Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning's sentence - We Are The Mighty
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Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

President Barack Obama commuted the majority of WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence on Tuesday, with only three days left in office.


Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act, among other charges, in 2013 after she stole secret documents from a computer system she had access to while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq and leaked them to WikiLeaks in 2010.

She received a 35-year sentence for the leak and has served seven years in Fort Leavenworth. She will now be freed in five months, on May 17.

Manning, a transgender woman, has attempted suicide twice while in prison.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said last week that he’d agree to be extradited to the US if Obama grants clemency to Manning.

The US has threatened to prosecute Assange over the 2010 leak. Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden where he has been accused of sexual assault.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told The New York Times on Tuesday that there’s a “pretty stark difference” between Manning’s case and that of former government employee Edward Snowden.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
Chelsea Manning | via Twitter

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” Earnest said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

Snowden declared his support for Manning on Twitter.

“In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer!” Snowden tweeted.

The president has not granted clemency to Snowden.

Obama pardoned 64 other people on Tuesday and shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners. Over his two terms, Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,385 people and granted 212 pardons.

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This is why the first combat submarine was a death trap

For decades, submarines have been patrolling and protecting America’s ships with honor as they operate deep down below the sea’s surface. Functioning as the “Silent Service,” these vessels have come a long way with their vast array of technological advances and undersea stealth.


But the concept goes back as far as the Revolutionary War, though how it got to the level of today’s technology is a wonder given the dangers of plying the ocean’s depths.

The “Drebbel,” the “Turtle,” and the “Nautilus” were all early versions of submarine technology that never quite got underway. But it wouldn’t be until Confederate Naval Secretary Stephen Mallory authorized the construction of the CSS H.L. Hunley to break the blockade of their southern ports that sub-surface warfare really came into its own.

Related: This is how German submarines changed the world during World War I

After completion, the Hunley measured 40-feet long, 4-feet high, and 42-inches wide tightly housing a crew of eight men who had to power the vessel by hand cranking the propeller and steer through the ocean’s dark waters.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
This photo showcases the eight men it took to operate and propel the CSS Hunley through the water. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

During its first testing phase in the fall of 1863, the CSS Hunley failed and sunk killing five crew members. The sub was recovered, but sank again and killed all eight crew, including co-inventor Horace Hunley, later that same year.

Although considered a dud, the Hunley’s commanders still believed in its worth and resurrected the sub from the water for the second time.

It wouldn’t be until Feb. 17, 1864, where the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic and soon after plunged toward the ocean’s floor for a third time killing all of its crew — a real death trap.

In 2000, the Hunley was raised from the depths, restored and put on display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Also Read: This legendary Navy skipper sank 19 enemy ships

Check out the HISTORY channel’s video for the Hunley’s sub-legendary history and ingenuity.

(HISTORY, YouTube)Fun fact: Theodore Roosevelt was the first American president to make an undersea dive in the USS Plunger, in 1905.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia admits to violating airspace, blames it on a ‘device malfunction’

An alleged incursion into South Korea’s airspace on July 23, 2019, was down to a “device malfunction” from its aircraft, Russian officials reportedly said to the South Korean government.

Russia’s defense ministry said it would “immediately launch a probe and take necessary steps,” a South Korean official said of the incident, according to Yonhap News and Reuters.

Russian military officials were said to have expressed “deep regret.”

South Korea’s claim of an apology from Russia has not yet been verified. Business Insider had contacted Russia’s Ministry of Defence for comment.


The alleged apology comes after Russia’s defense ministry denied its aircraft intruded into South Korean airspace.

South Korean F-15K and F-16K fighter jets were scrambled after two Russian Tu-95 bombers accompanied by two Chinese H-6 bombers crossed into Korea’s air defense identification zone.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

An F-15K Slam Eagle from the South Korean air force.

(US Air Force Photo)

The Russian aircraft were joined by their Chinese counterparts in what was the first long-range joint air patrol, according to South Korean officials.

