How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

In December 2018, just before policymakers and pundits escaped their besieged bunkers for Christmas, the UK government published the long-awaited final report on its Modernising Defence Programme. This programme was meant to update the military commitments made in the last full-blown Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2015.

How far it has succeeded in that task is debatable, however. The report’s brevity and lack of detail left many lamenting a missed opportunity.

Revising 2015’s review became necessary thanks to a marked change in circumstances. Partly, those changes are strategic. Relations with Russia have deteriorated even further since 2015, Islamic State (IS) is much diminished, and new military technologies and tactics are advancing.


Mainly, however, those changes are economic. The lower growth trajectory induced by Brexit has reduced the resources available to the Ministry of Defence (MOD). (The UK Defence Budget is set at 2% of GDP, which means that if GDP is smaller than it might have been, so too is the budget available to the military.)

The pound’s depreciation since the Brexit vote in 2016 has also raised the real costs of buying defence equipment from abroad, such as the US-sourced F-35 combat jet. A broader rise in inflation has further added to cost pressures on a 2015 review that was already seen as financially optimistic.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35B Lightning II.

Taken together, these pressures have stretched the disconnect between intended military expenditures and available resources beyond the point that could reasonably be ignored. A political consequence of this has been the MOD —currently led by Gavin Williamson MP, a Defence Secretary unusually willing to provoke budgetary confrontations within Whitehall —demanding more government money to ensure that neither current nor planned military capabilities receive further cuts.

The Treasury, for its part, recognizes that Britain’s security environment has deteriorated to a worse condition than at any point since the Cold War. Yet it is still attempting to avoid major new spending commitments until the full fiscal shock of Brexit becomes clear. It has also long been skeptical of the MOD’s budgetary requests, viewing the department as a perennial financial black hole.

Political turmoil, strategic change

With a full cross-government spending review now scheduled for post-Brexit 2019, this Modernising Defence Programme report represents multiple levels of compromise. It has provided the government with a “good news” item, in the form of modest amounts of new funding to important areas such as high-technology research and “net assessment” of threats.

It also recognizes growing pressures in defence, such as the need to increase the usability of existing equipment if Britain is to pose a credible conventional deterrent against Russia (for example, by ensuring adequate numbers and varieties of munitions for ships and aircraft).

But the report has also dodged some of the hardest choices. For if more money is not eventually forthcoming from the Treasury to pay for equipment — and the people and infrastructure who turn such equipment from mere “stuff” into effective fighting capability — how will it be paid for or what will need to be cut?

These “micro” politics are all occurring against a backdrop of “macro” change in Britain’s strategic environment. The post-Cold War era of unrivaled American (and therefore Western) power is arguably coming to an end, with the rise of China and partial resurgence of Russia.

All of Britain’s closest alliances are simultaneously in flux. With the major European powers, this is due to Brexit. With the US, it is thanks to a combination of President Trump’s mercurial temperament and a longer standing requirement to pivot towards containment of China.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

United States President Donald Trump.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

Yet even as Washington wants to focus on Beijing, European states face a hostile power in their own region, in the form of a Russia that sees good reasons to weaken and ideally break NATO.

Besides the Russia situation, political demands for UK military commitments in other regions also still remain — in the Middle East, Mediterranean, South Atlantic, and increasingly in East Asia too. This difficulty of juggling pressing regional defence needs with a desire for expansive global involvement reflects two competing sets of long-standing pressures in British strategy: the aspiration to play an influential role in the world versus the need to safeguard national security.

A combination of strained alliances and ever-expanding political demands explains the MOD’s determination to secure funds to rebuild UK military capability. After 20 years of preoccupation with counter-terrorism and humanitarian intervention, the current Defence Equipment Programme is now more focused on the heavier “state-on-state” capabilities required to deter a hostile major power in the North Atlantic region (warships, combat aircraft, mechanized ground forces, and so forth). And all of this must take place while still having enough left over to do a bit of all the other things that are asked of the armed forces.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), HMS Sutherland (F81), and HMS Iron Duke (F234).

(UK Ministry of Defence photo)

Without the budget to fulfill recent ambitions, the MOD will not be confident that it can meet Britain’s defence needs. So rather than accept cuts today, this latest report plays for time. The hope is that the tougher security environment of tomorrow will ultimately persuade the Treasury to release more resources for defence, especially once Brexit has been and gone.

To that extent, December 2018’s report achieved its aims. A bit more funding for advanced technology research and net assessment is no bad thing. A recognition that Britain needs more robust stockpiles of fuel, spares, munitions, and expertise was long overdue. And the MOD has managed to delay its day of reckoning with the Treasury until after the initial fiscal shock of Brexit.

A delay is not a victory, however. There is no sign yet of the substantial uplift in funding or the cuts to planned capabilities necessary to place the armed forces on a sound budgetary footing. That hard day of financial reckoning could therefore still be to come.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Treaty fight threatens a more important nuclear agreement

At the time, the treaty was landmark, deemed a new cornerstone of strategic stability.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement for the first time eliminated an entire class of missiles and set up an unprecedented system of arms control inspections — all hailed as stabilizing the rivalry between the keepers of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.

