Drones will soon decide who to kill - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Drones will soon decide who to kill

The US Army recently announced that it is developing the first drones that can spot and target vehicles and people using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a big step forward. Whereas current military drones are still controlled by people, this new technology will decide who to kill with almost no human involvement.

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society. There is a chance that warfare will move from fighting to extermination, losing any semblance of humanity in the process. At the same time, it could widen the sphere of warfare so that the companies, engineers and scientists building AI become valid military targets.


Existing lethal military drones like the MQ-9 Reaper are carefully controlled and piloted via satellite. If a pilot drops a bomb or fires a missile, a human sensor operator actively guides it onto the chosen target using a laser.

Ultimately, the crew has the final ethical, legal and operational responsibility for killing designated human targets. As one Reaper operator states: “I am very much of the mindset that I would allow an insurgent, however important a target, to get away rather than take a risky shot that might kill civilians.”

Drones will soon decide who to kill

An MQ-9 Reaper Pilot.

(US Air Force photo)

Even with these drone killings, human emotions, judgements and ethics have always remained at the centre of war. The existence of mental trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among drone operators shows the psychological impact of remote killing.

And this actually points to one possible military and ethical argument by Ronald Arkin, in support of autonomous killing drones. Perhaps if these drones drop the bombs, psychological problems among crew members can be avoided. The weakness in this argument is that you don’t have to be responsible for killing to be traumatised by it. Intelligence specialists and other military personnel regularly analyse graphic footage from drone strikes. Research shows that it is possible to suffer psychological harm by frequently viewing images of extreme violence.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

An MQ-9 Reaper.

(US Air Force photo)

When I interviewed over 100 Reaper crew members for an upcoming book, every person I spoke to who conducted lethal drone strikes believed that, ultimately, it should be a human who pulls the final trigger. Take out the human and you also take out the humanity of the decision to kill.

Grave consequences

The prospect of totally autonomous drones would radically alter the complex processes and decisions behind military killings. But legal and ethical responsibility does not somehow just disappear if you remove human oversight. Instead, responsibility will increasingly fall on other people, including artificial intelligence scientists.

The legal implications of these developments are already becoming evident. Under current international humanitarian law, “dual-use” facilities — those which develop products for both civilian and military application — can be attacked in the right circumstances. For example, in the 1999 Kosovo War, the Pancevo oil refinery was attacked because it could fuel Yugoslav tanks as well as fuel civilian cars.

With an autonomous drone weapon system, certain lines of computer code would almost certainly be classed as dual-use. Companies like Google, its employees or its systems, could become liable to attack from an enemy state. For example, if Google’s Project Maven image recognition AI software is incorporated into an American military autonomous drone, Google could find itself implicated in the drone “killing” business, as might every other civilian contributor to such lethal autonomous systems.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

Google’s New York headquarters.

(Scott Roy Atwood, CC BY-SA)

Ethically, there are even darker issues still. The whole point of the self-learning algorithms — programs that independently learn from whatever data they can collect — that the technology uses is that they become better at whatever task they are given. If a lethal autonomous drone is to get better at its job through self-learning, someone will need to decide on an acceptable stage of development — how much it still has to learn — at which it can be deployed. In militarised machine learning, that means political, military and industry leaders will have to specify how many civilian deaths will count as acceptable as the technology is refined.

Recent experiences of autonomous AI in society should serve as a warning. Uber and Tesla’s fatal experiments with self-driving cars suggest it is pretty much guaranteed that there will be unintended autonomous drone deaths as computer bugs are ironed out.

If machines are left to decide who dies, especially on a grand scale, then what we are witnessing is extermination. Any government or military that unleashed such forces would violate whatever values it claimed to be defending. In comparison, a drone pilot wrestling with a “kill or no kill” decision becomes the last vestige of humanity in the often inhuman business of war.

This article was amended to clarify that Uber and Tesla have both undertaken fatal experiments with self-driving cars, rather than Uber experimenting with a Tesla car as originally stated.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the Air Force raises its remarkable working dogs

Candy is a military working dog with six deployments under her collar, and, on Nov. 9, she was finally able to rest her paws when she officially retired from duty during a ceremony.


Her career, like hundreds of canines before her, serves as a reminder of the power of these four-legged airmen.

 

Drones will soon decide who to kill
Candy, a military working dog assigned to the 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, receives an Air Force Commendation medal from the unit’s commander, Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Hamilton, during her retirement ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 9, 2017. Candy deployed six times across the Middle East and became one of the most experienced and decorated military working dogs in the Defense Department. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lane Plummer)

For most of these working dogs, it all starts across the Atlantic Ocean. The Military Working Dog Buying Program will travel to European kennels to purchase canines for the Defense Department. In some cases, however, MWDs are born and raised at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where training occurs for both canines and their aspiring handlers. The way to tell the difference between foreign and domestic canines is in their name. For example, if their title is “MWD Kkeaton” or “MWD Ttoby,” the double consonant will signify they’re a dog raised through Lackland’s Puppy Program. Names without the double consonant are for all other adopted dogs.

After being adopted, the dogs live with foster families before the initial training regimen, which begins when they are 18-24 months old. Once they enter the training program, the dogs have 120 days to graduate.

Drones will soon decide who to kill
Senior Airman Jordan Crouse pets his MWD Hector during a patrol dog certification qualification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mozer O. Da Cunha)

Training Dogs, Handlers

During training, they learn all the basics. Basic commands, such as down, sit, and stay, are the starting point. Once they learn these commands, the canines begin learning more advanced techniques, such as patrol work, detection, and more. Successfully completing the four-month program means they’ll graduate and be assigned their base.

Simultaneously, aspiring dog handlers are training nearby. It was an experience that, for Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Pethtel, a dog handler with the 27th Special Operations Security Forces, was fun and filled with challenges for both canine and handler.

“It felt hard at times because you didn’t know how much work it takes to become [a handler],” Pethtel said. “I remember how nervous we’d be [when] pulling our first working dog.”

Drones will soon decide who to kill
Xxyliana, military working dog, Provost Marshal’s Office, sprints toward her target during a demonstration for the summer reading program at the Twentynine Palms Public Library, July 13, 2017. Xxyliana demonstrated her obedience to not only show what MWD’s are capable of, but to foster a positive relationship with the community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Margaret Gale)

Before they get to handle their first working dog, the handlers must also learn the basics and proper commands. Not only that, they also must learn how to groom the dogs and keep them fit to fight.

When the newly trained dogs arrive at their first assignments, they will be assigned a handler and begin learning more advanced techniques.

Also Read: This is what happens to military working dogs after retirement

Teamwork

From there, it’s all about strengthening the bond between handler and canine. Just like airmen in an office, team chemistry is a vital component for these working dog teams to accomplish the mission. Between base patrols and deployments, the bond only strengthens each time they put their bulletproof armor on.

“When we do convoys, canines lead,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Paul Little, a 27th SOSFS dog handler. “When we’re downrange, dog teams lead the way. It’s one of the most vital components to any mission they’re involved in.”

