe from England, Nazi planners determined, would come at Calais. There were many reasons for this, but the simplest explanation is that Calais is the closest landing point from England. The English Channel is a tough, choppy sea with inclement weather – a more distant location could put a substantial invasion force at risk, so the troops manning the Atlantic Wall were reasonably sure Normandy was safe.
No one expected it in June 1944.
Most experienced German troops and planners believed the Allies would not open a second invasion of Europe from the West until the Invasion of Italy was complete. Most thought another invasion of Allied forces would come only after the Italian Campaign reached the Alps or even crossed over them. This, coupled with the fact they thought the landings would come at Calais meant the Germans manning defenses at Normandy were not the best troops for the job. Those troops were hundreds of miles away.
The advance was much faster than expected
German troops marveled at the speed with which American, British, and Canadian forces were able to move their men and materiel, not only in crossing the English Channel on D-Day and the days after, but in the weeks following June 6. The formation of a firm beachhead and the rapid advance through the French countryside astonished the Germans, who had made the same lightning advance across the territory just a few years prior.
How much the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine failed them
During the D-Day landings, the presence of the German Air Force or Navy was minimal where it existed at all. The Wehrmacht was the only real resistance to the Allied landings. Were it not for the Channel’s infamous choppiness and bad weather, the landings would have made it across the water entirely unabated. With no air cover or protection from the water, the army was essentially left out to dry.
The coordination of the Maquis
The Germans largely despised the resistance movements in France and other occupied countries and looked down on them with disdain. In practice, however, the close coordination between French resistance cells and the Allied command created a situation where German troops, transports, and heavy weapons that might have thrown the Allies back into the English Channel were instead tied up and slowed down for hours, leaving only the defenses sitting on the Atlantic Wall to try and stem the tide.
Several times each year America’s premier combat pilots converge on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for an air war exercise called Red Flag.
The storied proving ground for Air Force fighter pilots, Red Flag has become a bellwether for the war of the future, underscoring how fighter jocks and the supersonic whips they command are now only one piece of a complicated web of interwoven combat domains — including novel, non-kinetic threats in cyberspace and outer space.
As participants in Red Flag 21-1, members of the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron — an Air Force Reserve unit — simulate how America’s modern adversaries might use space-borne weapons to degrade the air superiority advantage that US combat forces have long enjoyed.
“Our role in [Red Flag] 21-1 is to replicate how an adversary would act in a conflict using space enabled capabilities,” said Maj. Scott Hollister, a flight commander in the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron — call sign Vader-1.
Activated in 2000, the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron was the US military’s first space aggressor unit. The 26th Space Aggressor Squadron, for its part, stood up in 2003. Space aggressors generally focus on three types of space-borne threats — GPS electronic attacks, satellite communications electronic attacks, and anti-satellite attacks.
“We and our active duty counterparts, the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron, are the only units who bring a space oriented ‘bad guy’ perspective to the exercise,” Hollister said, regarding Red Flag.
Typically running multiple times per year, Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier air combat exercise, involving air, ground, cyber, and space threats. Running from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, this year’s first iteration of the exercise includes some 2,400 participants from three countries, operating a gamut of the world’s most advanced combat aircraft, including the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lighting II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, EA-18G Growler, F-15E Strike Eagle, and A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog.”
During Red Flag, pilots and other personnel are pitted in mock combat against elite American “aggressor” units whose sole purpose is to simulate the combat tactics, technology, and procedures of foreign adversaries’ military forces.
The Air Force’s two active aggressor fighter squadrons fly F-16 fighters painted in unusual camouflage schemes and colors not normally found on American warplanes. The pilots in these elite aviation units compete against their peers in simulated dogfights and other air combat scenarios. Reportedly, there are plans to integrate early-model F-35As into the aggressor fleet by mid-2021.
As the Pentagon buckles down for great power competition after a generational focus on combatting low-tech insurgencies, the Air Force has put a renewed emphasis on its aggressor units. To that end, Red Flag offers American forces a chance to operate in a contested, degraded environment, facing threats from the air, ground, space, and cyberspace.
“Any realistic training against a near-peer or competitor nation is going to require heavy utilization of multi-domain operations. The classical role of the Air Force being able to penetrate an airspace protected by an Integrated Air Defense System is no longer a problem set that can be solved using Air Force assets and capabilities alone,” US Space Force Capt. Kaylee Taylor, chief of non-kinetic integration at the 414th Combat Training Squadron, said in a release.
During Red Flag, the space aggressors simulate an adversary’s tactics by jamming satellite communications and GPS receivers. This training teaches American warfighters how potent these “non-kinetic” weapons can be.
In military parlance, “non-kinetics” generally refers to electronic warfare weapons — deployed from the ground, air, and space — which can be used in tandem with cyberattacks. At Red Flag, the space aggressors work closely with a cyber aggressor unit to mimic the combined non-kinetic threats that US forces would likely face against a modern adversary such as Russia or China.
