'House of Cards' is looking for veterans - We Are The Mighty
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‘House of Cards’ is looking for veterans

‘House of Cards’ is looking for veterans


If you’re a veteran living in the Washington, DC area, the hit Netflix series House of Cards wants you. Filming on the fourth season starts this July and they’re looking for extras. The show wants to cast men and women who actually served.

There’s always a chance they’ll give someone a line which would get you into the actors union which could lead to a huge action movie career. Or you could at least be visible in a couple of shots, allowing you to show the episodes to your friends and family and talk about what it was like to work with Kevin Spacey.

Check out the details from Project Casting below. They’re very concerned that applicant follow instructions to the letter, but that should be easy for anyone who served and got an honorable discharge, right?

Also, when showbiz folks say “play either right before or right after the July 4th weekend,” they mean “film either right before or right after the July 4th weekend.”

How to apply:

MILITARY VETERAN (age 28–40, male AND female) – Preferably someone who actually toured overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan. This will play either right before or right after the July 4th weekend. Please have a flexible schedule.

TO APPLY please email: mhc.drama@gmail.com WITH

1. Height

2. Weight

3. Age

4. Waist and Jacket/dress sizes

5. Three (3) Selfies. Selfies, not headshots. Must be recent!

6. What military experience you have

Paid-Up SAG members, please email sag.mhc@gmail.com.

Subject Line: VETERAN

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This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2014. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia allegedly threatened nuclear war in Europe in 2017

At some point during the Trump administration, Russia told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that it could use nuclear weapons in the event of a war in Europe — a warning that led Mattis to regard Moscow as major threat to the US.

According to “Fear,” Bob Woodward’s recently released book about turmoil in the White House, Moscow’s warning was in regard to a potential conflict in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

The Baltics were part of the Soviet Union and have deep ties to Russia, which has sought to reassert influence there since the end of the Cold War. Those countries have tried to move closer to the West, including NATO membership.


According to Woodward’s account, the warning from Russia came some time during or before summer 2017, when the Trump administration was haggling over the future of the Iran nuclear deal.

At the time, President Donald Trump wanted to withdraw from the deal, claiming Iran had violated the terms.

Others, including then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pushed back, citing a lack of evidence of any violation. (Trump refused to recertify the deal in October 2017 and withdrew from it in May 2018.)

Mike Pompeo, then the director of the CIA, and Mattis didn’t disagree with Tillerson, Woodward writes, but they responded to the president’s assertions more tactfully.

Mattis, long regarded as a hawk on Iran, had mellowed, according to Woodward, preferring other actions — “Push them back, screw with them, drive a wedge between the Russians and Iranians” — to war.

‘House of Cards’ is looking for veterans

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

(Photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

Russia, Woodward then notes,”had privately warned Mattis that if there was a war in the Baltics, Russia would not hesitate to use tactical nuclear weapons against NATO.”

“Mattis, with agreement from Dunford, began saying that Russia was an existential threat to the United States,” Woodward adds, referring to Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Woodward offers no additional context for the warning, nor is it totally clear why that detail is included where it is in the book.

Most nuclear-armed countries have policies that would allow their first-use in a conflict.

The Baltic states have warned about what they perceive as increasing Russia activity against them, and there is evidence that Moscow is working on military facilities in the region.

Imagery released early 2018 indicated ongoing renovations at what appeared to be an active nuclear-weapons storage site in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, south of Lithuania.

“Features of the site suggest it could potentially serve Russian Air Force or Navy dual-capable forces,” a Federation of American Scientists report on the imagery said. “But it could also be a joint site, potentially servicing nuclear warheads for both Air Force, Navy, Army, air-defense, and coastal defense forces in the region.”

‘Tactical nuclear weapons as a leveler’

Tactical nuclear weapons typically have smaller yields and are generally meant for limited uses on the battlefield. Strategic nuclear weapons usually have higher yields and are used over longer ranges.

Some experts prefer the term “non-strategic nuclear weapons,” as the use of nuclear weapons would have both tactical and strategic implications. Mattis himself has said there is no such thing as a “tactical” nuclear weapon, as “any nuclear weapon used at any time is a strategic game-changer.”

Russia and the US have more than 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads, though Russia’s arsenal is slightly larger. Pentagon officials have said Russia wants to add to that arsenal, violating current arms-control treaties.

During the Cold War, the Soviets expected Western countries to use nuclear weapons first and had plans to use nuclear weapons against NATO targets in the event of war, using larger-yield devices against targets like cities and smaller-yield ones — “tactical” nukes — against NATO command posts, military facilities, and weapons sites.

The US had a similar plan.

‘House of Cards’ is looking for veterans

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Aug. 2, 2017.

(US Air Force photo)

The size of Russia’s current stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons is not known, though it’s believed to be much smaller than that of the Soviet Union.

It’s not totally clear how Russia would use “tactical” nuclear weapons — the Congressional Research Service has said Russia appears to view them as defense in nature — but they are seen as compensating for Russia’s conventional military shortcomings. (US interest in “low-yield” nuclear weapons as a deterrent has also grown, though critics say they would raise the chance of US first-use.)

Russia has fewer “strategic” nuclear weapons than the US, and “tactical” nuclear weapons may be more handy for Moscow’s shorter-range, regional focus, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told The National Interest in late 2017.

“Russia’s conventional forces are incapable of defending Russian territory in a long war,” Kristensen said. “It would lose, and as a result of that, they have placed more emphasis on more usage of tactical nuclear weapons as a leveler.”

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

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8 invasions that failed horribly

Invasions are risky, costly operations that can cost the aggressor dearly. Here are 8 invasions that may have made some generals wish for a time machine:


1. Napoleon invades Russia

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Painting: Public Domain/Viktor Mazurovsky

One of history’s finest military minds, Napoleon Bonaparte, broke a strained alliance to invade Russia on his way to India in 1812. Estimates of his army’s size vary between 450,000 and 600,000 men.

The Russian army, numbering only about 200,000, avoided most major battles. Instead, they let disease, weather, and desertion whittle away at the French troops until Napoleon successfully took Moscow Sep. 14. But Moscow had been abandoned and Napoleon was forced to retreat back to France that October with only 20,000 soldiers in fighting shape.

