How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy - We Are The Mighty
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How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

The newly minted Secretary of the Navy published a call to action this week, distributing a vision statement to the force that urged performance improvements, implementation of new ideas, and faster execution of goals throughout the organization.


Richard V. Spencer was sworn in as the 76th Secretary of the Navy Aug. 3, days after his confirmation to the post. Spencer, a former Marine aviator and past member of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board with a long career in financial management spoke during his July confirmation hearing about his plans to shake up the organization, referring multiple times to Spencer Johnson’s business book “Who Moved My Cheese?” to indicate that incentives and thought processes inside the service needed to change.

“There’s a lot of cheese-moving that has to be done,” he said.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
Richard V. Spencer is sworn in as the 76th Secretary of the Navy by William O’Donnell, Department of the Navy administrative assistant. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan B. Trejo.

In Spencer’s vision statement published Aug. 29, he stated that people, capabilities, and processes were the service’s priorities, and speed and results had to be at the forefront in achieving naval goals.

“We are an integrated Naval force that will provide maritime dominance for the nation,” he wrote.

“To accomplish this in the face of current and emerging challenges, we must renew our sense of urgency and speed of execution throughout the entire organization. Our core values and accountability at the individual and organizational levels will shape our culture and guide our actions.”

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer greets senior chief petty officers selected for master chief after an all-hands call with Sailors at Naval Station Mayport. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Armando Gonzales.

A spokesman for Spencer’s office, Lt. Joshua Kelsey, told Military.com Spencer’s actions since taking office also spoke to his priorities.

In a recent trip to Florida to speak to sailors aboard the destroyer The Sullivans, Kelsey said he cut his tour of the ship short because he knew sailors were already in formation and he didn’t want them to wait for him. Spencer also abbreviated his remarks so he could get to the troops’ questions, Kelsey said.

“He’s going around the fleet and getting input from the sailors and Marines; he’s wanting to know what’s on their mind and what problems they see,” he said. “He’s made it a priority to get out and see everyone. Not just to see, but to actually hear from them.”

Recent stops for Spencer have included a visit to Naval Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee; to Philadelphia to speak at a National Association of Destroyers Veterans event; to Naval Air Stations Mayport and Jacksonville in Florida; to Mobile, Alabama for the christening of the littoral combat ship Charleston; and to San Diego, where he toured Space and Naval War Systems Command and Balboa Naval Medical Center.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
Damage to the portside is visible as the Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. Photo by US 7th Fleet Public Affairs.

In the short time Spencer has held his office, the Navy has been rocked by one of the worst calamities in recent eras: the Aug. 21 collision of the destroyer John S. McCain with a Liberian-flagged tanker, an event that resulted in the deaths of 10 sailors. It came just months after a June collision involving the destroyer Fitzgerald that left seven dead, and the events raised grave questions for the Navy about the state of its surface warfare and pre-deployment training and readiness.

Spencer’s vision statement does not name any specific recent events affecting the Navy, but includes a broader call to excellence in recruiting and retaining top talent, meeting the highest ethical standards, and improving training, modernization, and maintenance to improve readiness and lethality.

“I call upon you to make every effort count and to align your goals with our priorities,” he wrote. “I look forward to making progress alongside you in these areas.”

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The next Navy sub could be built with 3D printing

Today it costs the U.S. Navy about $2.6 billion and just under 2.5 years to build a Virginia-class sub. But a joint endeavor by the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense could greatly reduce those costs going forward.


According to a video by Business Insider, the joint project involves using a 3D printer to hake the hull of a mini-submarine.

3D printing has been around for a while – and in 2015, a Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado flew with parts that had been made that way. But this latest effort takes things to a whole new level. It also hit the news when Defense Distributed released plans for 3D-printed firearms.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
Members of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two (SDVT-2) prepare to launch one of the team’s SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV) from the back of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) on a training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Andrew McKaskle (RELEASED)

The mini-submarine in the video appears to be very similar to SEAL Delivery Vehicles. These are used to help SEAL infiltrate in and out. Normally these hulls cost about $800,000 to make over a period of months, but 3D printing can reduce the cost by 90 percent and create the hull in a matter of weeks.

The logistical advantages for 3D printing are also significant – offering the ability to custom-design needed parts. That saves time in getting a plane or vehicle back into the fight, and that time could save lives.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
3D Printing. Photo by Jonathan Juursema.

One prototype has been built, and a second is planned. They will be tested by the Navy.

If all goes well, these printed SDVs could be in service by 2019. To see more about this, watch the video below.

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DARPA designed a kit to make any plane or helicopter a drone

Move over, Jennifer Garner, there is a new ALIAS that’s more awesome than the show you were on for five seasons. This one, though, has been developed by DARPA, not JJ Abrams.


