How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage - We Are The Mighty
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How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

The US Department of Defense may have wasted nearly $30 million over the past decade on uniforms for the Afghan military that featured a camouflage pattern inappropriate for the country’s desert landscapes, a top government fiscal watchdog said June 21st.


A 17-page report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says $28 million has already been spent by the Pentagon on the uniforms — and perhaps another $72 million will go toward them in the next decade.

According to the analysis, the Pentagon decided in 2007 on a uniform for the Afghan National Army that included a camouflage pattern that presented two problems: First, it included a forest pattern for a Middle Eastern country dominated by deserts — and second, the US government didn’t own the pattern, meaning it had to pay a private company for its use.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Afghan National Army soldiers standing out against their environment. Army photo by Pfc. David Devich.

The report said that because the Department of Defense opted to use a private pattern, it cost the Pentagon an additional $26 million to $28 million. What’s more, it added, is that the department could have used one of the many patterns it already owns that’s just as effective — or ineffective — as the woodland camouflage pattern.

“Our analysis found that DOD’s decision to procure ANA uniforms using a proprietary camouflage pattern was not based on an evaluation of its appropriateness for the Afghan environment,” the report states.

“Our analysis found that changing the ANA uniform to a non-proprietary camouflage pattern based on the US Army’s Battle Dress Uniform … could save U.S. taxpayers between $68.61 million and $71.21 million over the next 10 years,” it added.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Applying standard camo. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod.

Because the US military continues to use the proprietary design, SIGAR recommended in the report that the Pentagon conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether there is a more cost-effective alternative in outfitting Afghan troops.

SIGAR, a congressionally ordered watchdog group that monitors US financial activities in Afghanistan reconstruction, said it shared its report with the Pentagon and department officials expressed “general agreement” with contents in the report.

The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to the SIGAR report as of June 21st.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran’s navy is sending warships across the Atlantic

The Iranian Navy will send warships to the Atlantic Ocean, a top commander said.

Iran is looking to increase the operating range of its naval forces in the Atlantic, close to the waters of the United States, its arch enemy.

Tehran sees the presence of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, along Iran’s coast, as a security concern and its navy has looked to counter that by showing its naval presence near U.S. waters.


How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

(U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Kenneth Abbate)

“The Atlantic Ocean is far and the operation of the Iranian naval flotilla might take five months,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani, Iran’s naval deputy commander, as saying.

Hassani said the move was intended to “thwart Iranophobia plots” and “secure shipping routes.”

He said Sahand, a newly-built destroyer, would be one of the warships deployed.

Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters and Iran says it is equipped with antiaircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, and also has electronic warfare capabilities.

The vessels are expected to dock in a friendly South American country such as Venezuela, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

Hassani said in December 2018 that Iran would soon send two to three vessels on a mission to Venezuela, an ally.

Iran’s navy has extended its reach in recent years, launching vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirates.

Featured image: @Iran on Twitter.

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

Articles

Forget The Terminator Arm — DARPA Wants An Implantable Hard Drive For The Brain

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: YouTube Screengrab


An experimental Pentagon program has already developed two types of a highly advanced, Terminator-like prosthetic arm.

What’s more, a quadriplegic woman with sensors implanted onto her brain controlled one of the robotic limbs to grab a cup, shake hands and eat a chocolate bar. She even flew an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter simulator using just her thoughts.

Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to expand on that cutting-edge work to build other potential breakthrough medical technologies, including a pacemaker-sized device that might someday improve the memory of troops who suffered a traumatic brain injury. Think of it as a hard drive of sorts for the brain.

“We know we need a next-generation device that doesn’t exist today,” said Justin Sanchez, who manages DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office in Arlington, Virginia. “That’s what these new programs are all about — not only understanding the brain and these conditions, but building the hardware that enables us to address those issues. You need both.”

Memory Chip

Over more than a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, roadside bombs and other explosive devices took a toll on the U.S. military. An estimated half to two-thirds of the more than 7,100 Americans killed or wounded in combat were victims of such blasts and some 1,800 lost limbs, according to USA Today. Hundreds of thousands more suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

While researchers have been scanning the brain for years, very little is known about memory, which is stored in the side parts of the brain known as temporal lobes, Sanchez said. Like epileptic patients, troops who damage this part of the brain can suffer from memory loss and other issues.