Now, that treaty between Washington and Moscow, known as the INF, is on the rocks, with U.S. President Donald Trump announcing plans to abandon the accord, and national-security adviser John Bolton saying in Moscow on Oct. 23, 2018, that the United States will be filing a formal notification of its withdrawal.


What’s next may be the demise of an even bigger, more comprehensive bilateral arms treaty called New START. And experts suggest that if that deal were to become obsolete, it would all but guarantee a new arms race.

“If the [INF] treaty collapses, then the first new START treaty (signed in 2010) and the follow-on New START treaty will probably follow it into the dustbin of history,” Aleksei Arbatov, a negotiator of the 1994 START I treaty, said in a commentary for the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Signed in 2010 in Prague by U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, New START built on the original START I by effectively halving the number of strategic nuclear warheads and launchers the two countries could possess. In February, each country announced it was in compliance.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, sign the New START treaty in Prague on April 8, 2010.

Though the treaty is due to expire in 2021, the two sides could agree to extend it for another five years.

From Moscow’s side, there is interest. During their meeting in July 2018, President Vladimir Putin suggested to Trump that they extend the pact. From Washington’s side, it’s unclear if there is any interest in doing so.

“If the INF treaty goes under, as appears likely, and New START is allowed to expire with nothing to replace it, there will no verifiable limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces for the first time since the early 1970s,” says Kingston Reif, a nuclear analyst at the Arms Control Association, a Washington think tank. “The risk of unconstrained U.S.-Russian nuclear competition, and even more fraught relations, would grow.”

After simmering quietly in classified intelligence discussions, the INF dispute moved to the front burner in 2014 when the U.S. State Department formally accused Russia of violating the treaty by developing a ground-launched cruise missile with a range that exceeded treaty limits.

Russia denied the accusations, even as Washington officials stepped up their accusations in 2017, accusing Moscow of deploying the missile.

In November of that year, Christopher Ford, then a top White House arms control official, for the first time publicly identified the Russian missile in question as the 9M729.

Trump has pushed the line that, if Russia is not adhering to the INF, then the U.S. won’t either.

Ahead of Bolton’s meeting with Putin on Oct. 23, 2018, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Russia had violated the INF, saying that “Russia was and remains committed to this treaty’s provisions.”

Following Bolton’s meeting with the Russian president amid two days of talks with Russian officials, the U.S. national-security adviser downplayed suggestions that the demise of the INF treaty would undermine global stability. He pointed to the U.S. decision in 2002 to withdraw from another important arms control agreement: the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, also known as the ABM.

As a top arms control official in President George W. Bush’s administration, Bolton was a vocal advocate for pulling out of the ABM treaty.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

National-security adviser John Bolton.

“The reality is that the treaty is outmoded, outdated, and being ignored by other countries,” Bolton said, referring to the INF agreement. “And that means exactly one country was constrained by the treaty” — the United States.

In an interview with the newspaper Kommersant published ahead of his arrival in Moscow, Bolton suggested that Trump administration officials didn’t see any urgency in deciding New START’s fate.

“I’m a veteran arms control negotiator myself, and I can tell you that many, many of the key decisions are made late in the negotiations anyway, so I don’t feel that we’re pressed for time,” Bolton said.

“One of the points we thought was important was to resolve the INF issue first, so we knew what the lay of the land was on the strategic-weapon side. So, we’re talking about it internally…. We’re trying to be open about different aspects of looking at New START and other arms control issues as well,” he said.

All indications to date are that the Trump administration is lukewarm at best on the need to extend New START. When the administration in February2018 released its Nuclear Posture Review—- a policy-planning document laying out the circumstances under which the United States would use its nuclear arsenal — there was no mention of extending the treaty until 2026.

In testimony September 2018 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, David Trachtenberg, the deputy U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, said the administration’s review of whether to extend New START was ongoing.

Matthew Bunn, who oversees the Project On Managing the Atom at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, suggests that instead of pulling out of the INF, the Trump administration should push for a bigger deal that includes not only dismantling the Russian missile in question but also extending New START and ensuring it covers the new generation of Russian weaponry under development.

“Letting the whole structure of nuclear arms control collapse would bring the world closer to the nuclear brink, roil U.S. alliances, and undermine the global effort to stem the spread of nuclear weapons,” he said.

“Both sides are now complying with New START and benefit mutually from its limits, verification and the predictability — all the more so while the viability of INF is in question,” Ernest Moniz, U.S. energy secretary under Obama, and Sam Nunn, a former Republican senator and arms control advocate, wrote in an op-ed article. “Losing either one of these agreements would be highly detrimental; without both, there will be no arms control constraints on nuclear forces, which will exacerbate today’s already high risks.”

Ford and other U.S. officials had already signaled that the United States was moving more aggressively to push back on the alleged Russian missile deployment.