According to a report from Voactiv.com, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has unveiled the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System. This system, already tested on the Cessna C-208 Caravan, the Sikorsky S-76 and the Diamond DA-42, took about six months to develop through Phase 2 of the program.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
A three-man Iraqi aircrew from Squadron 3 fired an AGM-114 Hellfire missile from an AC-208 Caravan at a target on a bombing range near Al Asad Air Base. (Photo: courtesy Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq Public Affairs)

Two versions of ALIAS were competing for the development contract. One was from Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky, the other was from Aurora Flight Systems. Both versions involve the use of a tablet computer (like an iPad or Kindle Fire) to fly the plane.

“In Phase 2, we exceeded our original program objectives with two performers, Sikorsky and Aurora Flight Sciences, each of which conducted flight tests on two different aircraft,” DARPA program manager Scott Wierzbanowski said in a release.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
The Queens Helicopter Flight S-76 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

DARPA selected Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky’s version for Phase 3 of the ALIAS program. Their version of ALIAS can be installed under the cabin floor, not taking up any space in the aircraft or helicopter, while quickly connecting to the flight systems of the plane or helicopter. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and NASA have all expressed interest in this system.

For a sneak peek at one way this system could work, here is a video released by Aurora Flight Systems:

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This machine gun was big with Green Beret, CIA agents, and the cast of ‘Star Trek’

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy


It’s another weekly episode of Star Trek: The Original Series: The title – “Bread and Circuses.”

This time, Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy beam down to Planet 892-IV, a planet identical to Earth in almost every way – except Rome never fell.

Along with scantily clad space babes and gladiatorial games there are gun-toting Roman legionnaires. Not only did Rome never fall in this story, but apparently Denmark rises to become supplier of submachine guns to the empire, and a pretty badass submachine gun at that.

They are toting the Madsen M-50 9-millimeter submachine guns by Dansk Industri Syndikat. Its simplicity and ease of maintenance are stellar even if its popularity back on Earth was somewhat limited.

The M-50 is an open bolt, blowback submachine gun that fires only in full-auto at a cyclic rate of 550 rounds per minute. It has a 32-round box magazine and is slightly more than 30 inches long with the stock unfolded.

However, it’s most unusual feature is the way the operator field-strips the weapon. A barrel nut holds two halves of the hinged sheet metal receiver together – when the operator closes the stock and removes the barrel nut, he can open the receiver like it is clamshell housing, exposing the inner parts of the gun.

All the parts such as the bolt, operating spring and guide, and the barrel easily remove for cleaning. When finished, the person cleaning the weapon just reverses the process and snaps the sides of the receiver shut and replaces the barrel nut.

Besides, it looks exotic and foreign – probably one of the reasons movie and television armorers loved using it.

In the original Planet of the Apes films the M-50 was mocked-up in a futuristic shell to make the gun look even more alien – perfectly suited for a world where apes carried the guns and made the laws.

Also in 1968, the film Ice Station Zebra portrayed Soviet paratroopers carrying the gun, no doubt because of its foreign look.

Even legendary cinematic Italian crime families packed the gun. In The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Corleone “made men” are carrying M-50s as they provide security around the various family compounds depicted in the movie.

But “movie gun” was not what the Madsen’s manufacturer intended. In a world full of cheap, mass-produced World War II submachine guns like the M-3 “Grease Gun” or the Sten,  the Madsen put up with a lot abuse without jamming.

The Special Forces Foreign Weapons Handbook describes it as a “well-made weapon” that “incorporates low-cost production features, sturdiness and simplicity of disassembly seldom found in weapons of this type” and that it possessed a stock that was “one of the most rigid types available and the weapon can be fired as easily with the stock folded as it can with the stock unfolded.”

Latin American military and police units used it widely. During the 1950s, Dansk Industri Syndikat sold thousands of M-50s to Latin American countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

Brazil also purchased the gun, but then produced its own licensed version called the M-953 or the INA – for Industria Nacional de Armas of Sao Paulo.  The Brazilian makers of the INA originally chambered the weapon in .45 ACP, a caliber popular with most of their nation’s armed forces and police.

However, during the early 1970s Brazil’s defense ministers decided that 9-millimeter Parabellum would be a better choice in ammunition. They eventually ordered a massive conversion program to re-chamber the weapons in 9-millimeter as well as add a select-fire modification.

Special Forces and CIA operators during the Vietnam War frequently carried the M-50 or armed the “indigs” with the gun.

In South Vietnam, Green Berets frequently placed the weapon in the hands of the montagnards, the indigenous hill people who defended villages against the Viet Cong and served as rapid response forces alongside special operators.

Small enough to be secreted inside their woven pack baskets, M-50s gave the montagnards real firepower as they scouted hills and trails for Viet Cong activity.

Despite obvious interest in the M-50, sales of the weapon were good but not great. Its biggest competition was the veritable flood of surplus submachine guns from World War II that inundated the military market during the 1950s.