One of DARPA’s newer projects, Restoring Active Memory, seeks to build a prosthetic device that could aid in the formation and recall declarative memory, a form of long-term memory that can be recalled such as a fact. For example, a future experiment might involve a patient who is asked to identify a series of faces and names with the aid of an implant.

“The twist on this is he or she will be interacting with a prosthetic device,” Sanchez said. “So at some face and name presentations, maybe we’ll stimulate the part of the brain that is involved in the memory formation and see if there are particular patterns of stimulation that can facilitate the formation and recall of that memory.”

Terminator Arm

The research builds on the work of a precursor program, called Revolutionizing Prosthetics, which dates back almost a decade and reflects the cornerstone of the agency’s research into neural signaling.

Jan Scheuermann, one of two patients in the program, in 2012 agreed to let surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center implant a pair of pea-sized electrodes onto her left motor cortex — which controls movement — and connects her to a robotic arm. She hoped she might feed herself for the first time in a decade. She did that and more.

Scheuermann, a 55-year-old mother of two who became paralyzed in middle-age due to a rare neurological disorder known as spinocerebellar degeneration, became so adept at manipulating the arm developed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory that her participation in the study was extended until October, when the electrode arrays were removed.

“That is the first program in the agency where you have humans interacting with really advanced prosthetic devices to do something extremely useful,” Sanchez said.

Reading the Mind

The sensors on Scheuermann’s brain measured just four-millimeters long, yet included hundreds of contact points designed to pick up signals from individual brain cells called neurons.

“When you intend to move your arm, for example, there are certain places in your brain that become active, the neurons that are there become active, and that activity can occur when you physically move your arm or even if you imagine moving your arm,” Sanchez said.

The signals were relayed to a computer running software that matched the activity to patterns associated with physical movements, such as raising or lowering an arm. Scientists used vector mathematics to build algorithms that determined the intended motion of the not only the arm, but also the wrist and fingers. The code translated into operating instructions for the robotic prosthesis.

“Neurons in this particular part of your brain are tuned to certain movement directions,” Sanchez said. “You can imagine how you can use that information to operate a robotic arm. Once you know those associations, you can say, ‘Oh, whenever I see that guy firing, I’m trying to go in this direction.”

Flying the F-35

While the program’s potential real-world applications aren’t limited to prosthetics, patients won’t be flying drones into combat anytime soon. When Scheuermann piloted the F-35 simulator, she didn’t drop bombs or launch missiles. Rather, she simply cruised along — sometimes erratically — and tried to bank the aircraft on simple flight patterns.

The process of linking her brain to the aircraft’s motion was similar to the robotic arm. Scientists would tell her to imagine trying to steer the plane to the right and left, and then would have to figure out how the neural activity would connect to control of the rudders.

“You have to try to find this functional mapping,” Sanchez said. “This is a real core part of this from a science perspective: How do you learn what those signals in the brain mean when you intend to do something and how do they relate to the device you’re trying to actuate, whether it’s a robotic arm or an airplane?”

Scheuermann also virtually piloted a small Cessna plane around the Eiffel Tower in Paris — an experience she found “liberating,” Sanchez said.

“That’s a really powerful statement,” Sanchez said. “We think of neurotechnology as hardware, but we don’t often think about it in terms of how it can improve somebody’s life or change somebody’s life.”

Bringing Back Sensation

The next and final phase of the program will seek to reverse the signaling process by understanding the patterns for sensation in the central nervous system.

“It’s really easy to say, ‘We want to bring sensation back,’ but it’s really difficult to actually do it,” Sanchez said. “You have to go to a different part of the brain that’s involved in the perception of touch — the primary central cortex — and again the challenge is the same: You have an electronic device that is measuring something and we need to translate that into signals that the brain understands.”

His office is working to identify potential civilian patients for the program. The agency doesn’t perform experiments on troops, even though the research is designed to help those who serve.

“Military personnel make the ultimate sacrifice,” Sanchez said. “They serve our nation and their lives often are changed through their injury. The very least we can do is develop a technology that will help to improve their quality of life. We have to stay true to that. It’s essential.”

