Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time - We Are The Mighty
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Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time

Robert O’Neill ate a last meal with his children and then hugged them goodbye — “most likely forever,” he privately thought.


Even his wife didn’t know where he was going.

On May 2, 2011, two helicopters touched down, one crash-landing, under the cover of darkness within an al Qaeda compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The 23-strong team entered a house and crept up the stairs.

A SEAL in front of O’Neill went along a hallway to provide cover, he recalled. When O’Neill entered the bedroom, he saw a man — bearded, tall, and gaunt — standing there.

“I knew it was him immediately,” he said. “He was taller than I imagined.”

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Osama bin Laden (left). (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

O’Neill, a senior chief petty officer in the US Navy SEALs, aimed his rifle and fired twice, he said, hitting the 6-foot-5 figure in the head both times. Osama Bin Laden collapsed. O’Neill shot him again.

Despite his training, which taught him to immediately start gathering intel, O’Neill said he was momentarily dazed by the magnitude of what he had just done.

He snapped out of it when a colleague said, “You just killed Osama bin Laden.”

On July 26, the retired SEAL, in the midst of a lecture series to publicize his memoir, “The Operator,” will come to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda to speak about his life and how his experiences can translate to the lives of others.

And, for the first time ever, the gear he wore the night he hunted down bin Laden — boots, helmet, bullet-proof vest, all in desert-camouflage — is on public display, until the end of July.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Navy SEALs in desert camouflage. (U.S. Navy photo)

“This will probably be our biggest event of the year,” said Joe Lopez, spokesman for the non-profit Nixon Foundation.

How did the Nixon pull off the coup before any other museum?

“They asked,” O’Neill, 41, said this week. “They asked, and I said, ‘Why not?'”

Hours after the raid, when then-President Barack Obama announced from the White House that Special Forces had killed bin Laden and that “his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” Americans erupted in celebration.

The details of the mission were classified. Retaliation, if members of SEAL Team 6 became known, was possible. Secrecy was paramount.

The initial excitement he felt over firing the kill shots, he said, eventually waned as his name spread through the military community and Washington, D.C.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Robert O’Neill. (Photo from Facebook.)

“The secret was poorly kept,” O’Neill said. “And my name got leaked.”

So in November 2014, O’Neill fully came out and said he indeed was the shooter.

Some fellow SEALs were irked at O’Neill’s position under the spotlight. Several, anonymously, have accused him of breaking the military code by seeking glory or even lying about being the one who killed bin Laden.

Related: 7 amazing and surreal details of the Osama bin Laden raid

The US government won’t confirm the shooter’s identity.

“I don’t really care,” O’Neill said. “I was with the team. The tactics got me to the spot. I just fired the shots. There’s no doubt it was me.”

“The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior” came out in April. The book, O’Neill said, is about success — how “a guy from Butte, Montana, who didn’t know how to swim, became a Navy SEAL.”

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Navy SEALs train. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl)

And how that guy, who had never envisioned a career in the military, spent 16 years in uniform because of a breakup with a girlfriend.

“I wanted to leave town so I signed up for the Navy,” he said. “That’s part of the book. Don’t just sit there and sulk. Do something.”

O’Neill went on 400-plus missions, including the 2009 rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, and the 2005 mission to save fellow SEAL Marcus Luttrell. Those rescues were turned into Tom Hanks’ film, “Captain Phillips,” and Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg’s “Lone Survivor.”

“When I discuss my missions,” the former special operator said about his appearances, “I tell them why we were good at the missions, how we worked as a team, and how and why we developed these traits.”

O’Neill, a Virginia native, has yet to visit the Nixon Library. But when approached, he quickly agreed.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

“This is huge for us,” Lopez said. “We also thought it would be cool to have something he wore that night on display.”

Officials thought a boot would be good. Or maybe a glove. Perhaps, if lucky, his helmet.

Minus a T-shirt donated to New York City’s 9/11 Memorial Museum, the Nixon got to borrow everything.

“My uniform was at my dad’s house,” he said. “So I had it shipped there.”

O’Neill’s gear is mounted on a mannequin inside a glass case, flanked by American flags with a video nearby explaining his non-profit, Your Grateful Nation, which helps veterans, particularly those from the Special Forces, prepare for second careers.

The case is next to the front entrance in the lobby, opposite a wall-length portrait of the 37th president.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl

“He’s a hero,” said retired Air Force Maj. Terry Scheschy, of Riverside County, who fought in the Vietnam War and, last week, visited the Nixon Library. “To me, this provides a lot of value to the museum.”

Betty Kuo, 42, of Manhattan Beach, came to the Nixon with her family, including her two young children and their cousins. As she was buying tickets, the children saw the SEAL uniform and sprinted toward it.

Kuo joined them.

“It’s good to teach them that we’re safe, but we can’t take that for granted,” she said. “The military keeps us safe.”

Going into the mission, O’Neill certainly didn’t feel safe himself — he had doubts that his team would escape without harm.