A Russian A-50 observation aircraft was also spotted by South Korean and Japanese forces. The South Korean military said it fired flares and hundreds of machine-gun rounds near the Russian aircraft after it went beyond violating its air defense identification zone — a buffer around airspace controlled by a country — to intrude on its airspace proper.

In a statement, Russian military officials denied its Tu-95s received nearby fire but did not mention its A-50 aircraft, Reuters reported.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95.

Russia accused South Korean jets of “unprofessional maneuvers” and miscommunication.

China claimed the airspace was not an exclusive territory for South Korea.

Russia has been accused of frequently coming close to violating the airspace of numerous countries, including the US and UK.

In May 2019, US F-22 stealth fighters were scrambled after Russian Tu-95s entered Alaska’s air defense identification zone.

After the Russian bombers left the zone, they returned with Russian Su-35 fighter jets, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Army soldier leads the way after historic accomplishment

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster was 37 years old when she attended Ranger School. While the average age of attendees in the course ranges in the early 20s, that didn’t deter her, and in October of 2015 she graduated from the course.

She was the first woman in the U.S. Army Reserve to do so.

Four years later, her advice to others is simple.

“You have to be ‘all-in,'” said Jaster. “Be willing to give everything you have for the school and maintain your integrity. The first week is published therefore you know what to expect and how to succeed. Once you’ve passed the physical entrance exam (RAP week), you will need to have the mental toughness to push through conditions that could beat a lesser person down.”


“Do not let ‘quit’ in,” she continued. “That means once you allow quitting into your mind as an option, it will move in, live there, steal your motivation, and eventually defeat you from within.”

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Maj. Lisa Jaster in late 2015, after her graduation from Ranger School that previous October.

(Courtesy of Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster)

The all-in attitude that Jaster says is the key to success for Ranger school has also been tantamount to accomplishments in other aspects of her life. As a citizen soldier, she demonstrates that one can serve their country while continuing to have a civilian career.

In the past three years, Jaster has been a senior project engineer with Shell Oil Co. before becoming the director of civil engineering for MS Engineering. She also has become a professional speaker with Leading Authorities, holding engagements across the country.

In the Army Reserve, she has been a battalion executive officer, an engineering team lead supporting the Iraqi Security Forces during Operation Inherent Resolve, and is now the brigade executive officer for the 420th Engineer Brigade, 416th Theater Engineer Command.

Throughout all of her experiences, her definition of leadership and what is expected of leaders has one constant: be consistent in your words and actions, and set the example for others to follow. This definition has served her well in both her military and civilian life.

“Everyone needs to be led as an individual, and each individual brings something to the fight as long as they are vested in the end state,” said Jaster. “A leader is someone who inspires those around them to be better versions of themselves.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster, executive officer, 420th Engineer Brigade, poses with her family after promotion from Maj. to Lt. Col. Jaster graduated from Ranger School in 2015, the first female officer in the Reserve to do so.

(Photo by Capt. Daniel Johnson)

“Traditionally,” she continued. “I have said that consistency is the most important aspect of leadership to ensure subordinates can perform in the absence of guidance,” After Ranger School, I have created the three Cs – Consistency, Communication and Competence. There are a lot of other aspects to being an effective leader, but these are necessary starting blocks.”

Jaster approaches her personal life with the same care as her professional one. A dual military couple, she and her husband, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Allan Jaster, have two children. Their support of each other and their children has been a critical factor in their accomplishments.

“Balancing the Citizen (employee, mom, wife, sister, daughter, and individual) with the soldier is very complicated,” said Jaster. “I used to try to silo both aspects of who I am but found that so much bleeds over from one job to the other that I need to be fluid with those lines.

“What that means,” continued Jaster. “Is that Army conference calls can happen during cheer practice, and I might need to review proposals for work while I am in the field with the Army. It means being open and honest with my spouse, my military boss, and my civilian supervisor about what I can handle and what might be coming up. Having a strong support team with regards to extended family, friends and hired help is critical to ensure nothing at home drops.”

Jaster does not want her Ranger School experience to define her. Since her completion of the course, she has advised to not identify soldiers and civilians by their race, sex or creed, but their skills, attributes and performance.