2. The French and Spanish Siege of Gibraltar in 1779

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The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar. Painting:  Public Domain/John Copley

France and Spain attempted to invade England via the English Channel and the Rock of Gibraltar. The English Channel fleet never bothered to attack anything the Gibraltar campaign was an abysmal failure.

Starting in 1779, the Franco-Spanish fleet attacked the Rock of Gibraltar for nearly four years, losing 6,000 lives and 10 ships without taking a bit of ground.

3. Operation Barbarossa

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Photo: German army archives

When Nazi Germany sent its finest to conquer Russia in 1941, the plan was a summer invasion that would be complete before the dreaded Russian winter set in or Stalin could call up large numbers of new troops.

But logistical failures and mismanagement slowed the German army’s advance despite a series of battlefield successes. The Soviets capitalized with a series of counterattacks and by raising 200 new divisions, four times what the Germans planned for. The Axis lost nearly a million men of the 4.5 million it sent to Russia and was then stuck in a two-front war.

4. Bay of Pigs

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Members of the Cuban invasion force meet President and Mrs. Kennedy in 1962. Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

The Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 was supposed to be a covert American operation supporting Cuban exiles who would wage a guerrilla war against Fidel Castro.

Instead, Castro knew about the operation ahead of time, American involvement was exposed the morning of the first attacks, and the Cuban forces captured and killed nearly all of the Cuban exiles assaulting them.

5. Japanese invasion of Midway

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The Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma shortly before it sank Jun. 6, 1942. Photo: US Navy

In the summer of 1942, Adm. Yamamoto Isoroku attempted to draw the surviving American aircraft carriers into a trap by invading Midway Atoll, a U.S. island near Hawaii.

But U.S. Navy had intercepted the Japanese plans and laid their own ambush. In the resulting battle Jun. 4, Japan lost all four carriers involved in the battle and a heavy cruiser while the U.S. suffered the loss of one carrier. The battle was a tipping point in the overall Pacific Theater of World War II.

6. U.S. invasion of Canada in 1775

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Illustration: Public Domain/Charles William Jefferys

In its first major offensive, the Continental Army sent two major forces to take Quebec and convince the rest of Canada to join the rebellion.

Early successes were followed by catastrophe at the siege of Quebec City. One commanding general was killed and the other wounded before a hasty retreat gave the British back all the territory the Americans had taken.

7. The British invasion of Zululand

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The Battle of Rorke’s Drift. Painting: Public Domain/Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville

The British invasion of Zululand in 1879 suffered a major setback less than two weeks into the war when Gen. Frederic Thesiger led most of his men from their camp to attack what he believed to be the main Zulu force.

It wasn’t, and the actual main Zulu force surrounded the camp and killed off over 1,300 of the approximately 1,750 defenders before destroying the army’s supplies. The British were forced to withdraw but staged a new invasion that July that was successful.

8. Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939

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Photo: Library of Congress

Though the Soviets would achieve victory in the Winter War of 1939-1940, their first thrust into Finland was a disaster. 450,000 Soviets with approximately 4,000 planes and 6,000 tanks and armored vehicles were stopped by 180,000 Finnish troops operating 130 outdated aircraft and 30 armored vehicles.

The highly mobile ski troops of Finland used effective camouflage and careful tactics to cut apart the Soviet formations dressed in dark uniforms that stood out against the snow. The Soviets eventually won but the war cost them nearly 130,000 lives with another 270,000 troops wounded and captured.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

On Sept. 11, 2001, Air Force flight surgeon John Baxter showed up to work at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to a full load of patients and completing physicals — just like any other day.

Halfway through his morning while getting his next patient, he saw that a civilian airliner had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers.

While with the patient, Baxter said he noticed the background noise in the Pentagon changed. It seemed quieter than usual. Then, he heard shouts. He opened his door and saw people running and shouting, and smoke in the hallway.


At first, Baxter didn’t know if there was an explosion, a fire or some other event. Despite the unknowns, he assembled his team of flight surgeons, a nurse and medical technicians. They grabbed medical kits and traveled as a group. Their emergency plan was to meet up with other medics at the Pentagon’s DiLorenzo Clinic.

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A red flower sits atop of every bench to remember the fallen on Sept. 11, 2001, during the Pentagon Memorial Observance Ceremony in Washington D.C., Sept. 11, 2018.

(Defense Department photo by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

Then they heard the news: there were casualties in corridor 5.

Baxter’s team ran to the spot. They found Army veteran Brian Birdwell, who was in excruciating pain from burns. It was a situation that Baxter was unexpectedly prepared for: Months earlier, in an emergency exercise, the flight clinic trained for the same scenario that unfolded on 9/11: a plane crashing into the Pentagon.

John Baxter still serves at the Pentagon, though now as a civilian flight surgeon. For this week’s Born the Battle Podcast, Baxter details his story of 9/11 and the days that followed.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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Marine commandant wants to extend dwell time, speed up aviation recovery

The commandant of the Marine Corps wants the service to come up with a strategy to give Marines more time at home between deployments before the end of the year and get new aircraft cranking off production lines ahead of schedule.


Those are two of the 25 time-sensitive tasks for service commanders published Tuesday alongside Gen. Robert Neller’s second major message to the force. In the task list, he calls on Marine Corps leadership to invest in people, build up readiness, and take training into the future.

Also read: This Marine just retired after 54 years of service

Neller’s checklist tasks Marine Corps Forces Command and Manpower and Reserve Affairs with developing a plan to give Marines on average more than twice as much time at home than they spend deployed.

Increasing “dwell time,” as it’s called, from the current 1:2 ratio has long been cited by Marine Corps commanders as a goal at odds with the service’s high deployment tempo and ongoing force reductions. As leaders await approval of a defense budget measure that would modestly increase the size of the force for the first time in years, Neller’s order is a signal that times may be changing.

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A Marine signals to move forward in an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) during an amphibious landing for Exercise Dawn Blitz 2015. | U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Riley

“The optimal deployment-to-dwell ratio will not be the same for all elements of the [Marine air-ground task force] and we must strike the right balance between risk-to-force, risk-to- mission, and risk-to-institution,” Neller cautioned in the document. “Potential factors to consider among others: increasing the end strength of the force, growing key Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs), and decreasing in Global Force Management (GFM) demands.”

Another goal dependent on budget decisions is the plan to accelerate aviation recovery for the service, which has seen aircraft readiness rates and pilots’ flight hours plummet and then begin to recover in the last two years.

