Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed long-held rumors in the US intelligence community in a speech on March 1, 2018, by announcing Russia had built an underwater nuclear device capable of killing millions in a single blast and rendering thousands of square miles of land uninhabitable for decades.

The US, Russia’s main nuclear rival, had no answer for this weapon— no defenses in place can stop it, no emergency-response plans in place address it, and no forthcoming projects to counter or neuter it.


On the surface, the doomsday torpedo represents unrivaled capability of nuclear destruction, but a nuclear arsenal’s worth rests on many factors, not just its ability to kill.

Eight nations control the roughly 14,200 nuclear weapons in the world, and another nation holds an additional 80 or so as an open secret.

Nuclear weapons, once thought of as the ultimate decider in warfare, have seen use exactly twice in conflict, both times by the US during World War II.

Since then, nuclear weapons have taken on a role as a deterrent. The US and Russia, Cold War rivals for decades, have not fought head-to-head since the dawn of the nuclear era, owing the peace at least in part to fear that a conflict would escalate into mutual, and then global, destruction.

What makes a good nuclear arsenal?

  • First, a good nuclear doctrine. Will a country strike first, or only in response?
  • Second, safety. Are the nukes secure? Does the country participate in nonproliferation treaties?
  • Third, do the nukes work as intended? Is the arsenal sufficient? Can the nukes survive an initial attack?

In the slides below, Business Insider has weighed these questions with the help of Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, to rank the world’s nuclear arsenals.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
(KCNA)

9. North Korea: the fledgling force

North Korea fails by virtually every metric used to measure nuclear arsenals. North Korea’s nuclear missiles may not even work, and the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, diverts money from essential services for his own people to foot the bill. The nation is a constant proliferation threat.

Furthermore, North Korea’s nuclear doctrine, as pieced together from decades of saber rattling, amounts to essentially saying it will nuke the US, South Korea, or Japan if it wishes, and as a first strike. In the 21st century, only North Korea has tested nuclear weapons, introducing the threat of radioactive fallout to a new generation.

North Korea serves the world as a reminder of the horrors of nuclear proliferation. Every day, intelligence officials investigate whether the poverty-stricken country has helped another rogue state acquire missile or nuclear-bomb technology.

North Korea remains an international pariah under intense sanctions for its nuclear activity, so why bother?

Because North Korea has a hopeless disadvantage in nonnuclear forces when compared to South Korea, Japan, or the US. Because Pyongyang can never hope to defeat any of its enemies in conventional fighting, it turned to nukes as a guarantor of its security.

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal

Weapons count: estimated 60

Weapons count rank: 9

North Korea has a number of short- to intercontinental-range ballistic-missile systems thought to operate off the backs of mobile missile launchers.

One analyst has warned that North Korea’s mobile launchers may simply distract from the real threat of hidden nuclear silos, but no evidence of such silos has ever appeared in US intelligence reports made public.

North Korea has tested a number of submarine-launch platforms and fields a fleet of older submarines, but this capability is thought to be far off.

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal comes down to a few older ballistic-missile systems in the field and some long-range systems in development, according to Kristensen.

It’s completely unknown if North Korea keeps its nuclear weapons mated or with the warhead affixed to the missile.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

8. Pakistan: loose nukes?

Pakistan built nuclear weapons in response to its bitter regional rival, India, testing and proceeding with a relatively simple nuclear mission: deter or defeat India.

Pakistan managed to develop what’s known as a “credible minimum deterrent,” or the lowest number of nukes possible while still credibly warding off India, which has much stronger conventional forces and many times Pakistan’s population.

Full on shooting wars and frequent cross-border skirmishes have broken out between India and Pakistan since World War II, making the relatively smaller country fear for its sovereignty.

“Pakistan has concluded that India can use its more advanced conventional forces to push into Pakistan and Pakistan wouldn’t have a choice except to use nuclear weapons,” Kristensen told Business Insider.

Pakistan would score highly for having a simple nuclear mission, and not going overboard in meeting it, except for two glaring issues: safety and responsibility.

Pakistan has links to Islamic extremists with connections to global terror networks. Experts have long feared not enough has been done to secure Islamabad’s nukes against these threats.

Additionally, “Pakistan has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use,” by building smaller, tactical nuclear weapons, according to the Arms Control Association.

Pakistan Air Force Chengdu JF-17.

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal

Weapons count: 150

Weapons count rank: 6

Pakistan has ballistic missiles with ranges just long enough to hit anywhere in the country of India. It has built nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that can travel more than 400 miles.

Pakistan’s air force has reportedly practiced dropping nuclear bombs with its foreign-made planes. The US has specifically given Pakistan permission to modify its F-16 fighters to drop nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has no nuclear-missile-capable submarines, but has reportedly started work on one in response to India’s first nuclear submarine.

Pakistan is thought to keep its nuclear warheads separate from its missiles and delivery systems.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

7. India: between a rock and a hard place

“India is still a nuclear posture that’s still in vivid development,” according to Kristensen.

While India had early success creating advanced nuclear devices, the rise of China and Beijing’s aggression in the region has made India divert its focus from one regional rival, Pakistan, to a second.

Just as Pakistan fears India’s greater strength and numbers, India has come to fear China’s growing and modernizing conventional forces.

But unlike Pakistan, India has sworn off nuclear first strikes and not looked into tactical nuclear weapons. Additionally, India is considered to be more responsible with its nuclear weapons and is assumed to keep them more secure.

India doctrine succeeds for the most part by having a credible deterrent that’s not overblown and good cooperation with other nuclear powers.

But India’s submarine fleet remains a dream at the moment, lowering its overall score.

India’s nuclear arsenal

Weapons count: 140 (stored)

Weapons count rank: 7

Like Pakistan, India has air-dropped and land-launched nuclear weapons. Initially, India built shorter-range weapons to hold Pakistan at risk, but has since evolved to take aim at China with longer-range systems.

India is testing the Agni V, a land-launched missile that can range all of China, but as Kristensen said, “once they develop them they have to build up their base infrastructure.”

India recently launched its first nuclear-powered submarine for a supposed deterrence patrol, but Kristensen said the patrol lasted only 20 days and did not bring armed nuclear missiles with it.

“India has to be able to communicate reliably with a ballistic missile submarine at sea, possibly under tensions or while under attack they have to maintain secure communications. That will take a long time,” said Kristensen.

As it stands, the missiles and submarine India has picked out for its underwater nuclear deterrent can’t range China’s vital points or most of Pakistan.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

A briefing slide of the alleged Status-6 nuclear torpedo captured from Russian television.

(BBC)

6. Russia: bomb makers gone wild

Russia ended World War II with the Red Army outnumbering any force on Earth. But throughout the nuclear age, it saw Europe turn away from it in favor of the West.

Russia feared it was conventionally weaker than NATO, which has grown to include 29 nations, and started building the world’s most vast array of nuclear weapons.

“Russia seems to sort of be driven by a frantic exploitation of different options,” Kristensen said. “You have a very prolific sort of effort to bring in more experiments with many more and new systems, more so than any nuclear weapons state does.”

Russia is mainly focused on stopping a US or Western invasion and holding US cities and forces at risk. To combat the US with forces all over the globe, Russia needs a lot of nukes. Russia has signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, but stands accused of violating other arms agreements with the US.

Putin frequently looks to the country’s nuclear strength for propaganda purposes, announcing in 2018 no less than five new nuclear offensive and defensive systems meant to defeat the US in a nuclear war that nobody seriously thinks Russia wants.

No country needs five new nuclear weapons in a year.

While Russia has about the same number of nukes as the US, Russia’s have higher yields and could end all life on Earth more quickly and with great spectacle than any other nation.