So, it became a movie gun – whether it was in “space, the final frontier” (at least as it was portrayed on television) or in dozens of movies on the big screen.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new ‘unlimited range’ missile just embarrassed the Russian military

A Russian cruise missile that the country touted as having “practically unlimited” range appears to be falling short, sources with knowledge of a US intelligence report told CNBC.

The cruise missile, which Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled at a Russian Federal Assembly in March 2018, only flew for around two minutes and traveled 22 miles before it lost control and crashed, CNBC reported May 21, 2018. Another missile test reportedly lasted just four seconds with a distance of five miles.


Russia tested the missile four times between November 2017, and February 2018, at the behest of senior officials, even though engineers voiced doubt over the program, according to CNBC’s sources.

Putin previously touted a new generation of weapons in a presentation that displayed missile trajectories going from Russia to the US. In addition to the cruise missile, Putin teased unmanned underwater drones purportedly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and a hypersonic glide vehicle.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
graphic showingu00a0an ICBM payload in space.

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” Putin said in a speech. “You have failed to contain Russia.”

Russia’s cruise missile capabilities may have missed the mark, but sources said it succeeded in other aspects. The hypersonic glide vehicle, which is believed to be able to travel five times the speed of sound, would render US countermeasures useless and could become operational by 2020, according to CNBC.

“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” US Air Force General John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March 2018.

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

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37 Awesome Photos Of Life On A US Navy Carrier

An aircraft carrier is like a small city at sea, except this city is armed to the teeth.


Onboard, thousands of sailors work, sleep, and play for months at a time while deployed around the world. But what’s life really like?

We rounded up 37 photos from our own collection and the Navy’s official Flickr page to give you an idea.

A day at sea begins with reveille — military-speak for “wake up” —  announced over the ship’s loudspeaker, known as the 1MC.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
 

Some sailors start their morning in one of the many cardio gyms onboard.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

While others hit the free weights.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

On any one of the mess decks, culinary specialists start preparing to feed the thousands of sailors that will show up for breakfast.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

And sailors file through the line and fuel up for the day ahead.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

On the flight deck, sailors need to be extra careful.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

The flight deck is the world’s most dangerous place to work.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

 

A step in the wrong direction could turn propellers into meat grinders.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Jets launch around the clock.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

And darkness doesn’t slow them down.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Sailors on the flight deck work in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. As a former sailor myself, I can say we sometimes forget what day it is.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Nights at sea are a stargazer’s dream.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We fix planes in the hangar.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We squeeze them into tight spots.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Teamwork is essential.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Together we can move planes.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Even ships.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

No matter what, a buddy will always have your back.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Work can be exhausting. Every sailor sleeps in a small space called a rack.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

But sailors quickly learn to sleep anywhere.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Anywhere.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Sometimes we get to dress like pirates to honor the long-standing tradition of “Crossing the Line.”

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

At the “Crossing the Line” ceremony Pollywogs endure physical hardships before being inducted into the mysteries of the deep.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Only then can King Neptune and his royal court transform a slimy Pollywog into an honorable Shellback.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

This tradition is older than anyone can remember.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Sometimes when we have downtime we go for a dip in the ocean.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We play basketball in the hangar.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Or volleyball.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We sing on the flight deck.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Or relax in the berthing – Navy speak for living quarters.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

The best part about being a sailor is traveling.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We visit foreign ports.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We play as hard as we work.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

Sometimes we visit places civilians will never see.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We never forget our sacrifices.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

We honor traditions.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

And when we sail off into the sunset, we know tomorrow is a new adventure.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

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‘American Sniper’ Is A Must-See Film That Brilliantly Honors The Memory Of Chris Kyle

“American Sniper” opens looking down the barrel of a military sniper rifle. The view moves in close to reveal the bearded face of Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper) behind the scope. He watches U.S. Marines below him searching houses before spotting an Iraqi mother and a young boy.


“She’s got an RKG Russian grenade, she’s handing it to the kid,” he says. And with that the audience enters the sniper’s world of split-second decisions. Will he kill a child in order to protect Marines?

Director Clint Eastwood interrupts the opening tension and goes back to Kyle’s childhood in Texas. He grows up, he attends school, he becomes a bull-riding cowboy.

Then he watches news coverage of the twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa. The young Kyle is compelled to do something about it, and he decides to join the Navy to become a SEAL.

Eastwood doesn’t linger on these scenes for long. In short order Kyle finds himself an elite Navy SEAL sniper in Iraq with a his pregnant wife (played by Sienna Miller) waiting for him stateside.

The movie follows the Iraq war from Kyle’s perspective, often behind the scope of his rifle. There are plenty of action sequences, and all come off as accurate and authentic. The technical details of sniper life are meticulously captured.  But where the movie really shines is in the realistic portrayal of Kyle’s post-traumatic stress as it grows over his four tours to Iraq.

