NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has gone silent, ending a historic mission that studied time capsules from the solar system’s earliest chapter.

Dawn missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA’s Deep Space Network on Oct. 31, 2018, and Nov. 1, 2018. After the flight team eliminated other possible causes for the missed communications, mission managers concluded that the spacecraft finally ran out of hydrazine, the fuel that enables the spacecraft to control its pointing. Dawn can no longer keep its antennas trained on Earth to communicate with mission control or turn its solar panels to the Sun to recharge.


The Dawn spacecraft launched 11 years ago to visit the two largest objects in the main asteroid belt. Currently, it’s in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, where it will remain for decades.

“Today, we celebrate the end of our Dawn mission – its incredible technical achievements, the vital science it gave us, and the entire team who enabled the spacecraft to make these discoveries,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The astounding images and data that Dawn collected from Vesta and Ceres are critical to understanding the history and evolution of our solar system.”

Dusk for Dawn: NASA Mission to the Asteroid Belt

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Dawn launched in 2007 on a journey that put about 4.3 billion miles (6.9 billion kilometers) on its odometer. Propelled by ion engines, the spacecraft achieved many firsts along the way. In 2011, when Dawn arrived at Vesta, the second largest world in the main asteroid belt, the spacecraft became the first to orbit a body in the region between Mars and Jupiter. In 2015, when Dawn went into orbit around Ceres, a dwarf planet that is also the largest world in the asteroid belt, the mission became the first to visit a dwarf planet and go into orbit around two destinations beyond Earth.

“The fact that my car’s license plate frame proclaims, ‘My other vehicle is in the main asteroid belt,’ shows how much pride I take in Dawn,” said Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “The demands we put on Dawn were tremendous, but it met the challenge every time. It’s hard to say goodbye to this amazing spaceship, but it’s time.”

The data Dawn beamed back to Earth from its four science experiments enabled scientists to compare two planet-like worlds that evolved very differently. Among its accomplishments, Dawn showed how important location was to the way objects in the early solar system formed and evolved. Dawn also reinforced the idea that dwarf planets could have hosted oceans over a significant part of their history – and potentially still do.

“In many ways, Dawn’s legacy i­s just beginning,” said Princ­­ipal Investigator Carol Raymond at JPL. “Dawn’s data sets will be deeply mined by scientists working on how planets grow and differentiate, and when and where life could have formed in our solar system. Ceres and Vesta are important to the study of distant planetary systems, too, as they provide a glimpse of the conditions that may exist around young stars.”

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

This photo of Ceres and one of its key landmarks, Ahuna Mons, was one of the last views Dawn transmitted before it completed its mission. This view, which faces south, was captured on Sept. 1, 2018, at an altitude of 2220 miles (3570 kilometers) as the spacecraft was ascending in its elliptical orbit.

Because Ceres has conditions of interest to scientists who study chemistry that leads to the development of life, NASA follows strict planetary protection protocols for the disposal of the Dawn spacecraft. Dawn will remain in orbit for at least 20 years, and engineers have more than 99 percent confidence the orbit will last for at least 50 years.

So, while the mission plan doesn’t provide the closure of a final, fiery plunge — the way NASA’s Cassini spacecraft ended in 2017, for example — at least this is certain: Dawn spent every last drop of hydrazine making science observations of Ceres and radioing them back so we could learn more about the solar system we call home.

The Dawn mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. JPL is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Northrop Grumman in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.

Check out the Dawn media toolkit, with a mission timeline, images, video and quick facts, at:

https://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/toolkit

Watch the video “Dawn: Mission to Small Worlds,” with NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green, at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrafypeEhTM

More information about Dawn is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/dawn

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

Afghan officials said unknown aircraft hit Taliban forces in a province along the border with Tajikistan, killing eight militants, a day after a shooting that left at least two Tajiks killed.

The origin of the aircraft was unclear. Tajik officials denied its warplanes or helicopters were involved, as did Russia, which has a sizable military contingent in Tajikistan.


Khalil Asir, spokesman for police in Afghanistan’s Takhar province, said the aircraft struck early on Aug. 27, 2018, in the Darqad district near the border area. In addition to the dead, six other militants were wounded, he said.

Cross-border clashes are rare along Afghanistan’s 1,400-kilometer border with Tajikistan. However, security in some border provinces, including Takhar, has deteriorated over the past few months and regular clashes have broken out between Afghan security forces and militant groups, including the Taliban.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Spokesman Khalil Asir says eight Taliban militants were killed in the attack.