But because Russia explores all kinds of ridiculous nuclear weapons, bases nuclear warheads near population centers, uses nuclear weapons to threaten other countries, and because the fall of the Soviet Union led to the greatest episode of loose nukes in world history, Russia sits on the low end of this list.

Russia’s arsenal

Weapons count: 6,850 (1,600 deployed; 2,750 stored; 2,500 retired)

Weapons count rank: 1

Russia has the full nuclear triad with constantly modernized bombers, land-based missiles, and submarines. The triad is a true 24/7/365 force with submarines on deterrence patrols at all times.

Additionally, Russia has a high number of tactical nuclear weapons with shorter-range and smaller-explosive yields, which arms-control advocates say lowers the threshold for nuclear war.

According to Kristensen, most of the supposedly revolutionary Russian nuclear strategic systems hyped by Putin will see limited deployments. While Putin hypes a new hypersonic, maneuverable intercontinental-ballistic-missile (ICBM) warhead, Kristensen notes that most ICBMs will remain the old type. Furthermore, all ICBM warheads travel at hypersonic speeds.

Russia routinely sinks needed cash into “really frivolous exploratory type systems that make no difference in deterring or winning,” according to Kristensen.

One “excellent” example of this, according to Kristensen, is the Poseidon underwater 100 to 200 megaton nuclear torpedo.

This weapon, potentially the biggest nuclear explosive device ever built, just doesn’t make sense.

The weapon would essentially set off tidal waves so large and an explosion so radioactive and punishing that continents, not countries, would pay the price for decades.

The US has not found it useful to respond to these doomsday-type devices.

Russia stores its nuclear warheads mated to missiles and ready to fire. Additionally, it has surrounded Moscow with 68 nuclear-tipped missile interceptors meant to protect the city from a US strike.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

5. Israel: Who knows?

“Israel is interesting because it’s a semi-dormant nuclear program, but it’s not dormant,” Kristensen said.

Israel, unlike others on this list, finds itself mainly in conflict with nonnuclear foes. Iran has vowed to destroy Israel, but it has sworn off building nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, Israel’s conventional military, with its top-of-the-line air force and close coordination with the US, easily overpowers its regional foes in traditional fighting.

Instead of reaching for nuclear weapons to threaten a more powerful foe, Israel has a “very relaxed nuclear posture, truly what you could call a last resort posture,” according to Kristensen.

Secrecy surrounding Israel’s nuclear program has made it hard to evaluate, so it gets the middle spot.

Israel’s nuclear arsenal

Weapons count: estimated 80

Weapons count rank: 8

Truly, nobody knows what weapons Israel has or doesn’t have, and that’s the way they like it.

That said, Israel has fairly advanced weapons systems, including land-based systems that remain unmated from nuclear warheads.

Kristensen said Israel has mobile missiles and aircraft that can launch nuclear bombs.

“Rumor is Israel has a cruise missile for their submarines and there are writings about nuclear land mines and tactical nukes, but they remain in very much in the rumor box,” he said.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

Nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard.

4. UK: USA lite

Weapons count: 215 (120 deployed; 95 stored)

Weapons count rank: 5

During the Cold War, the UK labored to create its own nuclear weapons and delivery systems, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the UK has withdrawn from that posture and essentially become a client of the US.

The UK operates four nuclear submarines that fire can fire 16 Trident missiles made by the US. That’s it. The UK won’t get an “arsenal” page for this reason. The warheads on these patrols are mated to missiles.

The UK belongs to NATO and draws Russia’s ire sometimes as a loud voice in the West, but doesn’t have a very big or powerful conventional military.

Nor does the UK have any clear-cut enemies. While the recent UK-Russia hostilities may have reminded the island it’s not without opposition, Russia’s horns are mainly locked with the US.

As far as doctrine goes, the UK vows to use nuclear weapons only defensively and has signed the nonproliferation treaty, meaning it has agreed not to spread nuclear technology.

The UK has “very close coordination and nuclear targeting planning with the US,” Kristensen said. “It’s not a standalone nuclear power in the same way that France considers itself to be.”

The UK has determined it doesn’t need a very big nuclear arsenal and didn’t overdo it, giving it high marks on its small force.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

A French Dassault Rafale flies above the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.

(Marine nationale)

3. France: No news is good news

France has a long history with nuclear weapons, like the UK, but has maintained more independence and control over its stockpile and doctrine.

“The French have a very open ended strategy that looks at potential use against any significant threat against crucial French interests,” Kristensen said. This includes using nuclear weapons against a state that launches a weapons of mass destruction attack on France.

In 2015 after the tragic Paris attacks by ISIS fighters, France sent its aircraft carrier to fight the militants in Iraq and Syria, but they used conventional weapons.

France’s nuclear doctrine allows first use in a broad range of circumstances, and while its weapons are not as aligned with NATO’s posture as the US or the UK’s, “it’s assumed they would pick a side and somewhat contribute to the deterrence posture of NATO,” Kristensen said.

Also, France collaborates less with the US on nuclear issues, though their targeting objectives probably broadly align with the US’s, Kristensen said.

Essentially, France’s strong conventional military allows them to avoid much discussion of using nuclear weapons. Additionally, the French seem more able to stomach paying for nuclear weapons and infrastructure, which the British have often been uneasy about.

France’s participation in the nonproliferation treaty and its relative stability with its nuclear program earns it high marks for such a limited arsenal.

Aircraft mechanics prepare a B-2 Spirit bomber before a morning mission in Guam.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis)

France’s arsenal

Weapons count: 300 (290 deployed; 10 stored)

Weapons count rank: 3

France mainly breaks with the UK on nuclear weapons in that they have 50 or so aircraft that can launch missiles with a range of about 300 miles that deliver nuclear warheads, according to Kristensen.

Like the UK, France has four nuclear-powered submarines, one of which stays on a constant deterrence patrol ready to fire mated nuclear missiles.

While it’s not a nuclear weapon outright, outside of the US, only France operates a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

Aircraft mechanics prepare a B-2 Spirit bomber before a morning mission in Guam.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis)

2. US: the big boy

The US’s nuclear warhead count falls short to only Russia, and like Russia, the US swelled its arsenal to surpass 30,000 weapons during the height of the Cold War.

The Cold War saw the US explore a wide, and sometimes exotic, range of nuclear-weapons delivery options, including cruise missiles and artillery shells.

But since then, US has attempted to sober its nuclear ambitions, and has become the source of many nonproliferation regimes and attempts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons globally.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was the US that took on accounting for the loose nukes spread across places like Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The US leads the diplomatic pressure campaign to keep North Korea from getting nuclear weapons.

From 2015 to 2017, the US led an effort to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.

The US invented nuclear weapons and remains the only country to have ever dropped them in anger, but the US’s conventional-military supremacy curtails any need for nuclear saber rattling.

Today, the US allows for nuclear-first use and has signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

While the US has come a long way from the arms-race madness of the Cold War, it still spends a world-record amount of money on its nuclear arsenal and could stand to lose about a third of its force, according to experts.

Because the US tries to be a transparent, responsible nuclear force, it scores the highest out of any country with greater than a “credible minimum deterrent.”

US’s arsenal

Weapons count: 6,450 (1,750 deployed; 2,050 stored; 2,650 retired)

Weapons count rank: 2

Today the US’s nuclear arsenal has narrowed down to a triad in constant stages of modernization.

The US operates two nuclear-capable bombers, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the B-52 Stratofortress, originally built in the 1950s and slated to fly for 100 years.

The US operates a fleet of nuclear submarines, which it keeps on constant deterrence patrols.

The US also has nearly 400 intercontinental-range missiles in silos around the country, mostly aimed at Russia’s nuclear weapons for an imagined “mutual destruction” scenario.