She created the hashtag #deletetheadjective for social media to emphasize her message, and throughout all of her speaking engagements, she has consistently stated the best teams are those with the highest level of competencies, not just a group identity. Being in the Army Reserve has allowed her to serve her country while creating awareness, and discussion, of the topic.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster, executive officer, 420th Engineer Brigade, receives a new patrol cap from her family signifying her promotion from Maj. to Lt. Col.

(Photo by Capt. Daniel Johnson)

“Ranger school was just part of my path,” said Jaster. “It was not an end state. I have a larger public voice because of graduating from Ranger School. My true failure or success is what I decide to do with that voice. If I can live by the Ranger Creed and set an example which brings our community together for a smooth gender integration, then that is the goal I am striving for.”

Looking forward to the future, Jaster continues to strive for excellence. Whether in uniform or out, she has used her previous accomplishments to continue to fuel her drive to succeed and set the example for others to follow. Her discipline and dedication to her family, civilian profession, and military career is a standard she refuses to let falter.

“Ranger School does not make me a good or a bad officer,” said Jaster. “It does mean there are certain external expectations of me that were previously only self-imposed. This gives me an additional drive to continue to train martial arts, strength, endurance and tactics, even when time constraints make it difficult and my current job doesn’t require it.

“I am looking forward to being a battalion commander,” she continued. “After battalion command, I am not sure what the Army holds, but I plan to stay in uniform as long as I can.”

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

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US intelligence before World War II was basically nonexistent

U.S. intelligence before World War II was fragmented and ad hoc, comprised of numerous government and military entities all loath to share their information with each other. With the events transpiring across the globe in the 1930’s, President Roosevelt became concerned about the United States’ deficiencies in the intelligence field. Enter William Donovan.


Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan was a well-respected lawyer and veteran of the First World War, in which he earned the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, and three Purple Hearts. Between the wars, he traveled extensively and met with many foreign dignitaries, however, his chief concern was on establishing the American equivalent of Britain’s intelligence services, MI6, and the Special Operations Executive. His extensive travel and ideas earned him the respect and friendship of President Roosevelt, and when the President established the Office of the Coordination of Information he named Donovan the director.

Donovan immediately set to work untangling the bureaucratic mess that was the American intelligence services. It was much more complicated than he anticipated. He met hostility over jurisdiction with numerous people, most notably J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. During this time, the majority of intelligence for the Office of the Coordination of Information came from the British, as did the training for the new operatives. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, it became clear that the United States needed a greater intelligence capacity. To accomplish this, President Roosevelt issued a presidential military order on June 13, 1942 creating the Office of Strategic Services with the mission of collecting and analyzing strategic information for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies. William Donovan was reactivated in the U.S. Army at his World War I rank of Colonel and put in charge of the organization.

Now that Donovan had his intelligence agency, he needed to fill the ranks. With no prior experience to draw on, he and those he recruited would be starting essentially from scratch. However, Donovan was given just the right man for the job in one Lt. Col. Garland Williams, a successful law enforcement officer and officer in the Army Reserve. Williams took Donovan’s intent to create an American intelligence service based on the British models and made it uniquely American – though he would require British help to get started. It was decided the OSS would be responsible for intelligence and counter-intelligence, psychological warfare, and guerrilla and irregular warfare, to include sabotage and most importantly coordinating resistance movements with each area of responsibility handled by a specialized branch. Once the training areas, National Parks outside Washington, D.C., were established and trainers were in place Williams set about creating a curriculum to train the new operatives.

