Earlier this week, Mexican federal police in Sonora came across a panel van with modifications and additions that allowed it carry a “cannon” possibly used to launch drugs over the border into the US.
According to a release from the federal police, officers came across the van while it was parked in northwest Sonora state’s Agua Prieta municipality, which borders Arizona and Texas. The van was found without license plates and its doors were open.
Inside the vehicle, authoritiesfound “an air compressor, a gasoline motor, a tank for storing air and a metallic tube of approximately 3 meters in length (homemade bazooka).”
The “unit,” as the release referred to it, also had a cut in the end that could have allowed the metal tube to be hooked up to launch projectiles, possibly across the border.
The vehicle in question was linked to a car theft in Hermosillo, Sonora, according to an investigation dated July 1 this year.
Days before, authorities in the same area reportedly found a vehicle with similar additions.
US authorities have said since 2012 that drug traffickers have made use of such cannons. Cans and packets of marijuana, cocaine, and crystal meth have been discovered on the US side of the border, and, according to Mexican newspaper Reforma, those projectiles can be launched from 200 meters inside Mexican territory.
“Tell [the Colombians] to send all the drugs they can,” Guzmán ordered after the tunnel’s completion.
More recently, in 2011, would-be smugglers a few miles west of Agua Prieta made a more humble effort to get drugs over the border: They were observed setting up a catapult just south of the border fence. Mexican authorities moved in and seized the catapult and about 45 pounds of marijuana.
The U.S. Armed Forces widely uses the M249 SAW light machine gun, as it’s tried and tested on the battlefield — but all weapons have limitations, as a new video from West Coast Armory shows.
To test the durability of a suppressor, a device used to mask muzzle flash and muffle sound from firearms, the guys at West Coast Armory, a Washington state-based gun range, set up the M249 on a bipod and fed a belt of 700 rounds through it.
To be clear, this qualifies as ridiculously overdoing it and is not advisable in any but the most controlled scenarios.
In the clip below, watch the suppressor get utterly destroyed and the M249’s barrel become red hot.
“We’re fortunate to be chosen,” said Cmdr. Leslie “Meat” Mintz, executive officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 213 (VFA-213). Mintz, a career weapons system officer on the Super Hornet, spoke to Military.com on Jan. 31, 2019, ahead of the flyover.
The tribute, announced by the Navy, will take place as Mariner receives a full military graveside service at New Loyston Cemetery in Maynardville, Tennessee.
The pilots have performed other flyovers, Mintz said. But “it’s certainly the first time I’ve done this for a female aviator. Everyone is truly humbled to be a part of it.”
Mariner was one of the first eight women selected to fly military aircraft in 1973, according to her obituary. A year later, she became the Navy’s first female jet pilot, flying the A-4E/L Skyhawk and the A-7E Corsair II. She died Jan. 24, 2019, after a years-long battle with cancer, the service said.
Rosemary Mariner is shown in the 1990s when she was commanding officer of a squadron on the West Coast.
(U.S. Navy photo)
She was also the first female military aviator to command an operational air squadron, and during Operation Desert Storm, commanded Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 34 (VAQ-34), the Navy said.
Among other achievements, she executed 17 arrested carrier landings in her career, and, as an advocate for the pilot community, helped pave the way for those who came after. Mariner retired in 1997.
“She shaped generations of people with that confidence in them and helping them find their path,” said Katherine Sharp Landdeck.
Landdeck, an expert on the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II (WASPs) and a professor at Texas Woman’s University, told NBC News on Thursday she saw her friend Mariner as a brave “and badass” pilot.
Lt. Emily Rixey, left, Lt. Amanda Lee, middle, and Lt. Kelly Harris, right, talk to each other in a hangar bay on Naval Station Oceana.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks)
“Landing on carriers? That’s pretty badass. You’re not just landing a jet. You’re landing a jet on a runway that’s rising up and down in the seas, and I think, as a woman doing it, you’ve got everybody on deck watching. Very cool under pressure,” Landdeck said in the NBC News interview.