Recently, the US has come under intense criticism for President Donald Trump’s proposal to build more smaller or tactical nuclear weapons. Experts say these weapons make nuclear war more likely.

The US has tactical nuclear weapons stored around Europe and Turkey, which, like the bigger strategic weapons, are stored mated.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

Type 094 submarine.

1. China: True minimum

In 1957, before China had nuclear weapons, its leader, Chairman Mao, said the following horrifying quote about nuclear war:

“I’m not afraid of nuclear war. There are 2.7 billion people in the world; it doesn’t matter if some are killed. China has a population of 600 million; even if half of them are killed, there are still 300 million people left. I’m not afraid of anyone.”

In 1967, China had tested nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. To prove its systems worked in the face of Western doubts, it fired the only nuclear-armed ballistic missile in history to an unpopulated region within its own borders.

Given China’s early enthusiastic attitude toward nuclear combat, it developed a surprisingly responsible and calm force.

China has just 280 nuclear warheads, and none of them are mated to delivery systems. China flies bombers and sails submarines that it calls nuclear-capable, but none of them have ever actually flown with nuclear weapons.

China’s nuclear doctrine forbids first strikes and centers around the idea that China would survive a nuclear strike, dig its bombs out of deep underground storage, and send a salvo of missiles back in days, months, or years.

This essentially nails the idea of “credible minimum deterrence.” Everyone knows China has nuclear weapons, that they work, and nobody doubts China would use them if it first received a nuclear attack.

Also, China has spent a fraction of the money the US or Russia has spent on weapons while conforming with nonproliferation treaties.

China has continued to build up its missile, submarine, and bomber fleets, but all without the scrutiny afforded to nuclear systems.

Because China’s nuclear warheads don’t sit on missiles, if China attacked another country with ballistic missiles, the attacked country could be fairly sure the missiles were not nuclear armed and resist returning fire with its own nuclear weapons.

China has more big cities than any other country and stands to lose more than anyone in a nuclear exchange, but the incredible restraint shown by the Chinese earns them the top slot in this ranking.

China’s nuclear arsenal

Weapons count: 280 stockpiled

Weapons count rank: 4

China operates three types of ballistic missiles, some of which out-range their US counterparts.

China has nuclear-capable submarines and bombers, but they do not ever travel with nuclear weapons on board.

China relies on a growing and modernizing conventional military to assert its will on other countries and virtually never mentions its nuclear arsenal.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what Vladimir Putin looked like when he was a KGB spy

 


The Cold War is long finished, but Russian intelligence has been all over the American news.

Russia is accused of hacking the DNC’s emails and engaging in other forms of cyber subversion in order to throw the race in favor of now-US President Donald Trump. A series of politically charged social media groups and advertising campaigns have been traced back to Russia, and special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, allegedly for potential collusion with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that his country is involved in a cyber war with the US.

At the same time, he’s also expressed his pride in the “unique people” of Russia’s intelligence community, according to the AFP. Putin’s soft spot for spies comes as no surprise: His previously was a KGB operative.

Here’s a look into Putin’s early career as a spy:

As a teenager, Putin was captivated by the novel and film series “The Shield and the Sword.” The story focuses on a brave Soviet secret agent who helps thwart the Nazis. Putin later said he was struck by how “one spy could decide the fate of thousands of people.”

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
The Shield and the Sword allegedly influenced Putin to join the KGB. (By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use)

Putin went to school at Saint Petersburg State University, where he studied law. His undergraduate thesis focused on international law and trade.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Putin studied law at Saint Petersburg State University. (image)

After initially considering going into law, Putin was recruited into the KGB upon graduating in 1975.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Known as the Lubyanka Building, this was the headquarters for the KGB. (image)

After getting the good news, Putin and a friend headed to a nearby Georgian restaurant. They celebrated over satsivi — grilled chicken prepared with walnut sauce — and downed shots of sweet liqueur.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Georgian dish of chicken – satzivi. (image)

He trained at the Red Banner Institute in Moscow. Putin’s former chief of staff and fellow KGB trainee Sergei Ivanov told the Telegraph that some lessons from senior spies amounted to little more than “idiocy.”

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
School 101, also knows as the Red Banner Institute in Moscow, is where Putin trained in counter intelligence. (image)

Putin belonged to the “cohort of outsiders” KGB chairman Yuri Andropov pumped into the intelligence agency in the 1970s. Andropov’s goal was to improve the institution by recruiting younger, more critical KGB officers.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Yuri Andopov recruited Putin into the KGB. Moving from running the KGB until 1982 into running the Soviet Union, Andropov’s career was cut short by his death. (image)

Putin’s spy career was far from glamorous, according to Steve Lee Meyers’ “The New Tsar.” His early years consisted of working in a gloomy office filled with aging staffers, “pushing papers at work and still living at home with his parents without a room of his own.”

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
As a student, Putin lived with his parents. (image)

He attended training at the heavily fortified School No. 401 in Saint Petersburg, where prospective officers learned intelligence tactics and interrogation techniques, and trained physically. In 1976, he became a first lieutenant.

Saint Petersburg is the home of School 401. (image) Saint Petersburg is the home of School 401. (image)

Putin’s focus may have included counter-intelligence and monitoring foreigners. According to Meyers, Putin may have also worked with the KGB’s Fifth Chief Directorate, which was dedicated to crushing political dissidents.

The 33rd Anniversary of the KGB in 1987. (image) The 33rd Anniversary of the KGB in 1987. (image)

In 1985, Putin adopted the cover identity of a translator and transferred to Dresden, Germany. In “Mr. Putin,” Fiona Hill and Cliff Gaddy speculate his mission may have been to recruit top East German Communist Party and Stasi officials, steal technological secrets, compromise visiting Westerners, or travel undercover to West Germany.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Putin spent time in the mid 80s in Germany, under cover as a translator. (image)

Hill and Gaddy conclude that the “most likely answer to which of these was Putin’s actual mission in Dresden is: ‘all of the above.'”

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Dresden, Germany. (image)

Putin has said that his time in the KGB — and speaking with older agents — caused him to question the direction of the USSR. “In intelligence at that time, we permitted ourselves to think differently and to say things that few others could permit themselves,” he said.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Putin gives a news conference. (image)

At one point, crowds mobbed the KGB’s Dresden location after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Putin has claimed to have brandished a pistol to scare looters from the office.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Berlin Wall, 1989. (image)

The future Russian president didn’t return home till 1990s. It’s believed that Putin’s tenure in the KGB, which occurred during a time when the USSR’s power crumbled on the international stage, helped to shape his worldview.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Putin returned to Russia in 1990. (image)

“It was clear the Union was ailing,” Putin said, of his time abroad. “And it had a terminal, incurable illness under the title of paralysis. A paralysis of power.”

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

Putin ultimately quit the KGB in 1991, during a hard-liner coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. He became an official in Boris Yeltsin’s subsequent administration, took over for him upon his resignation, and was ultimately elected president for the first time in 2000.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
Putin’s inauguration, 2012. (image)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch the Russian military test its new anti-ballistic missile

Russia says it has successfully tested a new antiballistic missile. Russian Defense Ministry released video of test on April 2, 2018, which was conducted at the Sary-Shagan testing range in Kazakhstan. The ministry said the missile is already in service and is used to protect the city of Moscow from potential air attacks.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force Academy cadets are building satellites

“Learning space by doing space” is the motto of the Air Force Academy’s unique FalconSAT senior capstone engineering program, a program unlike any other undergraduate space program in the world.

Each year Astro Department faculty, aided by experts from other departments, NCOs, technicians and contractors, provide cadets with the real hands-on experience of designing, building, testing, and launching and operating satellites for the Air Force.