Williams broke down the training into three phases; preliminary, basic, and advanced. Preliminary training was what Williams called a “toughening up” phase and included PT, obstacle courses, road marches, hand-to-hand combat and weapons skills that were designed to weed out the unqualified and to help identify the particular skills of those who passed for their branch assignment within the OSS. The basic phase introduced many special topics for students such as intelligence gathering, target identification, and sabotage. But most importantly, according to Lt. Col. Williams, in these phases the students “will also be physically and mentally conditioned during these two courses for the aggressive and ruthless action which they will be called upon to perform at later dates.” A park superintendent who monitored the OSS training area referred to the training as “a stomach-turning roughhouse” and was thoroughly appalled by what he witnessed.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
Donovan conferring with OSS agents in China

Once the students had passed preliminary and basic operator training they moved on to the advanced training. This training involved what Lt. Col. Williams referred to as “schemes” – mock attacks on real targets in the U.S. Teams of students would be assigned missions against bridges, railroads, and plants in areas such as Baltimore and Pittsburgh in which they were instructed to infiltrate secure locations and plant fake explosives or to recover some kind of sensitive data. Most of these missions were completed successfully however a few teams were arrested by local police or the FBI.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
OSS classroom training.

Throughout the operators’ training, the emphasis was always on independent thinking, initiative, resourcefulness, personal courage, and building confidence. Military discipline took a back seat to the need for candidates to become individual fighters and guerrilla warriors as opposed to soldiers who needed orders to operate. Col. Donovan even stated, “I’d rather have a young lieutenant with guts enough to disobey an order than a colonel too regimented to think and act for himself.”

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
OSS paratrooper training

Once the operatives completed training they were shipped to war zones all over the world where they conducted irregular warfare, sabotage, and direct action missions behind enemy lines in Operational Groups, a predecessor to modern Special Forces ODA’s, or in the more famous Jedburgh Teams. However, despite the support of Gen. Eisenhower, President Truman disbanded the Office of Strategic Services in October 1945 but its legacy and missions would live on.

Two years after the dissolution of the OSS, the Central Intelligence Agency was formed to take up many of its former missions and to establish their training curriculum the CIA used everything the OSS has created. A short time later the U.S. Army formed the Special Forces which took up the missions of irregular warfare and foreign internal defense. There are still visual cues that persist in the military today too such as the U.S. Special Operations Command shoulder sleeve insignia, nearly identical to the OSS patch, as well as the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife emblem on Delta Force’s shoulder sleeve insignia. Though the OSS was a fledgling intelligence service at the outset of World War II, it set the stage for the strongest clandestine services in the modern world.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran is just now feeling the sting of global terror

Considering the neighborhood Iran is in, the country has experienced relatively few terror attacks. In fact, much of Iran’s military strategy seems centered around keeping terrorism and external aggression outside of Iran itself, even if the attacks target Iranian forces.

All that is changing in recent days as Iran reels from another attack on its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. This one killed more than a dozen of the highly-trained members of the powerful Iranian military force.


Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

The remnants of an IRGC bus after an explosives-laden car rammed it on Feb. 13.

(Press TV)

A car filled with explosives was rammed into a bus carrying dozens of IRGC personnel on Feb. 13, 2019, in Iran’s Sistan-and-Baluchestan Province, near the border with Pakistan. Some 27 members of the IRGC were killed, and 13 others were wounded in the attack. An al-Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim group calling itself Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) took responsibility for the attack.

Iran is an Islamic Republic made up of predominantly Shia Muslims. External Sunni groups say the Sunni minority inside Iran is discriminated against by the Shia majority government. Sistan-and-Baluchestan is filled with members of the ethnically Baluchi people, who practice the Sunni form of Islam. Jaish al-Adl has been committing acts of terror inside Iran since 2012 to fight the systematic oppression of Sunni Muslims.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Balochi people outside of Iran have protested Iran’s government of the province for decades.

In January 2019, Jaish al-Adl set off two bombs that wounded three police officers in Baluchi city of Zahedan. In October 2018, the group kidnapped 10 at a border post in Mirjaveh. A month prior to that, the group killed 24 at a military parade in Ahvaz. That’s just from one group. On Dec. 6, 2018, a suicide car bomb carried out by the Salafi terror group Ansar al-Furqan killed two and wounded 48 more in Chabahar, in the same province. In 2017, ISIS-linked terrorists carried out a series of bombings across the capital city of Tehran, killing 17.

Between 2010 and 2017, Iran had no terror attacks within its borders. Prior to that, it saw only a handful of scattered attacks and bombings. The latest attack was one of the deadliest experienced by the Islamic Republic in years.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Iran’s special forces are currently deployed in Syria.