Military movies have a tendency to give a cartoonish view of the “damaged veteran” coming home from the war and losing it (“Brothers” comes to mind), but screenwriter Jason Hall and director Eastwood manage to avoid a similar outcome. And Cooper handles both the subtleties and the chaos of the warrior’s mind with a deft touch. No cliches here.

Watch WATM’s exclusive one-on-one interview with “American Sniper” screenwriter Jason Hall:

In “American Sniper,” we see a heroic man who endures terrible trauma in war, and like many, he’s affected by it. He’s distant, doesn’t really want to talk about what he’s done, and has problems connecting with his loved ones. A similar story plays out among real veterans with PTSD.

With the film’s more accurate portrayal of PTSD in Kyle, viewers are allowed to see how specific events — including another time later in the movie where Kyle has to decide whether to shoot and kill a child — end up shaping him as not only the deadliest American sniper, but also a man deeply affected by what he had to do.

Cooper’s brilliant portrayal will serve the uninitiated with a realistic look at post-traumatic stress and its affect on some veterans. Viewers will see that Kyle had problems, but ultimately he was able to manage it and become a better husband and father in the process.

With countless Marines saved by his efforts while watching over them in Iraq, the now-discharged Kyle meets with a Marine he’s trying to help overcome PTSD. And as we know, Kyle’s story doesn’t close on an uplifting note as he is murdered at a Texas gun range in Feb. 2013.

It’s a sad (and perhaps too abrupt) closing to an incredible film, but it serves Kyle’s legacy well. He lived and ultimately died trying to save lives.

Overall “American Sniper” is a very well-done war film, and Bradley Cooper brilliantly captures the essence of Chris Kyle.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Moscow reacts warily to NATO’s largest military exercise in 25 years

Russia’s political-military leadership frequently criticizes the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for its enlargement and for staging military exercises close to Russian borders. This pattern has intensified since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014 and the subsequent downturn in its relations with the United States and its allies.

Surprisingly, therefore, Moscow’s official reaction has been somewhat muted during the current run up to the active phases of NATO’s largest exercise in Europe in 25 years—though some Russian military experts have been making critical comments to the media.

On January 23, the US Department of Defense confirmed that a redeployment of United States military personnel had commenced, transferring forces from the homeland to Europe as part of the NATO exercise Defender Europe 2020. The wide-spanning maneuvers will focus on the Baltic States, Poland and Georgia, involving more than 36,000 personnel from 11 countries (Lenta.ru, January 26, 2020).

Russian news outlets have highlighted that this year’s Defender Europe exercise scenario is based on a war breaking out on the continent in 2028, between NATO and an enemy close to its borders. Additional reports stressed the scale of the exercise, with 28,000 U.S. military personnel participating, including the deployment of 20,000 from the United States. Referring to the magnitude of the drills, Vadim Kozyulin, a professor at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences, compared them to the 1983 Able Archer, which resulted in Soviet forces being placed on alert.

Despite the scale of Defender Europe 2020 not even coming close to Able Archer 1983, a number of the upcoming exercise’s features may well cause concern for the Russian defense establishment (Lenta.ru, January 26, 2020). Kozyulin asserted, “Such large-scale exercises will seriously aggravate the situation. Moreover, the main events will be held in Poland, Georgia and the Baltic countries, which not only border Russia, but also [exhibit] an unfriendly attitude toward our country” (Km.ru, January 27).

These reports also stressed a number of aspects of the exercise that may help explain the lack of an official response from Moscow thus far. Defender Europe will become an annual NATO exercise with a large-scale iteration planned for even-numbered years and smaller versions occurring in between. US military personnel will constitute the bulk of the force this year, with European allies collectively providing only 8,000 personnel.

As Russian analysts expect, moving the forces, equipment and hardware will prove quite challenging to the North Atlantic Alliance forces. Moreover, Defender Europe 2020 is the first exercise of its kind, which may have persuaded Russia’s defense leadership to cautiously study the exercise in all its various elements before responding to it (Km.ru, January 27, 2020; Lenta.ru, January 26, 2020; Rusvesna.su, January 25, 2020).

In a detailed commentary in Izvestia, the Moscow-based military analyst Anton Lavrov assesses the implications of the exercise, and identifies areas that will be closely monitored by Russia. Lavrov notes that Defender Europe will work out how the Alliance will fight a “war of the future” by testing an experimental strategy and some of its latest military equipment, adding, “Almost 500 American tanks, self-propelled guns and heavy infantry fighting vehicles, hundreds of aircraft, [as well as] tens of thousands of wheeled vehicles will take part in the exercises.”

The force buildup for the maneuvers will continue until April, and then NATO will conduct a series of drills forming part of the overall exercise. Crucially, this will provide an opportunity for the US to road-test its latest doctrinal development, namely “multi-domain battle,” which adds space and cyberspace to the traditional domains of land, sea and air. Lavrov states, “The concept will be tested in a series of command and staff exercises of the allied forces” (Izvestia, January 26, 2020).