FalconSAT’s roots trace back to the early 1980s when the first cadet experiments were designed for space shuttle missions. These later morphed into balloon-launched testbeds and small payloads followed by free-flying satellites launched in the early 2000s. Since the mid-2000s, the Air Force Research Lab has sponsored the FalconSAT program, providing funding and payloads to give cadets this unique opportunity. Each FalconSAT has included payloads intended to provide flight heritage and experimental data to researchers at AFRL, the Academy, NASA, Air Force Space Command and major contractors.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets clean the components of the FalconSat-6 satellite they and their instructors built at the Academy at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The satellite successfully launched into space Dec. 3, 2018 from Vandenberg.

FalconSAT experience is invaluable to the development of future Air Force leaders. Graduates of the program have earned numerous nationally competitive scholarships, including two Rhodes scholarships and three Holaday Fellowships in the last 15 years, and have gone on to do similar work at the Space and Missile Systems Center, the AFRL, National Reconnaissance Office, and in operational space and rated duties. Many cite their real-world FalconSAT lessons as the best, most effective preparation for active duty that they received during their cadet career.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army accelerates delivery of directed energy, hypersonic weapon prototypes

The Army is accelerating its efforts to field a directed-energy prototype system by fiscal year 2022, and hypersonic weapon prototype by fiscal 2023.

For starters, the Army is fast-tracking the development and procurement of the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser, or MMHEL system, said Lt. Gen L. Neil Thurgood, director of hypersonics, directed energy, space, and rapid acquisition.

The MMHEL is a 50-kilowatt laser retrofit to a modified Stryker vehicle, designed to bolster the Army’s maneuver short-range air defense capabilities, according to officials with the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.


The Army is slated to field a four-vehicle battery by late fiscal 2022, Thurgood said. The new system was meant to be maneuverable, while protecting brigade combat teams from unmanned aerial systems, rotary-wing aircraft, and rockets, artillery, and mortars.

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

A 5-kilowatt laser sits on a Stryker armored vehicle.

(U.S. Army photo by Monica K. Guthrie)

Further, the Army will consolidate efforts with the other services and agencies to help improve directed-energy technology, the general added. While the Army is executing a demonstration of 100 kW high-energy laser technology on a larger vehicle platform, it is working with partners to exceed those power levels.

Hypersonic weapons

In addition to the MMHEL, the Army is expected to field a four-vehicle battery of long-range hypersonic weapon systems the following fiscal year.

Four modified heavy expanded mobility tactical trucks, or HEMTTs, will be equipped with a launcher. Each vehicle will carry two hypersonic weapon systems — totaling eight prototype rounds, Thurgood said.

“The word hypersonic has become synonymous with a particular type of missile,” he explained. “Generally, hypersonics means a missile that flies greater than Mach 5 … that is not on ballistic trajectory and maneuvers.”

The hypersonic system will also rely on the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System 7.0, which is currently available to artillerymen, for command and control.

“Within the Army’s modernization plan, there is multi-domain, and there is the Multi-Domain Task Force. Part of that task force [includes] a strategic-fires battalion and in that strategic fires battalion [will be] this [hypersonic] weapons platform,” Thurgood said.

“It is not long-range artillery. It’s a strategic weapon that will be used … for strategic outcomes,” he added.

Residual combat capability

Overall, the MMHEL and hypersonic systems will both move into the hands of soldiers as an experimental prototype with a residual combat capability, Thurgood said.

“When I say experimental prototype with residual combat capability, and as we build the battery of hypersonics … that unit will have a combat capability,” Thurgood said. “Those eight rounds are for them to use in combat if the nation decides they want to apply that in a combat scenario. The same [applies] for directed energy.”

Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked

US Army rocket artillery.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Dustin D. Biven)

In addition to providing an immediate combat capability, soldiers will have an opportunity to learn the new equipment and understand the “tactics, techniques, and procedures” required to use each system during combat, the general added.

Further, the Army will also receive valuable feedback to help shape potential broader production of each system after they transition to a program of record.

The Army has already initiated the contract process to develop the prototype hypersonic systems. Senior leaders plan to award vendors by August, Thurgood said.

With both systems, “what we’re trying to create [is an] an opportunity for a decision, based on actual use by a soldier,” he said. “Does this thing do … what we needed it to do? Do we want to continue and make it better, or do we want to have other choices?”

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

popular

Genghis Khan killed so many people it was good for the environment

In an age where worldwide industry and fossil fuel use emits 6.5 billion tons of carbon into the environment, we (mostly) scramble to find unique ways to cut our global carbon footprint. In that context, it’s amazing how one man could singlehandedly cut 700 million tons of his carbon footprint. And the carbon footprints of other people. And their actual footprints. And feet. 


Top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world ranked
And sometimes their heads.

Genghis Khan Temujin conquered his way into largest empire on earth between 1162 and 1227. His Mongol Army swept south through China then west through modern day Afghanistan, Iran, and onward to the shores of the Caspian Sea – 22 percent of the Earth’s surface.

In that campaign, the Great Khan killed some 40 million people. The lands those people were cultivating for farmland before the Mongols made it their gravesite started to grow trees and other vegetation instead. The returning forests pulled 700 million tons of human-generated carbon out of the atmosphere, according to a Carnegie Institute study. That’s like getting rid of every gasoline-fueled car on the road.

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And the drivers of those cars. And probably their families. (Picturehouse)

That same study found that deforestation is one of the major contributors to climate change. Since the Khan killed all the people chopping down trees for farmland in Central and East Asia, the Earth had a chance to heal. He’s like an ancient Lorax sent by Mother Earth — but with real consequences.

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I am the flail of god. Had you not created great sins, god would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

But since the people of the mid- to late-Middle Ages weren’t rolling around in cars, tanks, or John Deere tractors, the carbon removed from the atmosphere may have resulted in the first case of man-made global cooling.

Articles

These 74 dead sailors from the Vietnam War are not honored on the Wall

The most notable part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. is “The Wall,” which features a list of 58,315 personnel killed during the Vietnam War. An effort to add the names of 74 sailors, though, has been rebuffed by the Navy.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, the 74 sailors were killed when the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Frank E. Evans (DD 754) was rammed by the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R 21) during a South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) exercise.

The destroyer was cut in half, with the bow sinking in a matter of minutes, taking 73 sailors with it. A single body was recovered from the South China Sea, bringing the total to 74 lives lost.

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The Wall, the most prominent part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Among the dead were the three Sage brothers from Niobrara, Nebraska – the worst loss any family had suffered since the Sullivan brothers were killed when the anti-aircraft cruiser USS Juneau (CL 52) was sunk during the Guadalcanal campaign.

The portion of the Frank E. Evans that remained afloat was taken to Subic Bay, where it was decommissioned on July 1, 1969. On Oct. 10, 1969, the ship was sunk as a target.

The Navy’s initial refusal to place those 74 names on the Wall was due to the fact that the destroyer was outside the “Vietnam combat zone.”

According to U.S. Navy criteria, “Vietnam and contiguous waters” was defined as “an area which includes Vietnam and the water adjacent thereto within the following specified limits: From a point on the East Coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with China southeastward to 21 N. Latitude, 108° 15’E. Longitude; thence, southward to 18° N. Latitude, 108° 15’E. Longitude; thence southeastward to 17° 30’N. Latitude, 111° E. Longitude; thence southward to 11° N. Latitude; 111° E. Longitude, thence southwestward to 7° N. Latitude, 105° E. Longitude; thence westward to 7° N. Latitude, 103° E. longitude, thence northward to 9° 30’N. Latitude, 103° E. Longitude, thence northeastward to 10° 15’N. Latitude, 104° 27’E. Longitude, thence northward to a point on the West Coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with Cambodia.”