Also: This is why Iran’s Special Forces still wear US green berets

Iran currently projects power from Afghanistan in the East to Lebanon in the West, including its presence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic supports the Asad Regime in Syria, as well as the anti-Israel terror groups Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the past, anti-Shia terror groups have been funded and armed by Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service, whom Iran blames for the latest attack on Iranian soil.

The rhetoric between Iran and Pakistan has risen so high in the days following the attack, Iranian officials are meeting with Pakistan’s forever-rival India to discuss anti-terror cooperation between the two countries.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Navy’s railgun is a lesson on how to not develop weapons

The US Navy’s efforts to develop a powerful electromagnetic railgun are a lesson in what not to do, a top US admiral said Feb. 6, 2019.

The US has “a number of great ideas that are on the cusp,” Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said at the Atlantic Council, adding that “some of these technologies are going to be absolutely decisive in terms of defining who wins and who does not in these conflicts and in this new era” of great power competition.

But the US needs to accelerate the process because its adversaries are moving faster, he said. The admiral called attention to the railgun, a $500 million next-generation weapon concept that uses electromagnetic energy to hurl a projectile at an enemy at hypersonic speeds.


The US Navy has been researching this technology for years, but the US has not armed a warship with the gun. China, a rival power, appears to have mounted a railgun on a naval vessel, suggesting it may be beating the US in the race to field a working railgun with many times the range of existing naval guns.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Electromagnetic Railgun located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

“I would say that railgun is kind of the case study that would say ‘This is how innovation maybe shouldn’t happen,'” Richardson said. “It’s been around, I think, for about 15 years, maybe 20. So ‘rapid’ doesn’t come to mind when you’re talking about timeframes like that.”

He said that the US had learned a lot from the project and that “the engineering of building something like that, that can handle that much electromagnetic energy and not just explode, is challenging.”

“So we’re going to continue after this, right? We’re going to install this thing. We’re going to continue to develop it, test it,” he said. “It’s too great a weapon system, so it’s going somewhere, hopefully.”

The admiral compared the railgun to a sticky note, which was invented for an entirely different purpose, to illustrate that the US had learned other things from its railgun research.

The hypervelocity projectile developed for the railgun, for instance, “is actually a pretty neat thing in and of itself,” he said, and “is also usable in just about every gun we have.”

“It can be out into the fleet very, very quickly, independent of the railgun,” he said. “So this effort is sort of breeding all sorts of advances. We just need to get the clock sped up with respect to the railgun.”

During 2018’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, the US Navy fired hypervelocity projectiles developed for railguns from the standard 5-inch deck gun on the destroyer USS Dewey, USNI News reported in January 2019.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) transits the Pacific Ocean while underway in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operations.

(U.S. Navy Photo)

And it’s apparently a concept the Navy is considering for the Zumwalt-class destroyers, the guns for which do not work and do not have suitable ammunition.

These hypervelocity projectiles are fired through the barrel via sabots that hold the round in place and harmlessly fall out the end of the barrel after firing. The sheer power of the electromagnetic pulse and the round’s aerodynamic profile allow it to fly much faster than normal rounds to devastating effect — the US Navy has said its experimental railgun could fire these bullets at seven times the speed of sound.

But experts argue that the railgun is inherently problematic technology, saying that regardless of who gets there first, the guns are likely to be militarily useless.

Railguns are “not a good replacement for a missile,” Bryan Clark, a naval-affairs expert, previously told Business Insider. “They’re not a good replacement for an artillery shell.”

He added: “It’s not useful military technology.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

India’s anti-missile launch just worsened problematic space-trash

On March 27, 2019, India launched a missile toward space, struck an Earth-orbiting satellite, and destroyed the spacecraft.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a televised address shortly after the launch to declare the anti-satellite, or ASAT, test a success. He praised the maneuver, called “Mission Shakti,” as “an unprecedented achievement” that registers India as “a space power.” Modi also clarified that the satellite was one of India’s own, according to Reuters.