Asked whether Washington planned to develop and deploy its own intermediate-range missiles — similar to what happened in the 1980s before the INF treaty was signed — Bolton said the Trump administration “was a long way” from that point.

Still, the prospect prompted the European Union’s foreign office to release a statement that criticized both Washington and Moscow.

“The world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary would bring even more instability,” it said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

It’s official: President orders Pentagon to create space command

U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the establishment of a space command that will oversee the country’s military operations in space.

Trump signed the one-page memorandum on Dec. 18, 2018, directing the Department of Defense to create the new command to oversee and organize space operations, accelerate technical advances, and find more effective ways to defend U.S. assets in space, including satellites.


The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable, or even destroy satellites on which U.S. forces rely for navigation, communications, and surveillance.

The new command is separate from Trump’s goal to create an independent space force, but could be a step in that direction.

Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Vice President Mike Pence said: “A new era of American national security in space begins today.”

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

Space Command will integrate space capabilities across all branches of the military, Pence said, adding that it will “develop the space doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures that will enable our war fighters to defend our nation in this new era.”

It will be the Pentagon’s 11th combatant command, along with well-known commands such as Central Command and Europe Command.

Space Command will pull about 600 staff from existing military space offices, and then add at least another 1,000 over the coming years, the Associated Press quoted an unidentified U.S. official as saying.

Its funding will be included in the budget for fiscal year 2020.

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

Articles

This company is bringing back a weapon long favored by Navy SEALs

Developed by some of the same engineers who designed the AR-10 and AR-15 family of rifles, the Stoner 63 was one of the world’s first modular, adaptable assault rifles used by the U.S. military.


It saw only limited fielding, but was popular among Navy SEALs during the Vietnam war. The Stoner could be configured as a rifle, carbine and light machine gun, firing from a traditional M16-style box magazine or from a belt.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Navy SEALs in Vietnam. Note the Stoner 63 in the center. (National Archives)

The Stoner is surely one of the coolest looking rifles of the conflict, and while beloved by frogmen for years, it was found by some to be too complex and maintenance intensive for general battlefield use.

Fast forward almost 40 years and U.S. rifle manufacturer Knights Armament has updated the Stoner 63 with a new ultra-lightweight machine gun variant that’s causing some buzz on the interwebs.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
The Stoner X-LMG. (Photo link from The Firearm Blog)

Dubbed the Stoner X-LMG, the new machine gun fires a 5.56mm round from an open bolt with a piston operating system. Knights says the X-LMG uses a unique configuration that eliminates the buffer, further mitigating recoil and making it easier to control.

The X-LMG has a Picatinny rail for optics, a M-LOK handguard and a collapsable stock that helps the new Stoner come in at a surprisingly light weight of just under 9 pounds.

“The Stoner X-LMG … represents a 2kg weight saving over legacy models (including FN Herstal’s Mimimi LMG) providing operators with a more streamlined solution suitable for close quarter battle and military operations in urban terrain as well as parachute insertion,” according to one defense industry analysis.

Reports suggest the new Stoner is gaining interest among foreign special operations teams, including Dutch and French commandos and paratroop regiments. Knights armament is already popular among U.S. special operators and is primarily known for its SR-25 and Mk-11 rifles for designated marksmen and snipers.

Here’s former Delta Force operator Larry Vickers giving a detailed look at the Knights Armament Stoner LMG — the slightly heavier version of the X-LMG.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine reels in success from off-duty charter business

The first time John Cruise III and Steve Turner discovered they shared a connection beyond fishing, they were surprisingly not on the Atlantic Ocean.

Turner booked Cruise’s company, Pelagic Hunter Sportfishing, for a charter, and as they fished for mahi, the talk flowed freely. During the course of their conversation, they learned something else.


Cruise and Turner are Marines.

“He was very assertive and very structured and very good at what he did, and that aligned perfectly with me,” Turner said.

Cruise, a major at Camp Lejeune, is in his 22nd year of military service. For 12 of those years, he has run a small charter-boat business that caught the largest fish at the renowned Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament earlier this year in North Carolina.

Cruise captained a 35T Contender boat that hauled in a 495.2-pound marlin.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to build this business and to continue to work and to transition toward retirement,” Cruise said. “But there are challenges that come with that. The Marine Corps job is my main effort. It’s my most important job.”

Cruise, 47, got a late start as a Marine.

The Toms River, New Jersey-native moved to Florida and tried his hand at roofing, fixing cars and being a handyman. He studied to become a mason but realized that wasn’t his calling.

Cruise enlisted when he was 25 years old.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

“I was trying to get him into the Marine Corps when he was 18, 19, but he wanted to do his own thing, so I just let him go,” John Cruise Jr., a Vietnam War veteran, said of his son. “… His drill instructor says to me, ‘Mr. Cruise, your son is like an Energizer bunny. He does not stop. I can’t keep up with him.”’

The younger Cruise said he was a gunnery sergeant before becoming a chief warrant officer. He switched to the limited duty officer program.

