Don't panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military - We Are The Mighty
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Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
The ballistic missile submarine HMS ‘Vanguard’ alongside the ‘Type 45’ destroyer HMS ‘Dragon’ in 2010. Royal Navy photo


It’s not every day one of Europe’s largest economies votes to pull itself out of the European Union, the British prime minister announces his resignation and serious questions erupt regarding the future of the Western political order.

But fortunately for NATO and the British military, it’s not time to panic … yet. The military implications of Brexit will not set in overnight, and Britain has a backup plan.

However, there could be profound consequences for the alliance and the British military over the long term — some of them negative.

For one, NATO is responsible for Europe’s collective defense, not the European Union. The United Kingdom will remain one of Europe’s largest economies and will continue to wield outsized global influence due to its permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Nor does leaving preclude Britain from participating in the E.U.’s military missions, such as chasing pirates off the Horn of Africa.

The British economy has tanked, but Britain will survive. The actual process of withdrawing from the European Union is also exacerbated by the entangling of European and British case law, which will take years to sort out.

Parliament must ratify the referendum for it go into force — and what remains of the British-European relationship years from now is a mystery. But there’s no doubt that Brexit (if it happens) could have major consequences for British foreign and military policy.

A June briefing paper from the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based defense and security research organization, described a a possible withdrawal from the European Union as “significant a shift in national strategy as the country’s decision in the late 1960s to withdraw from bases East of Suez.”

That’s a big, sweeping and once-in-a-generation shift.

It was evident at the time. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United Kingdom withdrew its military from East Asia and the Middle East to focus on countering the Soviet army in Europe. This period coincided with the Troubles in Northern Ireland, where British Army troops deployed beginning in 1969.

Britain joined the European Union’s predecessor organization in 1973. In short, Britain’s growing military ties with Europe were inexorably bound with growing economic and political ties.

Those ties shaped the British military.

The Royal Air Force scrapped its long-range Avro Vulcan strike bomber, which wasn’t needed to defend the homeland from a Soviet invasion. Britain put off building new aircraft carriers, but developed Trafalgar-class attack submarines to hunt Russian subs in the North Atlantic.

Britain’s Tornado fighter jets are also a product of the 1970s, built by a German-Italian-British consortium and designed specifically to fight Soviet forces in Europe.

The Falklands War served as a brief interlude in 1982. But beginning in the 1990s, Britain would shift to a more internationalist posture, fighting wars in Iraq and later Afghanistan, where Britain still keeps 450 troops in an advisory role.

Today, British warplanes and advisers are involved in the war with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The U.K. military is increasingly involved in Africa.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
A Royal Air Force Typhoon in 2012. Peter Gronemann/Flickr photo

In short, the British military is less focused on Europe, and is more globalist, than it was during the Cold War.

So in an irony for Brexit’s most isolationist supporters, one possibility is that a post-E.U. Britain might increase its role in NATO to make up for its declining influence in European capitals. Especially now that European governments worry about Russia’s military build-up.

“The U.K. might find that the extent of its commitment to European defense would be one of its few bargaining chips as it entered a period of tough negotiations on the terms of its future economic engagement with its E.U. neighbors,” Malcom Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute wrote.

The outcomes of the 2016 NATO summit in Warsaw in July are likely to further constrain the U.K.’s room for maneuver, committing the U.K. to invest in deployments and capabilities whose main role will be to contribute to deterrence of Russia. New crises in Europe and its neighborhood (for example in the Balkans or Africa) could also increase immediate demands on U.K. capabilities, especially in cases where the U.S. makes it clear that it expects Europe to take the lead.
In these circumstances, as Europe’s most capable military power, the U.K. could not easily stand aside from the European consensus without significant risk to its reputation as a reliable NATO partner.
Nor can a resurgence of security concerns closer to home be ruled out.
MIGHTY TRENDING

NASA study reproduces origins of life on ocean floor

Scientists have reproduced in the lab how the ingredients for life could have formed deep in the ocean 4 billion years ago. The results of the new study offer clues to how life started on Earth and where else in the cosmos we might find it.

Astrobiologist Laurie Barge and her team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working to recognize life on other planets by studying the origins of life here on Earth. Their research focuses on how the building blocks of life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.


To re-create hydrothermal vents in the lab, the team made their own miniature seafloors by filling beakers with mixtures that mimic Earth’s primordial ocean. These lab-based oceans act as nurseries for amino acids, organic compounds that are essential for life as we know it. Like Lego blocks, amino acids build on one another to form proteins, which make up all living things.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

A time-lapse video of a miniature hydrothermal chimney forming in the lab, as it would in early Earth’s ocean. Natural vents can continue to form for thousands of years and grow to tens of yards (meters) in height.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Flores)

“Understanding how far you can go with just organics and minerals before you have an actual cell is really important for understanding what types of environments life could emerge from,” said Barge, the lead investigator and the first author on the new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Also, investigating how things like the atmosphere, the ocean and the minerals in the vents all impact this can help you understand how likely this is to have occurred on another planet.”