Drones will soon decide who to kill
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson

It’s an honor that Candy, one of the most experienced and decorated military working dogs in the DoD, had one last time before she traded in those heavy vests for a simple collar and leash. After eight years of service, she received an Air Force Commendation Medal and retired to her new home in Colorado with Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Fehringer, one of her former handlers.

From puppy to airman, the career cycle of these canine service members is long and arduous and requires as much sacrifice as the thousands of human airmen they serve and protect.

MIGHTY GAMING

What the science says about that moment in ‘The Last Jedi’

It’s been well over six months since Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out and audiences have gone through the full cycle of liking it on opening night and disliking it the longer they spend thinking about it. Now, it’s been released for viewing in homes across America and leaking potential spoilers is no longer a crime punishable by death.

That being said, this is your official spoiler alert. We are going to talk about Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead.


Drones will soon decide who to kill

And my personal question: If that was such an effective tactic, why not just attach hyperspace drives onto asteroids and use them to bombard enemies?

(Lucasfilms)

Still with us? Okay, here we go.

In the second act of the film, the First Order has the Resistance cornered. Vice Admiral Haldo orders her people to board the transport ships and evacuate to the nearby planet, Crait. She then pilots the Raddus and aims it right at the First Order fleet and their flagship, the Supremacy.

She floors the Raddus into near hyperspeed and smacks right into the bad guys in what was one of the coolest moments of the film. Pieces of the shattered Supremacy then domino-effect outward, into the other ships, destroying them as well.

As awesome as this moment was, it opens up many questions for the fans that could be better understood with some science. Like, is that even possible? What kind of force (not that kind) would be required to pull that off?

Drones will soon decide who to kill

Everything always comes back to science.

The filmmakers behind the Star Wars universe have taken many creative liberties with the franchise, telling elaborate storiesat the expense of scientific reasoning— and that’s fine.The series is literally about magical space samurai that befriend countless alien species without translators and everyone seems to be just fine walking on random planets without wearing space suits.

In this one particular instance — the hyperspace Kamikaze move — everything seems to be perfectly in order. This all comes down to Albert Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalency formula, otherwise known as E = mc2.

Even though many people see that formula and think it’s just some smart guy’s way of proving he’s smart, it’s actually the fundamentals of energy. It means, in basic terms, that energy and mass are interchangeable.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

Cut the movie some slack. It’s far more interesting than reading science textbooks.

(Lucasfilms)

With a little algebra, however, this same formula can be rearranged to explain that achieving the speed of light would be nearly impossible because everything within the universe with mass would require a incalculable amount of energy to achieve such a speed. It’s challenging to send even a single atom at a fraction of light speed, let alone a massive frigate.

In the real world, achieving hyperspeed is near impossible for anything other than massless photons. But this is the universe with tiny green muppets teaching farmboys how to move rocks with their minds. Let’s pretend that the hyper-drives hand wave that all away and moving faster than the speed of light is possible and it can be achieved by things with mass.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

It’s basically the idea behind the “Rod from God” that never happened.

Thankfully for the audience, the next scientific laws that apply to this scene are also very well-known: Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion. The first says that every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. The second states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is directly proportional to the force applied, and this change in momentum takes place in the direction of the applied force.

In normal-people words, this means that since the Raddus was extremely massive and was working up to light speed (which meant that it still had mass at that point), it had an unfathomable amount of energy behind it’s punch that could, theoretically, shred through anything with ease.

This is a magnified version of a rail gun on planet Earth. You take something heavy, use magnets to send it extremely high speeds, and crash it into something. Boom. No more enemy.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

Then again, this could also explain why two missiles could destroy a Death Star and a couple of laser blasts destroy the second one.

(Lucasfilms)

The real question is why don’t they use it more often in the Star Wars universe? We’ve accepted that, for the sake of storytelling, that hyper-drives really work, but this Kamikaze strategy hinges on how the fictional hyper-drive works. If achieves immense speeds by reducing a spacecraft’s mass to zero — similar to that of a photon — then the spacecraft couldn’t destroy something unless it was in the process of picking up speed. This version is more in line with the destruction we saw in the film.

The problem with this option is that if the ship doesn’t have enough speed, it’ll simply bump off the target’s shields. If it has too little mass, it’ll simply squash like a fly on a windshield. The conditions would have to be near perfect to make a serious impact.

The other way a hyper-drive could work is if it creates the insane amount of energy required to bring an object past light speed. If that’s the case, then the hyper-drive would be destroyed with the collision. For scale, the energy needed to send a Ford Mustang into hyper-speed would be more than a star going supernova. When a spacecraft containing an entire military crashes and the hyper-drive that powers it blows it, it’d let off enough energy to snuff out the entire galaxy in an instant. So, it probably wasn’t that.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Look, most of us were trained with videos or guides from the 70s, so I was seriously surprised when I discovered the U.S. Army’s Combat Fitness Test page.

The page is modern, informative, and actually very helpful. Plus, the graphic designer was on point. (Kudos: Army Public Affairs Digital Media Division.)

I’m not in the army but I find myself wanted to go do some deadlifts.


Army Combat Fitness Test: 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL) (Event 1)

youtu.be

The Army Combat Fitness Test is comprised of the deadlift, standing power throw, hand release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck, and 2-mile run. When designing the test, they looked at the Marine Corps’ Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test, the Air Force TAC-P Operators Test, and physical performance assessments from 10-15 other sports programs and military/government tests.

All soldiers must be capable to deploy and fight. From the Army Vision: “The Army Mission – our purpose – remains constant: To deploy, fight, and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustain land dominance by Army forces.” To accomplish that mission, the Army will “build readiness for high intensity conflict” with training that “will be tough, realistic, iterative and battled-focused.” The battlefields of today and tomorrow are increasingly complex, fluid, and uncertain; they demand that all Soldiers are physically fit and ready for full-spectrum operations. —U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test website
Drones will soon decide who to kill

To help prepare soldiers, the Army really went above and beyond with educational materials about the test. From videos of the exercises to training techniques and safety tips to highlighting the muscles engaged, the page is an incredible resource.

If I sound surprised, it’s because I am.

The military does not have a good reputation of taking care of service members’ bodies. There’s an underlying “suck it up” mentality that tends to prevent troops from treating injuries in a timely manner. When they do finally seek medical care, it’s often too late and they’re added to the end of a too-long list of patients needing treatment.

Cue the Motrin memes.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

Shameless plug for this T-shirt

U.S. troops deploy to combat zones and respond to missions that require physical strength, flexibility, and capability, so it’s important that they train hard — but it’s also critical that they learn how to prevent and treat injuries efficiently.

A minor training nuisance like a strained muscle or a shin splint can become a career-ending injury when ignored; instead it should be treated like a loose part on a weapon and it prioritized as such.

The effort the Army put into their website might seem like a small thing, but it actually communicates the importance of soldiers’ bodies — training them, honing them, and caring for them.