“I thought the mission was one-way,” he said. “That’s why everyone was so excited after the mission. We all got out.”

Articles

ISIS just became the latest victim of the red mercury hoax

Arms smugglers and ISIS buyers are hunting for red mercury, a substance that can make dumb bombs smart, hide anything from a drone, and allow for the creation of miniaturized nuclear weapons. If ISIS actually manages to get their hands on the material, it’s likely they could develop weapons that would wipe out any force sent to destroy them.


Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Imagine this coming from a bomb the size of a suitcase. Photo: FEMA

Luckily, red mercury is a hoax and ISIS is just its latest victim.

Searches for red mercury are like snipe hunts. Those in the know get a good laugh while the new kid tries desperately to find something that doesn’t exist.

As with the legendary snipe, the physical description of red mercury changes depending on who is telling the tale. Sometimes it’s a powder, sometimes liquid. It’s always some tint of red or brown, but it may change to yellow at high temperatures.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
This is mercury iodide, a compound that is red until it is heated about 258 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it turns yellow. There is no temperature at which it becomes a nuclear weapon. Photo: Wikipedia/W. Oelen CC BY-SA 3.0

Likewise, its abilities change in every telling. When references to it first appeared in the 1970s, it was an essential ingredient for boosting the yield of nuclear weapons. As its myth grew, it became capable of guiding missiles to their target or hiding aircraft from enemy radar. It was later described as a nuclear material, capable of fueling a bomb on its own.

The legend of red mercury was boosted through the work of Sam Cohen, a U.S. nuclear physicist. Cohen claimed that red mercury served as a containment vehicle for nuclear reactions, allowing enough pressure and temperature to build for deuterium-tritium fusion bombs to become a reality.

North Korea, Iran, South Africa and others have all searched for the substance to accelerate or enhance their nuclear weapon programs. Now ISIS has joined them, even though the British, Russian, and American governments have all investigated it and determined it is an urban legend.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
An Army major and another research look at something that isn’t red mercury, because red mercury is not real and so can’t be properly researched in labs. Photo: U.S. Army Africa Rick Scavetta

In a recent New York Times piece, journalist C. J. Chivers compiled a number of stories about the element. Men in the Middle East discuss a test of red mercury where a bit of the powder was mixed with chlorine. The resulting gas supposedly filled the room and then the building, forcing all the viewers from the area.

There is also a tale of different types of mercury, from green to red to the “Blood of the Slaves.” That last one can be used by magicians to summon a genie, allegedly.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time

ISIS is looking specifically for the weaponized version of red mercury, and has a photo of what they think it looks like. From the C. J. Chivers piece:

The images showed a pale, oblong object, roughly the length of a hot-dog bun, with a hole at each end. It bore no similarity to the red mercury that smugglers often described — a thick liquid with a brilliant metallic sheen. It appeared to be a dull piece of injection-molded plastic, like a swim-lane buoy or a children’s toy. But it had an intriguing resemblance that hinted at how the Islamic State’s interest might have been piqued: It was the exact likeness of an object that in 2013 the Cihan News Agency, one of Turkey’s largest news agencies, had called a red-mercury rocket warhead.

So what is the government doing to prevent ISIS getting red mercury? Mostly just celebrating that ISIS is expending time and a lot of money to get it. With the International Atomic Energy Authority declaring red mercury “a bunch of malarkey,” there are much worse and very real things ISIS could be hunting for instead, like yellow cake or weaponized anthrax.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army’s new lightweight body armor plates could feature ‘shooter’s cut’

The U.S. Army is close to approving a new lightweight body armor plate with a “shooter’s cut” to provide close-combat forces with greater mobility in combat.

Program Executive Office Soldier officials announced October 2018 that the Army was trying to design new plates that are significantly lighter than the current plates soldiers wear to protect from enemy rifle rounds.

Spring 2019, Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, head of PEO Soldier, plans to brief the Army’s senior leadership for a decision on whether to move forward on a new version of the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI, that features a more streamlined design.


“We are looking at a plate with the design that we refer to as a shooter’s cut,” he told reporters recently. “We believe that an increase in mobility provides survivability just as much as coverage of the plate or what the plate will stop itself.”

Potts said the new design offers slightly less coverage in the upper chest closest to the shoulder pocket.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time

The Modular Scalable Vest being demonstrated at Fort Carson.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Lance Pounds)

“Our soldiers absolutely love it, and the risk to going to a higher level of injury is .004 meters squared. I mean, it is minuscule, yet it takes almost a full pound off of the armor,” he said.

Potts said he plans to brief Army Vice Chief of Staff James C. McConville in the next couple of months on the new plate design, which also features a different formula limiting back-face deformation — or how much of the back face of the armor plate is allowed to move in against the body after a bullet strike.