Found around cracks in the seafloor, hydrothermal vents are places where natural chimneys form, releasing fluid heated below Earth’s crust. When these chimneys interact with the seawater around them, they create an environment that is in constant flux, which is necessary for life to evolve and change. This dark, warm environment fed by chemical energy from Earth may be the key to how life could form on worlds farther out in our solar system, far from the heat of the Sun.

“If we have these hydrothermal vents here on Earth, possibly similar reactions could occur on other planets,” said JPL’s Erika Flores, co-author of the new study.

Barge and Flores used ingredients commonly found in early Earth’s ocean in their experiments. They combined water, minerals and the “precursor” molecules pyruvate and ammonia, which are needed to start the formation of amino acids. They tested their hypothesis by heating the solution to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) — the same temperature found near a hydrothermal vent — and adjusting the pH to mimic the alkaline environment. They also removed the oxygen from the mixture because, unlike today, early Earth had very little oxygen in its ocean. The team additionally used the mineral iron hydroxide, or “green rust,” which was abundant on early Earth.

The green rust reacted with small amounts of oxygen that the team injected into the solution, producing the amino acid alanine and the alpha hydroxy acid lactate. Alpha hydroxy acids are byproducts of amino acid reactions, but some scientists theorize they too could combine to form more complex organic molecules that could lead to life.

Lau Basin – SRoF 2012 – Q328 Black smokers

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“We’ve shown that in geological conditions similar to early Earth, and maybe to other planets, we can form amino acids and alpha hydroxy acids from a simple reaction under mild conditions that would have existed on the seafloor,” said Barge.

Barge’s creation of amino acids and alpha hydroxy acids in the lab is the culmination of nine years of research into the origins of life. Past studies, which built on the foundational work of co-author and JPL chemist Michael Russell, looked at whether the right ingredients for life are found in hydrothermal vents, and how much energy those vents can generate (enough to power a light bulb). But this new study is the first time her team has watched an environment very similar to a hydrothermal vent drive an organic reaction. Barge and her team will continue to study these reactions in anticipation of finding more ingredients for life and creating more complex molecules. Step by step, she’s slowly inching her way up the chain of life.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

Laurie Barge, left, and Erika Flores, right, in JPL’s Origins and Habitability Lab in Pasadena, California.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This line of research is important as scientists study worlds in our solar system and beyond that may host habitable environments. Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, for example, could have hydrothermal vents in oceans beneath their icy crusts. Understanding how life could start in an ocean without sunlight would assist scientists in designing future exploration missions, as well as experiments that could dig under the ice to search for evidence of amino acids or other biological molecules.

Future Mars missions could return samples from the Red Planet’s rusty surface, which may reveal evidence of amino acids formed by iron minerals and ancient water. Exoplanets — worlds beyond our reach but still within the realm of our telescopes — may have signatures of life in their atmospheres that could be revealed in the future.

“We don’t have concrete evidence of life elsewhere yet,” said Barge. “But understanding the conditions that are required for life’s origin can help narrow down the places that we think life could exist.”

This research was supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s JPL Icy Worlds team.

For more information on astrobiology at NASA, please visit: https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/

Featured image: An image of Saturn’s moon Enceladus backlit by the Sun, taken by the Cassini mission. The false color tail shows jets of icy particles and water that spray into space from an ocean that lies deep below the moon’s icy surface. Future missions could search for the ingredients for life in an ocean on an icy moon like Enceladus.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Army Ranger Tyler Grey achieves directorial debut with ‘SEAL Team’

“[Directing has] been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember,” shared Tyler Grey, who self-declares on Instagram as “a geeky kid trapped in the body of a nerdy adult.” For those who know his story, however, he’s got a pretty respectable warrior side, too.

A former Delta Force operator and sniper-qualified Army Ranger, Grey’s military career came to an end when he was “blown up in Sadr City” (his words, not mine), resulting in a medical retirement. His right arm still bears the scars from that attack — but he hasn’t let it keep him from actively supporting the military community.

For the past few years, that has meant portraying Trent Sawyer in front of the camera on SEAL Team while helping to produce and act as a military consultant behind the scenes. With Unbecoming an Officer (Season 3 Episode 10), he finally puts on a very coveted hat: director.


[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B5vyuZ1n41t/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “So the episode I directed airs next Wednesday 12/11! Here is a promo for it and excuse me right now for the fact that I will post about it…”

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Check out the episode promo:

Most veterans agree that watching shows and films about military service can feel frustrating. It’s hard to get the nuances of military culture right — especially when storytellers are focused on either placing heroes on a pedestal or exposing their trauma.

SEAL Team has been a show actively committed to getting it right by hiring veterans as architects for the story. Grey is not the only service member CBS has brought on board. In a particularly poignant Season 2 episode, the show explored veteran suicide, a tragic issue that hits the military community at too-high a rate. The episode was written by former frogman Mark Semos.

Also read: We have to talk about this week’s SEAL Team

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B56ANDwngdU/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “He is another clip from tomorrow nights episode. Sadly it won’t let me post more than a minute but you get the idea. The guy at the…”

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Grey’s leadership qualities are clear even from a distance. He’s quick to give his team credit for successes (and quick to accept blame for any shortcomings — even in jest).