Sorry-not-sorry to call out the Marines, but their website is much more difficult to navigate and doesn’t really do much to educate anyone, even though they specifically acknowledge that injury prevention is important:

The mission of the Sports Medicine Injury Prevention (SMIP) Program is to reduce attrition and lost work-days associated with musculoskeletal injuries (MSKI) in order to increase operational readiness of individual Marine, Sailors, and their units. —U.S. Marine Corps SMIP website
Drones will soon decide who to kill

I wish I had this kind of stuff when I was active duty.

The Army, on the other hand:

The government knows that injuries are a detriment to the military, but the Army has currently has a lead in educating its troops about how to train. Physical health should be prioritized as part of the military culture, not just physical strength. Troops can’t be strong if they’re not healthy.

Check out the website here — and then get your ass to the gym!

MIGHTY TRENDING

The NSA needs teenagers to protect democracy

Remember your first summer job? This author’s was as a door corp member, a host, at his local Waffle House. He was fine at that job and terrible as a waiter on Sunday mornings. But the NSA has a program for teens who want to make a bigger impact: Come to the NSA as an intern before college. And the benefits are better than what this author gets now.


Why The NSA Is Hiring Teenagers Like You

www.youtube.com

The Gifted Talented STEM Program seeks high school students with credits for physics, calculus, and either computer science, programming, or engineering. Combine those credits with a 1200 or above on the SAT or 25 or above on the ACT, and those students can get a job at an actual spy agency.

The students work full-time over the summer for between 10 and 12 weeks. Benefits include paid time off, holiday and sick leave, housing assistance, free courses, and travel reimbursement.

If the students are really interested in the NSA for a career, they can then enroll in the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program as well. That has all the same benefits of the GT STEM Program, but they also get up to ,000 in tuition assistance, health and life insurance, and credit toward federal retirement.

In addition to the technical internships, the NSA has a language program for high school seniors with an aptitude for the Chinese, Russian, Korean, Farsi, or Arabic languages. There are also high school work-study programs where students work 20 to 32 hours a week during the school year, earning about -12 an hour.

Now, students with those great academic credentials can make real contributions to national security, but the NSA is pretty open about why they really want students to come to the agency for a few summers in a row.

It helps them poach talent away from Silicon Valley.

The NSA is part of the Department of Defense, and it’s the military’s primary arm for cyber security and defense as well as other espionage activities. It absolutely needs top-tier computer talent to do its job and to protect American service members and enable offensive activities across the globe.

But recruiting that talent is tough, especially since software and computer companies have deeper pockets and are looking for the same people. So the NSA hopes that, by allowing the students to see the meaningful impact of their work early on, those same students will come back to the agency after graduation.

In fact, all students that complete their degree on the Stokes scholarship are required to work at the NSA for 1.5 times their length of study. So, six years for the average bachelor’s degree and nine years for the average master’s program.

Students can apply to the current batch of work-study jobs through October 31, while next summer’s GT and Stokes slots are open for applications through November 15. Remember that next year is 2020, and there’s another election coming up. The NSA is one of the agencies charged with safeguarding those elections, so this year’s interns could be in for an interesting summer.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Did F-35 testing for extreme weather conditions fall short?

More than 400 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters are operating from 17 bases worldwide. From the near-Arctic region of Ørland, Norway, to a recent deployment in the Middle East, the fifth-generation jet is expanding its reach.

But a recent news report shows that weather conditions have some effect on the Pentagon’s stealthy fifth-gen fighter, raising concerns about its performance in extreme climate locations.

In a recent Defense News report series, the outlet obtained documents showing that cold weather triggered a battery sensor in an F-35 Lightning II in Alaska. While the battery was not affected, the weather “overwhelm[ed] the battery heater blanket” that protects it, prompting the sensor to issue a warning and causing the pilot to abort his mission and land immediately, Defense News said.


“We have already developed an update to the software and the battery’s heater control system to resolve this issue, and this updated software is available for users today to load on their aircraft in the event they will be conducting extreme cold weather operations,” Greg Ulmer, vice president of Lockheed’s F-35 aircraft production business, said in an interview with Military.com at the Paris Air Show, adding the update will be in new planes by 2021.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II takes off during pre-Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

The U.S. military anticipated taking the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 around the world, with partners and allies flying the plane in both hot and cold regions, including some that are changing.

“The [F-22 Raptor] and plenty of other aircraft have flown out [to Alaska] just fine for decades,” Rebecca Grant of IRIS Independent Research told Defense News. Grant is a former director of the Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies at the Air Force Association. “The F-35 should have had all that sorted out in the climatic lab.”

Ulmer, however, said all necessary steps were taken in lab testing, and the issue identified was a normal part of the design and development process.

“You do the best you can relative to the engineering, understanding of the environment, to design the part. And then you actually perform, and [you realize] your model was off a little bit, so you have to tweak the design … to account for it,” Ulmer said. An F-35A from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, was on static display here during the show.

“We’re confident in the F-35s performance in all weather conditions,” he said.

The battery issue was first discovered during extreme cold weather testing at -30 degrees and below at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, in February 2018, he added.

Ulmer explained there are various tests points done before the plane heads to the McKinley Lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for robust experiments. The lab is responsible for high-range weather testing of military and commercial aircraft, munitions and weapons.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from Eglin Air Force Base.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

The lab’s refrigeration chamber can go as low as -70 degrees, lab chief Dwayne Bell told Military.com during a visit to the facility in 2017. He said at the time that the F-35 program had been one of the most expensive programs tested in the lab to date. There’s a wide range of testing costs, but they average roughly ,000 a day, he said.

It cost about million to test the Marine Corps’ B-model from the Patuxent River Integrated Test Force, Maryland, over a six-month period, Bell said.

The Lightning II was put through major weather testing — the lab can do everything but lightning strikes and tornadoes — such as wind, solar radiation, fog, humidity, rain intrusion/ingestion, freezing rain, icing cloud, icing build-up, vortex icing and snow. It handled temperatures ranging from 120 degrees Fahrenheit to -40 degrees, officials said in 2017.

But even testing at McKinley is limiting, Ulmer said.

“What doesn’t happen is that they don’t stay there a long time, so once we released [Block] 3F [software] capability, now the operational fleet can actually” test new extremes, he said, referring to both speed and temperature changes.

Defense News also found that supersonic speeds caused “bubbling and blistering” on the JSF’s low-observable stealth coating, and that hot environments impeded sufficient engine thrust to vertically land the Marine variant.

“So they take it” to new environments “and they expose it more than flight test exposed the airplane. I’m an old flight test guy. You expect to learn in the operational environment more than you do in the [developmental test] environment because you don’t necessarily fly the airplane [in that environment] all the time,” Ulmer said.

“So we learned a little bit, and you refine the design, and you solve it,” he said, adding that the design and maintenance tweaks are ongoing. “The probability of the issue reoccurring on aircraft in the operational fleet is very low and with minimal impact to safety of flight or operational performance.”