Reversible Procedure

In the early 2000s, connecting a brain to a robotic prosthesis would have required multiple rooms full of computers, cables and other hardware. While its recent work proved it could be done with more advanced systems and less space, the agency still wants much smaller components.

“All of the new programs have fundamentally by their design the goal of developing medical devices that are fully implantable — the size of a cardiac pacemaker that could be implanted somewhere in the body,” Sanchez said.

Under another new effort called Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (Subnets), DARPA is funding the development of implantable devices designed to more precisely identify and treat psychiatric diseases.

“All of these procedures, at least the ones we’ve talked about thus far, are reversible,” he added. “Neurotechnology is being designed in such a way that it’s reversible, so if it’s not providing a benefit for you, you don’t use it. You just take it out.”

More From Military.com

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Britain tested its plan to blackout Russia in case of war

British military forces reportedly practiced a cyberattack on Russia on Oct. 6, 2018, to send Moscow into total darkness if Vladimir Putin’s forces attack the West.

Military sources told the Sunday Times that the only other way of hitting Russia back would be to use nuclear weapons.

But cyber weapons reportedly give Britain the best chance of deterring Russia because the West no longer has small battlefield nuclear weapons.


The Sunday Times reported that the test to “turn out the lights” in Moscow – which will give Britain more time to act in the event of war – happened during the UK’s biggest military exercise for a decade.

5,500 British troops took part in the desert exercise in Oman, where troops also practiced other war games to combat Russia’s ground forces.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

British troops practice section attack drills in Oman, 2001.

The £100m (0.5 million) exercise in the Omani desert reportedly involved 200 armoured vehicles, six naval ships, and eight Typhoon warplanes.

Sources told the Sunday Times that in a series of mock battles, the Household Cavalry played the role of an enemy using Russian T-72 tanks.

Britain-Russia tensions are being tested at the moment over the fate of two Russian military intelligence (GRU) agents who Britain accused of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March 2018, and over accusations that Russia is behind a host of global cyberattacks.

On Oct. 4, 2018, British and Dutch intelligence exposed an operation by the GRU to hijack the investigation into the assassination plot against the Skripals.

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

Articles

The most spectacular Russian military failures of all time

There are some projects that the Kremlin would love us to forget.


How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Youtube

The Russian military has long been a bogeyman for the West, with Cold War memories lingering even after the fall of the Soviet Union.

However, over the years Russia’s fierce competition has produced a number of duds alongside its successes, as the country has scrambled to stay one step ahead of its geopolitical rivals.

The following is a collection of some of the most ambitious military projects that resulted in spectacular failures.

The Tsar tank has achieved almost mythical status since the unusual vehicle was first tested in 1914. Due to weight miscalculations, its tricycle design often resulted in its back wheel getting stuck and its lack of armor left its operators exposed to artillery fire.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

But it wasn’t Russia’s only tank failure. The Soviet Union’s T-80 was the first production tank to be equipped with a gas turbine engine when it was introduced in 1976.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

However, when it was used during the First Chechen War it was discovered that when the tanks got hit on their side armor, its unused ammunition exploded. The performance was so poor that the Ministry of Defense cancelled all orders for the tanks.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

The Raduga Kh-22 air-to-surface missile was designed as a long-range anti-ship missile to counter the threat of US aircraft carriers and warship battle groups.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

What it wasn’t designed to do was hit friendly territory, but that’s exactly what happened in 2002 when one of the rockets misfired during Russian military exercises and struck the Atyrau region of western Kazakhstan to the great embarrassment of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov (pictured below).

Sergei Ivanov Photo: Wiki Commons

The Mikoyan Project 1.44 (MiG 1.44) was the Soviet Union’s answer to the US’s development of its fifth-generation Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) in the 1980s.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

Thirty years later and the status of the MiG 1.44 remains something of a mystery after it performed its first and only flight in February, 2000. The only known prototype was put in long-term storage in the hangar of Gromov Flight Research Institute in 2013.