“Obviously, when a lethal mechanism strikes a plate, the plate gives a little bit, and we want it to give a little bit — it’s by design — to dissipate energy,” Potts said. “The question is, how much can it give before it can potentially harm the soldier?”

The Army has tested changing the allowance for back-face deformation to a 58mm standard instead of the 44mm standard it has used for years.

“We have found what we believe is the right number. We are going to be briefing the vice chief of staff of the Army, and he will make the ultimate decision on this,” Potts said.

“But right now, with the work that we have done, we think we can achieve, at a minimum, a 20 percent weight reduction. … We have been working with vendors to prove out already that we know we can do this,” he said.

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

Articles

Air Force wife named 2017 ‘Military Spouse of the Year’

Brittany Boccher, the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Air Force Spouse of the Year, was named the 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year today in a ceremony held in the Hall of Flags at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.


Boccher, who lives with her husband and two children aboard Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, has been a military spouse for 11 years.

The president of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club and a board member for the LRAFB Thrift Store, Boccher has devoted years to her military spouse community. In 2016, she helped raise $20,000 in funds and donations with her fellow board members, increased LRSC participation by 800 percent, and providing backpacks for over 300 military children, and more.

Boccher was key to the passage of Arkansas’ House Bill 1162, a law designed to offer tax relief to military retirees who settle in Arkansas.

She is the founder and director of the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition, a non-profit organization that creates a partnership across Arkansas between other Down Syndrome organizations in order to better advocate for children with the disorder.

Boccher was also advocated for changes to playgrounds and commissaries aboard LRAFB, pressing the installation to make the playgrounds ADA accessible and to secure Caroline Carts for special needs patrons of the commissaries.

In addition to her philanthropic work with military spouses and special needs children, Boccher has her Bachelors Degree in Community Health Education and Kinesiology, a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, and runs two companies, Brittany Boccher Photography and Mason Chix apparel.

According to her nomination acceptance, Boccher hopes to spend her year as the 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year advocating for the Exceptional Family Member Program families and to continue empowering military spouses to success.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea’s massive Air Force is a joke

North Korea has a massive air force that outnumbers the South Korean and US jets it’s meant to counter mostly with Russian-made fighters and bombers, but in reality the force is basically a joke.

According to a new International Institute for Strategic Studies report on North Korea’s conventional military, the air force has 110,000 officers and enlisted personnel taking care of approximately 1,650 aircraft. That force includes about 820 combat aircraft, 30 reconnaissance aircraft, and 330 transport aircraft.

“During wartime, the force likely has the capability to conduct a limited, short-term strategic and tactical bombing offensive and to launch a surprise attack,” IISS assesses.

Because the jets are spread out across a wide swath of the country, North Korea is most likely able to “conduct strike missions against command and-control facilities, air-defence assets, and industrial facilities without rearranging or relocating its aircraft,” the report says.


The IISS says North Korea’s best jets are its MiG-29 fighters, which it probably only has a few dozen of, its 46 MiG-23 fighters, and its roughly 30 Su-25 ground-attack aircraft. “The remaining aircraft are older, and less capable MiG-15s, MiG-17/J-5s, MiG-19/J-6s, MiG-21/J-7 fighters and Il-28/H-5 light bombers,” the report says.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
A MiG-29 of the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence.
(Photo by Srđan Popović)

But all of those planes are from the 1980s, and IISS says they can’t hang in today’s environment of electronic warfare.

This is something the US would be sure to exploit, as almost all of its jets have jamming capabilities and its aircraft carriers can transport specialty electronic-warfare planes.

Additionally, the US and South Korea’s abilities to monitor North Korean planes via satellite and recon drones severely blunts any surprise attacks they could pull off.

Even worse for North Korea than the age of its planes, however, could be its pilots’ lack of training. Because North Korea relies on China for almost all of its jet fuel, and that item has long been under sanction, it has to preserve the precious little fuel it does have.

This means less flight time for pilots and less time training in the real world, and it almost certainly precludes realistic training against adversarial jets.

A video in 2015 showed North Korean pilots walking around with toy planes in front of Kim Jong Un, who observed their training. Another shot shows the pilots at flight simulators, a tool commonly used by air forces around the world.

For this reason, North Korea relies heavily on building hardened, bomb-resistant ground structures for its jets and using surface-to-air missiles to fight any prospective air wars.

North Korea’s air force actually has modest capability impressive for a country of its size and income, but it simply could not contend with South Korean and US jets.

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

Articles

New virtual reality lets operators simulate jumps into combat

American special operators are using a new virtual reality trainer to simulate their air insertions before they jump, allowing them to conduct near-perfect rehearsals over and over before the actual mission.


PARASIM incorporates a harness tailor-made to parachute manufacturer’s specifications, a virtual reality headset, and a digital environment using weather simulation and satellite or map imagery. All of this put together allows operators to create custom mission profiles and then practice them.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
A jumper descends to the Earth in a PARASIM virtual reality simulation.(Photo: PARASIM)

“If I need to insert a SEAL team in Syria tomorrow night, all I need is a latitude and longitude,” David Landon, president and CEO of Systems Technology Inc., told Defense News. “So by the time they actually make the jump, they’ve already done it. There are no surprises.”