Drones will soon decide who to kill

Two U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II 5th-generation fighters sit on the flight line during pre-initial Operational Testing and Evaluation.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

Thirteen Category 1 deficiencies were found and reported by operators, according to the for-official-use-only documents Defense News obtained. Cat 1 is a label for problems that would directly impact safety or the mission. Those ranged from coating fixes; pressure anomalies in the cockpit that gave pilots ear and sinus pain; and washed-out imagery in the helmet-mounted display, among others.

The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps each fly a variant of the aircraft designed for different scenarios, from landing on conventional runways on land, to catching arresting cables on aircraft carriers, to landing like a helicopter on amphibious assault ships.

Responding to the Defense News article series, Lockheed Martin said each deficiency “is well understood, already resolved or on a near-term path to resolution.”

“We’ve worked collaboratively with our customers, and we are fully confident in the F-35’s performance and the solutions in place to address each of the items identified,” the company said in a statement June 12, 2019.

Growing pains with new planes and weapons programs are common. But the F-35 program has been under scrutiny since its inception, mainly for cost-effectiveness and functionality. A new estimate suggests that operating and supporting fighters for the next 60-plus years will cost the government id=”listicle-2638937142″.196 trillion.

The older F-22 Raptor has had similar issues, especially with its stealth coating, which officials have said is more cumbersome to fix than the F-35, which was built with a more functional and durable coating in mind.

“The [low-observable] system has significantly improved on the F-35 when compared to the F-22,” Ulmer said June 18, 2019. “That’s all lessons learned from F-22, applied to F-35.”

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

An experimental vaccine is fighting the latest Ebola outbreak


The first batch of 4,000 experimental Ebola vaccines to combat an outbreak suspected of killing 23 people arrived in Congo’s capital Kinshasa on May 16, 2018.

The Health Ministry said vaccinations would start at the weekend, the first time the vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.


The vaccine, developed by Merck and sent from Europe by the World Health Organization, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014-2016.

Health officials hope they can use it to contain the latest outbreak in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo.

8,000 doses needed

Peter Salama, WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said the current number of cases stood at 42, with 23 deaths attributed to the outbreak.

“Our current estimate is we need to vaccinate around 8,000 people, so we are sending 8,000 doses in two lots,” he told Reuters in Geneva.

“Over the next few days we will be reassessing the projected numbers of cases that we might have and then if we need to bring in more vaccine we will do so in a very short notice.”

Health workers have recorded confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in three health zones of Congo’s Equateur province, and have identified 432 people who may have had contact with the disease.

Drones will soon decide who to kill
Siah Tamba is an Ebola survivor who now works at the Ebola treatment unitu00a0in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount, Liberia, after losing her mother, sister, and daughter.
(Photo by Martine Perret)

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the supplies sent to Congo included more than 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities. The vaccine will be reserved for people suspected of coming into contact with the disease, as well as health workers.

“In our experience, for each confirmed case of Ebola there are about 100-150 contacts and contacts of contacts eligible for vaccination,” Jasarevic said. “So it means this first shipment would be probably enough for around 25-26 rings — each around one confirmed case.”

Storage temperature

The vaccine is complicated to use, requiring storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius.

“It is extremely difficult to do that as you can imagine in a country with very poor infrastructures,” Salama said.

“The other issue is, we are now tracing more than 4,000 contacts of patients and they have spread out all over the region of northwest Congo, so they have to be followed up and the only way to reach them is motorcycles.”

The outbreak was first spotted in the Bikoro zone, which has 31 of the cases and 274 contacts. There have also been eight cases and 115 contacts in Iboko health zone.

The WHO is worried about the disease reaching the city of Mbandaka with a population of about 1 million people, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle. Two brothers in Mbandaka who recently stayed in Bikoro for funerals are probable cases, with samples awaiting laboratory confirmation.

The WHO report said 1,500 sets of personal protective equipment and an emergency sanitary kit sufficient for 10,000 people for three months were being put in place.

This article originally appeared on The Voice of America News. Follow @VOANews on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

George Washington desperately wanted to be a British officer

American Gen. George Washington, the hero of the Revolution and the country’s first president, spent much of his early career wishing he was a British officer, working as an unpaid aide, and then traveling approximately 450 miles just to earn his “Lobsterback” coat.


Before he was a hero to the American people, he was a hero to Royal Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie was the lieutenant governor when he ordered Washington on one of his first major missions, a diplomatic undertaking to tell French forces in the Ohio Valley of Virginia to please, “GTFO. K, thanks. Byeeee!” on behalf of the governor.

The French, secure in their fort and coveting the rich farmland for themselves, invited Washington in for dinner and then told him that these fine cuts of meat were all he was ever going to get from the Valley. It’s unknown if they even let him take his leftovers with him in a simple brown bag.

Washington reported back to Virginia and then published a pamphlet about the mission. (Pamphlets were the tweets of their day, but the maximum number of characters was crazy high. For example, Washington’s title alone was 63 characters above the limit of a newer tweet.)

Drones will soon decide who to kill

Fort Necessity, where Washington was forced to surrender to a larger French force.

(Photo by Ikcerog)

The pamphlet went super viral and was a hit in the U.S. and Britain, where a number of distinguished men were known to drop monocles and women suffered the vapors when they read it. The French threat in the valleys had apparently been allowed to grow much too large, and something needed to be done about it.

Washington was sent back, this time at the head of a 160-man force. They snuck up on a French encampment in the night but were spotted in the half-light of dawn, May 28, 1754. Someone fired a shot and a battle quickly raged. Washington was successful in the initial engagement, but was forced to surrender to a larger body of French forces on July 3.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

There were about to be Redcoats for days, man.

(Photo by Lee Wright)

Washington bounced back from this setback, even without the benefit of a montage, which had not yet been invented. The battles in the Virginia wilderness triggered a war between the French and British that raged across the world. For the colonies, this fight would center on alliances with the Native Americans and control of valuable territory.

And Washington, recently promoted, ambitious, and knowledgeable of the area, was perfectly positioned to aid a British victory. He applied for a commission in His Royal Majesty’s Army, ready to lead loyal subjects of the crown to their destined glory!

The Brits didn’t want ‘im. He was a dirty colonial, after all, and there were some questions about whether Washington’s success on May 28 had been a valid engagement or a war crime amid French claims that they tried to surrender.

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Colonel of Militia George Washington, just a few years before he became a general and showed all his Lobsterback detractors what was really up.

(Charles Willson Peale)

At the time, officers in the British Army were often placed above their colonial counterparts, regardless of rank. Rather than suffer the indignity of reporting to officers he outranked, he became an unpaid aide to the British commander, Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock.

Washington’s advice to Braddock was often timely, accurate, and ignored until the Battle of Monongahela. On the Monongahela River, Washington was suffering from dysentery but took command after Braddock was shot. While the British lost the battle, Washington’s actions were credited with saving hundreds of soldiers from capture and death, and he once again became a hero. Braddock, who later died of his wounds, even gifted Washington his commander’s sash, a red length of fabric signifying command.