Russia’s flagship, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, is the only aircraft carrier of its type to enter service after its sister ship was scrapped due to the fall of the Soviet Union.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

Unfortunately, it has been beset with problems over the years. Due to problems with its powerplant, tugs used to have to accompany the ship whenever it is deployed to tow it back to port. In 2009, a short circuit aboard the vessel caused a fire that killed one crew member, before an attempt to refuel the vessel at sea a month later caused a large oil spill off the coast of Ireland.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

On February 17, 2004, President Vladimir Putin boarded the Arkhangelsk, an Akula-class submarine, to watch the test launch of a newly developed ballistic missile.

Unfortunately, the R-29RMU Sineva missiles failed to launch from the nuclear submarines Novomoskovsk and Karelia because of unspecified technical problems leaving a lot of red faces all around. Putin subsequently ordered his defense minister to conduct an urgent review of the program.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

In 2013, shocked sunbathers on Russia’s Baltic coast were confronted with a giant military hovercraft bearing down on them. A spokesperson from Russia’s navy said the beach was supposed to have been cleared for the exercise.

The satellites of Russia’s “Tundra” program, designed to be early-warning system capable of tracking tactical as well as ballistic missiles, were first scheduled for launch in 2013.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

Yet due to technical problems the launch has suffered a series of delays forcing the country to rely on its outdated existing satellites. In February two satellites, which were operational for only a few hours each day, finally went offline leaving Russia unable to detect missiles from space.

The T-14 Armata tank was billed as the “world’s first post-war, third-generation tank.” So you can imagine the disappointment when the new, high-tech piece of military hardware broke down during May’s rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Moscow and had to be towed with ropes by another vehicle.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Wiki Commons

Articles

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

SAPI plates, hundreds of rounds of ammo, and as much water as you can haul is just a fraction of the gear our ground troops carry on their back as they move through their objectives every day.


Related: This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man

Not too long ago, WATM ran a story featuring a TV show host who wanted to know what it felt like to carry the typical combat load a Vietnam War GI would haul. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, click here: This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man

Many members of our loyal audience took the opportunity to chime in after reading the article and commented about what the heavy equipment they had to lug around during their time serving “in the suck” and here’s what they had to say.

1. The veteran grunt

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

2. The motivated Corpsman

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

3. The usual checklist of gear for this grunt was…

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

 

Related: 8 things Marines love to carry other than their weapon

4. The proud and seasoned machine gunner

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

5. Packing some major heat

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

6. He’s down to do it all over again

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

7. Ready for just about anything

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

 

What gear did you carry? Comment below.

Articles

These 6 military hacks won’t work in civilian life

Transitioning from the military can be tough for a lot of reasons. There’s the trip to buy a civilian wardrobe, the lost camaraderie, and the sudden absence of awesome problem-solving tools.


Few things are as frustrating as spending hours with an HR rep talking out something you could’ve solved in uniform in minutes with one of these 6 techniques:

1. Take it to the woodline (or the boiler room, or wherever)

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Michael Walker

When service members simply can’t find common ground, they dip into a secluded space and duke it out. Win, lose, or draw, the fighters don’t come back until they’ve made peace with each other. But this isn’t exactly an accepted way to settle the temperature setting of the office thermostat.

2. 10 minutes prior to the 10 minutes prior

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: flickr/Robert Couse-Baker

Padding the timeline allows commanders and planners to know that everyone will be in position on time for a mission … because the troops had to arrive three hours early to inspect gear, practice movements, and just sit around wondering why they’re awake so early. Civilians really don’t go for arriving at 6 a.m. to make a 9 a.m. meeting. Try this at the office and someone is getting a call from the union.

3. Working parties and troop details

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

Need to get a row of 12 massive connexes unpacked in a single day? Then first sergeant needs four people from each platoon.  Since the military owns all of the time of its members and those members are trained above all else to work together, the military can just throw men at a problem until it’s solved. But imagine a bunch of accountants being sent from their spreadsheets and calculators to put up tents.

That’ll go well . . .

4. Acquired gear

When units need something too quickly for the supply office to take care of it, there’s an ancient military tradition of “acquisition” that will get what you need as long as no one asks questions. The civilian world has too many bean counters and snitches for this to work though. If a copier mysteriously appears in one department, someone will check the serial number to learn where it came from.

5. “Suck it up and drive on.”