“Our scientists shot down a live satellite. They achieved it in just three minutes,” he said during the broadcast, adding: “Until now, only US, Russia, and China could claim the title. India is the fourth country to achieve this feat.”


While Modi and his supporters may hail the event as an epic achievement, India’s ASAT test represents an escalation toward space warfare and also heightens the risk that humanity could lose access to crucial regions of the space around Earth.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


That’s because destroying the satellite created debris that’s now floating in space. Those pieces have the potential to collide with, damage, and possibly destroy other spacecraft.

The threat that debris poses isn’t just limited to expensive satellites. Right now, six crew members are living on board the International Space Station (ISS) roughly 250 miles above Earth. That’s about 65 miles higher than the 185-mile altitude of India’s now obliterated satellite, but there is nonetheless a chance some debris could reach higher orbits and threaten the space station.

Two astronauts are scheduled to conduct a spacewalk on March 29, 2019, (it was going to be the first all-female spacewalk, but that’s no longer the case) to make upgrades to the orbiting laboratory’s batteries. Spokespeople at NASA did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for information about the risk posed by this new debris field.

Regardless of what happens next, tracking the debris is essential.

“The Department of Defense is aware of the Indian ASAT launch,” a spokesperson for the US Air Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, which tracks and catalogs objects in space, told Business Insider in an email. “US Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command is actively tracking and monitoring the situation.”

The potential risk to the ISS and other satellites only scratches the surface of larger worries associated with destroying spacecraft, either intentionally or accidentally.

Space debris begets more space debris

Any collision in space creates a cloud of debris, with each piece moving at about 17,500 mph. That’s roughly the speed required to keep a satellite in low-Earth orbit and more than 10 times as fast as a bullet shot from a gun.

At such velocities, even a stray paint chip can disable a satellite. Jack Bacon, a scientist at NASA, told Wired in 2010 that a strike by a softball-sized sphere of aluminum would be akin to detonating 7 kilograms of TNT explosives.

This is worrisome for a global society increasingly reliant on space-based infrastructure to make calls, get online, find the most efficient route home via GPS, and more.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

A space-debris hit to the space shuttle Endeavour’s radiator found after one of its missions. The entry hole is about 0.25 inches wide, and the exit hole is twice as large.

(NASA)

The ultimate fear is a space-access nightmare called a “Kessler syndrome” event, named after Donald J. Kessler, who first described such an event in 1978 while he was a NASA astrophysicist. In such a situation, one collision in space would create a cloud of debris that leads to other collisions, which in turn would generate even more debris, leading to a runaway effect called a “collision cascade.”

So much high-speed space junk could surround Earth, Kessler calculated, that it might make it too risky for anyone to attempt launching spacecraft until most of the garbage slowed down in the outer fringes of our planet’s atmosphere, fell toward the ground, and burned up.

“The orbital-debris problem is a classic tragedy of the commons problem, but on a global scale,” Kessler said in a 2012 mini-documentary.

Given the thousands of satellites in space today, a collision cascade could play out over hundreds of years and get increasingly worse over time, perhaps indefinitely, unless technologies are developed to vaporize or deorbit space junk.

A launch in the wrong direction

An ASAT test that China conducted in January 2007 showed how much of a headache the debris from these shoot downs can become.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

An illustration of the space-debris cloud created by China’s 2007 anti-satellite test.

(CSSI)

As with India’s test, China launched a missile armed with a “kinetic kill vehicle” on top. The kill vehicle — essentially a giant bullet-like slug — pulverized a 1,650-pound weather satellite, in the process creating a cloud of more than 2,300 trackable chunks of debris the size of golf balls or larger. It also left behind 35,000 pieces larger than a fingernail and perhaps 150,000 bits smaller than that, according to the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI) and BBC.

The CSSI called the test “the largest debris-generating event in history, far surpassing the previous record set in 1996.”

Years later, satellite operators and NASA are still dodging the fallout with their spacecraft.

Even without missiles, plenty of space debris is created regularly. Each launch of a rocket deposits some trash up there, and older satellites that have no deorbiting systems or aren’t “parked” in a safe orbit can collide with other satellites.