(RFE/RL photo)

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the attack, saying it broke out between drug smugglers and Tajik border guards. Mujahid said the aircraft bombed a forested area used by smugglers.

Mohammad Jawid Hejri, the provincial governor’s spokesman, also said the clash had occurred between drug smugglers in Afghanistan and Tajik border guards. He said the area is under Taliban control.

Asked by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service about the reported airstrike, border guard spokesman Muhammadjon Ulughkhojaev said he could not confirm it.

“An operation to search for and detain armed individuals is ongoing” in a neighboring region, he said. “But the Border Guards Service didn’t use helicopters there.”

The Russian Defense Ministry told the RIA Novosti news agency that Russian jets were not involved.

Other Tajik security agencies did not immediately respond to queries about other aircraft in the area.

The incident came one day after two Tajik foresters were killed in a shooting incident along the border. A Tajik security official, who asked not to be named, told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that the shooting — either gunfire or mortars — came from the Afghan side of the border.

A third Tajik forester was also wounded in the Aug. 26, 2018 shooting, according to Sulton Valizoda, the head of the Farkhor district.

“Foresters, along with an employee of a livestock farm, were out gathering hay. They had official permission,” Valizoda told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service. “But they were attacked, and two were killed. The case is being investigated.”

The Tajik Border Guard Service said in a statement on Aug. 26, 2018 that the three were all forest rangers.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia talks trash after it buzzed a US Navy aircraft

In the wake of the United States protesting a close encounter between a Su-27 Flanker and a Lockheed EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance aircraft operated by the United States Navy, the Russians have a response: They’re not apologizing.


According to a report from USA Today, Russia has instead decided to trash-talk the United States Navy after the buzzing incident late last month. Over the space of two hours and forty minutes, the Flanker made at least one pass in front of the EP-3E, coming as close as five feet from the surveillance plane.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

“The Aerospace Force will continue to maintain reliable protection of Russia’s airspace,” the Russian news agency TASS reported the Defense Ministry as saying. “If the awareness of this is a reason for U.S. air pilots to feel depression or succumb to phobias, we advise the U.S. side to exclude the routes of such flights near Russian borders in the future or return to the negotiating table and agree on their rules.”

The Russians also claimed that the Flanker pilot’s actions were safe, legal, and standard operating procedure. They also claimed that NATO planes made “similar maneuvers” near Russian planes over the Norwegian, North, Baltic, and Barents seas.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
A U.S. RC-135U flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker June 19, 2017. Due to the high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft during the intercept, this interaction was determined to be unsafe. (Courtesy photo)

The United States Navy has dealt with a number of close encounters recently. In 2017, Russia, China, and Iran all were responsible for buzzing American forces. The Navy’s history with the Russians even includes a time when the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Yorktown (CG 48) and the Spruance-class destroyer USS Caron (DD 970) were bumped by Soviet Navy vessels.

The United States Navy released a video of the incident between the EP-3E and the Su-27. You can judge for yourself if the Flanker pilot’s actions were safe or not.

 

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Putin tells Lukashenka Russia ready ‘to provide help’ militarily if needed

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka that Russia is ready to assist Belarus in accordance with a collective military pact, if necessary.

The Kremlin said in the same statement that external pressure was being applied to Belarus. It did not say by whom.


The two spoke on August 16 for the second time in as many days.

Belarus has been rocked by a week of street protests after protesters accused Lukashenka of rigging a presidential election on August 9.

Some 7,000 people have been detained by police across Belarus in the postelection crackdown with hundreds injured and at least two killed as police have used rubber bullets, stun grenades, and, in at least one instance, live ammunition.

Hundreds of those held and subsequently released spoke of brutal beatings they suffered in detention, much of it documented and splashed across social media. Thousands more remain in detention as international outrage mounts.

Facing the most serious threat ever to his authoritarian rule, Lukashenka spoke with Putin on August 15, after saying there was “a threat not only to Belarus.”

He later told military chiefs that Putin had offered “comprehensive help” to “ensure the security of Belarus.”

The Kremlin said the leaders agreed the “problems” in Belarus would be “resolved soon” and the countries’ ties strengthened.

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

MIGHTY FIT

The ACFT: Leg Tucks

Surprise surprise, the event that involves hanging from a bar is proving to be the most difficult part of the new Army PT test the ACFT.