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Harry Brexel

Of all the techniques here, this is the one that many civilians most need to learn. Troops know that they don’t go to sleep until the mission is done, their weapon is clean, and someone is on watch. If you’re tired or in pain, suck it up and drive on. It’s also known as, “Ruck up.” Tell your co-workers to ruck-up and your supervisor may be asking why he’s on tap to pay massive amounts of overtime.

6. Call for fire

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Photo: Crown Copyright/Staff Sgt. Mike Harvey

There’s not a lot of problems that 155mm artillery rounds or a nice BRRRRRT from an A-10 can’t solve. In the civilian world, solving problems head on instead of working the system often results in nothing but more problems.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian destroyer sails into the line of fire during shooting drills

During a US and Ukrainian-led multinational maritime exercise, a Russian destroyer created a “dangerous situation” by sailing into an area restricted for live-fire drills, the Ukrainian Navy said in an statement.

On July 10, 2019, the Russian Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy purposefully sailed into an area reserved for naval gunfire exercises, part of the latest iteration of Exercise Sea Breeze, the Ukrainian Navy said in a Facebook post.


“The Russian Federation once again showed its true face and provoked an emergency situation in the Black Sea, ignoring international maritime law,” the post explains, according to a translation by Ukrainian media.

The Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy attempted to communicate with the Russian ship, but the latter is said to have feigned communication problems.

The Russian military, which has been conducting drills in the same area, says that the Ukrainian Navy is lying.

“The Ukrainian Navy’s claim that the Black Sea Fleet’s Smetlivy patrol vessel has allegedly entered a closed zone where Sea Breeze-2019 drills are held is not true,” Russia’s Black Sea Fleet said in a statement carried by Russian media. “Smetlivy acts in strict compliance with the international law.”

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

Russian Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy.

A US Navy spokesman told Defense One that the Russian ship was present but declined to offer any specific details on the incident. “The presence of the Russian ship had no impact to the exercise yesterday and all evolutions were conducted as scheduled,” Lt. Bobby Dixon, a spokesman for the US Navy’s 6th Fleet, told the outlet.

He added, without elaborating, that “it can be ill-advised to enter an area given the safety hazard identified in a Notice to Mariners.”

The 19th iteration of Exercise Sea Breeze began on July 1, 2019, and will conclude July 19, 2019. The drills involved around 3,000 troops, as well as 32 ships and 24 aircraft, from 19 different countries and focused on a variety of training areas, including maritime interdiction operations, air defense, amphibious warfare, and more.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian military formally linked to Malaysia Airlines crash

International investigators have said Russia’s military was involved in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014.

Flight MH17 crashed in a field in war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, after being hit by a Russian-made Buk missile on a flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the aircraft were killed.


The MH17 Joint Investigation Team issued an interim report Thursday. At a press conference, the team said the missile came from the Russian military’s 53rd antiaircraft missile brigade, based in Kursk, near Russia’s border with Ukraine.

The team cited distinctive identifying marks on recovered missile fragments that it says ties it directly to the 53rd brigade, which is based close to the Ukrainian border.

“All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces,” Wilbert Paulissen, a senior investigator with the Dutch National Police, told the conference.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
The Joint Investigation Team examined the markings on the on the recovered missile fragments.
(Dutch National Police / YouTube)

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
(Dutch National Police / YouTube)

The statement is the closest yet investigators have come to blaming Russia for the attack. The investigators also brought to the conference part of the Buk missile they say caused the crash:

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
(Dutch National Police / YouTube)

Of the passengers and crew members aboard the Boeing 777 plane, 196 were Dutch and about 40 were Malaysian, with others from Australia, Indonesia, and the UK.

Investigators have not named any suspects and have called on people involved in the attack to come forward for questioning.

The Dutch government announced in 2017, that anyone believed to have brought down the jet would be tried in the Netherlands.

Open-source investigators at Bellingcat came to the same conclusion as the Joint Investigative Team three years ago, but the JIT had different legal requirements and thresholds for evidence and therefore needed more time.

Russia has continually denied involvement in the downing of the jet.

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

Articles

This is the last tank airborne units jumped into combat

Airborne forces face a problem whenever they have to jump behind enemy lines — whether it’s to seize an enemy airfield or to take and hold territory.