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The aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21), which rammed US Frank E. Evans (DD 754). (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to the website of the Frank E. Evans Association, the accident occurred 110 miles from the Vietnam Combat Zone.

FoxNews.com reported that the Navy has offered to place an exhibit about the collision in a planned Vietnam Veterans Memorial educational center, but many families are skeptical due to lagging efforts at fundraising for the proposed $130 million project.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Army Futures Command is a great step forward for science

A new innovation for the United States Military means an innovation for the entire world. Something as simple as the creation of the GPS, which started as a DoD project in the 70s, quickly became one of the most useful quality-of-life tools used in today’s society — and this isn’t the first (or last) time military tech landed in the hands of civilians.

A large portion of the government’s tech eventually trickles down to the people. Recently, the Army established an entire command unit dedicated to research and development, called the Army Futures Command (AFC). Everything about this newly-formed group of soldier-scientists seems like it can only mean great things for moving science — and society at large — forward.


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And that’s not hyperbolic to say. It’s actually vastly underselling the mind-boggling capabilities of quantum computing.

(U.S. Army photo by Jhi Scott)

Of course, they’ll be developing new weapon systems (technology that will likely not trickle down) that will give America the fighting edge it needs on the battlefield, but it goes much further than that. The AFC will be working on projects that range from computer technologies to advanced medicine and beyond — anything that will aid future soldiers.

While integrating lasers into anti-missile defenses to detonate incoming projectiles from hundreds of miles away is going to be a game-changer for warfare, they’re also taking a serious crack at the Holy Grail of computer engineering: quantum computing. To put it at simply as possible, quantum computing is having a computer use atomic particles to compute instead of 1s and 0s and, theoretically, this technology will instantly increase the potential for computing power a thousandfold. If the ACR can figure it out, the U.S. government and, subsequently, the American civilian tech industry, will make unbelievable leaps forward.

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“You say you can put a laser on an Apache? Shut up and take my money.”

(Department of Defense)

The primary focus of the AFC is and will always be increasing a soldier’s combat readiness. Based in Austin, Texas, it will employ both civilian and soldier innovators. The AFC and its Army Application Laboratory (AAL) are designed to be a place where inventors can create what hasn’t already been recognized as an official priority.

And even when an invention doesn’t revolutionize technology, the road that led them there is valuable. Adam Jay Harrison, the USAFC Innovation Officer, said at a conference for potential innovators that “at the end of the day, 90 percent of what we do ain’t going to work, but 100 percent of what we do should be informing somebody’s decision.

This kind of open environment and ease of access to funding gives the inventive minds of the U.S. a chance to create anything they can imagine — as long as it helps Uncle Sam. That level of trust in its scientists is unheard of in the academic world and it’ll be the cornerstone of the Army Futures Command.

The AFC is on track to be fully operational by September 2019. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what kind of insane designs will come out of it.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military arrives to help US citizens hit by super typhoon

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are in the lead for Task Group Tinian, consisting of several hundred service members belonging to each branch of the U.S. military. The joint force, led by U.S. Marine Col. Robert “Bams” Brodie, is executing crisis-response in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s efforts to assist the U.S. citizens of Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, recover from Super Typhoon Yutu, Nov. 3, 2018.


Military members from across the Indo-Pacific region, spearheaded by the 31st MEU and Combat Logistics Battalion 31, began arriving here en masse on Oct. 29, 2018, four days after the historic storm swept directly across the isolated island, to enable the Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission here. Led by FEMA officials and partnering with local government leaders and local law enforcement, the 31st MEU began categorizing urgent needs and establishing a base of support for partner and military units, including the U.S. Navy’s Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 and the U.S. Air Force’s 36th Civil Engineer Squadron, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

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The dock landing ship USS Ashland sits idle off the coast during the U.S. Defense Support of Civil Authorities relief effort in response to Super Typhoon Yutu, Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Nov. 3, 2018.

(Photo by Gunnery Sgt. T. T. Parish)

“We have effectively opened the door and laid the groundwork for long term forces of military members and federal aid workers to continue helping the Americans here on Tinian,” said Brodie, commander of the 31st MEU. “I am incredibly proud of the work these Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers have done in such a short time — it is incredible seeing the progress in only four days.”

Marines with the 31st MEU, U.S. Navy Seabees with NMCB-1 and 36th CES completed several imperative projects beginning Oct. 29, 2018, including purifying and distributing over 20,000 gallons of water; clearing two public schools, government buildings and the municipal power facility of downed trees and debris; and restoring emergency services’ capacity to respond to medical emergencies. All efforts lay the groundwork for the arrival of the dock landing ship USS Ashland, which arrived today with a well-equipped force of Marines belonging to CLB-31 and additional Seabees to augment existing capabilities already at work here.

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Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31 walk along a cleared road during the U.S. Defense Support of Civil Authorities relief effort in response to Super Typhoon Yutu, Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Nov. 3, 2018.

(Photo by Gunnery Sgt. T. T. Parish)

“With the arrival of the Ashland and all its embarked Marines, sailors, heavy equipment and supplies, we can continue building our support capacity for both FEMA and local leaders’ priorities, not the least of which is helping establish temporary shelters for displaced families who lost everything to Yutu,” said Brodie. “This storm is historic — it had devastating effects on this island — but the people of Tinian are resilient and we’re glad to lend a hand to help them get back on their feet.”

During DSCA operations, the U.S. military provides essential, lifesaving and preserving support to American citizens affected by declared natural disasters. Led by FEMA, the U.S. Government’s domestic emergency response agency, the 31st MEU continues to partner with both local agencies and FEMA to address critical shortfalls of material and supplies to support the people of Tinian. The next steps include re-establishing semi-normalcy on Tinian, including set-up of temporary FEMA shelters for families with homes destroyed by Yutu.

“We are working with the Tinian Mayor’s office and FEMA to prioritize which families will receive temporary shelters because their homes were destroyed just more than a week ago,” said Brodie. “The 31st MEU’s Marines and Navy Seabees of NMCB-1 are the muscle for this important work, and we’re honored to work hand and hand with the resilient and courageous Americans on Tinian.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

Articles

This is why Trump’s Afghanistan strategy is controversial

In keeping with his elevation of military leaders to roles in policymaking, President Donald Trump has delegated the authority to set US troop levels in Afghanistan to Defense Secretary James Mattis, though that power reportedly comes with limits.


But the administration has yet to settle on an overarching strategy for the US’ nearly 16-year-long campaign in the war-torn country.

And, according to The New York Times, Trump’s advisers have turned to a controversial set of consultants to help develop their new Afghanistan policy.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law, called in Erik Prince, who founded the Blackwater private-security firm, and Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire who owns military contractor DynCorp, to create proposals to use contractors in Afghanistan rather than US troops.

According to the Times, Bannon was able to track down Mattis at the Pentagon on July 8 and brought in Prince and Feinberg to describe their proposal to the defense secretary.

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President Donald J. Trump, right, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. DoD Photo by Army Sgt. James K. McCann

Mattis, whom the Times said “listened politely,” ultimately declined to include their ideas in his review of the war in Afghanistan, which he and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster are set to deliver to Trump this month.

Prince’s proposal reportedly adhered to what he outlined in a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this year. In that editorial, he said the war in Afghanistan was “an expensive disaster” and called for “an American viceroy” in whom authority for the war would be consolidated. He also said the effort should take an “East India Company approach” using private military units working with local partners.

Prince and Feinberg’s inclusion in the administration’s Afghanistan policy-proposal process is of a piece with Trump’s advisers’ efforts to bring a wider array of options to the president’s attention. While their proposal looks unlikely to be included in the final plan, their inclusion by Trump aides raised alarm among observers — and not only because of Blackwater’s sordid record in Iraq.