In an interview this month in his office at the Pentagon, Neller said the Corps would try to buy new aircraft faster, including F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, to replace aging legacy platforms, and petition Congress to fully fund the service’s flight hour program and spare parts requirements so aviation readiness as a whole will improve.

“We’re going to be in a position where we’re fielding new aircraft and sustaining legacy aircraft for a number of years and it would be nice if the [operational] tempo would go down, but I don’t see that happening either. So we’ve got to do this all on the fly,” Neller said. “We’ve got to improve our readiness and continue to meet our requirements.”

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Gen. Robert Neller | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shawn Valosin

Whether or not the extra money rolls in within future defense budgets, Neller is asking aviation leaders to come up with more efficient ways to accelerate the recovery plan.

He’s also calling for better training for aviation maintenance Marines, citing recent readiness reviews that highlighted a lack of training and standardization in these fields. By improving and standardizing the training pipeline for specialized aviation maintainers, he wrote, “We can improve overall readiness and performance of Marine Aviation.”

In parallel, Neller wants commanders to develop a comprehensive plan by the end of the year to modernize the Marine Corps ground combat element, allowing infantry Marines to fight with similar technological and training advantages to their aviation counterparts.

He reiterated his desire to get quadcopter drones fielded to each Marine rifle squad “immediately,” and said he wanted to see ground Marines take advantage of the 5th-generation platforms, sensors and networks that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will bring to the force.

Neller endorsed a growing trend in the Marine Corps to tailor equipment and gear to the specific needs of the ground combat Marine.

In 2015, the Corps announced that infantry Marines would use M4s as their standard service rifle, while non-infantrymen would continue to carry the longer M16; and last fall, Marine Corps Systems Command held an event focused on equipping infantry Marines with tailor-made gear specific to their jobs, with leaders even discussing the possibility of tailoring Meals, Ready to Eat to the needs of grunts.

“While every Marine is a rifleman, not all Marines serve in or alongside ground combat units like the infantry as they actively locate, close with, and destroy enemies by fire and maneuver,” Neller wrote. “Their mission and risks are unique. From clothing and equipment to training, nutrition, and fitness, we must look at and develop the [ground combat element’s] capabilities differently than the rest of the MAGTF.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

World leaders unite in honor of D-Day 75th

Western leaders have joined Queen Elizabeth II in southern England to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest military landing operation in history that speeded up the end of World War II.

U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among leaders of 16 countries attending the June 5, 2019 ceremony in the port city of Portsmouth, one of the key embarkation points on D-Day.

As the leaders paid tribute to the “sacrifice” of those who died in the 1944 operation on the French coast of Normandy before more than 300 veterans, Russia’s Foreign Ministry argued that the landings did not have a “decisive” influence on the outcome of the war.


Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings five years ago, was not invited to the events in Portsmouth.

The Soviet Union was not involved in the D-Day landings but was instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany.

Watch live: Trump attends ceremony to commemorate 75th anniversary of D-Day

www.youtube.com

More than 150,000 Allied troops set off from Portsmouth and the surrounding area on June 6, 1944, to begin the air, sea, and land attack on Normandy that ultimately led to the liberation of Western Europe from the Nazis.

The invasion, code-named Operation Overlord, was commanded by U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower. It remains the largest amphibious assault in history and involved almost 7,000 ships and landing craft along an 80-kilometer stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Thousands were killed on both sides.

In Portsmouth, Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to the “heroism, courage, and sacrifice” of those who died in the landings, while Trump, who was on the last day of his three-day state visit to Britain, said D-Day “may have been the greatest battle ever.”

The commemoration was attended by leaders from every country that fought on D-Day, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, and Slovakia.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova offered a tribute to those who died on the Western Front and said the Allies’ contribution to the victory was “clear.”

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

“It should of course not be exaggerated,” she added, noting the Soviet Union’s “titanic efforts, without which this victory simply would not have happened.”

Zakharova continued, telling reporters that the landings in Normandy “did not have a decisive impact” on the outcome of the war.

“It had already been predetermined as a result of the Red Army’s victories, she added, citing the battles of Stalingrad in 1942 and Kursk in 1943.

Russia has accused the West in the past of failing to acknowledge the Soviet Union’s contribution to the 1945 victory over the Nazis and the human losses — estimated at 26 million deaths — it suffered during the conflict.

The countries represented at the Portsmouth commemorations agreed a proclamation pledging to “ensure that the unimaginable horror of these years is never repeated” and commit to working together to “resolve international tensions peacefully.”

Further memorial services are planned in Britain and France on June 6, 2019.

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

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Meet the Air Force/Space Force esports teams: They’re not what you expect

The Air Force gets a lot of grief from the other services with jokes like “Chair Force.” Its sister branch and newest service, Space Force, might be getting even more taunts. So when you think of the Airmen and Guardians on their esports teams you might easily believe some of the stereotypes: “They’re just second-rate gamers hired for recruiting;” “They’re not doing their actual jobs;” Alternatively, “Their jobs are so easy that they have time to play games.” None of these could be further from the truth. 

Despite ongoing operational requirements, a global pandemic and limited resources compared to the other services, the founders of Air Force Gaming have brought together thousands of active duty gamers from across the world in less than a few months. With competitions spanning from Rocket League to Call of Duty to League of Legends, the best gamers from the league are rising to compete in national tournaments and their winning, living up to the program’s motto; Fly, Game, Win.  

The Air Force and Space Force esports teams recently competed in Rocket League against Army, Navy and Coast Guard at the Rugbytown Sevens Esports Cup in Denver. During the tournament, a team from We Are The Mighty sat down with some of the Airmen and Guardians to learn more about them and the Air Force Gaming Program. Given that some of the gamers come from operational units we’ve kept out ranks and duty station locations.