If only they could have asked another one of the Services what happens when you require service members to hang from a bar… *cough cough* Marine Corps *cough cough*

But hey, I’m on team pro ACFT. The issues that are currently being seen with the test, especially when it comes to the Leg Tucks, are just growing pains.

Luckily, for you, I found the secret to the leg tucks…Just keep reading.


ACFT Leg Tuck Loop Hole

youtu.be

How PT tests work

Everyone except for the bootiest boot recruit knows that the goal of the PT test isn’t to prove how in shape you are. It’s to figure out how little you can do and still get away with achieving the most points possible.

“Perfect form” and “First-grade level counting skills” aren’t really required.

Of course, there are events like the distance runs that you really can’t make easier for yourself. Unless, of course, you’re a damn dirty cheater.

That’s really where the distinction I’m talking about lives…In the gray zone between following the ROEs (rules of engagement) and committing a war crime. No one wants to be a war criminal OR sit around getting shot at because of some rule an incumbent politician trying to get reelected came up with.

Pheww. Now that I got that out…Here’s how that relates to leg tucks.

The writers of the IOC ACFT document wrote the following:

“An ACFT-focused program will train all aspects of fitness, including mental toughness. Just as soldiers have to carefully dose their stamina across different moments in combat, so too will soldiers have to plan their pacing strategy to avoid under-performing on one of the later events in the ACFT.”

Translation: Be as smart as possible by doing as little as possible while still winning.

That includes being smart on the deadlift.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Look back, bend less.

(Photo by Spc. Samantha Hall)

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Not bending at your elbows that much can be a pleasant experience.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hull)

​Bend as little as possible

When you read the publication mentioned above, you see that “The elbows must flex.” but that’s the extent of the guidance. Your elbows can’t stay straight the entire time or bent the entire time. They must contract and expand in order for a repetition to count.

When it comes to the test, don’t be foolish by doing a full pull-up on each rep. Only bend at your elbows enough to satisfy the requirement of flexing your elbows.

When it comes to training, do a full pull up each and every repetition. You need to train better than you plan to perform, that way when nerves kick in, your muscle memory won’t let you down.

This is the real secret to this movement: don’t waste energy on an over-exaggerated movement.

This is the same concept as keeping a straight bar path while lifting.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Move that tightness from the face to the rest of your body.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Daniel Parker)

Stay tight

Energy bleed off is another waste of movement when it comes to the Leg Tuck. Learn to stay tight yet lax throughout the entire movement.

You want to be able to be quick at performing a repetition without looking sloppy or losing control of yourself. The best way to learn this is to get on a bar and get comfortable. If test day is your first time on the bar, you’re gonna look like a freshly caught rainbow trout hanging by your bottom lip fighting for freedom.

Learn tightness in the Mighty Fit Plan here.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Now that’s a horizontal back angle.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Amy Carle)

Look back

You want your back angle to be as horizontal as possible at the top of this movement. This will allow your lats to more fully engage on multiple planes of movement, that’s good.

Your lats should be doing two things as you perform this movement:

  • Extending your shoulder
  • Adducting your shoulder

That’s two movements where your elbows are getting closer to your ribs, which is precisely what you want when performing the leg tuck.

When you have a very vertical back angle, you’re only adducting the elbow. When you focus on achieving a more horizontal back angle, you’re doing both.

The easiest way to achieve a horizontal back angle is to look at your forehead. The body follows the eyes if the eyes look up, the back will follow. Give it a try.

The same thing happens in a different way while you’re back squatting… eyes matter.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

​Your first time attempting this should not be on test day

(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

How to train for leg tucks

Do not kid yourself; this is not a core exercise. Sure, the abs are involved to some degree, but not in the same way your back and grip will be tested.

99% of people will find that their grip or back gives out before their core does. Test this yourself: rest your elbows in a dip station and see how many times you can bring your knees to your chest. If you get more reps than you can leg tucks, you just learned that your abs are not your limiting factor.

TRAIN FOR PULL-UPS

The pull up is slightly more difficult than the leg tuck. Train better than you’ll perform.

You will waste your time doing the exercises on the ACFT website. Also, if you need three people to do alternate grip pull-ups you’re going to have a bad time during the leg tucks portion of the test. I know the Army has to cover their ass by only showing “safe” exercises so that there’s not even a whiff of negligence, but it seems like they almost want soldiers to fail this portion of the ACFT based on the exercises they chose to train for leg tucks.

I have a free and simple pull-up program that you can get here.