Pelagic Hunter Sportfishing consists of four full-time employees, not counting Cruise or his wife, Jessica, a real-estate agent who answers calls and relays messages to her husband. Cruise tries to respond during lunchtime or on his way to and from his job at the Marines.

Two other men run charters for Cruise, including Capt. Riley Adkins.

“He’s very good at reading people, and if he wants it done, you better have it done before he walks on the boat,” Adkins said. “I’ve baited for him many a day, and if it is not down to the ‘T’ of what he wants, you’re going to hear about it.”

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

Marine Maj. Cruise (left) pictured with his father, a Vietnam veteran. Photo courtesy of the Cruise family.

Adkins and second mate Kyle Kirkpatrick assisted Cruise during Big Rock. The size of their crew and boat (35 feet) was much smaller than most of the more than 200 other boats in the field.

“John approaches fishing, and especially tournament fishing, like nobody I have ever seen,” said Kirkpatrick, who served a decade in the Marines. “He approaches it and treats it just like a mission, so he does all of his planning, all of his preparation ahead of time. You can absolutely tell when you work on John Cruise’s boat that you’re working for a Marine officer. Very meticulous. Perfectionist.”

Cruise’s father has fished his entire life, but Cruise took it a step further.

Whether it was surf fishing, freshwater fishing or fly fishing, the boy seldom returned empty-handed. It was not unusual for Cruise to call his father, breathless with excitement, alerting him to a freshly discovered hot spot.

“In his bedroom on his wall, he has nothing but tuna, because I did a lot of tuna fishing, too,” the elder Cruise said. “I had tuna on the wall, mahi, all kinds of different kinds of fish, and he would keep them in his bedroom on his wall, all pictures of all kinds of fish. He was a real fisherman.”

Said his son: “We catch a lot of fish, and we have a good time doing it.”

Stories of just how good are just below the surface.

Cruise mentions, almost matter of factly, how he has caught several bluefin tuna in the 600- to 700-pound range. One even weighed nearly 850 pounds, the largest fish Cruise said he ever caught. The day before Big Rock, John Cruise Jr. mentioned his son caught two or three swordfish, all weighing at least 150 pounds.

And despite some doubters, Turner insists Cruise’s quick thinking once helped him land an 84-pound wahoo.

“He’s a student of the ocean,” said Turner, who is retiring from the Marines this summer after 24 years. “That man studies the ocean harder than any human I’ve ever met — waater temperatures, water breaks, depth, species, migration, patterns, historical data.”

Starting a business while on active duty is challenging, Cruise said.

“You have to put a lot of money and energy and effort upfront, and it took us about three solid years before we really got on our feet and started … about three years of really breaking even,” Cruise said.

“If you’re going to open a business, make sure you love it and you have passion for it and reach out to the people who are very successful and have done it before. Try to pick their brain to see what works the best.”

And, most of all, evolve.

Cruise said that is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. He estimated more than 20 charters were canceled in April; a full-day charter can cost id=”listicle-2647408673″,200 or more, according to his company’s website.

“We’ll definitely have some impacts this year,” Cruise said. “It slowed the business down in regard to summer and some of the expectations that we were expecting for this upcoming season.”

Business has rebounded since then, though, Cruise said.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

Cruise is the captain of the Pelagic Hunter II. He and mates Riley Adkins and Kyle Kirkpatrick won the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in June by catching a 495.2-pound marlin that they battled for 5½ hours.

The father of three intends to retire from the military “in the next year or so,” thus freeing time to devote to his business and more tournaments.

Until then, there are more fish to catch.

“I have the ability to make adjustments, work hard, prepare and apply those techniques,” Cruise said. “I can give the same exact spread to — pick a captain — and he may never know how to apply it the way we do. You’re constantly making adjustments and changes. It’s a really cool thing to do, and I love it.”

Follow https://www.facebook.com/PelagicHunterSportsfishing for updates on Maj. Cruise’s business, located near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

13 photos of that huge, Air Force F-35 display

The ability to rapidly project power and force against any threat on a moment’s notice has long been a hallmark of American military might. Dozens of advanced stealth fighters carried on that tradition during a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018.

During the exercise, the US Air Force put a lot of destructive power in the air very quickly, launching a total of 35 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters in 11 minutes.

Check out these stunning photos of this show of force by dozens of F-35s.


How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

Maintainers from the 388th Maintenance Group prepare an F-35A for its mission Nov. 19, 2018.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing prepare for takeoff as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

2. The milestone drill marks the first ever F-35 “Elephant Walk” combat power exercise, the purpose of which is to fly as many sorties as possible in a predetermined time period in preparation for a possible combat surge.

Source: The Drive

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing prepare for takeoff as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing prepare for takeoff as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing taxi as they prepare for takeoff prior to a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

5. The Air Force revealed that on any given day, the F-35 wings at Hill Air Force Base fly 30-60 sorties.

Source: Business Insider

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

Pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings taxi F-35As on the runway in preparation for a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Fuchs)

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing fly by in formation as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th conducted a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Nov. 19, 2018.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

An F-35A Lightning II from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing fly by as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

9. The first of the US fifth-generation stealth fighters to fly an actual combat mission was an F-35B that was deployed against the Taliban in Afghanistan in late September 2018.