Such a crash happened on Feb. 10, 2009: A deactivated Russian communications satellite slammed into a US communications satellite at a combined speed of about 26,000 mph. The collision created thousands of pieces of new debris, many of which are still in orbit.

There are more productive ways to use rockets

To be clear, India’s Mission Shakti test likely was not as dangerous as these other debris-creating events.

At an altitude of about 185 miles, it was roughly 350 miles closer to Earth than China’s 2007 test or the US-Russian satellite crash of 2009. That means the pieces will fall out of orbit at a faster rate. The satellite India destroyed, likely Microsat-R, was relatively small compared with other spacecraft, though not insignificantly: It weighed about 1,540 pounds, according to Ars Technica.

Modi did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the ASAT test’s debris field, but according to Reuters, India “ensured there was no debris in space and the remnants would ‘decay and fall back on to the earth within weeks.'” In that sense, the test may be more similar to a US Navy shoot down of a satellite in 2008.

However, the forces involved a space-based crash can accelerate debris into higher and different orbits. So obliterating any satellite is not a step in the right direction. Nor is creating a capability that could one day, either intentionally or accidentally, spark a Kessler syndrome event.

Much like the idea of deterrence with nuclear weapons — “if you attack me, I’ll attack you with more devastating force” — deterrence with anti-satellite weapons is extremely risky. With either, an accident or miscalculation could lead to devastating and lasting problems that would harm the entire world for generations.

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Image made from models used to track debris in Earth orbit.

At an altitude of about 185 miles, it was roughly 350 miles closer to Earth than China’s 2007 test or the US-Russian satellite crash of 2009. That means the pieces will fall out of orbit at a faster rate. The satellite India destroyed, likely Microsat-R, was relatively small compared with other spacecraft, though not insignificantly: It weighed about 1,540 pounds, according to Ars Technica.

Modi did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the ASAT test’s debris field, but according to Reuters, India “ensured there was no debris in space and the remnants would ‘decay and fall back on to the earth within weeks.'” In that sense, the test may be more similar to a US Navy shoot down of a satellite in 2008.

As a global society, it’d behoove us not to cheer the achievement of a weapons capability that edges the world closer to a frightening brink. Instead, we should rebuke such tests and instead demand from our leaders peaceful cooperation in space, including the development of means to control our already spiraling space-debris problem.

“If we don’t change the way we operate in space,” Kessler said in 2012, we are facing down an “exponentially increasing amount of debris, until all objects are reduced to a cloud of orbiting fragments.”

Rather than individual countries investing in missile-based weaponry, perhaps we should call on our leaders to spend that human and financial capital on our world’s most dire and pressing problems — or even work toward returning people to the moon and rocketing the first crews to Mars.

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

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Pentagon chief hints at October assault on Mosul

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he expects Iraqi forces to be successful in their assault to retake Mosul and deliver a sharp blow to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.


Speaking to reporters after a trip to Europe, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford listed recent gains leading up to the eventual battle to retake the key northern city. Those advances, he explained, include Iraqi forces bridging the Tigris River near Qayyarah and securing the airfield there.

“The noose is gradually tightening around Mosul,” he said.

The liberation of Mosul will “chip away” at the idea of a physical caliphate for ISIL, he said. Taking back Mosul and Raqqa, ISIL’s so-called capital in Syria, will severely limit the terror group’s capability and ability to operate in the region and beyond, he said.

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Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with Iraqi leaders and coalition trainers in the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve at Besmaya Range Complex April 21, 2016. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

“In my view, it’ll be a very significant blow to the Islamic State as they lose Mosul and Raqqa and they can no longer talk about holding a physical caliphate in Syria and Iraq,” Dunford said.

Iraqi leaders have identified Iraqi forces that are required for the operations to take back Mosul, the chairman said. Those forces will be ready in October, he added.

The timing of the assault, Dunford said, is a political decision that rests on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

“Our job is to actually help the Iraqis generate the forces and the support necessary for operations in Mosul and we’ll be ready for that in October,” the top U.S. general said.