Keep it simple; you’re more likely to stick to it that way. Even if you just hang from a bar and try to do a couple of max sets of leg tuck three times a week, you’re going to do well.

Just train hard. Most soldiers’ problem is that they aren’t training. The days of rolling into the PFT blind are over. Use the Mighty Fit Plan to get in the gym and build consistency. Consistency will be your biggest ally in maxing this test.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
Articles

A former Navy SEAL commander explains the surprising way he trained his troops to respond to failure

During his deployment in Iraq in 2006, Jocko Willink oversaw about 100 people as the commander of US Navy SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser.


In an episode of his podcast, Willink explained that he developed a habit that could annoy his troops but also serve as a real motivator.

From the podcast:

One of my direct subordinates, one of my guys that worked for me, he would call me up or pull me aside with some major problem, some issue that was going on. And he’d say, ‘Boss, we’ve got this, and that, and the other thing.’ And I’d look at him and I’d say, ‘Good.’ And finally one day he was telling me about some issue that he was having, some problem, and he said, ‘I already know what you’re going to say.’
And I said, ‘Well, what am I going to say?’
He said, ‘You’re gonna say, Good. He said, ‘That’s what you always say. When something is wrong and going bad, you always just look at me and say, Good.’

Willink wasn’t being snide or dismissive. Rather, he was forcing his troops to find a way to grow from a failure or challenge they were having difficulty overcoming.

If they didn’t get the supplies they needed, for example, he’d force them into a mindset where they could excel in spartan conditions.

It’s an approach he’s applied to his entire life, and one he teaches with his former second-in-command, Leif Babin, through their management consulting firm Echelon Front.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
Former Navy SEAL Task Unit Bruiser commander Jocko Willink, left, and Charlie Platoon leader Leif Babin. | Courtesy of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

“Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better,” Willink said, giving another example.

In another episode, Willink explained how one of his friends told him he was able to see this philosophy in action even when his father died. It wasn’t literally “good” that his father died, but when he was done grieving he was able to see that he was presented with an opportunity to take responsibilities in areas that he could normally rely on his father for, and to make the most of them.

The “good” approach is a way to move forward without giving into overwhelming emotions, whether on the battlefield, in the office, or in your personal life.

“That’s it,” Willink said on his podcast. “When things are going bad, don’t get all bummed out. Don’t get startled, don’t get frustrated. If you can say the word good, guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing. And if you’re still breathing, well then hell, you’ve still got some fight left in you. So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, reengage, and go out on the attack.”

We first saw Willink’s monologue in a video produced by his collaborator Echo Charles, when Willink and Babin played it at their “Muster” leadership conference in May. You can watch it below.

Articles

The new CZ P-10C might just have it all

New Czech Polymer Fighting Pistol: the CZ P-10C

Team Mighty – Photos courtesy of CTT Solutions and Pillar Media Group

CZ USA has released its newest pistol, a polymer, striker-fired handgun called the CZ P-10Z. It has been described as weapon that combines all the best features of its competitors: a Steyr M-A1 bore axis, VP9 trigger, MP grip, and the safety and ergonomics of a customized Glock — all for a price comparable to the XDM.


If all that is true, this might be the best pistol of this breed yet. Time and round count will tell.

You can take a 3D, 360° look at it right here.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

The CZ P-10 C (presumably so named in anticipation of a full-sized and sub-compact version yet to come) is a 9mm or .40 fiber-reinforced polymer framed, striker-fired pistol. It features a cold hammer-forged barrel, trigger safety and firing pin block safety with three-dot “stepped” metal sights suitable for use in racking the weapon off a bootheel or belt. MSRP is set at $499, which means barring political shenanigans you’ll be able to pick one up for even less.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

 

When news of the new pistol first broke a couple months ago, Mike Pannone (a former Unit operator who now runs CTT Solutions) spoke highly of it.

“I’ve shot it and I’m gonna tell you all, this will be a big player in the striker market,” Pannone said. “Great ergos, legendary CZ reliability/durability/accuracy, incredible trigger right out of the box…and it fits in nearly every Glock 19 holster. Just wait until the full-size model hits…Duty gun and Production class USPSA here we go!”

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Here he is more recently, going into more detail.

 

Now, why should you give a damn what this guy thinks?

Easy. Mike “Noner” Pannone of CTT Solutions is a former Force Marine turned CAG (1ST SFOD-D) operator. Pannone came back out of retirement after 9/11 to serve as the head marksmanship instructor for the (then-fledgling) Federal Air Marshals Service, the agency said to have the most stringent and rigorous firearms/marksmanship standards in US law enforcement.