The paratroopers can’t bring their own armor support, because America doesn’t currently have an airborne-certified tank or large armored vehicle. (The Stryker and the Light Armored Vehicle have undergone successful airdrop tests, but neither has been certified).

But it wasn’t always this way. During the Cold War, Airborne forces relied on the M551 Sheridan, an Airborne-capable light tank first fielded in 1969.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
The M551 Sheridan tank was a 16-ton tank made primarily of aluminum and employed by airborne forces. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Sheridan was a replacement for the World War II-era Mk. VII Tetrarch tank and the M22 Locust Airborne tank. The Tetrarch was a British glider-capable light tank and the M22 was an American tank custom-built for glider insertion.

The M551, unlike its predecessors, was airdrop-capable, meaning it could be inserted using parachutes instead of gliders. The tank was also used with the Low-Altitude Parachute Extraction System, an airdrop system that allowed the U.S. to drop the tanks from a few feet to a few dozen feet off the ground.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
An M551 Sheridan is pulled from the back of a C-130 by the Low-Altitude Parachute Extraction System. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Sheridan was crewed by four people and weighed 16 tons, light enough that it could actually swim through the water. It was powered by a 300-hp diesel engine and could hit approximately 45 mph. It could travel 373 miles between fill-ups.

The tank used an experimental 152mm gun that could fire missiles or tank rounds. Even its tank rounds were experimental, though — they used a combustible casing instead of the standard brass casings.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
The M551 Sheridan tank firing a Shillelagh missile. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Sheridan served well in Vietnam and Panama. During Operation Just Cause, it was even airdropped into combat, allowing paratroopers to bring their own fire support to the battlefield.

The tank’s main gun could inflict serious damage at distances of up to 2,000 feet, allowing it to punch out enemy bunkers from outside the range of many enemy guns.

Unfortunately, the light armor of the Sheridan posed serious issues. Some Sheridans were pierced by enemy infantry’s heavy machine guns, meaning crews had to be careful even when there was no enemy armor or anti-armor on the field. Worse, the main gun started to develop a reputation as being unreliable.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
The M551 Sheridan could be airdropped from Air Force cargo planes. Crew would follow it to the ground and get the tank up and running. (GIF: YouTube/Strength through Humility)

Firing the main gun knocked out the electronics for the longer-range missile, meaning that a tank firing on bunkers or enemy armor at close range would usually lose their ability to punch targets at long range. And there was no way to avoid this issue as the Shillelagh missile couldn’t hit targets at less than 2,400 feet.

The only way for an M551 to punch at close range was to give up its capability at long ranges.

By 1980, most cavalry units were moving to the M60 Patton Main Battle Tank, which was actually introduced before the Sheridan. The Patton featured heavier armor, more power, and a more reliable gun. It had also just been upgraded with new “Reliability Improved Selected Equipment,” or “RISE.”

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
The M60 Patton, which is still in service with allied nations today, was seen as more reliable and powerful than the M551. (GIF: YouTube/arronlee33)

According to an Army history pamphlet, one cavalryman told the Stars and Stripes, “We can get the job done with the Sheridan, but most cavalrymen would rather have the tank.”

The airborne forces would keep the Sheridan through 1996, partially because they had no other options. A number of potential replacements were canceled and modern airborne forces just make do without true armored support.

The Army is, once again, looking at new light tanks or heavy-armored vehicles to support paratroopers. The new solution could be another custom-built tank, like the Sheridan. But as of summer 2016, its specifications were up in the air. It just has to be capable of an airdrop, and it has to get the job done.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Shortly after converting to Islam, then-Sgt. Khallid Shabazz struggled to find his way while his devout Lutheran family and fellow soldiers questioned his move.

And with a few Article 15s for insubordination on his record, Shabazz, a field artilleryman at the time, wanted out of the military.

Then, one day while training out in the field, an Army chaplain approached him and struck up a conversation.


“Honestly, it was like a revelation from God,” Shabazz said. “When it hit my ears, I knew that was what I was going to do in life. It was incredible.”

The Christian chaplain had told Shabazz, who was a teacher before he joined the Army, that he should consider being a Muslim chaplain. That way, the chaplain said, he could help other Muslim soldiers in need of guidance.