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
A city in the PARASIM virtual reality environment as viewed through an avatar’s night vision. (Photo: PARASIM)

The system can even handle multiple jumpers in a single simulation, allowing a unit to virtually jump as a team and work together to make the proper insertion to the target area.

Every military branch in the Department of Defense has purchased the system, according to Systems Technology Inc.’s website.

 

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The 5 most beloved sidearms in U.S. military history

When ground fighting gets close, warfighters reach for their sidearms to save the day. Here are five of the most widely used and beloved pistols in U.S. military history:


1. Harper’s Ferry Model 1805

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
(Photo: NRA Museum)

The first pistol manufactured by a national armory, the Model 1805 was a. 54 caliber, single-shot, smoothbore, flintlock issued to officers. Known as “horsemen’s pistols,” they were produced in pairs, each one bearing the same serial number. The “brace,” as the pair was labeled, was required for more immediate firepower since each pistol had to be reloaded after a single shot. The heritage of the pistol is recognized today in the insignia for the U.S. Army Military Police Corps, which depicts crossed Model 1805s.

2. Colt Revolvers (1851 Navy and M1873)

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
(Photo: Hmaag)

A widely manufactured sidearm with over 250,000 made, the 1851 is the pistol that gave Confederate officers the in-close firepower they preferred. This .38 caliber six shot revolver was used by famous gunslingers like Doc Holiday and Wild Bill Hickok as well as military leaders like Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Nathan B. Forrest. Although the pistol used the “Navy” name as a tribute to the mid-19th Century Texas Navy, it was mostly used by land forces, including the pre-Civil War Texas Rangers.

Another popular Colt revolver was the M1873, known as the pistol that won the west because of its wide use among U.S. Army cavalry forces across the American frontier. The M1873 (with a pearl handle) was also famously carried by Gen. George S. Patton during World War II.

3. Colt M1911 pistol

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
(Photo: M62)

Arguably the most popular military sidearm in the history of warfare, the M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol. The M1911 (more commonly known as “the forty-five,”) was the U.S. military’s standard issue sidearm from 1911 until 1986, which means it saw action in every major war and contingency operation from World War I until near the end of the Cold War. The M1911 was replaced as standard issue by the Beretta M9, which was for the most part a very unpopular decision across the military because of the associated reduction in firepower. Modernized derivative variants of the M1911 are still in use by some units of the U.S. Army Special Forces, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

4. Heckler & Koch Mark 23

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
(Photo: Evers)

The fact that this is SOCOM’s sidearm of choice says a lot about the offensive power and high-tech features of this pistol. First produced in 1991, this is basically an M1911 on steroids. The standard package comes with a suppressor and laser aiming module — necessary gear for the special operations mission suite.

5. Sig Sauer P226

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
(Photo: Banking Bum)

The P226 has been standard issue for U.S. Navy SEALs since the 1980s. The SEALs like the trigger locking mechanism, which makes the 9mm pistol “drop proof” — a nice feature to have in the dynamic world of the frogman — and the higher capacity magazine designed for this model.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. and Russian astronauts forced to conduct emergency landing

A space capsule carrying a two-man Russian-American crew that malfunctioned after liftoff has landed safely in the steppes of central Kazakhstan, the Russian and U.S. space agencies say.

Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth on Oct. 11, 2018, in their Soyuz capsule for an emergency landing following a problem with the booster rocket shortly after a launch bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

Both NASA, the U.S. space agency, and Roskosmos, the Russian equivalent, said the astronauts were in good condition after their capsule landed about 20 kilometers east of the Kazakh city of Zhezqazghan.


“The search and rescue teams have reached the Soyuz spacecraft landing site and report that the two crew members are in good condition and are out of the capsule,” NASA said.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time

(RFE/RL Graphic)

“The cosmonauts are alive. They have landed. They have been found,” according to a source at the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.

The crew had to return in “ballistic descent mode,” NASA earlier had said, which it explained was “a sharper angle of landing compared to normal.”

Following their emergency landing, NASA published pictures of Hague and Ovchinin undergoing a medical checkup and relaxing on sofas in Zhezqazghan. The two were expected to be flown to Baikonur and then on to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow.

Roskosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said he had ordered a state commission to be set up to investigate the causes of the malfunction, while Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov announced that manned space flights would be suspended until the probe is completed.

The Soyuz capsule automatically jettisoned from the booster when it failed 123 seconds after the launch from Baikonur, Borisov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

The minister added that the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.

Footage from inside the spacecraft showed the crew being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred.

In a statement, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that a “thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.”

Hague and Ovchinin were due to spend six months on the ISS, which is orbiting 400 kilometers above the Earth.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have plunged to the lowest level since the end of the Cold War over the wars in Ukraine and Syria, allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential, and other issues, but Russia and the United States have maintained cooperation in space.

The Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the ISS following the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011.

The Oct. 11, 2018, booster failure led to what is said to be the first emergency landing for the Soyuz since 1975, when it failed to separate between stages during an ascent and triggered the abort system. The crew survived.

In 1983, a Soyuz exploded on the launchpad soon after the two cosmonauts it was carrying jettisoned. The crew also survived without injuries.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Surprise, surprise — UN says Iran is playing by the rules of nuclear deal

In April, US President Trump ordered a review of the suspension of sanctions on Iran related to the nuclear deal.


The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Sept. 11 Iran was playing by the rules set out in a nuclear accord it signed with six world powers in 2015, after Washington suggested it was not adhering to the deal.

The State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the deal. The next deadline is October, and President Donald Trump has said he thinks, by then, the United States will declare Iran non-compliant.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iran had not broken any promises and was not receiving special treatment.

“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the [deal] are being implemented,” he said in the text of a speech to a quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors.

Most sanctions on Iran were lifted 18 months ago under the deal and, despite overstepping a limit on its stocks of one chemical, it has adhered to the key limitations imposed on it.

In April, Trump ordered a review of whether a suspension of sanctions on Iran related to the nuclear deal, negotiated under President Barack Obama, was in the US national security interest. He has called it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, traveled to Vienna last month to speak with Amano about Iran and asked if the IAEA planned to inspect Iranian military sites, something she has called for.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Nikki Haley. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Iran dismissed the US demand as “merely a dream.”

Iran has been applying an Additional Protocol, which is in force in dozens of nations and gives the IAEA access to sites, including military locations, to clarify questions or inconsistencies that may arise.

“We will continue to implement the Additional Protocol in Iran… as we do in other countries,” Amano said.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time
Inspectors and other IAEA staff prepare for the resumption of inspections in Iraq 18 Nov, 2002. (Photo Credit: Mark Gwozdecky / IAEA)

In addition, the IAEA can request access to Iranian sites including military ones if it has concerns about activities or materials there that would violate the agreement, but it must show Iran the basis for those concerns.

That means new and credible information pointing to such a violation is required first, officials from the agency and major powers say. There is no indication that Washington has presented such information.

MIGHTY GAMING

Army turns to virtual battlefield to train squads

A four-man team of soldiers sits in a nondescript building on Fort Belvoir, Va., each at his own desk, surrounded by three monitors that provide them individual, 3D views of an abandoned city.

On screen, they gather at the corner of a crumbling building to meet another team — represented by avatars — who are actually on the ground in a live-training area, a mock-up of the abandoned city. They’re all training together, in real time, to prepare for battles in dense urban terrain.


That’s the central goal of the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) — immersive, integrated virtual training — presented during a Warriors Corner session at the 2018 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington. The Army has been working toward this kind of fully immersive training experience for decades, and leadership hopes to have it operational as early as 2025.

Gear used by SEAL who shot bin Laden is going public for the first time

In May 1993, Army RDA Bulletin dedicated several articles to the concept and execution of distributed interactive simulation (DIS), “a time and space coherent representation of a virtual battlefield environment” that allowed warfighters across the globe to interact with one other as well as computer-generated forces, according to John S. Yuhas, author of the article “Distributed Interactive Simulation.”

Better, faster, stronger

While the name of the program seems to emphasize individual simulation units, its overarching purpose was to bring together thousands of individuals and teams virtually in real time. Central to DIS was the idea of interoperable standards and protocol, allowing each community — “trainer, tester, developer, and acquisitioner” — to use the others’ concepts and products, Maj. David W. Vaden wrote in “Vision for the Next Decade.”

The article explained that “distributed” referred to geographically separated simulations networked together to create a synthetic environment; “interactive” to different simulations linked electronically to act together and upon each other; and “simulation” to three categories — live, virtual and constructive. Live simulations involved real people and equipment; virtual referred to manned simulators; and constructive referred to war games and models, with or without human interaction.

Sound familiar?

DIS has much in common with STE. Both provide training and mission rehearsal capability to the operational and institutional sides of the Army (i.e., soldiers and civilians). They even share the same training philosophy: to reduce support requirements, increase realism and help deliver capabilities to the warfighter faster.

Users of STE will train with live participants and computer simulations, with some units training remotely. However, STE takes virtual reality training to a new level altogether by incorporating advances in artificial intelligence, big data analysis and three-dimensional terrain representation.

Current training simulations are based on technologies from the 1980s and ’90s that can’t replicate the complex operational environment soldiers will fight in. They operate on closed, restrictive networks, are facilities-based and have high overhead costs for personnel, Maj. Gen.

Maria R. Gervais, commanding general for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Training Center and director of the STE Cross-Functional Team, said in an August 2018 article, “The Synthetic Training Environment Revolutionizes Sustainment Training.”