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Woodcut of Braddock’s death. He actually died a little after the battle, but never let the facts get in the way of a good woodcut, guys.

Washington, once again a hero and now wearing a pimp red sash, traveled to Boston to meet with Governor William Shirley, the new acting commander-in-chief now that Braddock was dead, to ask for a commission in the Royal Army. Shirley thanked Washington for his service but turned him down. He did decree that militia officers outranked royal officer of lower ranks, so that was something.

Washington eventually left the governor’s service to concentrate on farming. Did some things, and ended up being on the id=”listicle-2588139621″ bill after some trials and tribulations that probably helped him grow as a person or something.

MIGHTY TRENDING

From iPhones to fighter jets: Here’s the list of casualties in the trade war between the US and China

China is dropping heavy hints that it could restrict exports of rare-earth metals to the US as part of the trade war through highly staged photo ops and heavy hints in state media.

If such a ban happened, it could seriously harm the American tech, defense, and manufacturing industries. Eighty percent of US imports of rare-earth metals come from China, according to the US Geological Survey.

Stocks in rare-earth companies have skyrocketed since China first hinted that it might weaponize rare earth in the trade war, when President Xi Jinping made a highly publicized visit to a rare-earth factory.


This has most likely driven up the price of the materials, which could in turn drive up the consumer prices of those goods.

Here’s what rare earths are and the US products that would be affected by a Chinese ban.

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Rare earths, clockwise from top center, praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium and gadolinium.

(U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Peggy Greb)

What are rare-earth metals?

“Rare-earth metals” is a collective term for 17 metals in the periodic table of elements, which appear in low concentrations in the ground.

Rare earths are considered “rare” because it’s hard to find them in sufficient concentrations to exploit economically. They also require a lot of energy to extract and process for further use.

The elements are lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, and yttrium.

They have a variety of physical and chemical properties and are put to different uses. Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, and samarium are classed as “light rare-earth elements,” while the others are classed as “heavy rare-earth elements.”

They have grown in importance in recent years because of their use in high-tech manufacturing. Here are some everyday products that depend on rare-earth metals.

iPhones, Teslas, and flat-screen TVs

Yttrium, europium, and terbium are used in LED screens, which you can find on most smartphones, tablets, laptops, and flat-screen TVs. Their red-green-blue phosphors help power the display screen, according to a 2014 US Geological Survey fact sheet.

Those elements are also used in iPhone batteries and help make the phone vibrate when you get a text, Business Insider’s Jeremy Berke reported.

Apple said in 2017 that it would “one day” stop using rare earths to make its phones and pivot to recycled materials instead, though that idea has yet to become a reality.

Lanthanum is also used in as many as half of all digital and cellphone camera lenses, the USGS said.

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Samsung’s giant flat-screen TV, named “The Wall.”

(Samsung)

The electric-vehicle industry also depends on lanthanum alloys to make its rechargeable, batteries, with some makers needing as much as 10 to 15 kilograms, or 22 to 33 pounds, a car, the USGS reported.

Neodymium-based permanent magnets are also used to make electric-vehicle motors, The Verge reported, citing Frances Wall, a professor of applied mineralogy at Britain’s University of Exeter.

Tesla has also relied on rare-earth permanent magnets from the Chinese producer Beijing Zhong Ke San Huan Hi-Tech Co. since 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s not clear whether Tesla uses other magnet suppliers too.

As global demand for electric vehicles continues to climb, so too will that for rare earths, Ryan Castilloux, the managing director of the rare-earth consultancy Adamas Intelligence, told Business Insider.

Permanent magnets produced from rare earths are also used to make computer hard disks, and CD-ROM and DVD disk drives, the USGS noted. The magnets help stabilize the disk when it spins.

Restricting magnet-related rare earths to the US would hurt “a lot of industries and cause a lot of economic pain,” Castilloux said.

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A Tomahawk cruise missile launching from the stern vertical launch system of the USS Shiloh to attack selected air-defense targets south of the 33rd parallel in Iraq on on Sept. 3, 1996, as part of Operation Desert Strike.

(US Department of Defense)

Drones, missiles, and satellites

The Department of Defense uses rare earths for jet-engine coatings, missile-guidance systems, missile-defense systems, satellites, and communications systems, the US Government Accountability Office said in a 2016 report.

The Pentagon’s demand for the minerals makes up 1% of total US demand. “Reliable access to the necessary material, regardless of the overall level of defense demand, is a bedrock requirement for DoD,” the office said.

The Defense Department on May 29, 2019, said it was seeking new federal funds to support US production of rare-earth metals to reduce its reliance on China, according to Reuters.

Commercial defense companies, like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and BAE, also rely on rare earths to make their missile-guidance systems and sensors.

Fighter jets also heavily rely on rare-earth metals. Each F-35 jet requires 920 pounds of material made from rare earths, Air Force Magazine reported, citing the Defense Department.

F-22 tail fins and rudders — which steer the planes — are powered by motors made by permanent magnets derived from rare earths, Air Force Magazine said.

Yttrium and terbium are used to make laser targeting, armored fighting vehicles, Predator drones, and Tomahawk cruise missiles, Bloomberg reported, citing the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence managing director Simon Moores.

The government and private companies have since 2010 built up stockpiles of rare earths and components that use them, Reuters reported, citing the former Pentagon supply-chain official Eugene Gholz. It’s not clear how long these stockpiles would last if a shortage hit.

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An explosion caused by a Tomahawk missile, made by Raytheon.

(Department of Defense)

Clean energy

Manufacturers of offshore wind turbines rely on magnets made from elements like neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, or terbium, according to the Renewables Consulting Group. Makers include Siemens and MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, the consultancy said.

Using rare-earth magnets makes the wind turbines more reliable, the consultancy said, because such components are more resilient than alternatives made with conventional materials.

Big oil

Rare-earth metals are to help refine crude oil into gasoline and other end products, according to the Rare Earth Technology Alliance.

Using rare-earth metals as catalysts in the process leads to higher yields and purer end products, RETA said.

They also play a role in the chemistry of catalytic converters, which reduce harmful car emissions by speeding up breakdown of exhaust fumes.

The Global Times, China’s state-run tabloid news outlet, cited a rare-earth analyst named Wu Chenhui who called a Chinese ban on the elements a “smart hit” against the US.

The prospect was raised after the US this month proposed tariffs on 0 billion worth of Chinese goods and blacklisted the telecom giant Huawei from working with US companies.

Many rare-earth experts doubt that China would follow through with a ban, though, because it wouldn’t be in China’s interest for the US and other countries to start looking elsewhere for rare-earth imports.

But “even if it doesn’t go ahead, it’s a wake-up call,” Castilloux of Adamas said of Chinese restrictions. “It’s causing the US and other countries to take a more serious look into their supply chains.”