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(U.S. Air Force)

Cpt. Oliver Parsons, Air Force – Founder of Air Force Gaming League

Cpt. Oliver Parsons got into streaming which brought him to TwitchCon 2019 where he saw the US Army Esports team. Realizing the benefit that an Air Force esports team could bring to his branch, Parsons emailed the Air Force Recruiting Service Commander, Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt. “Thirteen minutes later, I got a response,” he recalled. Maj. Gen. Leavitt loved the idea and directed her staff to bring the concept of Air Force Gaming to life. Following the development of a Discord community and Facebook group, a soft launch resulted in over 2,000 Airmen and future Guardians joining in just 24 hours. Because the program could offer so much to the Air Force community, recruiting passed it onto the Air Force Services Center responsible for the service’s morale, wellness and recreation. The program found new roots under AFSVC and executed a full experimental launch in early 2020, just before COVID. “From January to April/May, we grew to about 5,000-6,000 verified users,” Parsons said. Simultaneously, his new mental health medication disqualified him from nuclear operations. This worked in Parsons’ favor and he was cross-trained to Force Support and PCS’d to Joint Base San Antonio to work directly for AFSVC. “I basically created my own job with the help of some amazing people,” Parsons said happily. “It was a right place, right time, one in a million chance that it happened and it’s truly a blessing.” He now manages the Air Force and Space Force Esports teams along with the massive Air Force Gaming community as a whole. Parsons helps to maintain a secure, positive and supportive community of Airmen and Guardians through the world of gaming.

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Parsons was instrumental in founding Air Force Gaming

Col. Marc Adair, Air Force

Col. Marc Adair has been in the Air Force for 24 years and serves as the Director of Operations for the Air Force Services Center. A former college football player and Air Force Rugby team member, Adair was a natural fit for the position. “[I] jumped at the opportunity to be here and to run the Air Force sports, esports, the fitness centers…just really really taking care of people; it’s been awesome,” he said. More than just recreation, Air Force Sports brings together the best Airmen and Guardians from the Air Force and Space Force to represent their respective services in competition. This includes Esports. “They go through the exact same rigor and trial camps that you’d find any of the [other] athletes do,” Adair said.

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Colonel Adair oversees both Air Force and Space Force programs (We Are The Mighty)

The concept of Air Force Gaming was first presented to Adair by the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force who was inspired by the Army’s professional esports team (separate from Parsons). Initially skeptical of gaming as a sport, Adair’s views were changed when he learned of Parsons’ work with Recruiting. “It was happening anyway,” he recalled, “so we could jump onboard or not.” Air Force Gaming now has over 19,800 registered users and over 31,000 social media followers. Seeing this virtual community grow and bring Airmen and Guardians together from around the world, Adair sees a very bright future for intramural and competitive Air Force Esports and its ability to aid in mental health. “Already I’ve been able to see the resiliency that it’s been able to provide to Airmen, even deployed Airmen,” he noted, highlighting words of support and encouragement offered to wingmen who are struggling overseas. “These aren’t just gaming conversations, they’re real conversations.” Adair himself has gotten into gaming with games like Fortnite, Call of Duty and Rainbow Six: Siege.

Rob P., Space Force – Coach 

Rob enlisted in the Air Force in 2004 and later commissioned into the Space Force. Growing up, he played many sports including rugby, soccer and football. However, he was also an avid gamer. “Video games have been a part of my life for my entire life,” he said. “It’s a great way to decompress.” Having gone on multiple deployments and knowing firsthand the strain military duties can have on a person, Rob became involved in Air Force Gaming. Upon transitioning to the Space Force, he started scouting for gamer Guardians to build an esports team. “I looked for players who worked well together,” he recalled. “When they’re on the field, rank means nothing.”

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 Space Force Rocket League team post competition (U.S. Space Force)

Like their service branch, the Space Force Esports team is new — only a few months old. However, they play well as a team and Rob leans on his military leadership experience to coach them through games. Rob serves as a mission processor in missile warning — taking raw data, interpreting and analyzing it. “A lot of the things I do in the real world are what I’m doing here,” he said. As the coach, Rob oversees training, develops strategies, watches plays in matches and guides the team to perform their best. On top of the competition, Rob places emphasis on enjoying games and the positive impact they can have on mental health. “It helps pull me out of the dark space,” he said, recalling times of depression. “Everyone has their coping mechanisms; mine is playing video games.”

Andrew G., Space Force – Player Rocket League

Andrew is a cyberspace operator focusing on missions across the globe and even out of it. Growing up, he played soccer competitively and went on to play at the Air Force Academy. “I joined the military to make my parents proud,” he said. As an avid gamer and competitive soccer player, Andrew was a natural fit for Air Force Gaming. “Gaming has always been an avenue of connection to those closest to [me],” he said, noting that he would game with his friends and family. “I’ve always been a competitive individual…that’s what pulled me into esports, specifically Rocket League. The game is basically car soccer.”

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Andrew has to work around a multi-zone time difference to game (We Are The Mighty)

Andrew enjoys applying the same dedication he had in competitive soccer to esports. “It’s a challenge to become better,” he said. “You’re always trying to improve yourself.” Using replay analysis, developing team tactics and sticking to a personal training regimen, Andrew aims to improve himself as a player and help the team improve as a whole. However, he still trains in physical sports and hopes to bridge the gap to esports and break the stereotypes people have of it. “I’m a triathlete; I’m training for Ironmans. I try to do well at work and be a strong military figure and officer,” he said. “No matter how good you are, you still get that look when you tell leadership, ‘I’m about to travel across the world to go play video games.'” Andrew hopes to open people’s minds to the benefits of esports and gaming in general. “These guys in the Space Force, I may have never met if it wasn’t for our combined interest in Rocket League.”

Austin B., Air Force – Player Rocket League

Austin is one of four airmen who competed in the Rocket League tournament. The 23 year old hails from St. Louis and was committed to playing college baseball until an injury took him out of the game. Unable to pursue a career in baseball, Austin joined the Air Force. “I looked at this as a way to kind of find a new path for myself,” he said. Now, Austin works at an AWACS training squadron, helping to manage the training of 60-70 airmen at a time and keep them on track. However, the former baseball player yearned for competition and found it in the Air Force Gaming community. “There was a big tournament to even qualify to be on the team,” Austin recalled of the 20-week selection process.

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Air Force Rocket League Team  (U.S. Air Force)

“For Rocket League, there were over 200 teams total [that] we had to compete with.” He’s played the game since 2017 and applies lessons he learned in baseball and the Air Force to his gaming. “I think Rocket League focuses more on teamwork,” Austin noted. “You can’t really have one guy not pulling their weight. Sports in general, you have to rely on your teammates.” Of course, balancing esports with a military commitment is difficult. Three of the team members are stationed together and two are flyers. With conflicting and sometimes unpredictable schedules, finding the time to practice together is a challenge. “But, when we do get the opportunity to all play, we all commit to it and sit down and get our time in,” Austin said of his teammates. Although the Air Force Gaming community is new, Austin looks forward to competing against the other services and civilian teams. “I think it’s headed in the right direction,” he said. “It’s just bringing people together.”