He later worked as a security contractor for the Department of State overseas in highly non-permissive areas, later working with the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group.

Pannone is a CZ-sponsored competitive shooter, yes, but by all accounts is reckoned a blunt, even brutally candid SME. Knowing what we know of him, if he wasn’t happy with the weapon, he’d say so (or just wouldn’t say anything at all).

Here’s how CZ lists out the P-10 C’s primary advantages.

•Slide and barrel with extremely durable surface finish

•Two pairs of cocking grip surfaces for comfortable handling

•New “degree” of resistance against corrosion and mechanical damage

•Exceptional iron sights accentuated by three luminescent dots

•Automatic striker block guaranteeing drop safety

•Mechanically and thermally stable polymer frame reinforced with glass fibre

•Three interchangeable backstraps in S, M, L sizes

•Excellent magazine capacity of 15 (17) rounds in 9×19 calibre

•Excellent shooting comfort thanks to the well-designed ergonomic grip with distinct checkering

•Flat ambidextrous slide stop and magazine catch; a magazine catch with a wider grip for right-handed as well as left-handed shooters is available as an accessory

The pistol should be hitting shelves sometime during the first half of 2017. Find more details online at CZ USA.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The awesome way this military family honors their grandfather will make you smile

During World War Two, Wilfred Hann, a U.S. Army soldier, cut his own hair with Wahl clippers. After his military service, he taught his children, and their children, to do the same thing.


In 1997, his grandson, Justin Pummill joined the Air Force and bought clippers of his own, staying sharp and ready for combat no matter what came his way.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Today, he continues his grandfather’s legacy, cutting his own son’s hair and keeping the family tradition alive:

www.youtube.com

We Are The Mighty is proud to partner with Wahl, the leader in the professional and home grooming field.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marines want its own cheap light attack aircraft

The Senate Armed Services Committee has set aside millions for light attack aircraft, but this time not solely for the U.S. Air Force.

In its version of the fiscal 2019 budget markup, the committee announced in May 2018, it wants to give $100 million to the Marine Corps to procure light attack aircraft such as the AT-6 Wolverine to boost lower-cost aviation support. The version passed the committee with a vote of 25-2. It heads for a full Senate vote in coming weeks.

Is the Marine Corps ready for it? It’s unclear.

“The Marine Corps continues to monitor the Air Force-led Light Attack Experiment to procure a cost-effective, observation and attack (OA-X) air platform for employment in permissive environments, with the intent to employ such an asset as a joint force capability,” said Capt Christopher Harrison of the Office of Marine Corps Communication at the Pentagon.

“The SASC’s decision to authorize $100 million for a light attack platform is only reflected in a policy bill,” Harrison said in an email on June 1, 2018.

“Nothing has been appropriated to this program yet,” he said.

But some experts say investing in light attack, though not the stealthiest or best equipped aircraft category, is not an entirely improbable idea.

“I’m not sure the Marines themselves saw the need for this, but light attack is very popular in Congress right now,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president and analyst at the Teal Group.

“I think there’s a strong case for the Marines, or the Air Force, or both, having a few dozen light attack planes, if only for joint training and even combat missions with allied militaries in much poorer nations,” Aboulafia told Military.com on May 30, 2018.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
F-22 Raptor

Lawmakers and a few Pentagon officials have made the case for light attack — especially in the context of the Air Force’s ongoing experiment with light attack platforms — saying the smaller planes could come in handy to offset the cost to taxpayers to put a few fifth-generation fighters in the air, sometimes in support of missions for which the advanced jets are far overqualified.

For example, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson reiterated it is silly to use a stealth fighter like the F-22 Raptor to take on Taliban drug labs. In November, the Raptor made its combat debut in Afghanistan, targeting suspected narcotics facilities in the country with small-diameter bombs.”We should not be using an F-22 to destroy a narcotics factory,” Wilson said, echoing previous statements she has made on the topic.


Light attack aircraft in that role would be more sensible, she said.

For the correct mission set, light attack makes sense for any service, Aboulafia argued. But purchasing an entire fleet, he said, would be unjustifiable, since the aircraft’s warfighting capabilities are significantly limited, and best suited to low-risk missions and training with allies and partners.

“The idea of buying hundreds of these planes is completely dysfunctional,” he said.