The Synthetic Training Environment

www.youtube.com

Those older technologies also can’t support electronic warfare, cyberspace, and megacities, the article explained. For example, soldiers in the 1990s could conduct training using computers and physical simulators — like the ones showcased in Charles Burdick, Jorge Cadiz and Gordon Sayre’s 1993 “Industry Applications of Distributed Interactive Simulation” article in the Army RDA Bulletin-but the training was limited to a single facility and only a few networked groups; the technology wasn’t yet able to support worldwide training with multiple groups of users in real time, like the Army proposes to do with the STE.

Gervais presented a promotional video during “Warriors Corner #13: Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team Update,” which said the STE will provide intuitive and immersive capabilities to keep pace with the changing operational environment. The STE is a soldier lethality modernization priority of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

“With the STE, commanders will conduct tough, realistic training at home stations, the combat training centers and at deployed locations. The STE will increase readiness through repetition, multi-echelon, multidomain, combined arms maneuver and mission command training. And most importantly, the STE will train soldiers for where they will fight,” said Gen. Robert B. Abrams, then-commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, in the same video. Abrams is now commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea.

Today, simulations in the integrated training environment do not provide the realism, interoperability, affordability and availability necessary for the breadth of training that the Army envisions for the future. The STE will be able to do all that — it will be flexible, affordable and available at the point of need.

“This video helps us get to shared understanding, and also awareness of what we’re trying to achieve with the synthetic training environment,” Gervais said during the AUSA presentation. “But it also allows us to understand the challenges that we’re going to face as we try to deliver this.”

Challenges ahead

“We don’t have the right training capability to set the exercises up,” said Mike Enloe, chief engineer for the STE Cross-Functional Team, during the presentation. “What I mean by that is that it takes more time to set up the systems that are disparate to talk to each other, to get the terrains together, than it does to actually have the exercise go.”

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The Synthetic Training Environment will assess Soldiers in enhancing decision-making skills through an immersive environment.

(US Army photo)

The Army’s One World Terrain, a 3D database launched in 2013 that collects, processes, stores and executes global terrain simulations, has been the “Achilles’ heel” of STE from the start, Enloe said. The Army lacks well-formed 3D terrain data and therefore the ability to run different echelons of training to respond to the threat. The database is still being developed as part of the STE, and what the Army needs most “right now from industry is content … we need a lot of 3D content and rapid ways to get them built,” Enloe said. That means the capability to process terrain on 3D engines so that it can move across platforms, he said, and steering clear of proprietary technologies. The STE is based on modules that can be changed to keep up with emerging technologies.

The Army also needs the ability to write the code to develop the artificial intelligence that will meet STE’s needs — that can, to some extent, learn and challenge the weaknesses of participants, he said.

Retired Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, 32nd vice chief of staff of the Army, emphasized during the presentation that the Army needs to move away from the materiel development of the STE and focus on training as a service. “I believe that a training environment should have two critical aspects to it,” he said: It should be a maneuver trainer, and it should be a gunnery trainer.

Changing the culture

Brig. Gen. Michael E. Sloane, program executive officer for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), said the leadership philosophy of STE’s development is about fostering culture change and getting soldiers capabilities faster. “We have to be proactive; the [cross-functional teams] have to work together with the PEOs, and we’re doing that,” he said. “Collectively, we’re going to deliver real value to the soldier, I think, in doing this under the cross-functional teams and the leadership of the Army Futures Command.”

Many organizations are involved with STE’s development. The U.S. Army Combined Arms Center-Training and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command capability managers are working requirements and represent users. PEO STRI is the materiel developer. The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence is responsible for the infantry, armor and combined arms requirement. And finally, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) serves as the approval authority for long-range investing and requirements.

With the Futures Command and ASA(ALT) collaborating throughout the development of STE, Sloane believes the Army will be able to reduce and streamline acquisition documentation, leverage rapid prototyping, deliver capabilities and get it all right the first time.

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Soldiers prepare to operate training technologies during the STE User Assessment in Orlando, Fla., in March 2018.

(Photo by Bob Potter)

Gervais reminded the AUSA audience in October that she had spoken about STE at the annual meeting two years ago, explaining that the Army intends to use the commercial gaming industry to accelerate the development of STE. “I did not believe that it couldn’t be delivered until 2030. I absolutely refused to believe that,” she said. In 2017, the chief of staff designated STE as one of the eight cross-functional teams for Army modernization, aligning it with soldier lethality.

Since then, STE has made quite a bit of progress, Gervais said. The initial capability document for the Army collective training environment, which lays the foundation for STE, was approved in 2018. The Army increased its industry engagement to accelerate the development of STE, according to Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley’s direction, which led to the awarding of seven other transaction authority agreements for One World Terrain, followed by a user assessment in March 2018. In June, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper and Milley codified STE in their vision statement. “We’re postured to execute quickly,” Gervais said.