Deborah Avant, a professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, pointed out a number of shortcomings in the plan Prince outlined in The Journal.

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A Blackwater Security Company MD-530F helicopter aids in securing the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq. USAF photo by Master Sgt. Michael E. Best

Contractors would still be required to work with the Afghan government, just like US and NATO forces, she writes, who may not be receptive to their expanded presence.

Contractors also don’t integrate well with local political goals and forces, which is essential in counterinsurgency operations.

Avant also noted that empowering local partners in environments like Afghanistan had been shown to facilitate the rise of warlords — as generally happened under the East India Company when it worked in there in the 19th century.

Privatizing the war effort in Afghanistan would likely reduce some of the costs, however — a point that White House assistant Sebastian Gorka emphasized when he defended consultations with Prince in a CNN interview with Jake Tapper.

“If you look at Erik Prince’s track record, it’s not about bilking the government. It’s about the opposite,” Gorka said. “It’s about saving the US taxpayer money. It’s about creating indigenous capacity … This is a cost-cutting venture.”

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Sebastian Gorka. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Despite that fact that Prince and Blackwater secured extensive and lucrative contracts under both former President George W. Bush and former President Barack Obama, Gorka described consultations with the Blackwater founder as a break with the tired, uninformed thinking inculcated by Beltway insularity.

“We open the door here at the White House to outside ideas. Why?” Gorka said, adding, “Because the last eight years, in fact the last 16 years, Jake, to be honest, disastrous. The policies that were born in the beltway by people who’ve never worn a uniform, the people that were in the White House like Ben Rhodes, Colin Kahl, they helped create the firestorm that is the Middle East, that is ISIS today. So we are open to new ideas, because the last 16 years have failed American national interest and the American taxpayer.”

When Tapper defended the qualifications of the people advising Obama, Gorka objected, calling Rhodes’ master’s degree in creative writing — “fictional writing,” he said — “disastrous.”

“I think Gorka spends more time following Twitter and prepping his media appearances than he does thinking seriously about critical national-security issues,” Kahl, who was deputy assistant to the president and national security adviser to the vice president from October 2014 to January 2017, told Business Insider.

“No US administration has had all the answers to the Middle East,” continued Kahl, who is now a professor in the Security Studies program at Georgetown University.

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Petty Officer 1st Class Carmichael Yepez, a combat camera photojournalist, from Fresno, Calif., assigned to Joint Combat Camera-Iraq, in Army combat uniform, poses with a group of British security contractors at Forward Operating Base, Marez, in Mosul. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Carmichael Yepez.)

“But the two biggest sources of the ‘firestorm’ Gorka refers to were the invasion of Iraq, which gave birth to the forerunner of ISIS and created a vacuum filled by Iran, and the 2011 Arab Spring that upended the state system across the Middle East and set in motion a series of bloody proxy wars,” he added. “Neither of these key events were a consequence of Obama’s policies.”

Kahl also cited specific accomplishments of the Obama administration, among them eroding Al Qaeda leadership, securing the Iran nuclear deal, and setting the stage for the destruction of ISIS.

Blaming Obama for the rise of ISIS has become prominent Republican talking point since the US withdrew from Iraq at the end 2011.

Trump himself has attributed the group’s emergence to both Obama and Hillary Clinton, who was Obama’s secretary of state and Trump’s opponent in the presidential election.

The withdrawal date had been set by the Bush administration, but conservatives have criticized Obama for not making a deal with Baghdad to keep US troops on the ground there, which they say could’ve kept ISIS from gaining traction with Iraq’s Sunni minority.

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President Barack Obama meets with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in May 2009. (Photo by White House photographer Pete Souza)

Defenders have pointed to the US’ inability to quell insurgency in the country prior to its withdrawal, as well as Iraqi officials’ refusal to let US troops stay, as evidence that a protracted deployment was impossible and would have changed little. (Others attribute ISIS’ appearance to Bush’s dissolution of the Iraqi military.)

Since taking office, Trump appears to have embraced a more aggressive policy in the Middle East, underscored by several military engagements with pro-Syrian government forces in that country and by his hearty embrace of Saudi Arabia to the apparent detriment of unity among Gulf countries.

Kahl invoked these developments as reason for concern going forward.

“It is difficult to see how Trump’s approach, which combines a shoot-first mentality and an instinct to give regional autocrats a blank check to drag us into their sectarian conflicts, will make the region more secure or America safer,” he told Business Insider in an email.

“And the fact that Gorka and others in the White House are seriously contemplating turning America’s longest war in Afghanistan over to private military contractors who prioritize profit over the national interest is very troubling.”

Lists

6 tips to help you get through Air Assault School

Many Soldiers seek Air Assault School as a simple way to get a skill badge for gloating rights. It’s only two weeks of sliding down ropes — how hard could it be? Kinda difficult, actually, if you’re not prepared.


Being a dope-on-a-rope is the fun part, but cocky and unprepared soldiers will often get dropped before they reach that point. To get the opportunity to really learn what rotor wash is, you’re going to have to do a lot of work. There’s a lot more to the school than you might think. Here’s what you need to know if you want to make it through.

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I honestly don’t know if that guy was planted there by the instructors, but we all got the message. There’s no messing around at this school.

(Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

If you’re at the Sabalauski Air Assault School, for the love of all that is holy, don’t sh*t-talk the 101st Airborne

If you’re stationed at Fort Campbell, home of the Sabalauski Air Assault School, you’re more than likely going to be voluntold to attend. The 101st is pretty fond of their Air Assault status and almost everyone at the school is rocking their Old Abe.

If you’re not in the 101st and are attending on TDY, it’s ill-advised to sport an 82nd patch or Airborne wings. You might get pestered if you do, but won’t get kicked out or anything. All of that goes out the window, however, if you mouth off about the divisional rivalry.

Just how easy is it to get kicked? Here’s a fun, true story: A guy standing next to me on Day Zero couldn’t hold his tongue. He told the instructor, who kept his composure throughout, that “if you choking chickens can do this, so can I.” The instructor just opened the fool’s canteen, poured some water out, shook it near his ear, and told the idiot that he was a no-go before he could set foot on the obstacle course.

Get as much time on obstacle courses as you can before attending

The Day-Zero obstacle course isn’t that physically demanding. Every obstacle is designed so that everyone from the biggest gym rat to the smallest dude can pass. It’s more of a thought exercise than a physical exam.

The challenge that gets the most people is the rope climb. You can climb a rope with almost no effort if you carefully use your feet to create temporary anchors as you work your way up. Check out the video below for a visual example.

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The “Air Assault” that will forever play in your head will remind you why your knees are blown out at 25.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Matthew Hecht)

Get used to saying “Air Assault” at least 7000 times a day

“When that left foot hits the ground, all I want to hear is that Air Assault sound.” This literally means you’ll be saying, “Air Assault” every single time your left foot hits the ground while you’re at the school. It’s not very pleasant considering it’s a three-syllable phrase and you’ll be uttering it every other second.

The answer to every question is “Air Assault.” Every movement is “Air Assault.” You’ll probably start mumbling the phrase after a while, but don’t let the instructors catch you doing it.

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Also, don’t sleep in class. That’s a shortcut to getting kicked.

(Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

There’s actually a lot of math

After you’re done with the obstacle course, the first phase is all about the helicopters. You’ll be expected to memorize every specification of every single helicopter in the Army’s roster.

And, yes, you’ll need to brush up on your basic math skills to plot out how far apart each helicopter should be given their size and area of landing. But don’t worry, you’ll get to the fun stuff soon enough.

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Another heads up: That yellow stick thing is super important. You don’t want to learn the hard way why you have to poke the helicopter with it.