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(U.S. Air Force)
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7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

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Former Navy SEAL Task Unit Bruiser commander Jocko Willink, left, and Charlie Platoon leader Leif Babin. | Courtesy of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) oversees the American military units that take on incredibly difficult and unconventional missions.

These units contain some of the most elite warriors in the world.

And though each unit in SOCOM has its own culture, certain approaches are universal.

From their writings and from our interviews with former Navy SEAL commanders Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, former Delta Force commander going by the pseudonym Dalton Fury, and retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who led the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) branch of SOCOM before leading American forces in the war in Afghanistan — Business Insider noticed recurring lessons on leadership that could apply in any type of career.

We’ve collected those lessons here.

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Students assigned to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class 282 participate in Rock Portage at Coronado Island in 2010. | Seaman Kyle Gahlau/Navy Visual News Service via Flickr

A team’s success falls entirely on its leader

After returning from duty as a SEAL platoon commander in the 2006 battle of Ramadi in Iraq, Leif Babin became a SEAL training instructor. It was during one “Hell Week” of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S) in 2008 that he saw an incredible example of leadership at work, he wrote in his 2015 book “Extreme Ownership,” cowritten with Jocko Willink.

Babin and his fellow instructors split the SEAL candidates into teams of seven for a string of boat races, which required the teams to run with a 200-pound raft held aloft and then placed into the ocean for a short course. After several races, Boat Crew II was almost guaranteed to win and Boat Crew VI was almost guaranteed to come in last place.

The most senior instructor decided to swap the team leaders of Crews II and VI. To Babin’s surprise, Crew II performed well but never reached first, and Crew VI won nearly every race.

“When the leader of Boat Crew II took charge of Boat Crew VI … [h]e didn’t wait for others to solve his boat crew’s problems,” Babin wrote. “Rather than tolerate their bickering and infighting, he pulled the team together and focused their collective efforts on the single specific goal of winning the race.”

What it all comes down to, Babin writes, is “whether or not your team succeeds or fails is all on you.”

Manage your boss

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Dalton Fury spent more than 20 years in the US Army as a Ranger and then as a Delta Force operator.

Fury is the pseudonym he uses for his writing, since his time in Delta Force, one of the  most secretive and elite forces in the US, has required him to conceal his true identity.

He sent us a collection of leadership lessons he learned in Delta Force and Rangers

Fury writes that part of being an effective leader is knowing not only how to instill confidence in your subordinates, but in your superior.

He explains that there are times in special operations where plan A isn’t going exactly as planned, and if the leadership in charge of the mission’s commander gets nervous, the entire thing could turn into a disaster. It’s why, Fury says, leaders need to assure their own leaders in advance that they are prepared for whatever unexpected situations arise.

 

Mitigate risk as much as possible

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The Delta Force unit that served in the battle of Tora Bora.

Whoever’s in charge can’t waste time excessively contemplating a scenario without making a decision. But when it’s time to make that decision, all risk must be mitigated as much as possible.

Willink and Babin both write about situations in Ramadi in which delaying an attack until every detail about a target was clarified, even when it frustrated other units they were working with, resulted in avoiding tragic friendly fire.

Fury says it is the leader’s responsibility to “see the forest through the trees” and anticipate as many scenarios in a mission as possible, in order to always have a plan ready to go with the least risky choice available.

Have a set of standards that guide decisions

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Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal sits aboard a helicopter during active duty in 2009.

“There are a set of standards that you know are right,”McChrystal told Business Insider. “They may look and feel different at times, but those standards should guide you.”

He said that there was once a time when he was mulling over a weighty decision with a command sergeant major, and he was questioning what his values were telling him was right. They worked over the decision for six months.

“And at the end of that decision, I thought I had consensus, and I announced this decision, and I looked to him for approval and he said, ‘It was the right decision. But you could have made it six months ago.'”

“The reality is we often delay making decisions when we already know the right answer and we’re trying somehow to prevent ourselves from having to make that step because we’re trying to mitigate all the reaction we’ll get to it,” he said. “But sometimes you just have to cut bait and do it.”

Be the alpha, but don’t be overbearing

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Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink. | Twitter/Jocko Willink

As a SEAL officer, Willink needed to be aggressive. (“Some may even accuse me of hyper-aggression,” he said.) But he differentiated being a powerful presence to his SEAL team from being an intimidating figure.

He wrote that, “I did my utmost to ensure that everyone below me in the chain of command felt comfortable approaching me with concerns, ideas, thoughts, and even disagreements.”

“That being said,” he added, “my subordinates also knew that if they wanted to complain about the hard work and relentless push to accomplish the mission I expected of them, they best take those thoughts elsewhere.”

As Fury put it: “Play well with others — but remain the alpha.”

Be calm without being robotic

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Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink, left, during the 2006 battle of Ramadi in Iraq. | Courtesy of Todd Pitman

Willink says that while leaders who lose their tempers lose respect, they also can’t establish a relationship with their team if they never expression anger, sadness, or frustration.

“People do not follow robots,” he writes.

For Fury, this comes when a leader is humble. “And at that moment when you apply this secret, realizing you are not one of the action heroes — more Clark Kent than Superman — you have met the first standard for actually leading high-performance teams,” he wrote.

Trust your subordinates

Fury says that in the military, commanders establish relationships with officers they can trust to act on their own and come through in a crisis.

For example, Fury writes, “Year after year, commander to commander, maverick warrior … Jim ‘Serpico’ Reese, a stand-out Ranger and Delta officer, quite possibly would have made [Ulysses S.] Grant appear wanting when it came to working through chaos, calming nerves, and demanding the best out of subordinates.”

It’s this trust in each other that makes elite units so special.

When talking about the Navy SEALs in particular, McChrystal wrote in his book, “Team of Teams,” he said it is their intense, selfless teamwork from the top down that allows them to process any challenge with “near telepathy.”

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Delta Force operators in Afghanistan, their faces censored to protect their privacy. Courtesy of Dalton Fury.