Mintz will be flying alongside Cmdr. Stacy Uttecht, commander of Strike Fighter Squadron 32 (VFA-32); Lt. Cmdr. Paige Blok, VFA-32; Lt. Cmdr. Danielle Thiriot, VFA-106; Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Hesling, NAS Oceana; Lt. Christy Talisse, VFA-211; Lt. Amanda Lee, VFA-81; Lt. Kelly Harris, VFA-213; and Lt. Emily Rixey, Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic.
On Feb. 2, 2019, like any mission, the women will brief the plan before four F/A-18F Super Hornets and a single F/A-18 E-model launch from Oceana, roughly 400 miles from Mariner’s burial site. One of the jets will act as a backup in case something in the flight plan gets reshuffled, Mintz said.
Female Aviators, Flight Officers, and aircraft maintainers pose for a group photograph.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks)
The jets will hold until the signal is given for the missing formation “so that the timing is perfect,” she said.
Uttecht will lead the formation. Mintz will be backseat in a jet on the flank as Thiriot pulls up thousands of feet into the sky.
The crew appreciates “the outpouring support, the text messages, the Facebook messages, for what we’re doing,” Mintz said.
“It’s truly an honor to do this … for Capt. Mariner. I’ve been in this business for 19 years. I really haven’t thought about male vs. female gender issues because it’s strictly merit-based. ‘Can you fly? Can you perform?’ [but] really I owe that to her,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Marine veteran Charles Stewart sat on the bumper of his car in a Waffle House parking lot directly in the path of Hurricane Florence.
Wearing loose-fitting jeans, a turquoise T-shirt and brown Rockwell shoes, he sipped coffee and smoked a Camel cigarette as Hurricane Florence loomed off the North Carolina coast. Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sept. 14, 2018.
Stewart, 75, who served in the Corps from 1962 to 1974, more than a year of which was in Vietnam, said he wasn’t concerned about riding out the storm — much like the Corps he once served.
“If I decide it’s unsafe, I’ll get in the car,” Stewart said with a smile, patting the bumper of his silver Cadillac. “If it flips over, I’ll get in the truck.”
Despite his nonchalance, he also seemed prepared.
Stewart said he had plenty of non-perisable food, first aid kits in each vehicle, a generator, and more. “I got all kinds of stuff.”
A large broad shouldered man wearing a San Francisco 49ers hat suddenly came around the corner heading towards the Waffle House door before he noticed Stewart.
“Hey, Chuck,” Carl Foskey said.
Foskey, 66, who also served in the Corps, said he wasn’t nervous and planned to ride out the storm as well.
“I’m just gonna take care of my wife,” he said. “She’s totally disabled and I take care of her … I’m just gonna turn the TV on and watch a movie or something.”
Map plotting the track and the intensity of Hurricane Florence, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale.
“Until the power goes out,” Stewart interjected, with a laugh.
But Foskey seemed to be in a safer position than Stewart since he has a “hurricane built” house that’s “only six years old.”
Foskey, who served in Vietnam and the Gulf War, said he was an E-7 in the Corps when he got out in 1993.
“Yeah, he outranked me — he told me what to do,” Stewart said, who was an E-5, as they both laughed.
An E-5 is “what they call a Buck Sergeant,” Stewart said. “I called it ‘going down, and coming up.'”
The two men discussed some of their experiences in Vietnam, but they didn’t want to go too deep.
“It’s hard for anybody to understand what you go through unless you been through it,” Stewart said. “That’s why me and him can talk about it because —”
“We been through it,” Foskey added.
Stewart said he was mostly in Da Nang in Vietnam, and did funeral detail for two years after returning.
“I just come out from over there and come back here [to do] burial,” Stewart said. “And that’ll warp your mind.”
“Yeah, it will,” Foskey agreed.
Besides his service, Stewart said he’s survived cancer twice, among other health problems, which made it easier to understand why he wasn’t too concerned about the impending storm.
“It’s just water,” Stewart said when discussing having to possibly go to his car or truck during the storm. “I might grab a bar of soap.”
Featured image: Cameras outside the International Space Station captured a view of Hurricane Florence the morning of Sept. 12, 2018, as it churned across the Atlantic in a west-northwesterly direction with winds of 130 miles an hour.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
As the US ramps up its response to the spread of COVID-19, the Health and Human Services Department was hit with a cyberattack, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
The cyberattack reportedly aimed to slow down HHS computer systems Sunday night, but was unsuccessful in doing so. The attack attempted to flood HHS servers with millions of requests over the course of several hours.