(Photo by Pfc. Alexes Anderson)

Expect to do more sling-load operations than fast roping

Oh, you thought Air Assault was all about jumping out of helicopters and quickly touching on what it takes to be a Pathfinder? That’s hilarious. You’re now going to be qualified for a detail that will almost always come up when you’re deployed: sling-loading gear to the bottom of helicopters.

The math skills and carrying capacities you crammed into your brain will ensure that you’re the go-to guy whenever a sling-load mission comes up. It’s only after that test that you move onto the repelling phase. This is when things gets fun.

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Do units still do blood wings? Probably not. It’s not that bad, really.

(Photo by Sgt. Mickey Miller)

Make sure your 12-mile ruck march is up to speed

If you’re in a combat arms unit, making a 12-mile ruck march in under three hours isn’t asking much. That’s just one mile every fifteen minutes if you pace yourself properly. The ruck is the absolute last thing you’ll be doing at Air Assault School, just moments before graduation. And yet, people still fail.

If your unit came to cheer you on and give you your blood wings and you can’t complete the elementary ruck march at the end, you’ll never live down the fact that you failed while everyone was finding parking.

popular

The 6 most shocking military impostors ever

There’s stolen valor and then there’s you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-stolen-and-savaged valor. Military impostors are the WORST. Check out the faux military cred antics of these guys:


1. The impostor Green Beret who botched a civilian rescue mission

 

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People first noticed something fishy about the obese “Green Beret” when he tried  to buy some ATV’s on discount for his fellow soldiers. An active-duty sergeant quickly noticed that despite the captain’s ranking on his uniform, William James Clark was wearing a black beret. Seriously?

Then things went from slimy to sinister: On May 26, 2002, a tugboat crashed into a bridge on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma, killing 14 people and sending more into the water. People rushed to the river, desperately trying to save the victims. Then you-know-who showed up.

Not only did Clark tell the emergency responders that he was in charge — disrupting the professionals who included members of the Army Corps of Engineers, National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI — he also went through the victims’ personal items and commandeered a truck from a nearby dealership on “The National Guard’s orders”. Class act.

But wait, there’s more: A real Army officer died in the accident, so Clark took it upon himself to break the news to the man’s widow, keeping up the charade even in the face of a dead man’s grieving wife.

“Captain” Clark was finally called out by the town mayor, at which point he fled to Canada where he hid for a few days before getting locked up in federal prison.

2. The “veteran” professor who fooled his whole school — and an entire academic field

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Dedicating yourself to a life of teaching others is a valiant occupation — unless you’re William Hillar, and the “knowledge” you’re passing on is actually complete BS. This “former army colonel” faked a PhD and was teaching college students about counter-terrorism, drug smuggling, and human trafficking .

He also claimed that the movie “Taken” was inspired by his own life — he said his daughter actually died in real life after being sold into sex slavery and getting hacked to death with machetes. Schools and conferences around the country scrambled to get Hillar to speak at their events. And it wasn’t just civilians he fooled; many of his students were active-duty service members.

After 10 years of this charade, Hillar finally ignited the suspicions of the special forces community, and the impostor — who had never served in the military or even graduated college — was outed as a fraud once and for all.

3. The serial impostor who BS’d his way to the White House


As shockingly easy as it was for our previous contenders to commit stolen valor in recent years, it was basically a cake walk in 1915.  This was a time before CAC cards and internet databases, so if you woke up and decided you wanted to impersonate a Navy sailor, most people would have taken it at face value.

Which is exactly what Stanley Clifford Weyman decided to do — for over ten years. For Weymen’s first trick he disguised himself as a Romanian sailor, referring to himself as Lieutenant Commander Ethan Allen Weinberg and boarding the USS Wyoming unannounced. Surprisingly, the U.S. Navy was cool with this, accepting that he was just a friendly foreign officer. Apparently all you needed was a weird-looking uniform and a smile to dupe people back then — simpler times.

After an inspection, “Commander Weinberg” invited the officers to dine with him at the Astor Hotel, one of New York City’s finest establishments of the day. The captain was thrilled, and the dinner went swimmingly — until the police rolled in and cuffed Weyman, who reportedly asked if he could at least finish dessert first. (Probably not the way he envisioned the evening going.)

This wasn’t Weyman’s first duplicitous dinner, either; in 1910 he faked being the American consul to Morocco as a ticket into all of New York’s fanciest restaurants, sending the bill to the U.S. government after each meal before finally getting caught.

You would think that after this many busted dinners, Weyman would lose his appetite for crime. You would be wrong. In 1921, this serial impostor decided to take his one-man show to the big leagues, and ended up shaking hands with the president of the United States. Yes, you read that right.

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Weyman, far left, is all smiles with Princess Fatima’s stateside entourage Photo: Meridian.org


To pull of his greatest stunt, Weyman donned a U.S. Navy uniform and reached out to an Afghan princess named Fatima, who was visiting the states at the time. Weyman convinced her that he was from the State Department and could arrange a meeting between her and President Warren G. Harding for the low, low price of $10,000 ($130,000 today). Fatima conceded, excited to meet the president.

But Weyman didn’t stop once he got his cash. Instead of ditching Fatima, he was true to his word, and got her the meeting with the president.

He also lost the $10,000 because he needed to rent a private boxcar suite for the princess to travel in from New York to Washington and set her up in a fancy hotel once she arrived, but this guy was in it for the thrill, not the money.

And thrill he got. The meeting happened, he met Harding, and no one was the wiser until some members of the press realized that this random naval officer looked a hell of a lot like the crazy guy who kept getting arrested for masquerading as random naval officers.

Weyman was arrested after the meeting, again. He would later get out after his two-year sentence and continue impersonating military personnel and getting arrested until the end of his days, living out his weird criminal dreams.

 4. The dude who assembled his own fake Special Forces unit

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David Deng during his trial Photo: Army Times

 

You know the saying “shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars”? This guy took it a little too seriously.

David Deng decided that it was time to move on from civilian life, and what better way to do that than by cutting out the middle man and creating your own special forces unit?

Deng knew that in order to get this “operation” off the ground he would need something very important — recruits. Deng preyed on Chinese immigrants who had recently moved to the Los Angeles area, guaranteeing them eventual citizenship and better luck with the ladies. Sadly, over 100 gullible hopefuls “enlisted” into Deng’s secret program, paying hundreds of dollars for the chance at a better life.

Deng led the young men in drills he’d learned from old training manuals, and issued everyone uniforms and IDs he purchased from an apparently very sweet, trusting military surplus store.

Deng’s Special Forces had a good run, as far as fake military units go. The group got to take a private military tour at the USS Midway Museum, and marched in Los Angeles’ Chinese New Year parades. They became very popular among the local Chinese-American community, and few people questioned their legitimacy.

The guy even created his own fake training school by converting an old store front he bought into something that vaguely resembled a military building — all you need is some flags, right?

Everything was roses until Deng’s recruits, so convinced that they were real soldiers, showed up at real military bases to renew their military memberships. After some confusion, and undoubtedly laughter, the base called the FBI and Deng was arrested.

5. The political impostor who faked a military record — and paralysis — to make it to Congress

 

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Douglas Strngfellow poses with his family just a few weeks before his secret was discovered Photo: local.sltrib.com


Politics can be dirty. If we’ve learned anything from “House of Cards“, it’s that everyone has a secret, and it’s only a matter of time before your enemies drag yours out and strangle you with it. Utah Representative Douglas Stringfellow was no exception in this regard. His road to success was nearly as murky and duplicitous as Frank Underwood’s (except for the murdering Zoe part).

Stringfellow knew that a surefire way to earn the love of the American people was to have a military record. Luckily, he had one — a WWII hero and a Silver Star winner, exactly what 1950s America wanted from a leader as the Cold War loomed closer. Or at least, that’s what he told people.