He’s also great at balancing the line between Hollywood and reality.

“95% of the time if there is something technically wrong on the show there is a TV or dramatic reason for it,” he clarified in advance of the, I’m sure, flood of comments about unused NODS in an episode.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B3skAiRn-hP/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “Episode 3 airing tonight at 9/8c. So one thing I’ll mention here that I get asked a lot about in reference to the show is why things aren’t…”

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To be clear, directing for television is a highly competitive gig. Throw in stunts, battle scenes, smoke, and special effects and you’ve got a major learning curve for a first-timer.

This is where military training really does bring excellence to the surface. A good leader knows who to turn to for guidance (the NCO or SNCO, always…), how to identify and utilize the strengths of the team, when to be definitive, and when to ask for help.

“On a serious note I hope those who watch it enjoy — a lot of people worked really hard to help this come together,” he shared.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B50yidLHIrc/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “No idea what I was talking about looking at this picture but I probably didn’t know then either.. Thanks again to the crew, the cast and…”

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It’s great to see a huge network recognizing the capabilities of veterans in the filmmaking industry — especially in military terrain. Service members give up years of their creative careers while their civilian colleagues build resumes. During that time, however, vets rack up some marketable skills and experiences that benefit a set.

SEAL Team is one show that is really paving the way for veterans to show what they’re made of. It’s an opportunity, not a right, and the professionals know it. When they do step up, however, it makes the series stronger.

Grey isn’t the only veteran who has directed for the show. U.S. Marine Michael Watkins, who has an impressive television resume that includes The Blacklist, Quantum Leap, and Prison Break, has also taken the helm.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B5Y6jdAnTGg/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “Tonight’s episode directed by Marine Veteran Michael Watkins. So this one was rough as we lost our location that all the action was based…”

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From its consultants to its writers and directors to its cast and, yes, even down to its three-line co-stars, SEAL Team gives members of the military community the opportunity to excel after service.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B4vYabMHtdo/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “Define irony: Working on a military show, as a veteran, on Veterans Day. Just kidding I appreciate the opportunity and truly love this…”

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Make sure you check out Grey’s episode Wednesday Dec. 11 at 9 eastern on CBS and let him know you’ve got his six.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

The United States and Egypt on Feb. 12, 2018 reaffirmed their commitment to battle Islamic militants in the Middle East as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo at the start of his week-long trip to the region.


Tillerson and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, cited productive discussions on regional security and the struggle against the Islamic State group, whose Egyptian affiliate, based in the Sinai Peninsula, has struck military and civilian targets across the Arab world’s most populous country.

At a joint news conference with Shoukry, Tillerson said Egypt was an important part of the anti-IS coalition and that Washington was “committed to strengthening this partnership in the years to come.”

“We agreed that we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures, including our joint commitment to the defeat of IS,” Tillerson said.

“We highly value this relationship and we thank the United States for what it presents to Egypt in terms of support, which benefits both countries,” Shoukry said, adding that Cairo hoped to further boost cooperation.

The visit comes as Egypt is undertaking a major military operation in volatile Sinai, where Islamic extremists have been leading an insurgency for years, and in remote areas of the mainland where militants have attacked security forces and civilians.

Also read: Tillerson tackled these major issues in his South Asia trip

Attacks picked up after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi overthrew his elected but divisive Islamist predecessor, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013. And militants have become more brazen of late. In November 2017 they massacred 311 people at a north Sinai mosque, and in December 2017 they tried to kill the defense and interior ministers with a missile attack during an unannounced visit to the area.

North Sinai has long been under emergency law, with a nighttime curfew in place in some hot spots, but alert levels have been heightened in recent days due to the new offensive, called Sinai 2018. Hospitals in North Sinai and in other neighboring provinces have cancelled leave for doctors in anticipation of casualties, while many local gas stations and shops were ordered shut.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.)

The operation, announced in a televised statement by army spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifai, began early Friday and covers north and central Sinai as well as the Nile Delta and Western Desert and targets “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations.” It is unclear how long it will last.

In its latest update, Egypt’s military said it had killed a dozen militants in firefights and arrested 92 people, bringing the total militant body count to 28, based on earlier statements. It says it has destroyed dozens of targets, including vehicles, weapons caches, hideouts, communications centers and illegal opium fields in the sweep.

North Sinai is closed off for non-residents and journalists, and the army’s casualty figures could not be independently confirmed. Telephone connections to the area, both mobile and landlines, are often shut down as well. The army has not mentioned any killed or wounded on its own side.

Related: Top military leader at odds with Trump on ‘Islamic’ terrorism

The campaign also comes ahead of elections in which el-Sissi faces no serious competitors, after authorities sidelined his opponents using a variety of charges and disqualifications, leaving only a little-known supporter to run against him. El-Sissi, who held talks with Tillerson later in the day, says he is the only one who can bring stability to the country. Militant attacks, however, have surged under his leadership.

A video purportedly by Egypt’s IS branch has called on fighters to stage attacks during the presidential election, defiantly mentioning the offensive and warning Egyptians to stay away from polling centers. Voting will take place over three days — March 26, 27, and 28, 2018 — in what critics say is an attempt to increase participation by a disinterested public.