The exercise divides into three related elements: transferring 20,000 US troops from the homeland to Europe and back again, moving US personnel based in Europe, and conducting a series of smaller exercises alongside allied forces.

Lavrov also points to the fact that Defender Europe 2020 will rehearse both defensive and offensive operations. One feature of the offensive operational aspects relates to US airborne forces conducting three joint airborne assault landings. In each case, the leading role is assigned to US forces. In the drop into Latvia, they will be joined by forces from Spain and Italy; in Lithuania, they are aided by personnel from Poland; and an additional multilateral airdrop is planned for Georgia (Izvestia, January 26, 2020).

As noted, one key challenge relates to the logistical tasks of moving troops and equipment over such vast distances. US military personnel and equipment will land at airports across Europe and seaports in Antwerp (Belgium), Vlissingen (Netherlands), Bremerhaven (Germany) and Paldiski (Estonia).

Russian military expert Vyacheslav Shurygin explained the nature of the challenge: “The transport infrastructure of Europe has not encountered such large-scale movements of military equipment for a long time.” Indeed, the redeployment of forces and hardware involved cannot be compared to standard US battle group rotations (Izvestia, January 26, 2020).

Clearly, one of the objectives of the exercise is to assess the efficiency of these deployments into a potential theater of military operations. Lavrov adds, “Even for the modern US Army, the transfer of heavy tank and infantry divisions from continent to continent is a difficult, lengthy and expensive task. Twenty thousand units of equipment that the Americans will use in the maneuvers will arrive from the US, and another 13,000 will be received by the military from storage bases on the spot.

In Europe, there are now four large storages of American military equipment. Each one has everything, from tanks and artillery to trucks and medical vehicles, to equip a tank brigade. Another similar base is being built in Poland and will be commissioned in 2021″ (Izvestia, January 26, 2020).

One commentary in the Russian media stressed not only that NATO was deploying forces for exercises close to Russia’s borders but pointedly also referenced Belarus, which fits with Moscow’s scenario planning for its Zapad series of strategic military exercises: “However, the fact that such a powerful group of US and NATO forces is practicing deployments near the borders of Belarus and Russia, against the background of a growing American military presence in Poland and the Baltic countries, is a matter of concern” (Rusvesna.su, January 25, 2020).

It remains to be seen whether Russia’s political-military leadership will continue to be cautious about Defender Europe, restricting its criticism to public rhetoric, or if it will ultimately try to engage the Alliance in political or information warfare on this front.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

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Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

The territory controlled by the ISIS is vast and spreads across wide areas of Iraq and Syria. To date ISIS has proved resilient in the face of American airstrikes, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Iranian-backed Shia militias, battle-hardened Syrian rebels, Asad regime forces, and even other jihadist groups.


How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
Institute for the Study of War

In 2014, ISIS surprised the world with a string of military victories in Iraq, even threatening the central government in Baghdad before American and Kurdish intervention. The swath of territory under their control has not shrunk by much since then.

So how can a paramilitary organization with no recognized trading partners maintain an economy, infrastructure, and sustained military campaigns on multiple fronts? By any means necessary, it appears. Some bloggers suggest Turkey is funding them, or the U.S. government, or even payday lenders. The reality is much more simple and ISIS remains one of the most well-funded paramilitary terrorist organizations ever, with an estimated net worth of $2 billion.

Here are ISIS’ 10 main sources of funding:

1. Oil Smuggling

ISIS captured oil wells all over Iraq and in Northern Syria in 2014. With refined gasoline running near $7.50 per gallon across the border in Turkey, any relief from those kinds of prices is a welcome relief, even if that cheap oil comes from a group like ISIS. The terror group controls 80,000 of Iraq’s total 3 million daily barrels of oil, but the area of oil fields under their control is the size of the UK. In Syria, ISIS controls sixty percent of total production capacity and is selling oil at a rock-bottom $25 per barrel. As of October 2015, the market price of oil was $43. Cross-border smuggling of cheap crude oil earns ISIS and estimated $1.5-3.6 million each day, maybe as high as $800 million each year.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

2. Donations from Angel Investors

ISIS is a fundamentalist Sunni Islamist group. Their ideology is close to the Wahhabi brand of Islam espoused by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It shouldn’t come as a surprise there are wealthy oil magnates in the Gulf’s Sunni monarchies, like Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates who share ISIS’ core beliefs and are willing to send money to help them. Experts believe angel investors in Qatar are sending the largest portion of individual investments. Their interests may lie more in the overthrow of the regime of Bashar al-Asad, whose government supported Shia muslims in Syria. This income source comes to the tune of $40 million over the past two years.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

3. Organized Crime

Calling ISIS “thugs” isn’t just a way of demeaning those who fight, work for, or otherwise support the group. As the only form of law enforcement in the areas under its control, ISIS has a “massive” organized crime operation. It demands large sums of money from those in its territory. Anyone who wants to start a business, withdraw from their bank account, or just be alive are taxed on almost every aspect of daily life. These taxes also extend to dams, granaries, and even oil fields. These taxes can be as high as ten percent per transaction. They’ve even been known to take necklaces and earrings off of women.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy
It’s really weird that they pose like this.