“What kind of scenario would call for that? It postulates a giant failed state, or series of failed states, where the U.S. is compelled to intervene, and yet there’s absolutely no air-to-air and only a minimal ground-to-air threat,” Aboulafia said.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
An A-29 Super Tucano
(U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Eydie Sakura)


He added, “If there’s either of those, this type of plane is a great way to kill pilots. And if this giant, under-armed failed-state intervention doesn’t materialize, the military is stuck with hundreds of planes that have zero relevance to any other kind of strategic contingency.”

While it seems the Marine Corps has time before it makes a decision on how it can or will proceed, the Air Force is currently in the middle of choosing a future light attack platform.

The Air Force selected two aircraft — Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano — to undergo more demonstration fly-offs, among other exercises, at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The demonstrations began May 7, 2018, and will run through July 2018, with the secretary herself expected to fly either or both aircraft at Holloman.The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its fiscal 2019 proposal, added $350 million to procure a future light attack aircraft.

The A-29 — used by the Afghan air force in its offensive against the Taliban — is being pitted against the Wolverine, which is already used to train both Air Force and Navy student pilots.

During a phone call with reporters in recent weeks, an industry source said on background that an Air Force request for proposal is anticipated as early as October 2018.

A contract award for a few hundred planes could be granted as quickly as six months after the RFP publication, he said.

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

Articles

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

The battle to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State terror group is a fight increasingly without front lines.


The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have breached the old city and control about a quarter of the terror group’s de facto capital, say American officials, but holding what has already been seized is proving a struggle.

Disputes between the SDF and some Free Syrian Army militias who have started to participate in the battle isn’t helping the advance, but the biggest obstacle remains the determined defense of IS fighters, who are using similar urban warfare tactics seen in the past nine months in the terror group’s fight to delay the retaking of Mosul by Iraqi security forces.

A month into the Raqqa assault, improvised explosive devices, sniper fire, and the use of an elaborate network of tunnels to mount ambushes — as well as exploiting civilians as human shields — are all being deployed by the militants. IS militants have also been using drones to drop explosives on SDF militiamen.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
SDF fighters at the mouth of a tunnel used by ISIS at Jabar Castle. (Photo from Voice of America.)

A watchdog rights organization says in the assault’s first month it has documented 650 deaths — 224 of them civilians.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group that relies on a network of activists for its reporting, 311 IS fighters, including a handful of commanders, and 106 fighters of the American-backed “Euphrates Wrath” forces have died so far.

“In addition, airstrikes left hundreds of civilians injured, with various degrees of severity, some of whom had their limbs amputated, some were left with permanent disabilities and some are still in a critical condition, which means that the death toll is still likely to rise,” the observatory says.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
SDF fighters among the rubble Raqqa. (Photo from Voice of America.)

Long battle ahead

Despite being only a tenth the size of Mosul, US officials say they expect the house-to-house fighting to last several weeks. Estimates on how many militants remain in the city range from between 2,000 to 3,000. Most of them are thought to be from eastern Syria or foreign fighters drawn mainly from North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

According to local activists, some Raqqa-born IS fighters have defected and are providing intelligence to the SDF. Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a Washington-based think tank, and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” says local fighters have proven less than committed in the battle.

“The Islamic State will likely have to rely on the city’s still likely large population of foreign fighters as well as a new generation of young fighters brainwashed by the group’s ideology who typically fight viciously to the end,” Hassan argues in the current issue of CTC Sentinel, a publication of the West Point military academy.

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
YPJ and YPG forces work together. (Photo from Flickr user Kurdishstruggle (CC by 2.0)

Despite the participation of experienced, battle-hardened Kurdish fighters, private security advisers say the SDF doesn’t have the same capabilities and training as the elite Iraqi units who have been confronting IS militants in Mosul since August.

“They are spread much thinner,” one European security adviser told Voice of America. “They are also not as well equipped and lack the armor the Iraqis have been able to use,” he added.

Keeping the advance going, and trying to pin the militants into smaller and smaller pockets, is proving grueling, he said.

On July 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to declare his security forces had wrested the wrecked city from the Islamic State, despite some continued fighting in at least one west Mosul neighborhood. Some US officials are reckoning IS fighters may be able to hold out in Raqqa for up to three months.

In a bid to disrupt the SDF momentum, IS is now more regularly using suicide bombers driving reinforced vehicles packed with explosives — although not to the same degree as seen in the battle for Mosul. Last week, one suicide bomber managed to destroy a forward HQ used by the SDF.