Washington, which gives Egypt some $1.3 billion in annual military assistance and hundreds of millions more in civilian aid, withheld some $100 million of the funding in summer 2017, ostensibly over new Egyptian legislation that blocks much foreign funding of non-governmental organizations, especially those involved in human rights research.

More reading: 9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

Asked about his country’s view of the upcoming vote, Tillerson said the U.S. always advocates for free and fair elections and would continue to do so. He did not specifically mention el-Sissi’s virtually uncontested election, or the aid being withheld. El-Sissi also faces criticism for quashing all dissent in the country, in what is the harshest crackdown in Egypt’s modern history.

“We have always advocated for free and fair elections, transparent elections, not just for Egypt but any country,” Tillerson said.

In the evening, el-Sissi’s office said he “underscored the robust strategic relations between Egypt and the U.S.” when he met with Tillerson, urging further American engagement in the country.

“The President noted that Egypt looks forward to forging closer economic cooperation with the U.S. and to increasing American investments in Egypt,” it said in a statement.

Tillerson then left Cairo, traveling on to Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, where he will meet local officials as well as Saudi, Emirati, Iraqi and Syrian delegations.

Articles

This artist shows combat through a fighting man’s eyes

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military


It’s been said that if you look at an infantryman’s eyes you can tell how much war he has seen. Stare into the eyes of many of the fighting men portrayed by World War II combat artist Tom Lea and you can tell his subjects have seen Hell – and then some.

Muralist, illustrator, war correspondent, portraitist, landscape artist, novelist, and historian, the multi-talented Lea covered World War II for “Life” magazine, a publication that pioneered photojournalists’ coverage of combat yet still showcased his drawings and paintings of warfare. Now, the public has a rare opportunity to view some of Lea’s best work at a single impressive exhibit.

“Tom Lea: LIFE and World War II” is showing at The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, through January 1, 2017. Sponsored by The Woldenberg Foundation, the exhibition features nearly 30 original paintings and illustrations on loan from the U.S. Army Center of Military History, as well as from private collections and museums.

There are also interpretative displays, audio-visual presentations of oral histories from World War II veterans who participated in the battles Lea portrayed, and displays of personal items that belonged to Lea such as his drawing table, brushes and an easel.

Even though World War II is frequently remembered as a time when the combat photographer came into his own, Lea’s work as an artist was relevant during World War II because it was extremely dynamic and caught the imagination of service members’ families and other civilians back home, said Larry Decuers, the exhibit’s curator.

“His images provided everyone on the home front with a realistic — if haunting— view of combat unfolding overseas,” Decuers said. “Lea’s works also represented a unique aspect of wartime journalism because they were so detailed in design.”

Thomas Calloway “Tom” Lea III, who died in 2001, said his mission as an artist and journalist was straightforward: “I did not report hearsay; I did not imagine, or fake, or improvise; I did not cuddle up with personal emotion, moral notion, or political opinion about War with a capital W. I reported in pictures what I saw with my own two eyes, wide open.”

A native of El Paso, Texas, Lea was one of the first civilian artists hired by “Life” as a correspondent during World War II. His work in numerous theaters of operation required him to travel more than 100,000 miles during the war.

Lea risked his life to document combat ranging from convoy battles involving destroyers in the North Atlantic to the bloody beach assault during the Battle of Peleliu. His subjects ranged from admirals and generals to ordinary servicemen, but he felt a particular affinity for the men below decks and the Marines who faced some of the most ferocious combat of the entire war.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

His paintings ultimately became full-color spreads in 10 issues of “Life,” reaching more than 30 million readers and providing a chilling perspective on the war.

Among the art displayed in the exhibit is perhaps Lea’s most famous – and haunting – wartime painting, “That 2,000-Yard Stare.” It has become one of the most iconic images of the effects of war on the human psyche.

“He left the States 31 months ago,” Lea wrote about his subject, a combat Marine at Peleliu. “He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases. He half-sleeps at night and gouges Japs out of holes all day. Two-thirds of his company has been killed or wounded. He will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?”

But the display also includes drawings and sketches of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines engaged in the day-to-day and behind-the-scenes jobs that made the fighting possible.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

And then there is his painting of U.S. Navy chaplain John J. Malone experiencing combat for the first time as he does his best to help overwhelmed corpsmen treating casualties. “He was deeply and visibly moved by the patient suffering and death,” Lea wrote. “He looked very lonely, very close to God, as he bent over the shattered men so far from home.”

The exhibit helps people today understand Lea’s contribution to how the public learned about World War II’s events at a time when there was no cable or satellite news and no Internet to provide instantaneous coverage.

“As it is the museum’s mission to tell the complete story of the American experience in World War II, it is critical that we share all aspects of the war – including stories about the courageous men and women who traveled overseas in order to share stories with anxious families back home,” Decuers said. “Lea’s work is a significant piece of World War II, and we’re thrilled to share it at our institution.”