4. Looting Banks and Museums

When ISIS captured Mosul in 2014, it famously looted the central bank, cashing in on a large amount of money. It also loots smaller banks as it swarms through new territory under its control. In Mosul alone, ISIS took over 12 branches. All told, experts believe $1.5 billion was captured by the terror group in the past two years.  Bank robbery plays a part, but the terror organization will also loot museums and sell valuable artifacts through towns on the Turkish border with Syria. 1/3 of Iraqi archeological sites are under ISIS control and the looting of these sites for artifacts to sell on the black market is the group’s second largest income source.

5. Hostages and Kidnapping

Capturing Westerners and other foreigners is a major source of income for ISIS. Knowing full well the group will fulfill its word to brutally murder those it captures, hostages for profit earns ISIS an estimated $12 million per month, and at least $20 million in 2014. American journalists Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff were held by ISIS for ransom, but because ransoming the men would have been illegal, their families didn’t pay and the two were beheaded. France is known to have paid $14 million for four captured journalists. For locals, the price is $500 to $200,000.

How this former Marine pilot plans to run the US Navy

6. Illegal Drugs Sex Trafficking

An Iraqi in Qatar told Newsweek nearly 4,000 women and girls from the Yazidi minority in Iraqi were forced into marriage or sold for sex. There are many more women from other minorities. Girls as young as 14 are forced to either convert to Islam and be wives or be sold into slavery. Reports of cocaine and methamphetamine use are rampant, but more reliable reports indicate ISIS grows marijuana on the outskirts of major cities for sale in Turkey. ISIS is also known to smuggle cigarettes and alcohol, all of which is strictly forbidden under their brand of Islam.

7. Bitcoin

Bitcoin is not a regulated currency, and Israeli intelligence agencies acknowledged they know ISIS is using the currency for fundraising efforts in the United States.

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8. Fake Foreign Aid

Unregistered charities worldwide provide ISIS with a method of laundering money from various sources and donors, turning the money into “humanitarian aid.” Fighters will coordinate dropoffs of the aid payments through international data messaging services like Kik and WhatsApp. $11 million of fake aid came to ISIS through Qatar since the start of Syrian Civil War in 2011.

9. Internet Cafes

In Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS territory, there were less than 20 internet cafes in the city before the rise of ISIS. Since then, the number has grown to more than 500. According to Syrian activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently the city is now dependent on expensive satellite internet connections controlled by the militants.

10. Fines for Breaking Sharia Law (al-Hisbah)

The terror organization charges steep fines for breaking strict Islamic laws, for everything from smoking tobacco to arriving late to the mosque for prayers. As brutal as the group’s methods are, people living under ISIS rule can now pay fines to avoid torture or execution. Even actual crimes like theft and fraud can be mitigated with payments in Syrian currency.

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ISIS burns through cash, spending on military hardware, equipment, infrastructure, safe houses, mass transportation, food, and its own high-quality media center, al-Hayat (the life) and a magazine called Dabiq, not to mention tens of thousands of fighters operating in the fieldNo matter how much the group spends, it makes an estimated $6 million from these sources every day. There may be no limit to how much the group can expend in its effort to further its ideology.

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Here is how a war between the United States and Iran could start

The recent incident involving the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) and an Iranian speedboat is a reminder that the South China Sea is not the world’s only maritime flashpoint.


The Persian Gulf is such a hot spot as well — mostly with the many instances where Iranian vessels have harassed American ships, with the closest encounter being within 150 yards. When you are talking about ships weighing thousands of tons, that is getting awfully close. Ships cannot turn and stop on a dime. As a result, an incident like the one involving USS Mahan could very well touch off a war.

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The Flight II Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72). (U.S. Navy photo)

How so?

First there’s the risk of the warning shots actually hitting the incoming vessel.

There’s also the possibility that a suicide speedboat will hit an American ship. The October 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) took place in port with a small fiberglass boat.

Iran’s “fast attack craft” that have a history of harassing American ships are, in some cases, larger, and pack heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. Those incidents have also produced warnings of a “tactical miscalculation” that could lead to an armed conflict.

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Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. (Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi)

Something like the Boghammer, which became notorious for its attacks on tankers in the Iran-Iraq War, displaces about six and a half tons. It has a top speed of 45 knots (or nautical miles per hour). When these speedboats get within 1,000 yards, they are less than half a knot away — and at top speed, an American ship could have as little as 40 seconds to react. A Boghammer could easily carry a murder-suicide bomb similar to that used to attack the Cole.