Source: Business Insider

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing fly in close formation during the combat power exercise.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

10. During development, the F-35 has faced numerous setbacks. The aircraft, recognized as the most expensive in military history, suffered its first crash in South Carolina the same week it completed its first combat mission.

Source: Business Insider

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

A formation of F-35 Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings stationed at Hill Air Force Base perform aerial maneuvers.

( U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cory D. Payne)

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

A formation of 35 F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings fly over the Utah Test and Training Range as part of a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

12. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has ordered the Air Force and Navy to achieve a minimum of 80 percent mission capability rates for their F-35s, F-22s, F-16s, and F/A-18s by September 2019.

Source: Defense News

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

A formation of 35 F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings fly over the Utah Test and Training Range during the exercise.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

13. Hill Air Force Base is expected to house three F-35 squadrons by the end of 2019.

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

popular

7 cool things that happen during the Army-Navy Game

Every November the halls of the Pentagon are torn apart in one of the biggest and oldest rivalries in college sports: the Army-Navy Game. While the outcome of the game may no longer affect who will win the College Football National Championship, it will affect the interpersonal relationships within the Department of Defense for days, maybe weeks after. It also may affect who gets the biggest prize of all, The Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy and a trip to the White House to have it presented personally by the President of the United States.

So yeah, it’s about a lot more than pride.

The game is a spectacle, full of more than 100 years of traditions, pranks, and the best military showmanship the two service academies can muster.


Spirit videos

Ranging from the highly-polished, well-produced masterpieces like the video above to simple iPhone-shot music videos, West Pointers and Annapolis midshipmen shoot, edit, and publish numerous videos about how their school is going to beat the other school, how their school is superior to the other school, and how their culture is more fun. It’s not just students and staff, either. All over the world, troops and graduates make their own videos and upload them to YouTube, DVIDS, and anywhere else someone might see their work of art.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

The prisoner exchange

For one semester every year, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy choose select members of their classes to attend the rival school. At the beginning of the annual Army-Navy Game, these students are returned to their proper academy. The swap at the beginning of the game is known as “The Prisoner Exchange.”

The march on

If you’re into watching military formations on the march as a military band plays on, be sure to catch the pre-game events before the Army-Navy kickoff. One of these events is called “The March On,” and features the entire student bodies of both service academies marching in formation across the open field. It’s really quite a sight.

Military hardware

The Army-Navy Game always starts with a huge show of military power, either in the form of Blue Angels flyovers, Army helicopters, the Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team, the Navy’s Blue Angels, or who-knows-what-else. This pre-game display is always an awesome sight.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

New uniforms

Every year, both Army and Navy take the field in their newest digs, ones designed to honor a part of their individual histories or traditions. Past uniforms have honored Army World War II Paratroopers, the 10th Mountain Division, and types of Navy ships.

Presidential traditions

When the Commander-In-Chief is present at the Army-Navy Game, he has traditions of his own he needs to follow. Of course, the POTUS is the person in charge and can do whatever he wants, but is always expected to cross the field at the 50-yard-line at halftime and watch the game from the other side, a tradition dating back to President Woodrow Wilson.

Honoring the fallen

No matter who wins or who loses, both teams will not leave the field without singing both schools’ alma maters. The winners go to the losing team’s fans and sing to them, taking the sting out of such a rivalry loss (at least a little bit). Then the two teams will sing the winners’ song.

That’s sportsmanship.

Articles

7 awesome things you didn’t know the Coast Guard has

The U.S. Coast Guard doesn’t always get the respect it’s due, mostly because it’s the only branch that doesn’t always fall under the Department of Defense. But that technicality doesn’t mean the Coast Guard doesn’t have some cool stuff.


1. Open ocean ships

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Photo: US Department of Homeland Security

Despite their nickname of “Puddle Pirates,” the Coast Guard does have ships that can operate in the open ocean. The largest and most advanced are the National Security Cutters.

The Coast Guard just accepted its sixth NSC. Each ship carries two helicopters, two boats that can be launched from the stern, and an automated weapons suite. Based out of South Carolina and California, they are used primarily in the Bering Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Arctic.

2. Counter-terrorism special operators

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Barry Bena

The Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST) and Maritime Security Response Teams (MSRT) are both anti-terrorism organizations filled with the Coast Guard’s best and are intended for use near port facilities or along coastlines.

MSSTs primarily deploy to potential targets of terrorists in order to prevent or stop an attack while MSRTs primarily deploy to terrorist attacks and hostage situations in progress. Either can be deployed anywhere in the world.