For more information, call (877) 813-3329 or (504) 528-1944, or visit the museum on the Web at nationalww2museum.org.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump commits US to maximum pressure on North Korea

President Donald Trump emphasized the U.S.’ commitment to impose “maximum pressure” against North Korea during his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30 in Washington D.C.


Speaking before Congress and other members of government, Trump stressed the “cruel dictatorship” of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime.

“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland,” Trump said. “We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.”

Trump also criticized the various approaches from previous administrations to reign in North Korea’s provocations.

“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation,” Trump said. “I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address, Jan. 30, 2017. (Photo from White House Flickr)

Though Trump’s rhetoric toward North Korea and its leader, which arguably dictates the tone of North Korean relations around the world, has swayed between inconclusive praise and outright hawkishness, his comments come amid confident statements from the U.S. military and diplomatic moves that signal a departure from previous administrations.

On Jan. 30, Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the U.S. military expressed optimism about the possibility of destroying most of the infrastructure behind North Korea’s nuclear missile program.

Although he declined to provide specifics, Selva said that the military could “get at most of [Kim Jong Un’s] infrastructure,” according to The Washington Post.

Related: US considers a ‘limited strike’ to bloody Kim Jong Un’s nose

Trump’s comments also come amid reports of the White House’s decision to pass over Victor Cha’s nomination for U.S. ambassador to South Korea. The position, currently held by Chargé d’Affaires Marc Knapper, has been vacant for over a year.

Cha, who served as director for Asian affairs for the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration and is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is arguably one of the leading experts on matters concerning the Korean Peninsula.

Though Cha is widely respected in his field, his candidacy was reportedly scuttled after it was revealed that he disagreed with the Trump administration’s consideration of striking North Korea in a “bloody nose” attack — a limited strike intended to send a message to the regime — and had reservations to Trump’s stance on the U.S.’ “horrible” trade deal with South Korea, which the president called unfair and proposed scrapping.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
President Donald J. Trump and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea participate in joint statements on Friday, June 30, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

“It’s inconceivable that there would be anything so complex in the portfolio of an academic that wouldn’t be quickly resolved,” a former official said, referring to Cha’s months-long delayed nomination.

The White House’s decision to pass over a candidate, who is by most accounts, qualified for the position, rippled through foreign-policy circles.

Detracting from the traditional hawkish and dovish rhetoric towards the Korean peninsula, Cha advocated for a balanced coercive strategy to de-escalate tensions in the Korean Peninsula — one that involves an increased defensive posture amongst allies “without escalating into a war that would likely kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans.”

“These are real and unprecedented threats,” Cha wrote in an opinion column, following reports of the White House’s decision. “But the answer is not, as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive military strike.”

As the White House looks for another ambassador to South Korea, tensions still remain high in advance of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Though North Korea appears to have backed off from its annual military exercises amid increased sanctions, it reportedly still plans on conducting a parade to mark the military’s founding, one day before the Winter Olympics begin.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North and South Korea exchange fire as another soldier defects

A “low-ranking” North Korean soldier reportedly crossed the heavily-fortified land border and defected to South Korea Dec. 21, South Korean military officials said in a Yonhap News Agency report.


The incident did not spark a dramatic rescue like the one that captured international attention in November, when a North Korean soldier fled the country amid a hail of gunfire, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The latest soldier — believed to be around 19-years-old — to defect reportedly showed up in front of a guard post around 8:04 a.m. under a thick fog, the Joint Chiefs told Yonhap News.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
Korean Demilitarized Zone. ROK and US Soldiers at Observation Post Ouellette, South Korea. (Army Photo by Edward N. Johnson.)

At 9:30 a.m., South Korean troops reportedly fired around 20 warning shots at North Korean border guards who approached the military demarcation line and appeared to search for their soldier, a South Korean official said.

Troops from North and South Korea were believed to have fired shots, according to military officials.

Read More: Watch a North Korean defector dodging bullets to cross the DMZ

This would be the fourth defection by a North Korean soldier this year, the Joint Chiefs said to Yonhap News.

The defector in November — identified by his last name “Oh” and believed to be 24-years-old — was shot at least five times as he made his escape. US troops airlifted the defector by helicopter from the South Korean side of the border and transported him to a nearby hospital, where is he said to be recovering.

Articles

5 things we’d love to do with the Army’s surplus battleship ammo

Popular Mechanics dug this gem out of the list of contract requests from a government website this week: The U.S. Army is soliciting a contract for someone to destroy 15,595 naval artillery rounds originally designed for the 16-inch guns of massive ships like the USS Iowa.


The Army has maintained the shells since the Navy retired the massive battleships that fired them, but these things can’t be safely stored forever and the military needs them gone.

Hiring a responsible contractor with a proven track record is the best way to do this, but WATM came up with these 5 more entertaining ideas:

1. Host history’s best Independence Day party

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
It would look like this, but near a beach while you and your mildly intoxicated buddies got to watch from the shore. (Photo: U.S. Navy PH1 Terry Cosgrove)

So, the Army is looking for solutions in October, which is exactly the right month to start planning the perfect party for July 4th. Especially if the plans involve a few thousand 16-inch artillery shells. Pretty sure those require permits or something. Be sure to tell the permit office that the fireworks will explode over the water or an open, uninhabited area. And that they’re pretty lethal loud.