An HHS spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Business Insider that it is investigating a “significant increase in activity” on its cyber infrastructure Sunday night, adding that its systems have remained fully operational.
“HHS has an IT infrastructure with risk-based security controls continuously monitored in order to detect and address cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities,” HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley told Business Insider. “Early on while preparing and responding to COVID-19, HHS put extra protections in place. We are coordinating with federal law enforcement and remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the integrity of our IT infrastructure.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said during a White House press briefing Monday afternoon that HHS did not yet know the source of the cyber attack.
“The source of this enhanced activity remains under investigation so I wouldn’t want to speculate on the source of it,” Azar said. “But there was no data breach and no degradation of our function to be able to serve our core mission.”
Following the attempted intrusion, federal officials reportedly became aware that false information was being circulated. The false-information campaigns were related to the hack, but no data was reportedly stolen from HHS systems.
The National Security Council tweeted Sunday night that there were false rumors circulating about a national quarantine, calling the rumors “FAKE.”
For many service members, especially those stationed overseas, mail can be a lifeline to family, friends, and feeling connected to home. For those stationed within U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, there is a team of Airmen dedicated to providing timely, cost effective, and efficient mail services.
The USAFE-AFAFRICA Air Postal Squadron represents the major command as the single point of contact for Air Force postal matters. The squadron provides policy, procedures, and guidance for all USAFE-AFAFRICA postal operating locations and exercises command of aerial mail terminals assigned to the USAFE-AFAFRICA AIRPS.
In a nutshell, the squadron ensures all mail travelling to and from the major command is transported by the fastest and most reliable means possible, while also ensuring delivery to the proper destination. These Airmen use their skills to bridge the distance between service members stationed in Europe and their loved ones.
“Our mission is essentially to get your mail to you,” said Staff Sgt. Dereth Worrell, USAFE AFAFRICA AIRPS noncommissioned officer in charge of command postal transportation. “What my flight does, as we like to put it, if the post offices in the [U.S.] and Army Post Offices here are A and Z, we cover everything from B to Y. We set up things like how your mail moves, what it takes to move, or should a new APO open.”
The AIRPS postal transportation flight validated a total volume of approximately 40 million pounds of inbound and outbound mail moved from Sept. 1, 2016 to Sept. 1, 2017.
The journey a package undergoes to reach its final destination is a long process requiring many moving parts. Once a package is dropped off at a local post office in the states, it is shipped to a U.S. Postal Service sorting facility in Chicago, within the O’Hare International Airport, that is two football fields long. This facility processes Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express Military Service going overseas, whether it’s civilian, military, or Department of State. Joint Military Postal Activity military personnel are assigned as liaisons to the USPS at the Chicago mail sorting facility.
At the sorting plant, mail is sorted and loaded onto commercial aircraft flying to one of three main hubs for military mail in Frankfurt, Germany, London, and Istanbul. However, for military post offices in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, mail can also be shipped to a USPS sorting facility in Jersey City, New Jersey, to a facility that processes retail ground and space available mail destined for APOs in those three countries.
“No one really thinks about the transportation aspect,” Worrell said. “They think, ‘Oh, I ordered this or my friends or family sent me this, and two weeks later it shows up in my box.’ It takes a lot of work. You’re dealing with so many entities and factors that can change everything, such as weather or civil disturbances. Waiting two and half weeks to get something isn’t that bad considering everything that box has to go through in order to get to you.”
The squadron has detachments at the hubs, for which the air postal squadron provides the tools, resources, policy, and oversight while adhering to postal policies outlined by USPS, the Air Force, Military Postal Service Agency, and the Air Force and Army major commands in Europe. They also manage mail movement to include the monitoring of Department of Defense official and personal mail in military and commercial transportation channels.While most mail handling is done by contractors, the Airmen in the detachments oversee the offloading, inspecting, sorting, and loading onto trucks the mail undergoes.
“My favorite part was when I was working at the air mail terminal in Turkey and actually seeing everything move, getting to load up the trucks, make sure everything was there and sending it off,” Worrell said. “It was very physical, and yes you were pretty much doing the same thing every day – I pick up box, I move box – but it was eye-opening.”