In the meantime, she said, there has been a focused effort to increase lethality with a squad marksmanship trainer in the field to allow close combat soldiers to train immediately. The Army also developed a squad immersive virtual trainer. “We believe we can deliver that [squad immersive trainer] much quicker than the 2025 timeframe,” she said.

Conclusion

STE is focused on establishing common data, standards and terrain to maximize interoperability, ease of integration and cost savings, Gervais said. With the right team effort and coordination, she believes STE can be delivered quickly. Perhaps in a few short years, STE can achieve the lofty goal that DIS had for itself, according to Yuhas: Revolutionize the training and acquisition process for new weapon systems.

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

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This is what would happen if Argentina tried to take back the Falkland Islands today

In 1982, the United Kingdom and Argentina fought a major war over the Falkland Islands. And yes, it was a major war. The British lost two destroyers, a landing ship, a merchant vessel, and two frigates. The Argentinean Navy lost a cruiser.


This doesn’t count the land or air battles as well. But Argentina hasn’t given up hope of taking back what they call the Malvinas. What would happen if they tried to take the islands today?

Both the Royal Navy and the Argentinean Navy have declined greatly, according to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World.” In 1982, the British had two carriers they sent down to the south Atlantic. Today, the UK only has one — the HMS Ocean — and that ship cannot really operate the F-35 fighters that the Brits have bought, and their Harriers are long retired.

The only saving grace is that Argentina lacks the aircraft carrier they had in 1982 (formerly a British carrier, ironically), and has seen its amphibious force cut down to a modified Type 42 destroyer and an old amphibious transport. And its navy has four destroyers, six frigates, and some corvettes, along with three diesel-electric subs.

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Map of the Falkland Islands (Wikimedia Commons)

On the Falklands, the British have a garrison that houses 1,200 soldiers, according to a 2015 London Telegraph report. There is a flight of four Eurofighter Typhoons, plus a tanker and two Chinook helicopters, at RAF Mount Pleasant. A Type 23 frigate is usually in the South Atlantic as well (sometimes, the Brits will send a Type 45 destroyer), and there may or may not be a nuclear-powered submarine there.

The British have contingency plans to reinforce the Falklands, by adding up to a battalion and to send a couple more surface combatants.

This all depends on getting enough advanced warning. Argentina has one advantage: If it can achieve strategic and tactical surprise, its Air Force could use its A-4AR Fightinghawks (A-4s with F-16 avionics) to try and catch the Typhoons on the ground. Similarly, the Argentinean Navy will use its force of Super Etendards to try and sink any British ship in the area.

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An Argentinean Super Etendard that helped sink the Atlantic Conveyor. (Wikimedia Commons)

Once that’s done and air and sea superiority has been achieved, the Argentineans would likely move to land troops. The goal would be to grab control as quickly as possible. Once done, Argentina would try to reinforce its garrison before the British can get a sub on scene.

At that point, the British will face the same challenge they had in 1982 – re-capturing the Falklands at the end of a long logistical chain. Subs would move to cut off the Falklands, likely sinking any Argentinean warship or merchant vessel they catch at sea.

There might even be some Tomahawk strikes on Argentinean bases – an effort to catch their planes on the ground. Argentina has 22 Fightinghawks and 10 Super Etendards, according to World Air Forces 2017. If the force can be whittled down enough, the Brits may not need much air cover to take the islands back.

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The Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless. (Wikimedia Commons)

The British would have to commit most of its force of Type 45 destroyers and Type 23 frigates to the attack, and they would need to be able to land troops. Oh, yeah, and do it without carriers or planes. You only have to look at what happened to HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse to see how badly that can go.

But when cut off, and knowing that supplies cannot get through, any Argentinean garrison would eventually agree to surrender, likely parlaying to allow the British to land new troops at RAF Mount Pleasant. Much less hard fighting than in 1982, but the same ultimate outcome – Argentina loses – is the most likely one.

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Army vet brothers create business to change the world one baby at a time

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Jon Boggiano had a brilliant idea. He and his brother Chris, both West Point graduates, would go back to graduate school at Stanford University. The duo had just sold their successful job training business, and Jon thought they needed a new adventure.

Chris was adamantly opposed to the idea at first, but as with many things between the two brothers just a year apart in age, eventually he relented. And with just 12 days to spare before the Stanford business school application period closed, the two pounded out extensive essays, sourced letters of recommendation from former CO’s, calculated costs, took the GMAT, told their wives their plan, and prepped for an interview with the admission folks. They got in.

That June, both families including three kids (one on the way) and one large dog packed up and headed west from Charlotte, North Carolina to campus housing in Stanford, California.

“The biggest transition was going from a 2,400 square foot house to an 850 square foot campus apartment with one bathroom,” Jon said. “It was more like a cabin.”

Almost immediately the two met Nicki Boyd, a British educated triathalete and fellow entrepreneur. The three would embark on the year-long Stanford MBA program together with a very clear goal in mind.