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5 cool weapons that would make UAVs deadlier

With the news that the Reaper is getting a new bomb to add to its versatile arsenal, maybe it’s about time to think about what else unmanned aerial vehicles can carry. There already is a push to add guided mortar rounds to UAVs, but that may just be scratching the surface.


The options, really, are as limitless as what regular planes can carry. Here are some cool things that could be dropped from a UAV.

1. Mk 54 MAKO Lightweight Hybrid Torpedoes

The United States has deployed an anti-submarine warfare UCAV before. The QH-50 Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter was deployed for a few years off smaller vessels before being retired. They were carrying weapons long before the CIA put Hellfires on Predators.

So, which UAVs would be using the Mk 54? The Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scouts come to mind, but the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-4C Triton also could do it. Seeing as both Iran and North Korea have lots of mini-subs, UAVs, with their long endurance and advanced sensor suites, could be very helpful.

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USS Roosevelt (DG 80) launches a Mk 54 MAKO torpedo, the evolutionary descendant of the Mk 24 Fido. (US Navy photo)

2. Cluster bombs

Many of the weapons UAVs carry are precision-guided systems that are intended to reduce collateral damage as much as possible. But there are some things JDAMs and Hellfires can’t do that a cluster bomb can. Since the MQ-9 Reaper already can carry 500-pound bombs, it would seem pretty easy to add something like the CBU-100 Rockeye to its arsenal.

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A B-1B Lancer drops cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to globally navigate, update mission profiles and target coordinates in-flight, and precision bomb without the need for ground-based navigation aids. (U.S. Air Force photo)

3. Iron Bombs

Along a similar vein, the Mk 82 iron bomb, which is the basis for the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition, would make sense for the MQ-9.

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Ordies (in red jerseys) load 500-pounders onto Super Hornets aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

4. Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System

This is a laser-guided 70mm Hydra rocket. When it comes to reducing collateral damage, this is probably the best system one could add to the MQ-9. Furthermore, they come in pods of seven or 19. This allows the Reaper to kill a lot more targets.

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A MH-60 Seahawk fires an Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System rocket. (US Navy photo).

5. GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb

Sometimes, a target can be pretty far off. In this case, the Small Diameter Bomb could not only allow a MQ-9 to hit more targets, but to do so from outside the range of many air defense systems. That helps the UAV survive a fight – which will make the accountants happy.

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Staff Sgt. Randy Broome signals a jammer operator to move a Bomb Rack Unit 61 forward, while loading it onto an F-15E Strike Eagle at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on Aug. 1. The NCO is an aircraft weapons specialist with the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. | U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon releases an artificial intelligence strategy and it’s straight up Skynet

The Defense Department launched its artificial intelligence strategy Feb. 12, 2019, in concert with Feb. 11, 2019’s White House executive order that created the American Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

“The [executive order] is paramount for our country to remain a leader in AI, and it will not only increase the prosperity of our nation, but also enhance our national security,” Dana Deasy, DOD’s chief information officer, said in a media roundtable.

The CIO and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, first director of DOD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, discussed the strategy’s launch with reporters.


The National Defense Strategy recognizes that the U.S. global landscape has evolved rapidly, with Russia and China making significant investments to modernize their forces, Deasy said. “That includes substantial funding for AI capabilities,” he added. “The DOD AI strategy directly supports every aspect of the NDS.”

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Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy and Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. Shanahan, the director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, hold a roundtable meeting on DOD’s artificial intelligence strategy at the Pentagon, Feb. 12, 2019.

(DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

As stated in the AI strategy, he said, the United States — together with its allied partners — must adopt AI to maintain its strategic position to prevail on future battlefields and safeguard a free and open international order.

Speed and agility are key

Increasing speed and agility is a central focus on the AI strategy, the CIO said, adding that those factors will be delivered to all DOD AI capabilities across every DOD mission.

“The success of our AI initiatives will rely upon robust relationships with internal and external partners. Interagency, industry, our allies and the academic community will all play a vital role in executing our AI strategy,” Deasy said.

“I cannot stress enough the importance that the academic community will have for the JAIC,” he noted. “Young, bright minds continue to bring fresh ideas to the table, looking at the problem set through different lenses. Our future success not only as a department, but as a country, depends on tapping into these young minds and capturing their imagination and interest in pursuing the job within the department.”

Reforming DOD business

The last part of the NDS focuses on reform, the CIO said, and the JAIC will spark many new opportunities to reform the department’s business processes. “Smart automation is just one such area that promises to improve both effectiveness and efficiency,” he added.

Pentagon outlines its artificial intelligence strategy

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AI will use an enterprise cloud foundation, which will also increase efficiencies across DOD, Deasy said. He noted that DOD will emphasize responsibility and use of AI through its guidance and vision principles for using AI in a safe, lawful and ethical way.

JAIC: focal point of AI

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of operationalizing AI across the department, and to do so with the appropriate sense of urgency and alacrity,” JAIC director Shanahan told reporters.

The DOD AI strategy applies to the entire department, he said, adding the JAIC is a focal point of the strategy. The JAIC was established in response to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, and stood up in June 2018 “to provide a common vision, mission and focus to drive department-wide AI capability delivery.”

Mission themes

The JAIC has several critical mission themes, Shanahan said.

  • First is the effort to accelerate delivery and adoption of AI capabilities across DOD, he noted. “This underscores the importance of transitioning from research and development to operational-fielded capabilities,” he said. “The JAIC will operate across the full AI application lifecycle, with emphasis on near-term execution and AI adoption.”
  • Second is to establish a common foundation for scaling AI’s impact, Shanahan said. “One of the JAIC’s most-important contributions over the long term will be establishing a common foundation enabled by enterprise cloud with particular focus on shared data repositories for useable tools, frameworks and standards and cloud … services,” he explained.
  • Third, to synchronize DOD AI activities, related AI and machine-learning projects are ongoing across the department, and it’s important to ensure alignment with the National Defense Strategy, the director said.
  • Last is the effort to attract and cultivate a world-class AI team, Shanahan said.

Two pilot programs that are national mission initiatives – a broad, joint cross-cutting AI challenge – comprise preventive maintenance and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the director said, adding that “initial capabilities [will be] delivered over the next six months.”

And while in its early stages, the JAIC is beginning to work with the U.S. Cyber Command on a space-related national mission initiative, he said.

“Everything we do in the JAIC will center on enhancing relationships with industry, academia, and with our allies and international partners,” Shanahan said. “Within DOD, we will work closely with the services, Joint Staff, combatant commands, agencies and components.”