The Air Force works hand-in-hand with the Army to deliver mail throughout Europe. The Air Force is in charge of air transportation, but once all the packages and letters have been loaded into their respective trucks, the Army takes over the ground transportation.
“Mail is a very significant component of morale and greater morale has proven to be a major contributor to Airmen productivity,” said Master Sgt. Gregory Sartain, USAFE AFAFRICA AIRPS functional area manager. “Happy folks are better working folks. We are directly contributing to the delivery of Grandma’s cookies to the Airman who’s never been overseas.”
USAFE AFRICA AIRPS not only handles the transportation of personal mail, they are also responsible for the transportation of official mail throughout the theater.
“Not only do we have a big piece of the personal mail side for every Airman, civilian, and Department of Defense contractor, but we also directly contribute to the mission by ensuring the units have the parts, equipment and supplies needed to execute their missions,” Sartain said. “We’re talking about aircraft parts, communications pieces, things that are very important.”
The air postal squadron Airmen not only provide mail services to those stationed overseas, but when deployed they provide the same services to the military members downrange.
“Mail is appreciated in garrison, however, when you’re in a deployed environment, it’s different,” Sartain said. “When the Airman, Soldier, Marine, or Sailor gets that letter from home that smells like their girlfriend’s perfume, or they get cookies from mom while in a hostile and austere condition, it means more. There’s nothing more gratifying then handing a package to a service member and see their face light up. I really enjoy the deployments, being able to provide that morale support, which at times is crucial in a wartime situation.”
Chuck Aaron is a 63-year-old stunt helicopter pilot whose major trick is the ability to upend his bird.
According to a profile of the man in Popular Mechanics, a helicopter’s rotator blades would bend toward its skids when flying upside down. The blades would cut off the tail and the vehicle would return to Earth. Very quickly. And uncontrollably.
So how does Aaron do it?
He had assembled his own U.S. Army attack helicopter from spare parts when Red Bull came calling. They wanted to know if it were possible to configure a helo to fly upside down. His gut feeling was an instinct to stay alive and he gave them a firm no. But as he thought about it, he began to come up with modifications that just might work for that purpose.
It helps that Red Bull covered the tab. Aaron doesn’t discuss the exact modifications he made, but you can see the results speak for themselves.
Military representatives from Morocco and the United States held an opening ceremony Feb. 27 for the Flintlock 2017 exercise at the Tifnit training base [in Morocco], marking another milestone in a relationship between their nations that began in the 1700s.
More than 2,000 military personnel from 24 African and Western nations are participating in the 10th annual iteration of the exercise, which continues until March 16 across seven African host nations.
The exercise, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, strengthens security institutions, promotes multilateral sharing of information and develops interoperability among counterterrorism partners from across Africa’s Sahara region.
Deep U.S.-Morocco Roots
African partner special operations forces and U.S. Special Operations Command Africa jointly plan and execute the exercise, highlighting the sense of shared purpose across the continent as partners strengthen themselves and their regional network against violent extremists. For Morocco and the United States, the roots run deep in this partnership.
Morocco formally recognized the United States by signing a treaty of peace and friendship in 1786 between U.S. Minister Thomas Barclay and the Sultan of Morocco, Sidi Muhammad, in Marrakesh, according to the U.S. State Department website. The relationship matured with the naming of James Simpson as the first American consul in 1797 in Tangier.
Sultan Mawlay Suleiman gifted the consulate a building and grounds to use, marking the first property owned by the U.S. government on foreign shores.
In all of American history, no other country has maintained its treaty relationship with America for as long as Morocco.
Flintlock 2017 is the most recent in a long line of actions and expressions of solidarity between the two nations.
“Morocco plays a key leadership role in Africa and we are honored by the continued partnership and friendship between our two countries. We look forward to working with you over the next few weeks,” Morocco’s special operations command exercise instructor said.
‘A Golden Opportunity’
Brig. Gen. Mohammed Benlouali, operations commander for Morocco’s Southern Zone, delivered remarks on behalf of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces.