The damage one of those boats can do is best reflected in the Cole attack. Only this time the damage would be suffered while at sea, not while refueling in a port where assistance is readily available. It cost $250 million to repair the Cole, which was out of action for 14 months, according to MaritimeTerrorism.com.

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USS Cole (DDG 67) is towed from Aden by the tug USNS Catawba (ATF 168). (U.S. Navy photo)

Understandably, an American ship commander would be very nervous about the possibility of such an attack.

All it would take would be one commander deciding that the Iranian “fast attack craft” posed a threat to his ship; defensively sinking the craft could kick off Iranian retaliation. American and Iranian forces would start exchanging fire in small naval and air actions. The United States would probably win most of those — albeit in some cases, there might be damage to ships or aircraft.

Iran, though, would likely start launching ballistic missiles at Israel, trying to use the same gambit Saddam Hussein did in 1991.

The Iranian-American War would then be on in earnest.

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Watch China launch planes from its only aircraft carrier

Carriers are awesome. Even bad carriers are awesome. They’re floating fortresses with airstrips on the roof. They’re the original man-made islands.


And that’s why, potential adversary or no, China’s single aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is pretty cool. It’s a smaller carrier built on a rusted relic purchased from Ukraine in 1998 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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(Photo: YouTube/CGTN)

The former Soviet carrier was destined for a glitzy life as a floating casino, but the Chinese company that bought it gave the hull to the People’s Liberation Navy and it was treated for corrosion, given new engines and other major systems, and sent back to sea as the Liaoning, a combatant and training ship.

Now, the Liaoning is China’s only aircraft carrier in service, though another is almost ready for commissioning and more are reportedly under construction. The ship supports up to 24 J-15 fighters, though it typically carries fewer.

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(Photo: YouTube/CGTN)

The Liaoning is a darling of the Chinese propaganda effort, and its J-15 “Flying Shark” fighters are popular as well.

See China’s recent video of their launching J-15s off the Liaoning into the South China Sea below:

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These Military Veterans Created Your Favorite Comic Books

It’s hard to imagine comic books or the current filmscape without Batman, X-Men, or Captain America. These superheroes are the creations of a handful of men that served in the military.


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Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson – Army

According to Maj. Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s biography, he began publishing Fun Comics, the first publication consisting of original material rather than reprints of newspaper comic strips, in the mid-1930s.

The History Channel’s documentary “Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked,” reveals that he was also responsible for launching the golden era of comic books with the first publication of Action Comics and the Superman character in 1938. Action Comics would eventually evolve to become DC Comics, which along with Marvel Comics are the two largest comic book companies in the world.

But before he entered the comic book business, the Major had a military career that began in 1909 when he entered the Manlius Military Academy in New York at the age of 19. After graduation he joined the U.S. Cavalry and quickly moved through the ranks.  By the age of 27 he became one of the youngest majors in the Army’s history.

He saw action in Mexico as commander of the 9th Cavalry under Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing. He fought in the Philippines against the Muslim Moro.  During World War I he was a diplomatic liaison and intelligence officer to the Japanese embassy.

His military troubles began when he wrote an open letter to President Warren Harding in The New York Times criticizing the Army’s chain of command. According to his biography, there was an assassination attempt on his life shortly after that. He was shot by a guard while entering his quarters at Fort Dix. The bullet entered his temple but missed his brain.

He was court-martialed after his recovery. But with the help of his mother and public lobbying of newspapers, senators, and Teddy Roosevelt’s family, he was allowed back into the ranks. He was discharged a few months later and began to pursue his literary career that would eventually lead to comic books.

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Marvel Comics

In 1939, the success of Superman and Action Comics would inspire the creation of Timely Publications and its first issue, “Marvel Comics #1.” The first issue sold out of its 80,000 copies and prompted Moe Goodman – the founder of Action Comics – to produce a second printing that sold about 800,000 copies. With a success on his hands, Goodman began to assemble his comic book team and hired his first official employee, writer-artist Joe Simon.

In 1941, Simon brought on Jack Kirby, and together they created Captain America. Inspired by current events, the patriotic superhero became a hit. The demand for Captain America caused Timely to hire a third employee, inker Syd Shores. But after only ten issues, Simon and Kirby left the company for National Comics (DC Comics) in 1942. At that point assistant Stan Lee stepped up as editor.

When the U.S. entered World War II, Joe Simon enlisted in the Coast Guard; Syd shores and Stan Lee enlisted in the Army, and Jack Kirby was drafted into the Army.

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Joe Simon – Coast Guard

Simon’s autobiography states that he served with the Combat Art Corps in Washington, D.C. as part of the Coast Guard’s Public Information Division. Simon created “True Comics,” which was published by DC Comics and syndicated nationally by Parents magazine. “True Comics” led to to the creation of “Adventure Is My Career,” a comic aimed at driving Coast Guard recruitment.