2. Blowing up a mountain, like in Iron Man

Remember that scene where Tony Stark is showing off the Jericho missile and he blows up an entire mountain range? Pretty sure everyone reading this would pay at least $15 to see a mountain disappear. Call me Army. We could turn a profit on this.

3. Play a real life game of battleship

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
I would tune into this show for literally every episode. (Meme: courtesy Decelerate Your Life)

The Navy is already getting rid of some old ships, and the Army has found itself with way too many naval artillery shells, meaning this is the perfect time to hold a full-sized game of battleship. Pretty sure the TV ratings could pay for the cost of towing the ships into position.

4. Give drill sergeants really accurate artillery simulators

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
That smoke in the back is coming from an artillery simulator. That’s not realistic enough training for our fighting men and women. (Photo: U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. David J. Overson)

Right now, drill sergeants and other military trainers use little artillery simulators that make a loud whining noise and then a sharp pop to teach recruits to quickly react to incoming indirect fire. They’re great, but it really ignores that sphincter-tightening boom that comes with real incoming fire.

Now imagine that drill sergeants threw the artillery simulator and then were able to remotely detonate an actual, buried battleship shell 100 yards away. Right? No one gets hurt, but it would teach those kids to get their heads down pretty quick.

5. Create claymore mines that shoot grenades

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
This is what it looks like with 1.5 pounds of C4. Someone has to try this with battleship shells and their little grenade submunitions. (Photo: U.S. Army Capt. Adan Cazarez)

Stick with me here. Claymore mines are brutally effective. A C-4 charge sends 700 steel balls flying in an arc at enemies. But the Army currently needs to get rid of 835 warheads that contain grenade submunitions and a whole bunch of other warheads filled with Explosive D.

So, how about we cut the grenades out of the submunition warheads, and duct tape them in rows around the Explosive D warheads? Sure, it would probably break a few treaties to use them in war, but it’s perfectly legal for a government to create an awesome piece of performance art on a military range. Probably.

(h/t Doctrine Man and Popular Mechanics)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the first draft of the Afghan Peace Accord might be a terrible deal

After almost two decades of nonstop war, the United States and the Taliban have agreed to a draft framework for a peace deal to end the fighting there.

For the United States, I mean.

For now, that is.


Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

“This is … how you say… the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever.”

America’s chief negotiator with the Taliban is Zalmay Khalilzad, who got torn a new one in the global press by Afghanistan’s national security advisor, Hamdullah Mohib. Mohib accused Khalilzad of trying to usurp power in the country by installing himself as a viceroy of a caretaker government. This caused the United States to demand an apology that never came.

Now Mohib, the only member of the Afghan government involved in talks with the Taliban, is being “frozen out.” Now that a draft agreement is in place, we know it’s an agreement that no Afghan official helped negotiate. Members of the Afghan government won’t even be allowed to sit at the table until they finalize this draft agreement.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

Afghanistan is adorable.

For the internationally-recognized government of Afghanistan, the removal of American troops would be a disaster if done today. The Government only controls just under two-thirds of the population and just over half of the country’s administrative districts, according to a January 2019 report from the military’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.

In reply, the Pentagon sent out a statement refuting its own report: “Measures of population control are not indicative of effectiveness of the South Asia strategy or of progress toward security and stability in Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan’s army is losing soldiers at a rate of some 3,000 or more per month, due to desertions and ending reenlistments. It is currently at 87 percent strength and falling fast – because they get killed at an alarming rate.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

Maybe China will do it better.

In exchange for the United States agreeing to a timetable withdrawal, the Taliban has agreed not to let Afghanistan become a hub for international terrorism, as it was in the days before the September 11th attacks on the United States. But the Taliban’s promises are problematic from the start – every leader of al-Qaeda has declared the leader of the Taliban to be the “Emir of the Faithful,” the mujaheddin equivalent of Caliph.

Osama bin Laden named Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar the Emir. When those two died, their successors, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mullah Aktar Mansour, recognized each other’s leadership. Mansour died in an airstrike in 2016 and his replacement, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, was named Emir by Zawahiri. You can’t really have one without the other.

But they promised. Is that good enough?

Articles

13 little-known facts about Arlington National Cemetery

 


1. The property used for Arlington National Cemetery was an estate that was forcibly acquired from the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1864.

2. The first military burial at Arlington was William Henry Christman, who died of non-combat related illness, on May 13, 1864.

3. The first African-American to be buried there was William H. Johnson, an employee of President Lincoln.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
Union soldiers in front of the Lee family estate during the Civil War.

4. In December 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Lee family’s favor that Arlington had been confiscated without due process. After that decision, Congress returned the estate, and on March 3, 1883 Custis Lee (Robert E. Lee’s eldest son) sold it back to the government for $150,000.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

5. President Herbert Hoover conducted the first national Memorial Day ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, on May 30, 1929.

6. Arlington did not desegregate its burial practices until President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

7. Five state funerals have been held at Arlington: those of Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, his two brothers, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, and General of the Armies John J. Pershing.