“These types of activities, as well as other joint combined Moroccan-American exercises, are a golden opportunity to further enhance the ties of military cooperation between our two countries,” he said. “We will stand ready and willing to take maximum benefit from this period of training to further promote our knowledge and know-how in the field of special forces,” he said.
Marines from Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command are training alongside their Moroccan peers, refining tactics, techniques, and procedures across multiple full-mission profiles. The two forces specifically are training on small-unit special operations forces tactics, weapons training and fire support, lifesaving first aid and trauma care, command and control, and force protection.
The shared training experiences will develop the two partners’ ability to plan, coordinate, and operate as an integrated team and will strengthen the bond between the two countries. The Moroccan Royal Armed Forces have contributed to United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world and provide a center of stability and security across the Sahel region.
Countering the threat posed by violent extremist organizations around the world demands proficiency, coordination and enhanced interoperability. While regional security is the main focus of Flintlock 2017, the lessons learned and investments in relationships will allow participants to share the burdens of managing conflicts and improve their ability to provide security solutions that meet threats at their origin, exercise officials said.
Over the last five years, some 4,200 living veterans were declared dead and had their benefits cut off by the Department of Veterans Affairs. After digging through records, Danny Pummill, the acting undersecretary for benefits at the VA, said the mistake was a function of the way record sharing is done between the Social Security Administration and the VA. When the SSA declared someone dead, the VA would immediately kill their benefits.
Florida Congressman David Jolly had a bone to pick with the VA. Responding to his constituents’ complaints about premature death notices, he headed a Congressional inquiry in 2015. When veterans tried to correct the errors in their mortal status, they found themselves in purgatory between the two agencies. In a written statement, Rep. Jolly remarked on the grave consequences of these kinds of mistakes.
“We simply cannot have men and women who have sacrificed for this country see their rightful benefits wrongfully terminated because the VA mistakenly declares them dead,” Jolly wrote. “It has caused needless hardships for thousands of people who had their benefits terminated and their world turned upside down.”
The VA admitted its mistake to the congressman and then revived the affected veterans’ benefits as of May 2016. The VA also overhauled its death notice procedures. Now, a veteran will be notified of his or her death by mail to the last known address. The veteran will have 30 days to prove he or she is not dead. If the VA doesn’t hear from the veteran or their surviving family members, the benefits will be terminated.
For five years, the young Special Forces officer spent most of his time in a cage and wasn’t allowed more than 40 yards from it. Limited to two cans of rice per day, Rowe and fellow prisoners would capture snakes and rats whenever they could. Rowe also tried to escape three times.
Angry at his deceit and the training he had provided South Vietnamese soldiers, the North Vietnamese sentenced Rowe to death. A Viet Cong patrol took Rowe into the jungle for the execution.
As they were heading to the execution point though, Rowe heard a flight of helicopters. He shoved a guard to the ground and sprinted into a nearby clearing, waving his arms to get the pilots’ attention.
They were American helicopters, but the first pilot to spot Rowe saw his black pajamas and nearly fired on him. Then he noticed Rowe’s beard that had grown out during his captivity. After realizing that Vietnamese men were incapable of growing a thick beard, the helicopter scooped Rowe up and carried him to safety.
Rowe returned to the states as a major. He left the military for a short period before returning in 1981 as a lieutenant colonel stationed at Fort Bragg. There, he developed the Army’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Course using the lessons he learned in captivity.
Rowe later deployed to the Philippines as the ground forces director for the Joint U.S. Military Advisory group for the Philippines where he provided counterinsurgency training for Philippine forces.
It’s been a long time since the Cubs won the World Series. 108 years, in fact; the last time the Cubs won was in 1908, when they captured two World Series titles in a row.
Last night they made history and broke the Curse of the Billy Goat by clinching Game 7 of the World Series in extra (rainy) innings with a final score of 8-7.
A lot has happened in the world since 1908. The internet, Communism, Justin Bieber. But what about warfare?
Well, the military has changed quite a bit too, and some of the changes have completely revamped the way wars are fought today. Here are ten of the biggest military innovations and changes that occurred since the last time the Cubs won the World Series:
1. No more cavalry charges
Cavalry charges were still pretty common in the early 20th century, and in World War I all sides used horses to some extent. The Germans stopped utilizing armed cavalry on the battlefield shortly after the war’s outset, but the Ottoman Empire and the British used cavalry extensively in the Middle East theater.