Shabazz later became a chaplain, and proudly wore his uniform with the Islamic crescent moon stitched onto it. The career change was a catalyst for him, as he went on to achieve several other goals.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz, the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s chaplain, delivers a sermon during a Jummah prayer service, which is held on Fridays, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Sept. 21, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Claudio R. Tejada)

Currently a lieutenant colonel, Shabazz holds two doctorate degrees on top of four master’s degrees. He has written three books and teaches online courses at four colleges. This fall, he plans to teach at a fifth one, the University of Hawaii.

He recently was chosen to study at the National War College, a rare feat for chaplains — only three of them are accepted each year.

And in 2017, Shabazz became the U.S. military’s first Muslim division-level chaplain, a position he held with the 7th Infantry Division.

Now the lead chaplain of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command here, he plans to surpass yet another milestone. That’s when he is slated to be promoted to colonel, which will be the highest rank ever attained by a Muslim chaplain.

“It’s phenomenal first, but it’s unbelievable second,” Shabazz said of his pending promotion.

Becoming Muslim

Born as Michael Barnes, Shabazz grew up in a large Lutheran family in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Once a faithful Lutheran himself, Shabazz often attended church and even graduated from a Christian college.

His religious views changed in the Army when he decided to debate a Muslim soldier on the merits of both religions. He admits he was ill-prepared for the debate and had misinformation about what Muslim people actually believed in.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz, the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s chaplain, delivers a sermon during a Jummah prayer service.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Claudio R. Tejada)

Afterward, he became curious about Islam and began to study the Quran.

“I didn’t want to convert; I was happy where I was,” he said. “I’m a very inquisitive person. If I don’t know something, I’m going to get to know it.”

While Shabazz found more peace and solace by switching faiths, which included the Islamic custom of changing his name, many people in his life stopped talking to him.

His commander at the time, Shabazz said, even asked why he sided with the enemy.

“I was so hurt by those statements,” he said.

He eventually came to realize it was a lack of understanding some people had with Islam, which he was also guilty of until he studied it.

Islam is sometimes distorted by extremist groups, he said, similar to how other religions can be twisted to incite violent acts.

“Whether it’s the Bible, Quran, or the Torah, I want people to understand that religion really has nothing to do with violence,” he said. “99.9 percent of the people in religion are good people.”

Problem solver

As a whole, he said, the Army has improved its inclusiveness of Islamic culture. Religious accommodations allow Muslim soldiers to worship on Fridays and now give female soldiers the option to wear a hijab and males to have a beard.

He also educates leaders and soldiers about Muslim holidays and other traditions.

For those struggling as he once did, he encourages them to pursue knowledge, too. Often, he receives calls from Muslims across the Army asking for help on issues or how to deal with blowback from others in their unit.

“What I ask you to do is, keep doing your job and keep working hard,” he said he tells them. “Go to school at night and stay focused on everything else besides the treatment.

“That’s coming from a person like me who went through that type of turmoil. I was an E-5 and I received some pretty tough treatment back then. I can tell them those stories and I think it helps.”

As a chaplain, he strives to inspire soldiers to be successful, no matter their religious preference. To date, he has helped at least 70 soldiers become officers and many other NCOs gain promotion points by taking college courses.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz speaks during his Change of Stole ceremony inside the Lewis Main Chapel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 23, 2017.

“I’m like a chaplain life coach,” he said, laughing. “I’m telling them don’t quit.”

While proud of his faith, he does not want to be known only as the Muslim chaplain — he is one of five currently in the Army. Unless a soldier wants to talk about religion, he will leave those types of discussions at the door.

“I meet soldiers where they’re at. I attack problems,” he said. “My job is not to be your spiritual advisor, your religious guru. I want to help soldiers with school, with their family, their marital problems, and be almost like an arbitrator or a mediator.”

Life changer

Years before, he had to overcome many of his own issues.

In high school, he failed the 9th and 12th grades. He was not able to graduate with his class and had to go to summer school. His destructive behavior continued throughout his first stint of college, he said.

When he was later able to get a job as a teacher, he made just under ,000 per year.

So, he decided to join the Army as a 23-year-old private to take care of his wife and children.

He also sought discipline and stability, which the Army could provide. As he initially thought it was a good idea to sign up, he admits it was a difficult change.