According to an Air Force release: “The 26th [Space Aggressor Squadron] mission is to replicate enemy threats to space-based and space-enabled systems during tests and training exercises. By using Global Positioning System and satellite communications adversary effects, the squadron provides Air Force, joint and coalition military personnel with an understanding of how to recognize, mitigate, counter and defeat these threats.”
Proficiency in operating with degraded systems could be decisive in a modern war. Adversaries such as Russia and China have electronic warfare technology capable of interfering with GPS signals and communication feeds — effectively divorcing US pilots from the technological aids on which they’ve relied to prosecute the post-9/11 air wars over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
In short — US combat pilots are training to fight a far more technologically sophisticated adversary than they’ve faced since 2001. And they’re training to do so without relying on America’s vaunted technological dominance in air power.
For fighter pilots, that means a renewed emphasis on certain old-school tactics, such as executing airstrikes with unguided, free-fall “dumb bombs” that depend on a pilot’s touch to ballistically lob onto a target. They also need exposure to the full gamut of electronic warfare threats they may face in combat against a near-peer adversary.
“For the pilots, it may be their first time seeing non-kinetics, space or cyber integrated into the air fight. We introduce it to them so they can prepare to compete and win in all-domain combat operations,” Taylor, the Space Force captain, said of Red Flag 21-1.
Two decades of counterinsurgency operations have adapted American combat pilots to operate within fairly predictable war zone architectures. But in the next war, US forces will face much more confusing battlefields where nothing can be taken for granted — especially communication and GPS.
“Red Flag aims to train how we fight against modern potential adversary capabilities. In order to do this, we have to bring together airborne capabilities with the emerging capabilities of both space and cyber units,” Taylor said.
A four-man team of soldiers sits in a nondescript building on Fort Belvoir, Va., each at his own desk, surrounded by three monitors that provide them individual, 3D views of an abandoned city.
On screen, they gather at the corner of a crumbling building to meet another team — represented by avatars — who are actually on the ground in a live-training area, a mock-up of the abandoned city. They’re all training together, in real time, to prepare for battles in dense urban terrain.
That’s the central goal of the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) — immersive, integrated virtual training — presented during a Warriors Corner session at the 2018 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington. The Army has been working toward this kind of fully immersive training experience for decades, and leadership hopes to have it operational as early as 2025.
In May 1993, Army RDA Bulletin dedicated several articles to the concept and execution of distributed interactive simulation (DIS), “a time and space coherent representation of a virtual battlefield environment” that allowed warfighters across the globe to interact with one other as well as computer-generated forces, according to John S. Yuhas, author of the article “Distributed Interactive Simulation.”
Better, faster, stronger
While the name of the program seems to emphasize individual simulation units, its overarching purpose was to bring together thousands of individuals and teams virtually in real time. Central to DIS was the idea of interoperable standards and protocol, allowing each community — “trainer, tester, developer, and acquisitioner” — to use the others’ concepts and products, Maj. David W. Vaden wrote in “Vision for the Next Decade.”
The article explained that “distributed” referred to geographically separated simulations networked together to create a synthetic environment; “interactive” to different simulations linked electronically to act together and upon each other; and “simulation” to three categories — live, virtual and constructive. Live simulations involved real people and equipment; virtual referred to manned simulators; and constructive referred to war games and models, with or without human interaction.
DIS has much in common with STE. Both provide training and mission rehearsal capability to the operational and institutional sides of the Army (i.e., soldiers and civilians). They even share the same training philosophy: to reduce support requirements, increase realism and help deliver capabilities to the warfighter faster.
Users of STE will train with live participants and computer simulations, with some units training remotely. However, STE takes virtual reality training to a new level altogether by incorporating advances in artificial intelligence, big data analysis and three-dimensional terrain representation.
Current training simulations are based on technologies from the 1980s and ’90s that can’t replicate the complex operational environment soldiers will fight in. They operate on closed, restrictive networks, are facilities-based and have high overhead costs for personnel, Maj. Gen.
Maria R. Gervais, commanding general for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Training Center and director of the STE Cross-Functional Team, said in an August 2018 article, “The Synthetic Training Environment Revolutionizes Sustainment Training.”
Those older technologies also can’t support electronic warfare, cyberspace, and megacities, the article explained. For example, soldiers in the 1990s could conduct training using computers and physical simulators — like the ones showcased in Charles Burdick, Jorge Cadiz and Gordon Sayre’s 1993 “Industry Applications of Distributed Interactive Simulation” article in the Army RDA Bulletin-but the training was limited to a single facility and only a few networked groups; the technology wasn’t yet able to support worldwide training with multiple groups of users in real time, like the Army proposes to do with the STE.