During World War I, machine guns cut through horses in swaths, and the chemical weapons first used by the Germans killed many more. They were still used to drag equipment through the mud, however, and at one point German troops were told that the life of a horse has more tactical value than that of an infantryman.
Ultimately, though, machine guns and artillery rendered the horse-led cavalry charge obsolete. The horses were replaced by tanks, although these didn’t truly live up to expectations until World War II.
Although the Wright Brothers first flew a heavier-than-air manned airplane in 1903, planes in warfare didn’t come about until around 1911. During World War I airplanes became very important for reconnaissance missions, and as they became more maneuverable, some planes were designed to shoot down the recon planes. This led to fighters, bombers, and the jets that we know today.
Modern warfare generally favors the side that controls the skies, and for that reason, high-tech planes with sophisticated radar and other technologies are closely guarded secrets by states concerned about their leakage. The United States’ protracted counterinsurgency wars, however, have proven that even though you control the skies, it doesn’t always mean you win.
3. U.S. Army Special Forces started operating operationally
The first true Special Forces Group, the 10th, was formed in 1952 under Col. Aaron Bank. They evolved from Office of Strategic Services troops that had served behind enemy lines during World War II. Concurrent with this was the founding of the Psychological Warfare School, later known as the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare. The original goal of the Army’s Special Forces was “to infiltrate by land, sea or air, deep into enemy-occupied territory and organize the resistance/guerrilla potential to conduct Special Forces operations, with emphasis on guerrilla warfare.”
Special Forces have fought in every conflict since Korea and evolved into a number of different roles. They have grown in number and size and now consist of some of the most elite soldiers in the United States Army, trained in multiple missions, including direct action and foreign internal defense.
4. Chemical weapons: a sick burn
The Cubs might have gone 108 years without winning a world series, but the world has only gone 101 years since the first chlorine gas attack.
On April 22, 1915, a man named Fritz Haber oversaw the world’s first successful chemical weapons use. The German scientist had been attempting to convince a German commander to use the gas on Allied troops but had thus far met with scorn and derision. One commander, however, let him try it, and when the wind finally turned toward the Allied troops, he unleashed the gas.
That single attack killed more than 1,100 Allied troops. By the end of World War I, more than 50 different poisons had been used on the battlefield, and gas masks had become a tactical necessity.
Today, the use of chemical weapons is a war crime, although that didn’t stop Saddam Hussein from gassing thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq, or Bashar al-Assad using gas on his own people.
5. Meals, Ready to Eat began constipating troops everywhere
The Department of Defense decided to re-vamp their combat rations in 1975, when they declared the MRE would be the new way of feeding troops in combat. The first delivery of MRE’s occurred in 1981, and they were first field tested by the 25th Infantry Division in 1983.
MRE’s were a huge step forward for field rations because they could be kept almost indefinitely, and they did not require a flame to heat the entrees. MRE’s nowadays are much tastier than the maggot-filled tack that soldiers of the Continental Army used to eat, and troops can pick and choose menu items. Plus, Jalapeno cheese. Enough said.
6. Aircraft carriers became a thing
With the advent and importance of aircraft in modern warfare, it was only natural that nations sought to project that flight power to different parts of the world. After all, what good was a runway for planes if it wasn’t near the combat zone?
To that end, armies and navies first tried launching balloons off of wooden ships, but when the propeller plane came around, they started putting aircraft on ships. The Japanese ship Wakamiya lowered seaplanes onto the water using its crane in 1914 during the battle of Tsingtao, making this the first use of an “aircraft carrier” in warfare.
During the 1920’s, truly dedicated carriers with launch pads were commissioned and became an integral part of shaping the way the world fights wars. Nowadays, the US Navy’s powerful carriers carry lethal jets and ground forces to places all over the world in order to project United States military power.
Tanks, along with airplanes and aircraft carriers, changed the way that wars are fought. Although the infantry was the major component of fighting in World War I, by World War II the way was being led by quick, lethal tanks that could maneuver and shoot accurately at the same time. The armor provided by the vehicle shielded its occupants from most small arms fire and allowed infantry to follow behind.