“I found myself getting into a lot of trouble. Having a 19-year-old sergeant cussing at you and telling you what to do didn’t go over very well with me,” he said, laughing.

Then that chaplain decided to stop and take the time to chat with Shabazz, who had just turned Muslim but still wrestled with his identity.

“I was at my lowest level and the chaplain came by and gave me what I needed at that point,” he said. “I wanted to dedicate my life, and I have, to helping people who are in that position. Not by converting them, but by being a person who can put their arm around them and try to help them get to the other side.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force working on better nuclear missiles

The US Air Force is taking specific steps to expedite a measured, steady developmental plan for its new, next-generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in order to align with the more aggressive US nuclear weapons strategy outlined in the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.

The service is already making initial technological progress on design work and “systems engineering” for a new arsenal of ICBMs to serve well into the 2070s — called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).

The most recent Nuclear Posture Review, released in 2018, calls for an increase in nuclear weapons applications as part of a broader deterrence strategy. The NPR calls for new low-yield, nuclear armed submarine launched ballistic missiles, among other things.


“We are taking the NPR of 2010 and turning it on its head….it included no new mission. This new NPR changes that context and calls for deploying more weapons. Let’s get things done, execute on time,” Gen. Timothy Ray, Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, told reporters at the Air Force Association Convention.

The Air Force plans to fire off new prototype ICBMs in the early 2020s as part of a long-range plan to engineer and deploy next-generation nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missiles by the late 2020s – by building weapons with improved range, durability, targeting technology, and overall lethality, service officials said

“The sum total of what we are doing is a very significant broad enterprise, which reflects the renewed interest,” Ray said.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage

(Northrop Grumman photo)

Northrop Grumman and Boeing teams were awarded Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction deals from the Air Force in 2017 as part of a longer-term developmental trajectory aimed at developing, testing, firing, and ultimately deploying new ICBMs.

Following an initial 3-year developmental phase, the Air Force plans an Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and eventual deployment of the new weapons.

The Air Force plans to award the single EMD contract in late fiscal year 2020.

Overall, the Air Force plans to build as many as 400 new GBSD weapons to modernize the arsenal and replace the 1970s-era Boeing-built Minuteman IIIs.

The new weapons will be engineered with improved guidance technology, boosters, flight systems, and command and control systems, compared to the existing Minuteman III missiles. The weapon will also have upgraded circuitry and be built with a mind to long-term maintenance and sustainability, developers said.

“What is new and different is that we are thinking about all the needed support and sustainment,” Ray said.

Initial subsystem prototypes are included within the scope of the current Boeing and Northrop deals, service developers said.

Senior nuclear weapons developers have told Warrior that upgraded guidance packages, durability, and new targeting technology are all among areas of current developmental emphasis for the GBSD.

The new ICBMs will be deployed roughly within the same geographical expanse in which the current weapons are stationed. In total, dispersed areas across three different sites span 33,600 miles, including missiles in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Minot, North Dakota, and Great Falls, Montana.

“We are taking a near, mid and far term assessment to make sure we do not put all the risk into the same bucket,” Ray said.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

Articles

US military helicopter crashes off southern coast of Yemen

A US military Black Hawk helicopter crashed off the southern coast of Yemen while training its crew, leaving one service member missing, officials said.


Five others aboard the aircraft were rescued, officials said in a statement issued by US Central Command.

The crash took place on August 25. Officials said the accident was under investigation.

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Company C, 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment. Photo from DoD.

Asked if the crash involved another special forces raid, Central Command told The Associated Press that “this was a routine training event specifically for US military personnel.”

“Training events such as this are routinely held by US forces within a theater of operations in order to maintain their proficiency within the operating environment,” CENTCOM told the AP in a statement.

“Commanders deemed this location appropriate and safe for a routine training event, considering both the operational environment and weather conditions at the time.”

How the Pentagon spent $28M on Afghan uniforms with the wrong camouflage
A Missouri Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter (left) sits next to an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter on the flightline. USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik.

Yemen is located on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

The United States has been carrying out airstrikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen, with at least 80 launched since the end of February.

A small number of ground raids using US Special Operations forces have also taken place, including one in January which resulted in the death of a US Navy Seal.

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