“The north star was to revolutionize education,” said Chris. That was the summer of 2013. Today, the Boggiano brothers and Boyd have 11 employees on the rolls of their company, VersaMe. And they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to manufacture their inaugural product, the Starling, the first educational wearable for babies and toddlers.

The wearable, a plastic orange star, tracks the number of words said to a child—the idea being that the more words said, the higher the child’s IQ potential. The research is there and parents will no doubt embrace the concept that, by simply verbally engaging with a child, they can truly affect his or her vocabulary.

But the story of how these two former Army guys wound up creating a little orange wearable for babies goes back both to their days growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey with a police officer (and former Marine) for a father and their time in the military.

“Service to our country was definitely part of our upbringing,” said Chris, who graduated from West Point in 2002 and later served in Kosovo. Then came a tough deployment to Iraq where he was a tank platoon leader with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry. “The Army got its money out of me during my time in Fallujah,” said Chris.

Similarly, Jon deployed to Kosovo and Iraq. After witnessing firsthand the unintended consequences of the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, the brothers returned home and transferred to the reserves to start a company that trained workers for careers in the green jobs sector.

During that time, it also became clear to both Jon and Chris that the education system was broken. Folks they were training had, for example, been employed for decades by a steel mill that then suddenly closed down.

“Some of them didn’t have email addresses,” Jon said. “Every academic opportunity had passed them by or failed them.”

“We started looking into trying to fix this economic problem and it always came back to education,” added Chris, who’s also a father to two girls. “We realized that fixing the system meant having a massive impact much earlier in life.”

And off to Stanford they went with an ambitious plan to “swing for the fences,” as Jon put it. By March of 2014, the idea for a wearable was born and the three entrepreneurs decided to solicit funding, hire ambitious employees and scale up. And thanks to far too much time spent in unsavory parts of the world, the team had much-needed perspective about launching a startup.

“Having been to places like Iraq and Kosovo where people have literally nothing I quickly realized that the risk of failing at a startup isn’t nearly as bad as what life could be like in a lot of places in this world,” Chris said.

“It’s really a great way to transition from military,” Jon said. “You can change careers, change geography and have an adventure.”

But the brothers also feel their company is much more than an adventure. “I really do think we are making the world a better place by doing what we are doing,” Jon said.

Now: How an Army vet podcaster pulls in over $2 million by chatting with ‘vetpreneurs’

MIGHTY TRENDING

China unveiled its new H-20 stealth bomber in a big dig at the US

China may have released a video teaser of its H-20 stealth bomber and trolled the US’s stealth bombers in the process, according to The Drive.

China’s state-run aviation and defense company, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, recently posted a video celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, a subsidiary of AVIC, The Drive reported.


The video, which China Daily tweeted, ends with a shadowy wide shot of bomber-looking aircraft covered in a sheet with text reading “The Next” appearing on the screen.

The shot looks eerily similar to a Northrop Grumman advertisement of the B-21 Raider, which ran during the 2015 Super Bowl, The Drive reported, adding that China Defense Online may have also added the ending itself. As such, it’s unclear if it’s legit.

Still, China has been in search of a long-range bomber.

In 2015, Chinese defense experts said China needed to develop a long-range bomber that could strike targets far from its coast, AFP reported at the time.

Then in 2016, General Ma Xiaotian, a PLA Air Force commander, said China was researching the development of such a bomber, according to Popular Science.

The Drive also reported that conception of the H-20 may have even come before that, citing Airforce Monthly as saying that XAC had built small models of it, but in 2011, the program came to a halt.

In any event, the Pentagon confirmed in 2017 report that China was “developing a strategic bomber that officials expect to have a nuclear mission,” also noting that “[past] PLA writings expressed the need to develop a ‘stealth strategic bomber,’ suggesting aspirations to field a strategic bomber with a nuclear delivery capability.”

To that end, the H-20 needs to be capable of carrying a 10 ton payload and have a range of 5,000 miles, The Drive reported.

Popular Science reported that the H-20, in order to strike different continents, needs a 6,200 mile range and carry a 10-20 ton payload, which would most likely require four WS-10 turbofan engines.

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An artist’s rendering of the JH-XX.

Whatever the specifications would be, a researcher working with the US Air Force told Business Insider that the H-20 is a four engine stealth bomber and that the details have not been “revealed except it is to have a dual [nuclear and conventional] role.”

The researcher also said that China has built three static H-20 airframes without electronics and engines.

The Drive reported that the H-20’s main weapon would probably be KD-20 cruise missiles, and Popular Science reported that it would carry the KD-20s in its internal weapons bays.

The H-20 might eventually even carry “GB-6A stealth cruise missiles and hypersonic scramjet missiles,” and act as a command and control aircraft, Popular Science reported.

The “deployment and integration” of a nuclear bomber “would provide China with its first credible nuclear ‘triad’ of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air,” the 2017 Pentagon report on China’s military said.

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

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