The JAIC’s mission, the director said, “nests nicely under the executive order that the president signed yesterday afternoon. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but there’s no time to waste.”

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Why the M-60 ‘Pig’ remains one of the best US machine guns ever

Just a few feet away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is a life-size statue called “Three Soldiers.”


Crafted in bronze by sculptor Frederick Hart, he portrayed the men garbed in uniforms representative of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, carrying weapons of the Vietnam War era and facing the memorial wall. The man on the left, his body draped with ammo belts, carries an M-60 general purpose machine gun.

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Other than the M-16 rifle, perhaps no other firearm is as closely associated with the Vietnam War as the M-60. Portrayals of the M-60 in the hands of Vietnam War soldiers range from the sublime dignity expressed by the “Three Soldiers” statue to the over-the-top destruction of the fictional town of Hope, Washington, by Sylvester Stallone’s character, John Rambo, in the film “First Blood.”

The M-60 is a weapon that has faithfully served American soldiers in many battles since 1957. Far from perfect, the early model of the M-60 had so many design flaws that soldiers jerry-rigged fixes using everything from wire coat hangers to empty C-ration cans. The M-60 is also heavy — the machine gun weighs about 23 pounds, and those belts of ammo aren’t exactly lightweight, either.

No wonder the M-60 earned an unflattering nickname: The Pig.

But one thing is certain. Even with its flaws, a soldier armed with an M-60 can lay down a lot of lead, whether he is fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia or the badlands of Afghanistan.

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U.S. Marine Corps M-60 in all her glory. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)

The M-60 is an air-cooled, disintegrating belt-fed, gas-operated general purpose machine gun. It fires the 7.62 mm round with a cyclic rate of about 550 rounds a minute — a rate of fire that requires the crew to change the M-60’s barrel about every minute. In addition, the M-60 has an integral, folding bipod, but it can also be mounted on a folding tripod.

The M-60 was — and is — a fixture in the U.S. armed forces, serving as a squad support weapon, vehicle-mounted machine gun and as a “flex gun” mounted in the doors of helicopters like the UH-1 Huey and the CH-47 Chinook.

Development of the M-60 started after World War II. American generals held a grudging admiration for the German MG-42, a machine gun so powerful that it was nicknamed “Hitler’s Bone Saw” by the Wehrmacht troops that fired it. The MG-42 had a blinding rate of fire and was belt fed—both qualities were considered desirable by weapons designers. The Fallschirmjägergewehr 42, or FG 42 battle rifle, also had equally desirable qualities, such as a gas-operated bolt, which were closely scrutinized by the Americans.

Ordnance experts took the best Germany had to offer and developed a prototype machine gun. Some argued it wasn’t an ideal machine gun compared to foreign models such as the FN MAG—but it could be domestically produced, which made congressmen with defense industries in their districts very happy.

In 1957, the Defense Department adopted the machine gun and dubbed it the United States Machine Gun, Caliber 7.62 mm, M60. It’s been in the arsenal ever since.

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A Navy SEAL fires an M-60 lightweight machine gun from the shoulder, because that’s how SEALs roll. (Photographer’s Mate Petty Officer 1st Class Chuck Mussi)

But the three-man crews who served the M-60 during the Vietnam War discovered the machine gun had its idiosyncrasies.

First of all, no one designing the M-60 remembered to put a wire carrying handle on the barrel. That made barrel changes an agonizing affair—in order to remove the red-hot steel, an assistant gunner was expected in the heat of battle to don asbestos gloves that looked like oven mitts. Also, ammo belts would sometimes bind in the weapon. Then, some G.I. got a brilliant idea: just lash an empty C-ration can to the left side of the receiver so the belt would flow smoothly over the curved surface.

By the 1980s, the military adopted the M-60E3, a version of the machine gun with added improvements and (most of) the bugs worked out.

Although the Defense Department ordered the phase-out of the M-60, it is still used by U.S. armed forces personnel. SEALs favor the M-60, the Navy and the Coast Guard often have it on board their ships, and Army reserve units frequently have an M-60 in the weapons room.

And 45 nations — many of them NATO or East Asia allies — continue to use the M-60 as their heavy-hitting general purpose machine gun.

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Inside the new Air Force B-21 stealth bomber

The Air Force’s stealthy long-range bomber will have the endurance and next-generation stealth capability to elude the most advanced existing air defenses and attack anywhere in the world, if needed, senior service officials said.


When the Air Force recently revealed its first artist rendering of what its new Long Range Strike – Bomber looks like, service Secretary Deborah James made reference to plans to engineer a bomber able elude detection from even the best, most cutting-edge enemy air defenses.

“Our 5th generation global precision attack platform will give our country a networked sensor shooter capability enabling us to hold targets at risk anywhere in the world in a way that our adversaries have never seen,” James said when revealing the image.

James added that the new bomber will be able to “play against the real threats.”

The new bomber, called the B-21, will soon be named through a formal naming competition involving members of the Air Force, their families and other participants.

The Air Force has awarded a production contract to Northrop Grumman to engineer and its new bomber. The LRS-B will be a next-generation stealth aircraft designed to introduce new stealth technology and fly alongside – and ultimately replace – the service’s existing B-2 bomber.

“With LRS-B, I can take off from the continental United States and fly for a very long way. I don’t have to worry about getting permission to land at another base and worry about having somebody try to target the aircraft. It will provide a long-reach capability,” Lt. Gen. Bunch, Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

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The service plans to field the new bomber by the mid-2020s. The Air Force plans to acquire as many as 80 to 100 new bombers for a price of roughly $550 million per plane in 2010 dollars, Air Force leaders have said.

Although there is not much publically available information when it comes to stealth technology, industry sources have explained that the LRS-B is being designed to elude the world’s most advanced radar systems.

For instance, lower-frequency surveillance radar allows enemy air defenses to know that an aircraft is in the vicinity, and higher-frequency engagement radar allows integrated air defenses to target a fast-moving aircraft. The concept with the new bomber is to engineer a next-generation stealth configuration able to evade both surveillance and engagement radar technologies.

The idea is to design a bomber able to fly, operate and strike anywhere in the world without an enemy even knowing an aircraft is there.  This was the intention of the original B-2 bomber, which functioned in that capacity for many years, until technological advances in air defense made it harder for it to avoid detection completely.