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A fighter with the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces sits atop a vehicle before a battle. (Photo from SDF via Facebook.)

Civilian casualties

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled, braving mines and savage IS sniper fire. Local activists estimate the number of civilians remaining in the city at about 60,000. They fault the international coalition for failing to have prepared for the handling of large numbers of displaced families.

Civilians have been gathering in nearby camps lacking basic amenities such as healthcare, clean drinking water, and food,” says the activist network Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

The group has accused the attacking forces of using a scorched-earth strategy, utilizing indiscriminate aerial bombardment in order to force militants to withdraw. US officials admit there have been civilian deaths but say they are doing all they can to minimize casualties among non-combatants.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the sad story behind the Great Buddhas of Afghanistan

There aren’t many bucket list destinations in Afghanistan, but before 2001, there were at least two man-made wonders that were revered around the world.


Built in Bamyan around the 2nd century, they were some of the largest standing Buddha carvings in the world. The Buddhist Kingdom in the “Graveyard of Empires” withstood many attacks. That was until Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban in 1996.

The region was a part of the Buddhist Kushan Empire. The Bamyan region was directly on the Silk Road and was a hub for Buddhism, with tens of thousands of monks worship at the site.

The valley was home to several monasteries. The intricate cave system throughout the cliffs were beautifully decorated and painted.

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The caves even hold some of the world’s oldest oil paintings. (Image via Digital Journal)

Many kingdoms seized control of the region, but it was the Huns who decimated the local population — but left the statues. The Mughal Empire would be the first to attack the statues in the 18th century. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and Persian King Nader Afshar would both order attacks to destroy the statues.

Afghan King Abdur Rahman Khan ordered the destruction of the faces and many of the cave oil paintings. This is how they remained for centuries. Although Islam became the dominant religion, most Afghan people loved the statues — not because of faith, but because they were iconic.

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A drawing by Alexander Burnes in 1832 sparked curiosity and travel to the region. (Image via Wikicommons)

Then the Taliban took over and declared them idols.

Mirza Hussain was from the town of Bamyan and a prisoner of the Taliban at the time. He told the BBC of how they captured him.

They forced him at gun point to plant explosives in both of the Buddhas for three days straight. The statues were destroyed in March 2001 — leaving nothing but craters where they once stood.

The Taliban used the caves for arms and munitions until troops from the United States, New Zealand, and Afghanistan retook control in 2003.

Talks continue years later whether they should rebuild the statues using fragments of the old ones, to use holograms to project them as they were, or to leave them as a brutal reminder of the horrors of the Taliban regime.

(NATO, YouTube)

Articles

Here’s how the Pentagon plans to incorporate transgender troops into the force

The Pentagon recently released its plan to better integrate transgender troops into the military, providing guidance to service members already in and a road map moving forward for transgender troops who wish to join.


Department of Defense Instruction 1300.28 says that troops who are mentally a different gender than they are physically will start by visiting a military doctor to receive a diagnosis. If the doctor agrees and diagnoses the service member, then the service member alerts their chain of command and begins a process that is tailored to each individual.

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Hospital corpsmen help Lt. Cmdr. Franklin Margaron, a surgeon, into his scrubs during an Pacific Partnership. Doctors like Margaron will be called on to help decide treatment plans for transgender service members. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam)

To summarize the process in broad strokes, the doctor and service member will agree on a treatment plan that addresses the member’s mental and physical health, and the member will report it to their commander. This plan will include an estimated day when the member’s gender will be officially switched in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

This official switch in DEERS won’t typically happen until the doctor has asserted that the transition is complete, the commander has signed off on the change, and the member has produced a court order, passport or state birth certificate asserting their preferred gender.

Once the member’s status is changed in DEERS, he or she will — as far as the military is concerned — cease to be their birth gender and will instead be recognized as their preferred gender. This includes uniform standards, physical training tests and all other regulations that refer to gender.

Also, the guidance stipulates that service members should not begin living as their preferred gender on duty until they complete their transition. This is because they will still be expected to conform to uniform and other regulations that apply to their birth gender until they complete their transition.

The DoD Instruction letter lays out guidance for commanders, including when they should delay a member’s transition or specific steps in the process to protect mission effectiveness. Basically, the commander should use the same discretion they have with other aspects of a member’s medical care and, when necessary, order the soldier to delay treatment in order to accomplish a mission.

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter signed off on the Department of Defense Instruction addressing transgendered troops in the military. (Photo: US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt)

These delays could be ordered when the transgender soldier is in a mission critical or shortage job, is deploying, or the transition could cause a breakdown in unit readiness at a key time.