8. U.S. presidents are eligible to be buried at Arlington whether or not they served on active duty since they oversaw the armed forces as commanders-in-chief.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

9. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded by the U.S. Army since July 2, 1937.

10. Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War was interred on May 28, 1984. President Ronald Reagan presided. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred, under the authority of President Bill Clinton, on May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family had them reinterred near their home in St. Louis, Missouri. Since that time the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown has remained empty.

11. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently offers 57 authorized faith emblems for placement on markers to represent the deceased’s faith.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

12. Prior to 2007, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs did not allow the use of the pentacle as an “emblem of belief” on tombstones in military cemeteries. This policy was changed following an out-of-court settlement in April of that year.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

13. Arlington National Cemetery conducts approximately 6,900 burials each year.

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Here’s the Air Force’s official guidance for transgender airmen

On October 6th, the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff released policy guidelines for how transgender airmen can transition – while staying in the Air Force.


This new policy comes less than three months after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgender troops will be able to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
A rainbow flag is placed in the ground for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month during the Picnic in the Park at Nussbaumer Park, June 27, 2015, in Fairbanks, Alaska. More than 200 flags were handed out to members of the 354th Fighter Wing and members of the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor)

The DoD-level policy includes providing transition services through the Military Health System, the ability to change gender in personnel management systems, and total force training.

Military medical providers must first diagnose airmen, proving transition surgery is a medical necessity, just like any other treatment. In the Air Force, the airman’s closest unit commander holds all keys to transitioning while in the USAF, including requests for surgery, uniform and PT exemptions, and deployment needs.

The gender used in the airman’s personnel record will determine which gender regulations and facilities to use, meaning until the transition is complete, transgender airmen will continue to use their gender from birth.

They are still deployable as long as they are medically qualified.

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
Laura Perry’s former self, Leonard, during a deployment in the Air Force before she completed her gender reassignment surgery in 2014. Perry, who is now a civilian, currently works as a social worker at the mental health clinic on Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and also volunteers for a transgender advocacy group. (Courtesy photo)

After receiving a diagnosis of medical need, the airman will inform their unit commander.The commander has 90 days to respond to the request. The commanding officer, airman, and medical staff will set out a timeline for a transition plan that takes operational needs, morale, and readiness into account.

The transition is complete (in the eyes of the Air Force) when the medical staff informs the airman’s unit commander and the airman provides legal documentation (such an updated birth certificate and passport) reflecting the change.

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Transgender airman Logan Ireland, left, and former Navy reservist Brynn Tannehill at a White House LGBT pride reception in Washington, June 24, 2015.

Uniform dress and appearance requirements will adhere to the gender reflected in their personnel record. Any exceptions to policy requests regarding uniform wear during the transition should be in writing to their immediate commander.

Transgender applicants who want to join the military will still have to meet all the physical conditioning standards for their branch, gender, age, and MOS. They will use the facilities for the gender marker in their personnel record. They may be exempt from fitness assessments during the transition plan period but are still expected to participate in unit PT.

A history of gender dysphoria, transition surgery, or hormone therapy is still a disqualifying factor for joining the military unless the recruit has been stable in their new gender for at least 18 months. A doctor must confirm the recruit’s gender stability.

Military policy protects transgender airmen from discrimination through their base equal opportunity office – a protection not afforded to transgender Americans in most states.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about the protests rocking Iran

Iran was rocked this week by the largest protests in the country since 2009.


Pro- and anti-government demonstrators took to the streets starting Dec. 28, 2017, and gradually moved from the outer cities into the capital, Tehran, and Iran’s second-largest city, Mashhad.

At least 20 people were dead as of Jan. 2. As of Jan.1, six people were dead in the small city of Tuyserkan, two in the city of Dorud, two in the southwestern city of Izeh, and two in Lorestan province.

The protests have attracted global attention, and footage of the action has been shared hundreds of thousands of time on social media.

The demonstrations became so widely publicized that Iran blocked access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize and discuss the protests.

Here’s what you need to know about the demonstrations:

Demonstrators began taking to the streets on Dec. 28, 2017.

 

At first, they were protesting against Iran’s dire economic downturn and the skyrocketing prices of basic necessities like eggs and poultry.

As things gained steam, however, the demonstrations took on a more political edge, with activists accusing the Iranian government of corruption and calling on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down.

The protests drew global attention as activists began posting photos and videos of the demonstrations to social media.

 

Footage of the action has been shared hundreds of thousands of time on social media. Some videos showed protesters chanting “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to Rouhani,” the Iranian president.

Other footage showed activists shouting slogans like “We don’t want Islamic Republic!”

As the demonstrations escalated, pro-government protesters flooded the streets on Saturday to counter the anti-corruption activists.

Iranian hard-liners who support President Hassan Rouhani, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the clerical establishment of the Islamic Republic came out in droves this weekend to retaliate against the demonstrators.

Demonstrations exploded after that.

 

Activists came out in full force after pro-government demonstrators rallied on Saturday.

The protests moved from outer cities into Iran’s capital city, Tehran. They also shook Iran’s second-largest city, Mashhad.

Police officers used tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds as the demonstrations grew rowdier.