3. The only operational heavy icebreaker in the U.S. inventory

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Photo: US Coast Guard

The U.S. has only one heavy icebreaker in operation, the USCGC Polar Star. Polar Star was originally commissioned in 1976 and has 75,000 horsepower. The Coast Guard has another heavy icebreaker that it was forced to cannibalize for parts and an operational medium icebreaker.

President Barack Obama recently pledged to close the icebreaker gap between Russia and the United States. Russia currently has about 40 operational icebreakers including the world’s only nuclear-powered icebreakers.

4. Jets

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Photo: US Coast Guard

The Coast Guard currently has two jets. Both are C-37As, the Department of Defense version of the Gulfstream V. They are used to ferry senior Coast Guard officials and the Secretary of Homeland Security at speeds of up to Mach .80.

Until recently, the Coast Guard also had a small fleet of HU-25s, jet aircraft used to chase drug smugglers and scan the surface of the water during search and rescue missions. The HU-25s were replaced with turboprop aircraft that are much slower but cheaper to operate.

5. C-130s

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Photo: USCG Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Parker

While most people think of the Air Force when they hear C-130, both the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps also operate the beloved airframe. The Coast Guard uses the planes for search and rescue, cargo transport, law enforcement, and international ice patrol.

6. A Medal of Honor recipient

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
US Coast Guard

Most Coast Guard missions are ineligible for the Medal of Honor since they don’t take place “in action against an enemy of the United States.” But, Coast Guardsmen have fought in every major American war and, in World War II, one was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Signalman First Class Douglas Munro volunteered for service supporting the U.S. Navy and was a pilot of boats at Guadalcanal. A large force of Marines was attempting to evacuate a beachhead that came under a heavy Japanese counterattack. Munro led the plywood boats that rescued the Marines under fire and he placed his own boat in the hottest part of the battle to protect the Marines.

After getting the Marines back out to sea and rescuing another boat that had run aground, Munro was shot in the head by a Japanese machine gunner. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

7. A former Nazi sailing vessel

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer Sherri Eng

The Coast Guard trains all of its academy cadets on the USCGC Eagle, a sailing vessel that was originally christened the SSS Horst Wessel by Adolf Hitler.

The Wessel was captured after the German surrender in 1945 and the British won it as a spoil of war. An American officer convinced the British to trade it to the U.S. and the ship was renamed the Eagle. She has served as a training vessel and goodwill ambassador vessel ever since.

MIGHTY CULTURE

2 more women attempt Air Force special warfare training

Two more women are attempting to enter the U.S. Air Force’s combat controller and pararescue (PJ) battlefield airman career fields.

The women, who were not identified for privacy reasons, are the first to enter the official training pipelines of those career fields, according to 1st Lt. Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for the Special Warfare Training Wing.

However, they are not the first two female candidates to attempt PJ or combat controller training overall, he said Nov. 1, 2019.


“One candidate is pursuing pararescue, [but] she is currently not in training,” Huggins said in an email. “The most common reasons for this are medical hold, administrative hold or waiting for a training class to begin. The second woman is a combat control (CCT) candidate, and she is currently in the Special Warfare Preparatory Class.”

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas)

The prep class runs eight weeks. Once she graduates, she will proceed to the Assessment and Selection (AS) course, he added.

The two new candidates make the 10th and 11th women to attempt any type of battlefield courses under the Special Warfare Training Wing, and the 11th and 12th to express interest in the program since the Defense Department opened combat career fields to all in December 2015.

Of the female candidates who have previously attempted to join the service’s special warfare program, seven pursued Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) training; one tried pararescue training. Another woman recently dropped from the special reconnaissance program — previously known as special operations weather team, or SOWT — in August 2019, according to Air Education and Training Command.

The 10th, who attempted to become a combat controller, left the program, Huggins said. AETC previously mistakenly said that she had graduated the prep course.

The battlefield airmen career fields are comprised of special tactics officer, combat rescue officer, combat controller, pararescue, special reconnaissance, TACP specialist and air liaison officer.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

Combat controllers from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron fast-rope from a CV-22 Osprey.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

Huggins said it’s no secret that these career fields are tough.

“There is no specific timeline as to when we’ll see our first woman serving as a Special Warfare airman in one of the seven combat-related career fields,” he said. “From start to finish, it may take up to two years for a woman to join an operational unit because of the Air Force’s natural timeline to recruit, access, select and train.”

Earlier this year, Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in written testimony before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel that attrition in these career field pipelines has been high because of the grueling training.

Attrition across the elite training pipelines ranges between 40 and 90 percent, depending on specialty, he added.

“Consequently, we do not foresee large numbers of females in operational units in the near term,” Kelly said in February 2019.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This might be the best Ranger panties ad ever made

For the first time ever, I find myself seriously considering buying Ranger panties. And not just buying them; wearing them to all sorts of events. These are about to be the centerpiece (and possibly only piece) of my Valentine’s Day outfit. And it’s all thanks to this ad from Dog Company of some battalion or another:


How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

Look at it. Really look at it. It’s got puns, it’s got rhymes, it’s got suggestive language, it’s got a joke at the expense of cavalry scouts (thanks for securing our routes, sorry about all the jokes).