Troops who need cross-sex hormone therapy to complete their transition or maintain their preferred gender will receive it within the constraints of their unit missions.

The instructions also addressed the expectation that transgendered people might soon join the military and attempt their transition early in their enlistment or time as an officer.

The instructions strongly deter this, advising commanders that while there is no blanket prohibition on gender transition in the first term of service, the necessities of training troops and preparing them for their overall military career will often preclude the service member’s ability to complete their transition.

So, people who want to transition to another gender and serve in the military should either transition before their enlistment or serve their first contract before beginning treatment.

The instruction is surely controversial. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has defended it, but Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has slammed it as dangerous and ill-thought out. He cited recruiting and deployability concerns.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

5 military parenting hacks civilians need

We all know military kids have grit. They are resilient. Gone are the days when the moniker of brat was the norm. These kids kick butt. But clearly, they didn’t get to be this awesome on their own. Along with genetics, military parents pass down life skills and civilian parents should take notice.

Not only that, military parents start at a disadvantage. We don’t have the luxury of choosing where we live, how much time we spend together as a family or if making friends at our new duty station will be easy or a string of awkward interactions or being repeatedly ghosted.

However, the byproduct of this lack of choice are parent life hacks that redefine parenting, military style:


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1. The art of the cannonball

When you have to jump into friendships, school, new surroundings, etc. – ad nauseum – there is no room for hesitation. You must just take a leap, no matter the water temperature or the distance to the splash. Military parents model what it is to roll with life when plans that were already written in Jell-O change again when new orders are cut.

Military kids are often the new faces on the playground asking, “Wanna play?” As they get older it gets harder, but they still try. They never stop trying. They jump in because they know they’ll have to start the process all over in two to three years.

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2. Let it go and embrace the suck

When you grow up without being able to control the world around you, your “normal” changes. Military kids know that “normal” is not a thing. This life lesson is one that all kids – and adults – need to learn. Of course, letting go of control is in no one’s comfort zone. It is ongoing — a choice to make the best of each crappy situation. Because as military kids and parents know, the crap will be closely followed by amazing – new favorite restaurants, friends and places to explore.

Sure, sometimes new is not better, and you find yourself stationed in rural Fallon, Nevada instead of sunny San Diego, California. But just as a cardboard box can be magically transformed into Star Wars X-wing fighter, rocks are actually buried treasure and white walls are blank canvases when presented with a permanent marker – hard is just an opportunity to invent a new perspective.

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3. Herd parenting for the win

Because military spouses morph into solo parents during deployments, they are often forced to (begrudgingly) rely upon others. The kindness of strangers at grocery stores, parents who invite kids over for playdates and judgement-free friends who come over, bottle of wine in hand – these things save lives. They also help kids learn that asking for help is okay. Not only is it okay, it is usually more fun. There are also other adults to yell at your kids, so you don’t have to be the bad guy 24/7. Parenting takes a village, but for military families their lifestyle makes a village.

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4. Yes sir/ma’am!

For those who are not from the south, calling someone ma’am or sir is risky. Using these pronouns could be considered an insult if addressed to someone of an insufficient age, and could be wise to avoid.

But the thing about the military is it sends people from all regions of the U.S., mixes them together and orders them to be polite. Respect is part of the culture, even if it is just surface level and mandatory. Military kids can certainly be wild, but they know the consequence of answering a question with “yea” instead of “yes ma’am” outweighs the use of extra syllables.

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5. It is not about them

Well, a lot of it is about them. Older kids have the youthful wisdom to connect news stories about war to what their parents do. Their ears perk up when they hear someone mention the military. They have become so a part of this process that they know when it is NOT about them, but about a greater, larger purpose. Without being told, military kids know that a happy life is not always an easy life. They know what it is to sacrifice and the honor that comes through service. This value placed on service leads many to follow in their parent’s footsteps by joining the military themselves.

Life hacks aside, we know that despite their resilience, military kids have to grow up fast. Many have anxiety, struggle at school as a result of frequent PCS moves and act out when mom/dad is deployed. They have to say goodbye to parents as if it were the last time and worse yet, sometimes it is. Their lives are harder than most and we as parents do our best with what we have.

But sometimes, if we are lucky enough to stumble into solid friendships, awesome duty stations and model optimism more often than not, our kids will rebound from this lifestyle with character birthed from chaos.

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