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

Articles

Here’s how Iraqi and Kurdish forces are training to destroy ISIS

Drones will soon decide who to kill
Royal Danish Army Premierløjtnant Mads, a coalition member attached to the Building Partner Capacity team, Task Force Al Asad, practices combat movement up a flight of stairs alongside Iraqi security-force personnel during an urban combat and tactics course at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 9, 2015. | CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve


Earlier this month, a spokesman from the Combined Joint Task Force’s Operation Inherent Resolve said that ISIS lost 40% of their territory in Iraq and 20% in Syria. In December, Iraq’s armed forces recaptured the western city of Ramadi, paving the way for an expected assault on Mosul, ISIS’ de facto capital in Iraq.

Behind the successes in Ramadi and elsewhere lay the efforts of the US-led coalition to train and equip credible regional forces that can reclaim their country from the scourge of ISIS.

In addition to an impressive air campaign, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portrugal, Spain, and the UK have all contributed to the US-led effort to train and empower regional forces to defeat ISIS.

In the slides below, find out what the brave recruits go through when training with the US-led coalition to counter ISIS.

Here is a quick overview of Operation Inherent Resolve’s members and initiatives.

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CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve

Before the training started, the coalition had to move in with supplies. The coalition arms and equips Iraqi national forces and other regional groups like the Kurds.

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Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Operations Group and the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Squadron load two Mine Resistant Armored Personnel carriers (MRAPs) on a C-17 Globemaster III bound for Erbil, Iraq, December 30, 2014. | CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve

A large part of the coalition’s efforts in training local forces is to build their confidence and capacity with thorough hands-on training.

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Sgt. Jeremiah Walden, assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, checks to ensure an Iraqi trainee is observing his assigned sector of fire during infantry-squad tactical training, January 7 at Camp Taji, Iraq. | Master Sgt. Mike Lavigne, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs | U.S. Army

Virtually every phase of the training touches on marksmanship and weapons discipline. Here, a US soldier instructs an Iraqi army recruit.

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CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve

Iraqi recruits are put in high-pressure simulations of real combat. Trainers light fires to simulate the chaos of combat.

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An Iraqi Army soldier with the 72nd Brigade, 15th Iraqi Army Division, simulates shooting at the enemy during a combined training exercise at Camp Taji, Iraq, Sunday, March 22, 2015. | Sgt. Cody Quinn, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs | U.S. Army

The training is not limited to infantry operations. Coalition forces also train the troops on proper tactics and deployment of tanks and armored vehicles.

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An Iraqi Army tank clears an obstacle while an Iraqi Army Soldier the 72nd Brigade, 15th Iraqi Army Division, looks on at Camp Taji, Iraq, Sunday, March 22, 2015. | Sgt. Cody Quinn, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs | U.S. Army

As with any military training, there is a grueling physical-training component.

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Iraqi soldiers from the Noncommissioned Officer Academy perform push-ups as part of their physical-training test at the Iraqi Military Complex, Iraq. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

But not all of the training focuses on fighting. Here Iraqi army medics are being trained to save lives on and off the battlefield.

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Iraqi army medics treat a simulated casualty during an exercise with Australian army nurses and medics at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

As IEDs are a preferred method of attack for ISIS and other insurgent groups, the Iraqis are trained in the removal of improvised bombs.

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A US soldier leads a counter-IED demonstration for Iraqi troops. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

The fight against ISIS happens in a number of locations, so coalition forces train the troops for urban combat and clearing houses.

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Royal Danish Army Premierløjtnant Mads, a coalition member attached to the Building Partner Capacity team, Task Force Al Asad, practices combat movement up a flight of stairs alongside Iraqi security-force personnel during an urban combat and tactics course at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 9, 2015. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

As chemical warfare is a reality in Iraq and Syria, the soldiers practice operations while wearing gas masks.

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Iraqi soldiers assigned to the 71st Iraqi Army Brigade prepare to breach a door during protective-mask training at Camp Taji, Iraq, October 15, 2015. | Spc. William Marlow | U.S. Army

Should the fight get up close and personal, Iraqi troops are trained to use bayonets.

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An Australian soldier, assigned as a Task Group Taji Trainer, demonstrates the en garde position during the instructional portion of bayonet training at Camp Taji, Iraq, January 3, 2016. | Sgt. Kalie Jones | U.S. Army

By February 13, 2015, 1,400 Iraqis had graduated from the intensive six-week basic-training course. Thousands more would follow in their footsteps during the coming months.

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From left: US Army Lt. Col. Scott Allen, with 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Division, presents a ceremonial knife to Staff Brig. Gen. Sa’ad during a graduation ceremony for Sa’ad’s brigade, February 13 at Camp Taji, Iraq. | Staff Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire, 1st. ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. | U.S. Army

Once forces like the Iraqi army reclaim a piece of territory, military police are needed to make sure the area stays safe. The Italian Carabinieri (military police) train Iraqi military police on marksmanship and search and policing procedures.

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An Italian Carabinieri officer coaches an Iraqi policeman as he fires an M16 rifle during advanced marksmanship training at Camp Dublin, Iraq, January 23, 2016. |  Staff Sgt. William Reinier| U.S. Army

In addition to the Iraqi national army and police forces, coalition troops are on the ground training the Kurdish Peshmerga, a group that has had particular success in booting ISIS out of the north of Syria and Iraq.

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Peshmerga soldiers participate in a live-fire-assault drill under the supervision of Italian trainers near Erbil, Iraq, January 6, 2016. Coalition trainers in Northern Iraq have trained more than 6,000 Peshmerga soldiers in basic and advanced infantry skills. | Cpl. Jacob Hamby/Released | U.S. Army

Ultimately, the goal of Operation Inherent Resolve is to train credible ground forces in Iraq and Syria that can defeat ISIS and reclaim their countries on their own terms, with training, assistance, and air support from partner nations all over the world.

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CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

Articles

EOD airmen can build and defuse anything from a pipe bomb to a nuclear weapon

Somewhere in southern Afghanistan, an explosive ordnance disposal technician spots a glint in the soft dirt. He moves deliberately, but steadily, as he tries to determine if it’s a harmless piece of trash or a bomb. In the back of his mind, the technician can’t help but wonder if this will be the improvised explosive device that kills him.


Since 2003 similar missions have taken the lives of 20 Air Force EOD technicians, when Airmen began diffusing bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With combat missions winding down, EOD is now able to divert attention to its nine other mission sets: aerospace systems and vehicle conventional munitions, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear inventory, UXOs, operational range clearances, mortuary services, defense support for civil authorities, irregular warfare (where EOD teams serve as combat enablers for general forces or special operations), and VIP support.

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Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Queer wears a Med-Eng EOD 9 Bomb Suit. The EOD 9, the latest version of the bomb suit, was designed with direct input from bomb disposal technicians. Queer is the 325th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit non-commissioned officer in charge of EOD operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

As the career field shifts into a post-war posture they’re refocusing on these other skill sets. One of these they used to support the Secret Service when two teams from the 325th Civil Engineer Squadron’s EOD flight at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, worked President Barack Obama’s trip to Orlando, Florida, after the nightclub massacre where 49 people were killed in June. The Secret Service tasked EOD teams to sweep venues for explosives, areas en route to the venues, or on any person or object that could be used to harm the president or VIPs they’re protecting.