Modern land warfare owes its origins to the tank, which debuted at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to limited success. They simply could not operate in the artillery-churning mud of the front, and often became bogged down before even advancing.
During World War II, the Germans used their lightning-fast tanks in the Blitzkrieg doctrine in combination with airplanes and infantry. Later on, tanks became more and more technologically advanced, and in modern times a tank can make an enormous difference on the battlefield, although they are still vulnerable to ever-more-lethal anti-tank rockets and missiles.
8. Night vision let people see the night, visually
In the early days of World War II German scientists experimented with night vision devices with some limited success, even going so far as to equip their Panther tanks with night vision. But it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the first practical, mass-produced night vision devices, the AN/PVS-1 and 2 starlight scopes, were introduced. Even though they were bulky and easily broken, these scopes gave U.S. troops an advantage on the battlefield. They used ambient light to amplify the picture around them, allowing troops to see enemies moving in the dark.
Today, the United States military has some of the best night vision around, giving it advantages in the wars that it fights worldwide. Each member of an infantry or special operations unit can have his or her own individual night vision device, which are now compact and project pictures in high definition. Some devices even incorporate thermal imaging along with amplified ambient light to produce a better picture. This gives US troops a massive advantage over enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, who have to use captured equipment and have little repair capability.
9. Widespread use of body armor
While the concept of protecting oneself from harm with armor has existed for millennia, the modern age of personally-issued body armor didn’t occur until around the time of the Korean War. Even then, the vests were issued mostly for protection from shrapnel, and were bulkier and heavier than modern vests.
It wasn’t until the 1971 discovery of Kevlar by scientist Stephanie Kwolek that body armor became ligher and able to stop real bullets, including most pistol rounds.
In 1975, American Body Armor introduced a vest that used 15 layers of Kevlar and a “shok plate,” which could protect against high-velocity rifle rounds. This set the standard for modern military body armor, which now often consists of so-called “soft” armor for pistol rounds and shrapnel, and hard ceramic plates for high-velocity bullets. Advances in technology have made it so that troops, particularly those in well-funded special operations units, can have the best of both worlds: lightweight protection for vital organs and ultimate maneuverability.
10. Missiles and precision-guided munitions
While airplanes changed the way wars were fought in the 20th century, the way airplanes were used was changed just as fundamentally with the advent of guided missiles. Although civilizations had been experimenting with rocketry for centuries, the V1 and V2 rockets of Germany in World War II were the first true guided missiles used in warfare. Following that, various countries began using missiles on their ships, jets and trucks, and creating massive, world-travelling Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. If it weren’t for our massive experimentation in missile technology, the world would not have known the war-shaping theory of Mutually Assured Destruction, or the standoff capabilities of a guided missile destroyer launching cruise missiles into Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Modern missiles use Global Positioning Systems to find and destroy the enemy, and are becoming ubiquitous for the United States; today, more than 80 percent of bombs dropped by the United States military are precision-guided They are essential in preventing civilian casualties in a world where states fight terrorist groups rather than each other.
President Trump’s recent declaration of a new Space Force was met with ridicule in many quarters. Yet, the reality is that the United States does urgently need a dedicated military space branch that is separate from its Air Force.
The rise of these competitors poses real challenges for the United States, including most worryingly a possible militarization of space by unfriendly forces. China demonstrated this peril in 2007 when it used a satellite killer to destroy one of its own satellites, raising the possibility that it could deploy a battery of these kinetic kill vehicles to paralyze America’s communications grid in a future war. This is merely the tip of the iceberg of what China and others could do if they are allowed to dominate space, including constructing orbital missile platforms that could be used to intimidate or even attack the United States and its allies.
Resource competition is also a major concern, with the need to locate and tap into alternative resource pools becoming increasingly important as the world burns ever more rapidly through its remaining natural resources. The potential for the harvesting of metals, minerals, water, and other materials from the moon and asteroids by states such as China and Japan could begin as early as 2025. If the United States lags behind its rivals in building the capacity and human expertise in this area, as well as in protecting its own efforts to conduct this kind of resource harvesting, this will have a ripple effect on its ability to maintain its superpower status, both in space and terrestrially.