The new aircraft is being engineered to evade increasingly sophisticated air defenses, which now use faster processors, digital networking and sensors to track even stealthy aircraft on a wider range of frequencies at longer ranges.

Stealth Technology

Stealth technology works by engineering an aircraft with external contours and heat signatures designed to elude detection from enemy radar systems.

At the same time, advanced in air defense technologies are also leading developers to look at stealth configurations as merely one arrow in the quiver of techniques which can be employed to elude enemy defenses, particulalry in the case of future fighter aircraft.  New stealthy aircraft will also likely use speed, long-range sensors and manueverability as additional tactics intended to evade enemy air defenses – in addition to stealth because stealth configurations alone will increasingly be more challenged as technology continues to advance.

However, stealth technology is itself advancing – and it is being applied to the B-21 stealth bomber, according to senior Air Force leaders who naturally did not wish to elaborate on the subject.

“As the threat evolves we will be able to evolve the airplane and we will still be able to hold any target at risk” Bunch said.

Although the new image of LRS-B does look somewhat like the existing B-2, Air Force officials maintain the new bomber’s stealth technology will far exceed the capabilities of the B-2.

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A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean. The B-2, from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., is part of a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

At the same time, the B-2 is being upgraded with a new technology called Defensive Management System, a system which better enables the B-2 to know the location of enemy air defenses.

Prior to awarding the contract to Northrop, the Air Force worked closely with a number of defense companies as part of a classified research and technology phase. So far, the service has made a $1 billion technology investment in the bomber.

“We’ve set the requirements, and we’ve locked them down. We set those requirements (for the LRS-B) so that we could meet them to execute the mission with mature technologies,” Bunch said.

The Long Range Strike-Bomber will be built upon what the Air Force calls an “open systems architecture,” an engineering technique which designs the platform in a way that allows it to quickly integrate new technologies as they emerge.

“We’re building this with an open mission systems architecture. As technology advances and the threat changes, we can build upon the structure.  I can take one component out and put another component in that addresses the threat.  I have the ability to grow the platform,” Bunch explained.

Air Force leaders have said the aircraft will likely be engineered to fly unmanned missions as well as manned missions.

The new aircraft will be designed to have global reach, in part by incorporating a large arsenal of long-range weapons. The LRS-B is being engineered to carry existing weapons as well as nuclear bombs and emerging and future weapons, Air Force officials explained.

“We’re going to have a system that will be able to evolve for the future. It will give national decision authorities a resource that they will be able to use if needed to hold any target that we need to prosecute at risk,” Bunch said.

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5 Reasons why Saddam Hussein thought he could invade Kuwait and win

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi tanks and infantry steamrolled across Kuwait in an invasion and occupation that took all of two days. The Iraqi dictator blamed Kuwait for slant drilling from Iraqi oil fields and claimed the Gulf state was actually an ancient province of Iraq. In reality, Saddam owed the Kuwaitis $14 billion from Iraq’s nearly 10-year war with Iran and Kuwaiti oil drilling was driving down the price of oil. 

In response, the United States and a coalition of countries created a massive counteroffensive force in Saudi Arabia while giving Saddam an ultimatum to either leave Kuwait or face the coalition’s punishment. For some reason, he let the deadline lapse and was forcibly removed. Here are the top five reasons why he thought he could stick around:

1. Saddam thought the U.S. was okay with the invasion

Saddam supposedly thought the Kuwaitis were stealing oil and purposely producing more than OPEC standards in order to keep Iraqi revenues low. To keep tensions from rising, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie met with Saddam who told her he wanted Kuwait to agree to the OPEC standards. Under orders from the Bush administration, Glaspie told Saddam the U.S. had no opinion on the issue.

Saddam thought she was talking about the tensions between the two countries. Glaspie actually meant the OPEC production standards. So when Saddam went to war, he was actually surprised to get a condemnation from the United States. 

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Well, now you’re just being childish, Saddam (DoD image by Tech. Sgt. David McLeod)

2. Iraq was the world’s 5th-largest army

Iraq could legitimately boast a million men under arms in 1990. Even though the United States only considered a third of the army capable of fighting a real war, that’s still more than 300,000 troops he could use as an offensive force. 

Having such a large ground force was not insignificant, especially not to American military planners. While a large army may make a difference when fighting Iran, it’s a whole other matter to fight an advanced Western army. Iraq’s air force was heavily overpowered in this regard and it had no navy to speak of. 

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Look at all this awesome sexiness that Saddam didn’t have (U.S. Air Force)

3. Iraqi troops were combat veterans

No matter how many effective fighters Saddam had and no matter how many of them were conscripted into the Iraqi Army, they were still veterans of a brutal 10-year war with neighboring Iran. Any soldier will tell you there’s a very big difference between fighting troops that have been battle tested and troops that are as green as the uniform they’re wearing. 

While Iraq didn’t necessarily win the Iran-Iraq War, it didn’t lose the war, either. The weapons he accumulated over the years to fight Iran could still be used against any other opponent. The U.S. knew what he had because we had the receipt. 

4. Anti-Western sentiment was high in the Middle East

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Palestinians were fighting to shake off the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, a cause celebrated by most Arabs and Arab leaders in the region. Saddam even tried to frame his invasion of Kuwait as redrawing the lines of a map created by the British and righting a historical wrong. 

When that didn’t work, Saddam tried portraying himself as a devout Muslim, praying in mosques and creating religious artwork of himself in prayer. That didn’t work either. Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia still called him the “Enemy of God.” 

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“Words hurt, too, guys.” (Wikimedia Commons)

5. Iraq had months to prepare for the Gulf War

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was finished by August 4, 1990. Saddam annexed Kuwait as Iraq’s 19th province by the end of the month. The President of the United States and the President of the Soviet Union both demanded Iraq leave Kuwait immediately. It wasn’t until November 29, 1990 that the United Nations passed a resolution threatening military action if Saddam didn’t leave. 

All Saddam did in the meantime was send hundreds of thousands of troops into Kuwait to bolster the occupation forces there. He could have pressed his advantage and invaded Saudi Arabia before the Coalition could build up its troops and vehicles, but he didn’t. Only after there were hundreds of thousands of Coalition troops did he invade – and was quickly repulsed.

Feature image: U.S. Air Force

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