“For so many years, we have been going 150 mph,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert K. Brown, 325th CES EOD superintendent, “so when you slow down to 85 mph, you feel like you’re crawling, even though you’re still going faster than most other people on the highway. We’d been doing that for the 12 years of combat operations, and now I think we feel we’re at a snail’s pace.”

Post-war life at the Tyndall AFB flight, one of 52 active-duty EOD flights Air Force-wide, ranges from responding to flares that wash up on the beach after being dropped by the Navy to mark items in the ocean to the occasional unexploded ordnance. The flight is responsible for assessing, rendering inert or safely destroying everything from small arms to guided missiles, although any EOD flight could be called upon to handle anything explosive in nature up to and including a nuclear incident.

The 325th EOD flight’s primary mission is flightline support for the wing’s four fighter squadrons, but it also provides counter-IED support for several tenant organizations.

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Staff Sgt. Darius Bailey, 325th Fighter Wing EOD team member and liaison with the U.S. Secret Service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

By the time EOD Airmen left Afghanistan in 2014, they had completed almost 20,000 missions, responded to over 6,500 IEDs, and received more than 150 Purple Hearts for their actions and service in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also deployed often, with a third of the service’s 1,000 EOD members overseas and another third in pre-deployment training preparing to replace them, Brown said. At times the pace was so heavy that EOD Airmen would often be replaced by the same person who replaced them on their last deployment.

“For some of us old-timers in this particular generation, we’ve had a chance to kind of breathe,” Brown said. “In doing so, that’s given us the opportunity to regroup, restock and prepare for the next iteration of conflict that may or may not be coming. So right now is the best time to share the experiences and prepare the next generation for the hard lessons that we’ve had over these past 12 years.”

Fluid tactics

The two wars might be over, but EOD remains one of the Air Force’s most dangerous jobs. In addition to the 20 EOD technicians lost in the two wars, about 150 have suffered extensive injuries. It is a continuing evolving because of the constantly changing tactics of the enemy.

“The enemy is always going to try to continually be better than us, so we have to ensure that we never sleep in preparation for any force that we’re going to encounter,” said Chief Master Sgt. Neil C. Jones, the EOD operations and training program manager with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall AFB. “We don’t have the opportunity to make a mistake, so we train relentlessly to never get it wrong.”

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325th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordinance Disposal team member Senior Airman Anthony Deleon (middle) carries a Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR) into a simulated village to prepare for a training scenario. The man-carried system is compact and lightweight, weighing approximately 20 pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

During the transition, which has begun gradually in the past couple of years, the focus has been on getting everyone back from deployments and training them in the other nine skill sets to reestablish pre-OIF levels of proficiency. But equally important is the challenge of reducing attrition rates during EOD technical training without lowering the standards, Jones said.

EOD students first attend a 20-day preliminary school at Sheppard AFB, Texas, before they go through the Naval School EOD at Eglin AFB, Florida. An average school day is more than 13 hours, and it takes several years for a student to become a fully functional EOD member and a couple of years longer to be a team leader. About 75 percent of students fail to make it through the course.

Two recent changes to reduce attrition rates are the use of computer tablets for rehabilitation training and the addition of a couple of wounded warrior EOD technicians to help students at the school.

Derrick Victor, a retired technical sergeant who was wounded in his last deployment to Afghanistan when a bomb blast killed one Airman and hurt four others, is one of the new instructors. He’s seen the career field evolve through the wars and is now part of its post-war transition.

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Staff Sgt. James Vossah (Left), Staff Sgt. Brian Wirt (Middle) and Senior Airman Anthony Deleon configure a Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR) to begin a training exercise at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“Those two wars obviously changed the way that wars are fought as far as being on the ground and in third-world countries where they have to improvise,” Victor said. “It created a bit of a change from being based on supporting aircraft to things that were improvised. We got very good at that skill set, using robotics and working out all of that kind of stuff.

“Even though those two wars have dwindled down, we know that threat is not going to go away,” he continued. “So, as a whole, the career field is trying to keep that skill set rolling through the generations from those of us for who all we knew was Iraq and Afghanistan to all of these young kids coming fresh out of school, so they don’t have to learn on the fly like we did.”

EOD leadership is also placing a priority on training when Airmen get to their flights after graduation. Because the consequences of mistakes are so severe, the goal is to have those mistakes made in training, Brown said.

“I often refer to it as ‘the good, the bad, the ugly and the stupid,'” he said. “That just refers to what went right, what went wrong, what worked that probably shouldn’t have and what did we do that was just plain dumb, which happens in training. That’s OK as long as we learn lessons from it. But it’s not OK if it’s unsafe. Those are sometimes the hardest parts to learn. We want to make sure that if these guys (make a mistake) in training, they don’t do it when it’s for real. Explosives don’t care about peacetime or wartime.”

Another factor that’s evolving is the way the EOD field trains to recover from both emotional and physical trauma. More emphasis is being placed on instilling resiliency before something happens to an EOD technician in the field, Jones said.

Drones will soon decide who to kill
The Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR) is a unique and lightweight system that allows Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams and other tactical units to explore areas of interest and examine suspected explosive devices prior to sending in personnel. The approximately 20-pound robot is a man-carried system which can operate in all terrains and is controlled remotely by EOD technicians with a unit that includes a high-resolution screen and gamepad controllers for maneuvering. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Tech advances

Along with the cultural shift from the war years, the field has also been making major transitions in technology. The robot EOD technicians used in Afghanistan has been replaced by, among others, the Micro Tactical Ground Robot. The world’s lightest EOD robot can be carried by a single Airman, travel at 2 mph, climb stairs and see beyond 1,000 feet. Airmen previously carried 100-pound robots attached to their rucksacks. The new 25-pound robot can be carried on their backs.

“The technology advances that we have out there with the global economy, and more importantly, being able to make things lighter, faster and stronger, have allowed us to develop new tools and techniques and robotic platforms that are much smaller, lighter and leaner than what we had 14 years ago,” Jones said.

Technological progress hasn’t just been in robotics. There has also been a dramatic change in treating traumatic injuries downrange.

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Staff Sgt. Guadalupe Corona, 325th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit, wearing NCOIC EOD Equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“I think one of the biggest things that we’ve seen as far as technology has been in the medical arena. We have changed the way we treat people for trauma,” Jones said. “If we can stop the bleeding downrange and get that Airman alive into a helo and back to a field surgical team, we’re running about a 98 percent success rate of saving their lives. So as our enemy continues to develop with technology to use against us, we will continually use our technology to develop a better way to take care of that threat.”

As much as life changes after years of war, one area that remains constant is the role tragic events play in training new EOD technicians. As sobering as the memories are of losing members of the EOD family, their sacrifice provided important training lessons.