Finally, terrestrial communications increasingly depend upon Global Navigation Satellite Systems. America has possessed relative hegemony in this area through its Global Positioning System for decades, but this is now coming under fire from the new Chinese Beidou, European Galileo, and Russian GLONASS systems – with Japan and India in close pursuit. American can ill afford to risk having its systems potentially compromised should one or more other powers decide to try to shut its communications network down once their version is fully operational.
American Society of International Law Space Interest Group
Space law is deficient
The United States needs to protect its interests and prevent other states from achieving dominance in space. It cannot depend upon international law acting as a check against the potential overreach and aggression of other states in this domain. One reason for this is that most space laws were drawn up during the Cold War and, as a result, are often vague towards current day issues or omit them altogether. This provides considerable leeway for the rising space states to act aggressively under the pretext of operating in legal grey zones, even if their actions go against the spirit of the law.
Even in those cases where the law is clear, the new space states may break it to achieve particularly high priority goals (even if they will never acknowledge their acts as breaches of the law). History is plagued with examples of these violations on earth, such as the recent Russian illegal annexation of Crimea and China’s decision to disregard the 2016 ruling by the International Court of Justice against its activities in the South China Sea. There is no reason to believe that states that have placed their strategic interests ahead of the law on earth in the past are likely to behave any differently in space in the future.
The limitations of international space law, along with the likely willingness of the rising space states to disregard it when advantageous to them, means that the United States needs to supplement its respect for the law with the maintenance of an effective military space force. This is essential for helping it to protect and advance its interests in space, as well as to avoid falling behind its rivals.
Some analysts might agree with the above points but argue that this force requirement can be best met by maintaining America’s military space assets inside its Air Force.
This was the same logic that was advanced regarding the Air Force itself during the early 20th century, at which time America’s air assets were housed primarily in the Army and to a lesser degree the Navy. Keeping America’s military air assets split between the Army and Navy was a bad idea because it inherently shepherded the use of air power towards the accomplishment of ground and maritime goals. This prevented America’s air power from achieving its full potential by hampering the appearance of a more comprehensive approach towards airpower at tactical, operational, and strategic levels, often referred to as “Air-Mindedness.” The narrow-sightedness of this approach was finally recognized and corrected in 1947 when the U.S. Air Force was created as a separate branch.
Today, most of America’s military space assets operate as Air Force Space Command in the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). This places them as a branch of the Air Force, operating under a broader combined command that involves seven different mediums. This may be admirably inter-service in intent, but subordinating America’s military space assets to other entities in this way limits the ability of space power specialists to develop a “Space-Mindedness” in the same way that keeping America’s air assets within the Army and Navy hindered the development of “Air-Mindedness.” This curtails America’s space assets from being able to concentrate on pivotal new space challenges, such as space-to-space (rather than just space-to-ground) interactions with rival powers and the defense of American military and civilian equipment in orbit and beyond.
Despite these advantages, considerable opposition has been voiced against moving America’s military space assets out of the Air Force. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that considerable clamor also broke out against the idea of an independent Air Force before 1947.
Some of the backlash is probably fuelled by the well-known maxim that government agencies inherently resist efforts to slim themselves down. Resistance also likely stems from a habitual attachment to known structures and systems, along with the other inevitable causes of reticence towards change that afflict most organizations facing major shake-ups. These reasons are insufficient to reject the creation of a separate Space Force, but they do speak to the need for the transition to carefully planned and sensitively handled.
There is also a fear that an independent Space Force might become parochial and that coordination between the new agency and the Air Force would suffer. This concern has some merit, but it is still flawed. When the Air Force was detached from the Army back in 1947, inter-service rivalries did occur, but the two branches have worked on ironing these out, and cooperation has improved. They certainly have a better relationship now than they would have done if one had continued to be hierarchically superior to the other. There is no reason to believe that an independent Space Force would abandon its ties with the Air Force, but the two agencies would want to acknowledge the concern and work to ensure that inter-agency coordination endures and even grows after the split.
We live in a world where China, India, and other powers are rushing to the Moon and beyond with their space programs. The United States cannot depend exclusively upon international space law to preserve its leadership in this domain, but must instead create an independent Space Force that can work holistically to protect and advance American interests in space.