It even suggests that Ranger panties are perfect for signing into the unit when you get to Dog Company, which, come on, if you’re not checking to see if they have openings for your MOS already, you’re doing it wrong. My old MOS, unfortunately, does not appear in any infantry MTOEs, so I have to long after these shorts from afar.

But not Dog Company. No, these guys apparently get to throw on their Ranger panties, smack their significant other on the Ranger panty-clad butt, and then charge into battle against communists with guns firing and thighs open to the air, absorbing the sun’s rays and warmth while the commies are absorbing the bullets.

When they’re done with that, they get to have a short meeting with first sergeant, still in the Ranger panties and ostensibly still covered in the gore of their enemies, before going to a wedding or two and a few children’s parties.

The clown isn’t going to be the scariest thing at that party. Thank Valhalla for that.

We’re still not sure which infantryman found a keyboard and typed up this beautiful masterpiece. The fact that they found a keyboard indicates maybe an XO, but the fact that the final advertisement is quality indicates a specialist or corporal.

Maybe it was a team-up? Regardless, grab a pair if you happen to be in Dog Company (all proceeds benefit the FRG!). If you’re not, just get your panties from Ranger Joe’s or your own FRG or whatever. We can’t help you.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Passenger planes may soon fly in formation to save fuel

Have you ever noticed how birds fly in a V formation? Well, this isn’t just some fluke of nature, nor is it a defensive deterrent to aerial predators like it was for WWII bombers. Rather, avian scientists have determined that birds fly in V formations, especially on long migratory flights, in order to increase their aerodynamic efficiencies by flying in close formation.

The lead bird creates an updraft that the trail birds can take advantage of in order to reduce their own energy output. It’s similar to the technique of drafting that racing drivers use to overtake each other. By sitting closely behind the driver in front, the overall effect of drag on the driver behind is reduced. This allows the trail driver to save energy by exploiting the lead driver’s slipstream.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

A computer rendering of the updraft that fello’fly is trying to take advantage of (Airbus)

Airbus has begun investigating the principle of wake energy retrieval for airplanes. They call it the Airbus fello’fly demonstrator project. By applying the principle to commercial planes, they aim to reduce CO2 emissions from widebody operations by 3-4 million tons per year. However, flying in formation poses a number of risks and challenges to all parties involved in the proposed passenger formation flights.

For airlines, the first problem that will have to be addressed is determining which planes will fly together on a given day. For air navigation service providers, the challenge will be bringing the planes together in formation in a safe and efficient manner. In order to conduct their study, Airbus has partnered with two airlines, French Bee and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, and three ANSPs, the French DSNA, the UK’s NATS, and EUROCONTROL.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

ATC would coordinate the rendezvous of the two planes (Airbus)

The easiest approach to coordinating formations will be to apply the principle to frequently flown routes first. For example, the transatlantic route sees heavy traffic between the East Coast of the United States and Western Europe. In this example, a plane flying from London to New York would be paired with a plane flying from Paris to Washington, D.C. Fello’fly proposes that once both flights are in oceanic airspace, a single ANSP would assume control and bring the two planes together.

According to current regulations, planes in oceanic airspace are required to maintain a distance of 30-50 nautical miles. However, fello’fly suggests that the planes would have to close that distance to just 1.5 nautical miles in order to take advantage of wake energy retrieval. The two flights would be directed by air traffic control to arrive at a designated oceanic clearance point before entering their transatlantic route. ATC would direct both planes to arrive at the point at the same time, but on two different flight levels and separated by 1,000 feet of altitude. The trail aircraft would then be guided into position 1.5 nautical miles behind the lead aircraft and still 1,000 feet below. From here, the pilots would employ flight assistance functions in order to move their aircraft into the wake energy retrieval positions. The trail plane would sit in the updraft of the lead plane and both aircraft would be identified as a single formation flight until they separated to head to their respective destinations.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

The pilots would be guided into position by assistance systems (Airbus)

The first step in making flying formation a reality for commercial flights is to create standard operating procedures and regulations in order to ensure that the practice is safely implemented. Airbus’ fello’fly team is working closely with airlines and ANSPs to generate these guidelines. “In the aviation industry, achieving our emission-reduction targets will require implementing innovative new ways to use aircraft in the skies,” said fello’fly Demonstrator Leader Nick Macdonald. “Our collaboration with our airline partners and ANSPs on fello’fly shows that we’re making good progress towards these goals.” Initial flight tests have already begun as the fello’fly team evaluates pilot assistance technology to ensure optimal conditions for safety when planes fly in formation. Fello’fly aims to conduct flight demonstrations in oceanic airspace in 2021, and involve airlines, ANSPs, and a controlled Entry-Into-Service by 2025. In the near future, commercial planes might fly like formations of birds or B-17 bombers.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These armored M1s were nothing like the Abrams

The M1 Abrams tank is arguably the best in the world — there are many reasons why it dominates the battlefield. But it’s not the only vehicle to have been called the “M1.” Prior to World War II, there were two other M1s in service, and neither were anything like the Abrams. In fact, these vehicles were downright puny. That being said, these little vehicles were important in their own way.