Stringfellow claimed that he was a member of the elite OSS (Office of Strategic Services), a WII-born intelligence agency that would later evolve into the CIA. As such, he undertook a mission to save nuclear scientist Otto Hahn from the Nazis, only to be captured and tortured by the Germans until he was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Too good to be true? Well . . . yes, actually. Stringfellow was really just a private in the Air Force, not a scientist-saving hot shot that got tortured by Nazi cronies. The OSS thing and the Silver Star were BS too. But the most shocking lie of them all? He wasn’t paralyzed.

Utah bought the wheelchair routine, however, and voted him into office. But after two years in the position, his secret got out, and his image was completely destroyed. Even The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Stringfellow’s place of worship, shamed him — forcing him to make a public confession of his misdeeds.

 6. The guy who faked PTSD — on television 

Sometimes impostors are cunning. Sometimes they’re crazy. And sometimes, as in this case, they’re both. 45-year-old Brian Camacho — aka Brian Kahn – managed to convince Military Minds, a community network that helps veterans find treatment for PTSD, that he needed help after several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Military Minds sent him to Canada to receive medical assistance, and no one questioned his legitimacy. And why would they? The guy was decked out in a full military uniform, complete with eagle, globe and anchor tattoo.

It wasn’t long after this arrangement, however, that Kahn’s brother Ian came forward, confessing his brother’s real name — and the fact that he had never served in the military. In an interview with the Military Times, Ian Kahn lamented that “It’s all a game to him. He really believes he went to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Kahn also appeared in one of Military Minds’s promotional videos, once again referring to himself as Marine 1st Sgt. Brian Camacho. The whole situation is sad and weird, but the fact that this guy claimed that he suffered from PTSD, a very real and debilitating challenge for many servicemen and women who return home, is just sick. Stolen valor is one thing, but this is just mind boggling.

You can see Kahn in the short video below, bulls**ing his way through a QA as if he has actually served.

NOW: The 6 greatest military heroes you’ve never heard of

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian men barred from Ukraine as crisis escalates

Ukraine has barred Russian male nationals between 16 and 60 from traveling to the country, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Nov. 30, 2018.

The move comes amid escalation tensions between the two countries after Russian border guards on Nov. 25, 2018, opened fire and captured three Ukrainian naval vessels and their 24-member crew off Crimea, which Russia forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The Ukrainian leader has called for a stronger NATO presence in the Black Sea region and for further Western sanctions against Russia.


Poroshenko tweeted on Nov. 30, 2018, that the restrictions on Russian travelers have been taken to prevent Russia from forming “private armies” fighting on Ukrainian soil.

Russia has backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

Petro Tsygykal, head of Ukraine’s border guard service, said border checkpoints were being bolstered, according to a statement on the presidential website.

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Checkpoint Marynivka.

Border Guard Service spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Ukraine’s Hromadske TV on Nov. 30, 2018, that Russian male nationals would be barred from entering Ukraine during the period of martial law, which is now due to continue until Dec. 26, 2018.

Russia said it had no plans to mirror the Ukrainian move. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed the Ukrainian government for implementing a policy that hurts ordinary people.

On Nov. 29, 2018, Poroshenko said that Kyiv will impose “restrictions” on Russian citizens in Ukraine and the country’s border guard said only Ukrainian nationals would be allowed to travel to Crimea in connection with the imposition of martial law for 30 days in parts of the country.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Kateryna Zelenko confirmed to RFE/RL by phone that foreign journalists are among those excluded from entering Crimea from Ukraine but said her ministry was discussing whether to grant them an exception.

The official confirmation came hours after Anna-Lena Lauren, a Moscow-based foreign correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, was barred by Ukrainian border guards from entering Crimea through the what Ukraine deems the only legal route.

Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights said Ukraine has filed a complaint against Russia in the court for firing on three of its ships and boarding them.

A court statement on Nov. 30, 2018, said Ukraine had asked it to intervene to ensure the well-being of its sailors. Moscow accuses them of illegally crossing the Russian border and failing to comply with orders to stop.

“The Ukrainian government has asked in particular that Russia provide medical care to the wounded sailors and provide information on the state of health of the crew members. It also asks that the sailors be treated as prisoners of war,” the statement said.

The court said it had asked the Russian government for information about the condition of the sailors’ detention. The complaint is the fifth filed by Ukraine against Russia since Moscow forcibly annexed Crimea in 2014.

A Russian government-appointed ombudswoman in Crimea said the captured Ukrainian naval personnel are being transferred to Moscow, Russian state media reported on Nov. 30, 2018.

Russia says the Ukrainians had violated its border while Ukraine says its ships were acting in line with international maritime rules.

A Crimean court earlier this week ruled to keep the Ukrainian seamen behind bars for two months pending the investigation.

Earlier on Nov. 30, 2018, the Kremlin said it regrets U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit.

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands during a 2018 summit.

“This means that discussion of important issues on the international and bilateral agenda will be postponed indefinitely,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media.

Putin, he said, “is ready to have contacts with his American counterpart.”

Trump said he was cancelling the meeting scheduled for this weekend at the G20 summit in Argentina over Russia’s recent seizure of the Ukrainian vessels.

“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting…in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin,”” Trump said in a tweet posted on Nov. 29, 2018.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Nov. 30, 2018, that Budapest stands by Ukraine in the latest escalation of tensions with Russia.

Orban, who is one of the few EU leaders to have good relations with Putin, said Hungary’s position was clear despite the “anti-Hungarian government” in Kyiv.

Hungary and Ukraine are at odds over the rights of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.

‘No military solution’

In an interview with the German tabloid Bild published early on Nov. 29, 2018, Poroshenko said he hopes European states will take active steps, including increasing sanctions and military protection against Russia, to help Ukraine after providing verbal support in the wake of Russia’s capture of 24 Ukrainian crew members over the weekend.

“We hope that NATO states are prepared to send naval ships to the Sea of Azov to support Ukraine and provide security,” Poroshenko said. He claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin sees himself as a “Russian emperor” and Ukraine as a Russian “colony.”

“The only language he [Putin] understands is the solidarity of the Western world,” Poroshenko said. “We can’t accept Russia’s aggressive policies. First it was Crimea, then eastern Ukraine, now he wants the Sea of Azov.”

Speaking at a German-Ukrainian economic forum in Berlin later on Nov. 29, 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she planned to press Putin at the G20 summit on Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2018, this week to urge the release of the ships and crews.

“We can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts,” she added.

While blaming Russia for tensions, Merkel showed no signs of being ready to back military support.

“We ask the Ukrainian side, too, to be sensible because we know that we can only solve things through being reasonable and through dialogue because there is no military solution to these disputes,” she said.

Peskov on Nov. 29, 2018, criticized Poroshenko’s request for NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov, alleging it was “aimed at provoking further tensions” and driven by Poroshenko’s “electoral and domestic policy motives.”

Putin has claimed that the naval confrontation was a ploy to boost his Ukrainian counterpart’s popularity ahead of an election in March 2019.

A NATO spokeswoman said the alliance already has a strong presence in the region, with vessels routinely patrolling and exercising in the Black Sea.

“There is already a lot of NATO in the Black Sea, and we will continue to assess our presence in the region,” Oana Lungescu said.

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The Sea of Azov is the body of water that separates the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, from the Ukrainian and Russian mainlands. Russia opened a bridge over the Kerch Strait connecting Crimea with Russia in May and has asserted control over the strait.

The Kerch Strait is the only route for ships traveling between the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine has several ports, and the Black Sea, which is an arena usually patrolled by NATO.

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

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