“What our fallen have done is the same as our World War II EOD bomb disposal predecessors – with very brave men going down and disarming German rockets and bombs,” Brown said. “If they made a mistake, we would then know not to take that step, that last step. Unfortunately, a lot of bomb disposal techs died that way, but our fallen have taught us how to be better at this craft; they have never failed.”

AirmanMagazineOnline, YouTube

MIGHTY TRENDING

Kim Jong Un may really want to end his nuclear aggression

Kim Jong Un has reportedly said he is committed to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.


In a historic visit to meet President Xi Jinping in China, the North Korean leader’s first overseas visit since assuming power in 2011, Kim confirmed denuclearization is a goal of his.

“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved — if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill — create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” said Kim, according to China’s state-run outlet Xinhua.

Also read: Why a war on the Korean Peninsula might be a bad idea for America

Kim also said that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is developing rapidly and getting better, and that denuclearization was a wish of his father and grandfather.

“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” he said.

Drones will soon decide who to kill
A map of the Korean Peninsula and the surrounding region.

This supports claims by South Korea’s envoy, who met with Kim in Pyongyang early March 2018.

“What drew our attention, in particular, is that he made clear that achieving denuclearization is his father’s dying wish and that it has not been changed at all,” a Blue House spokesman said, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

But there was suspicion among experts that South Korea may have embellished Kim’s words, and that the North Korean was unlikely to be open to denuclearization or would have even used the word.

Related: The US just sent supersonic bombers to the Korean peninsula

“South Korea has an innate interest to provide the most benevolent interpretation of what North Korea said,” Yun Sun, a North Korea expert at the Stimson Center, told Business Insider. “If North Korea comes out and corroborates, watch the language it uses and what it really means in terms of North Korea’s position.”

Well, according to China’s media reports, Kim used “denuclearization” at least twice, which should give hope to both the US and South Korea who are hoping to hold talks with Kim in the next two months.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the only Marine Corps Commandant without a portrait

The house of the Commandant of the Marine Corps is one of the oldest continuously-occupied buildings in the capital of the United States. Steeped in American history, the house was spared the torch when the British captured and burned Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812. All but the first two Commandants have lived in the 15,000 square-foot house and, since 1916, all the historical occupants of the house were honored with portraits by order of then-Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

All but one, that is. There have been 37 Commandants of the Marine Corps but the house holds just 36 portraits.


The conspicuously missing spot belongs to Lt. Col. Anthony Gale, the fourth Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was the only Commandant ever to be fired from the position and the one with the fewest surviving records. No one knows what he looked like or even knows the location of his final resting place.

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This is not Lt. Col. Anthony Gale, this is Archibald Henderson, his successor.

Luckily for us, it’s not so much of a mystery anymore. The Marine Corps Association and Foundation’s Robert T. Jordan did an exhaustive work on the life of Lt. Col. Gale. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, around 1782 and his tenure as Commandant lasted from March 1819 until October 1820. In the decades that followed, Gale fell off the map. He’s seldom-mentioned in the annals of USMC history because the events surrounding his dismissal were said to have brought “embarrassment” upon himself and the United States Marine Corps. And so, he was pretty much lost to history entirely.

Until 1966, that is. General Wallace M. Greene Jr., the 23rd Commandant of the Marine Corps set up an investigation into the history of the Marine who fell from grace.

What was learned, however, was still very little. Anthony Gale arrived in the nascent United States in 1793. When President John Adams rebooted the Marine Corps (which was disbanded after the American Revolution), Gale was among the first to sign up as an officer. He commanded Marines guarding French prisoners of the quasi-War in Philadelphia and took to sea aboard the USS Ganges, where he fought Barbary Pirates and British sailors alike.

Gale cared deeply for his Marines and when a Naval officer, Lieutenant Allan MacKensie, arrested one of them aboard ship, Gale slapped the officer and challenged him to a duel — the duel that killed MacKensie. That’s not what got him the boot from the Corps, though. Superiors in Washington believed the duel would force Navy officers to treat Marines with respect.

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This is also not Gale. This is Maj. Gen. Charles Heywood, 9th Commandant and Medal of Honor Recipient.

His career continued, and soon he was married and saw service aboard the USS President and USS Constitution. By 1804, Gale was brevet Major Anthony Gale and his duties became focused on the recruitment and training of Marines. But soon, there was a new sheriff in town: Commandant Lt. Col. Frank Wharton took over for Commandant William Ward Burrows and Burrows looked at Gale with a much sharper eye than his predecessors.

Gale’s once squeaky-clean reputation soon became tainted by notes of alcoholism, sloppy management of the Marine Corps Barracks, and allegations that Gale used Marine Corps funds to renovate his personal home. Wharton took Gale to trial, but Gale was cleared of any wrongdoing. Still, Wharton sent Gale to the then-backwater of New Orleans – perhaps not the best place for a potential alcoholic, even in the early 19th Century. Still, when Wharton died in 1818, Anthony Gale was the most senior Marine Corps officer.

That did not mean he was promoted instantly.

No one forgot the charges filed against Gale, whether he was cleared or not. Others tried to have him removed from consideration to become the next Commandant. Gale was less concerned with the succession crisis and more concerned with keeping his head down and retaining his command. Even though he was not trying to be Commandant, that’s exactly what happened. He was promoted to Lt. Col. Commandant of the Marine Corps on March 3, 1819.

Gale had trouble with the position immediately. The Marine Corps became disorganized and undisciplined in the six months since Wharton died and he found himself spending more time fighting to re-organize it while the Navy Secretary and President Monroe would frequently counter his orders whenever it suited them — at the request of Gale’s subordinates. Overwhelmed and frustrated, Gale turned again to booze.

His mental state deteriorated as he became a drunkard, a womanizer, and verbally abusive toward his subordinates. Eventually, he was accused of drunkenness, conduct unbecoming an officer, signing false documents, and leaving his quarters without permission and was placed under house arrest. He was court-martialed and plead mental instability during the inquisition.

The court still found Gale guilty and removed him as the Commandant on Oct. 16, 1820, less than two years into his tenure.

Drones will soon decide who to kill

This is Maj. Gen. Ben Hebard Fuller, the 15th Commandant, who is both not Gale and consolidated the Fleet Marine Force Concept.

After being helped out of the service, Gale moved to his home in Philadelphia, but found no peace there. He eventually moved his family to a log cabin in Kentucky where he found that being a farmer was not in his blood, either. He turned back to his old friend, alcohol. He fought to be granted a pension for his instability, earning one 15 years later in what might be one of the earliest veteran disability claim suits.

According to Kentucky records found by the Marine Corps, Gale died of Lung Cancer in 1843 in Kentucky. A number of his sons also joined the Marine Corps, some of whom served in the Civil War. They apparently had no idea he served as Commandant, believing he was a quartermaster in the Corps. But Gale’s sons are also lost to history, so even if a supposed burial site is ever found, there’s no way to definitively prove it.