It might not seem like the greatest lot in life, but some people leave a legacy of being an example of what not to do. That also apply to tanks and other armored vehicles — see the Soviet-era T-72 for a prime example of this, both in terms of design and operational experience. This was also the case with America’s earliest M1s.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

The M1 armored car was so bad, America only bought a dozen.

(US Army)

The first of these vehicles was the M1 armored car. Looking at it, this vehicle lacked intimidation factor. It was best described as a funky-looking 1930s car with a turret that housed an M2 .50 caliber machine gun with two additional .30 caliber machine guns. Only about a dozen of these were built.

The vehicle only powered the rear four wheels. Even though it packed two spares, the biggest problem with this armored car was its off-road performance. As it turns out, all-wheel drive is necessary when not exclusively travelling on paved roads.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

Civil War veterans inspect a M1 “combat car” at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.

(DOD)

The other M1 was the M1 “combat car.” This ‘car’ was, in reality, much closer to a light tank, but there was a specific reason for the semantics. In the years between World Wars, cavalry was prohibited from operating tanks. So, instead, they created an “armored car” with a tank’s armaments: one M2 .50-caliber machine gun and one .30-caliber machine gun. A grand total of 113 M1s were purchased, and it hung around until 1943.

Neither of these M1s saw any combat — which was a good thing for their four-man crews. Still, these vehicles, made major contributions to the war effort by teaching America what was needed to create a truly modern armored force.

Learn more about these vehicles — and see how far armored vehicles have come in terms of design — in the video below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3snjE5Ss1e0

www.youtube.com

Articles

The first openly-gay service member fought the Air Force to a standstill

Leonard Matlovich joined the Air Force in 1963. He served three tours in Vietnam, volunteering for all of them. The son of an Air Force Chief, his service record was nothing short of exemplary. The only problem was that Matlovich was gay in the military at a time when discrimination was accepted practice.


How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Leonard Matlovich enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, CMSgt Matlovich by his side. (leonardmatlovich.com)

Matlovich might seem like an anomaly by today’s standards. He was a conservative Republican and a staunch Catholic who hated the reforms of Vatican II. He even converted to Mormonism later in his service.

In 1966, he received an Air Force Commendation Medal for bravery during a mortar attack. He personally ran to the base perimeter to bolster the defenses there and help tend to the wounded.

He was innovative and dedicated. An electrician, he came up with a nighttime lighting system for base perimeters that inhibited the ability of North Vietnamese snipers to target the base population. Matlovich personally repaired all the base systems during nighttime attacks, never waiting until the dust settled. This is how he received a second Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Matlovich receiving the Bronze Star while deployed to Vietnam as an Airman 1st Class. (leonardmatlovich.com)

His supervisors called him “dedicated, sincere, and responsible,” and “absolutely superior in every respect.”

Matlovich received  a Purple Heart while clearing mines near Da Nang. He was blown up by a mine and as he lay there in pain he realized the physical pain was not nearly as bad as the pain he felt for hiding who he truly was.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Leonard Matlovich recovering from his wounds in a Vietnam field hospital.

That’s when he decided to challenge the Air Force policy on homosexuals in the service. By 1975 Matlovich was up for a discharge based on his sexuality. He lawyered up and was determined to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court. It caught the media’s attention and Matlovich became the first openly-gay person to appear on the cover of a U.S. magazine.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

The Air Force decided to let him stay if he signed a document saying he’d never engage in homosexual acts again. Matlovich refused.

He was going to be drummed out of the Air Force under a General Discharge. It was upgraded to Honorable by the Secretary of the Air Force, based on Matlovich’s service record, but that didn’t stop the Tech Sergeant.

In 1976, Matlovich and his lawyers took their case to the U.S. district court in Washington, D.C. to argue the Air Force policy violated the same constitutional principles that recently won Civil Rights cases for African-Americans and women in the United States.

All it led to was a re-wording of the DoD anti-gay policy.

He fought to stay in the Air Force as an openly-gay man but in the end accepted that the court cases would never stop. He took a cash settlement for his back pay, which he immediately donated to nonprofits who fought for gay rights.

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Matlovich with his honorable discharge certificate.

Matlovich spent the rest of his life fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community in the United States. In 1986, he was diagnosed with HIV and began to fight for more attention to HIV/AIDS research. Matlovich was a vocal critic to the Reagan Administration’s response to the outbreak of the disease.

When Leonard Matlovich died of AIDS in 1988, he was buried in Washington, D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery. His gravestone doesn’t have his name on it. He wanted it to be a memorial for all homosexual military veterans. It reads:

“A Gay Vietnam Veteran | When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world
Matlovich’s tombstone in Congressional Cemetery.

Leonard Matlovich’s gravesite has become a pilgrimage site for the LGBT community, especially those serving in the military of United States and other countries.

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