Also Read: Iran threatens to drop missiles on US bases if White House imposes new sanctions

And when that happened, state media was also forced to acknowledge that it had not initially reported on the protests on the orders of security officials.

“Counterrevolution groups and foreign media are continuing their organized efforts to misuse the people’s economic and livelihood problems and their legitimate demands to provide an opportunity for unlawful gatherings and possibly chaos,” state TV said of the protests.

But Iranian officials and state media added that citizens had the right to protest and have their voices heard on social issues.

Two people were killed overnight, becoming the first deaths attributed to the rallies.

That number grew to 12 deaths by Monday and at least 20 by Tuesday.

In addition to the 20 reported deaths, hundreds of protesters have been arrested since Thursday. One Iranian, who requested anonymity, told Reuters there was a heavy police presence in Tehran.

“I saw a few young men being arrested and put into police van,” he said. “They don’t let anyone assemble.”

On Sunday, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said on Twitter that authorities had cut off access to the app.

 

“Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down … peacefully protesting channels,” he wrote.

Activists were using Telegram to organize and discuss the protests, and they also used Instagram to share photos and videos of the demonstrations.

State media confirmed that both Instagram and Telegram had been blocked, with a source saying it was done as a safety measure.

The Iranian government is denying responsibility for the deaths and unrest.

 

Authorities said Iranian security forces were not responsible for the deaths and instead blamed Sunni Muslim extremists and foreign actors.

Rouhani said demonstrators had the right to protest the government, and he also acknowledged that some of the protesters’ grievances were legitimate. He added, however, that the demonstrations should not devolve into violence or anti-government chants.

“The USA is watching very closely.”

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the unrest this weekend.

“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most….” he tweeted. “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”

“Big protests in Iran,” he later added. “The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”

Trump continued tweeting about the Iran protests on Tuesday, writing, “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

 

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said: “The Iranian government is being tested by its own citizens. We pray that freedom and human rights will carry the day.”

Rouhani pushed back on Trump’s remarks, saying the US president had no right to sympathize with protesters because he “called the Iranian nation terrorists a few months ago.”

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This botched air strike on Lebanon changed Naval Aviation forever

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military
A-7E Corsair II aircraft line the bow of the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CV 62) about the time of the air strike against Syrian gun emplacements in Lebanon. (Photo: U.S. Navy)


American air power going against targets in the Middle East didn’t start with Operation Enduring Freedom or even Desert Storm. The first significant strike was conducted in December of 1983 by carrier-based assets against Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, and it was in many respects a disaster, one that radically changed the way the U.S. Navy conducted strike warfare.

The Bekaa Valley strike was supposed to be in direct retaliation for the Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 Marines on October 23, but the mission was delayed for months by lawmakers in Washington and the operational planners at the European Command in Germany. Finally Syrians firing SAMs at F-14 reconnaissance flights over Lebanon compelled decision-makers to action.

The strike planning process was cumbersome and not tactically agile.  Pentagon and EUCOM higher-ups made the call on strike composition, weapons loadouts, ingress and egress routes, and times on target. As a result, aviators who would ultimately fly the mission had little say in how it would be carried out.

The 28-plane strike package launched from two carriers – Kennedy and Independence (both decommissioned now) – on the morning of December 4, which proved to be the perfectly wrong time as the metrological conditions made it hard for the attack aircraft to see their targets (remember, these were the days before smart bombs, when pilots had to actually maneuver their airplanes toward the ground and pickle their bombs with a high level of skill). At the same time the weather and sun angle highlighted the American airplanes in the sky for Syrian anti-aircraft gunners. The strike package also flew toward their targets along the same route, which made it easy for gunners to train their weapons.

The Syrians managed to shoot down two A-7E Corsairs and an A-6E Intruder.  One of the A-7 pilots and the A-6 pilot were killed.  The other A-7 pilot – who also happened to be the Air Wing commander aboard the Independence – managed to get his jet over the Mediterranean before he ejected.  He was picked up by Lebanese fisherman and eventually returned to the Americans unharmed.

The A-6 bombardier/navigator, Lt. Robert Goodman, was captured by Syrian troops and taken as a hostage. The month-long stalemate between governments on his release was finally broken by Jesse Jackson, who took an interest in the young aviator because he was an African-American.

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Lt. Robert Goodman in the back of a car with a Syrian soldier after being shot down during an air strike against targets in Lebanon. (AP photo)

As a result of this fiasco the U.S. Navy established the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at the air station in Fallon, Nevada, basically taking a page from the Top Gun playbook a decade or so earlier when that school was created to fix the problem of fighters getting shot out of the skies over North Vietnam because of inferior tactics. The staff at NSAWC studied better ways of getting bombs on target while surviving intense SAM environments, and their research yielded more thorough mission planning processes (including streamlining strike coordination up and down the chain of command), off-axis attack profiles, and the improved use of jammers to better suppress the SAM threat.

Although times have changed in recent years with the advent of stealth technology and precision-guided munitions, many of the lessons learned from Bekaa Valley are still relevant today.

Now: Top secret files detail how drone strikes target terrorists — and how they go wrong 

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