Gervais presented a promotional video during “Warriors Corner #13: Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team Update,” which said the STE will provide intuitive and immersive capabilities to keep pace with the changing operational environment. The STE is a soldier lethality modernization priority of the U.S. Army Futures Command.
“With the STE, commanders will conduct tough, realistic training at home stations, the combat training centers and at deployed locations. The STE will increase readiness through repetition, multi-echelon, multidomain, combined arms maneuver and mission command training. And most importantly, the STE will train soldiers for where they will fight,” said Gen. Robert B. Abrams, then-commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, in the same video. Abrams is now commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea.
Today, simulations in the integrated training environment do not provide the realism, interoperability, affordability and availability necessary for the breadth of training that the Army envisions for the future. The STE will be able to do all that — it will be flexible, affordable and available at the point of need.
“This video helps us get to shared understanding, and also awareness of what we’re trying to achieve with the synthetic training environment,” Gervais said during the AUSA presentation. “But it also allows us to understand the challenges that we’re going to face as we try to deliver this.”
“We don’t have the right training capability to set the exercises up,” said Mike Enloe, chief engineer for the STE Cross-Functional Team, during the presentation. “What I mean by that is that it takes more time to set up the systems that are disparate to talk to each other, to get the terrains together, than it does to actually have the exercise go.”
The Synthetic Training Environment will assess Soldiers in enhancing decision-making skills through an immersive environment.
(US Army photo)
The Army’s One World Terrain, a 3D database launched in 2013 that collects, processes, stores and executes global terrain simulations, has been the “Achilles’ heel” of STE from the start, Enloe said. The Army lacks well-formed 3D terrain data and therefore the ability to run different echelons of training to respond to the threat. The database is still being developed as part of the STE, and what the Army needs most “right now from industry is content … we need a lot of 3D content and rapid ways to get them built,” Enloe said. That means the capability to process terrain on 3D engines so that it can move across platforms, he said, and steering clear of proprietary technologies. The STE is based on modules that can be changed to keep up with emerging technologies.
The Army also needs the ability to write the code to develop the artificial intelligence that will meet STE’s needs — that can, to some extent, learn and challenge the weaknesses of participants, he said.
Retired Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, 32nd vice chief of staff of the Army, emphasized during the presentation that the Army needs to move away from the materiel development of the STE and focus on training as a service. “I believe that a training environment should have two critical aspects to it,” he said: It should be a maneuver trainer, and it should be a gunnery trainer.
Changing the culture
Brig. Gen. Michael E. Sloane, program executive officer for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), said the leadership philosophy of STE’s development is about fostering culture change and getting soldiers capabilities faster. “We have to be proactive; the [cross-functional teams] have to work together with the PEOs, and we’re doing that,” he said. “Collectively, we’re going to deliver real value to the soldier, I think, in doing this under the cross-functional teams and the leadership of the Army Futures Command.”
Many organizations are involved with STE’s development. The U.S. Army Combined Arms Center-Training and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command capability managers are working requirements and represent users. PEO STRI is the materiel developer. The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence is responsible for the infantry, armor and combined arms requirement. And finally, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) serves as the approval authority for long-range investing and requirements.
With the Futures Command and ASA(ALT) collaborating throughout the development of STE, Sloane believes the Army will be able to reduce and streamline acquisition documentation, leverage rapid prototyping, deliver capabilities and get it all right the first time.
Soldiers prepare to operate training technologies during the STE User Assessment in Orlando, Fla., in March 2018.
(Photo by Bob Potter)
Gervais reminded the AUSA audience in October that she had spoken about STE at the annual meeting two years ago, explaining that the Army intends to use the commercial gaming industry to accelerate the development of STE. “I did not believe that it couldn’t be delivered until 2030. I absolutely refused to believe that,” she said. In 2017, the chief of staff designated STE as one of the eight cross-functional teams for Army modernization, aligning it with soldier lethality.
Since then, STE has made quite a bit of progress, Gervais said. The initial capability document for the Army collective training environment, which lays the foundation for STE, was approved in 2018. The Army increased its industry engagement to accelerate the development of STE, according to Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley’s direction, which led to the awarding of seven other transaction authority agreements for One World Terrain, followed by a user assessment in March 2018. In June, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper and Milley codified STE in their vision statement. “We’re postured to execute quickly,” Gervais said.
In the meantime, she said, there has been a focused effort to increase lethality with a squad marksmanship trainer in the field to allow close combat soldiers to train immediately. The Army also developed a squad immersive virtual trainer. “We believe we can deliver that [squad immersive trainer] much quicker than the 2025 timeframe,” she said.
STE is focused on establishing common data, standards and terrain to maximize interoperability, ease of integration and cost savings, Gervais said. With the right team effort and coordination, she believes STE can be delivered quickly. Perhaps in a few short years, STE can achieve the lofty goal that DIS had for itself, according to Yuhas: Revolutionize the training and acquisition process for new weapon systems.