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Jack Kirby – Army

Kirby was drafted into the Army in 1943 and stationed in the 5th Division as an infantryman. He saw action in France, earned two battle stars and a severe case of frostbite that almost led to the amputation of his feet. After his service, he re-teamed with Simon at Harvey Comics.

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Syd Shores – Army

Shores served in the Army from 1942 to 1946 in France and Germany until he was wounded in Metz, France, which earned him Purple Heart. After his four-month recovery in England, he was re-assigned to an engineering unit and then to the Occupation Forces in Germany before finally being discharged. When he arrived home, he took his job back at Timely and once again took over Captain America (according to a short biography by Alan Hewetson).

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Stan Lee – Army

Stan Lee’s biography states that he enlisted in the Army’s Signal Corps where he wrote manuals, training films, slogans and the occasional cartoon. He was one of the nine soldiers with the playwright designation. After WWII, like Shores, returned to Timely Comics.

For more on this subject watch he following documentary on the history of comic books, from the first appearance of Superman through today’s characters:

DarkStar659, YouTube

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The 15 coolest unit nicknames in the US military

Every unit in the military has a nickname, but some are way cooler than others. We looked around for some of the best nicknames across the military. Here’s what we found:


1. Hell On Wheels

2nd Armored Division, US Army: The 2nd Armored Division was active from 1940 to 1995 and was once commanded by Gen. Patton. It played an important role during World War II and was deactivated shortly after the Gulf War. Gen. Patton gave the unit the nickname after witnessing its maneuvers in 1941.

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2. Old Iron Sides

1st Armored Division, US Army: The “Old Ironsides” nickname was given by Maj. Gen. Bruce R. Magruder after Gen. Patton named his division “Hell on Wheels.” Feeling that his division should have an awesome nickname too, Magruder announced a contest to find a suitable name before settling on “Old Ironsides,” as an homage to the famous Navy warship.

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3. Bloody Bucket

28th Infantry Division, US Army: Originally nicknamed “Keystone Division,” the unit acquired the nickname “Bloody Bucket” by German forces during World War II because the red keystone patch resembled a bucket.

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4. Red Bull

34th Infantry Division, US Army: This National Guard unit participated in World War I and World War II and was deactivated in 1945. It was once again activated in 1991 and since 2001 its soldiers have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and homeland security operations.

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5. Yellow Jackets

Electronic Attack Squadron 138 (VAQ-138), US Navy: This EA-18G Growler squadron based out of Whidbey Island, WA has a fitting name for what it does. It buzzes adversaries with electronic attacks rendering them useless.

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6. Gunslingers

Strike Fighter Squadron 105 (VFA-105), US Navy: This squadron was originally commissioned in 1952 as the “Mad Dogs” and was decommissioned in 1959. It was recommissioned as the “Gunslingers” in 1969 to participate in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin and has remained active ever since.

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7. Diamondbacks

Strike Fighter Squadron 102 (VFA-102), US Navy: Based out of NAF Atsugi, Japan, the Diamondbacks are attached to Carrier Air Wing 5 and deploys aboard the USS George Washington (CVN-73).

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8. Bounty Hunters

Strike Fighter Squadron 2 (VFA-2), US Navy: Based out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA, this F/A-18F Super Hornet Squadron is attached to Carrier Air Wing 2 and deploys aboard the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

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9. The Professionals

2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, U.S. Marine Corps: Based out of Camp Pendleton, CA, this infantry battalion consists of about 1000 Marines and sailors.

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10. Betio Bastards

3rd Battalion 2nd Marines, US Marine Corps: Based out of Camp Lejeune, NC, this infantry battalion has about 800 Marines and sailors.

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11. Destroyers

2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, US Marine Corps: Based out of Camp Lejeune, NC, this battalion’s primary weapon is the 8-wheeled LAV-25.

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12. Magnificent Bastards

2nd Battalion, 4the Marines, U.S. Marine Corps: Based out of Camp Pendleton, CA, this infantry battalion has about 1,100 Marines and sailors.

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13. Kickin’ Ass

148 Fighter Squadron, US Air Force: Based out of Tucson Air National Guard Base, AZ, this F-16A/B Fighting Falcon squadron’s main role is to train foreign military pilots.

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14. Headhunters

80th Fighter Squadron, US Air Force: Based out of Kunsan Air Force Base, South Korea, this F-16 Fighting Falcon squadron has served in operations in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

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15. Rocketeers

336th Fighter Squadron, US Air Force: Based out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, NC, the “Rocketeers played key roles during Operation Desert Storm dropping more than six million pounds of ordnance on scud missile sites, bridges and airfields.

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NOW: 19 of the coolest military unit mottos

OR: The 7 biggest ‘Blue Falcons’ in US military history

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