President Barack Obama, after meeting with Abadi yesterday in New York, said he expects a tough fight for the city of more than two million people, noting ISIL has “embedded itself deeply” within Mosul.

Dunford told reporters that hearing about ISIL-inspired terrorist attacks worldwide further steels his resolve to defeat ISIL’s ideology and eliminate the terrorists in Mosul and Raqqa.

“What it continues to give me is a sense of urgency for getting after the physical caliphate, undermining the virtual caliphate and eliminating the ability to conduct supported, directed or inspired attacks,” he said.

This will be done through military means in cooperation with the coalition and through partners on the ground, the chairman said.

“The more aggressive we are at taking the fight to the Islamic State, wherever they happen to be, the more successful we will be in eroding their physical capability to direct attacks and support attacks,” Dunford said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These Marines fought so fiercely, they burned out two Howitzers

US Marines arrived in Syria in March to support the effort to retake Raqqa with artillery fire.


The Marines, from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, came with M-777 Howitzers that can fire powerful 155 mm shells. The 11th MEU returned to the US in May, turning the operations over to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said they recaptured the city in mid-October, and, according to Army Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, the Marine fire supporting them was so intense that the barrels on two of the Howitzers burned out, making them unsafe to use.

Troxell, who is senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, said last week that US-led coalition forces were firing on ISIS in Raqqa “every minute of every hour” in order to keep pressure on the terrorist group.

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A U.S. Marine artillery unit in Syria. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)

“What we have seen is the minute we take the pressure off of ISIS they regenerate and come back in a hurry,” Troxell said, according to Military Times. “They are a very resilient enemy.”

The M-777 Howitzer is 7,500 pounds — 9,000 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It is highly maneuverable, and can be towed by 7-ton trucks or carried by MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft or by CH-53E Super Stallion or CH-47 Chinook helicopters. It can be put in place and readied to fire in less than three minutes.

Also Read: The American howitzer you never heard much about

Its sustained rate of fire is two rounds a minute, but it can fire four rounds a minute for up to two minutes, according to its manufacturer, BAE Systems. While it’s not clear how many rounds the Marine M-777s fired or the period over which they fired them, burning out two barrels underscores the intensity of the bombardment used against ISIS in and around Raqqa.

“I’ve never heard of it ― normally your gun goes back to depot for full reset well before that happens,” a former Army artillery officer told Military Times. “That’s a s—load of rounds though.”

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A US Marine fires an M-777A2 Howitzer in Syria, June 1, 2017. Sgt. Matthew Callahan/US Marine Corps

The M-777’s maximum range is 18.6 miles (though it can fire Excalibur rounds accurately up to 25 miles, according to Military.com). Video that emerged this summer showed Marines firing 155 mm artillery shells with XM1156 Precision Guidance Kits, according to The Washington Post.

The kit is a type of fuse that turns the shell in to a semi-precision-guided munition that, on average, will hit within 100 feet of the target when fired from the M-777’s maximum range. The XM1156 has only appeared in combat a few times.

The number of rounds it takes to burn out a howitzer barrel depends on the range to the target as well as the level of charge used, which can vary based on weight of the shell and the distance it needs to be fired.

If the howitzers were being fired closer to their target, “the tube life might actually be extended some,” the former Army officer told Military Times. Open-source imagery reviewed this summer indicated that Marines were at one point within 10 miles of Raqqa.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These vets keep it real when answering whether they’d join the military again

In this latest episode of Vets Get Real, WATM talks to a group of former servicemembers about whether or not they’d join the military all over again if given the chance.


Be sure to keep an eye out for other episodes of Vets Get Real where WATM hosts discussions with vets on topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.

Editor’s note: If you have questions that you’d like to see Vets Get Real about, please leave a comment below.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

British Carrier named for the Queen has 6 sailors arrested

Six sailors from HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s largest and most powerful aircraft carrier, were reportedly arrested and taken into custody over drunk and disorderly behavior in Jacksonville, Florida, in September 2018.

The sailors, who were on shore leave, were arrested after locals found them fighting and and urinating in public, the BBC reported.

The incident took place on late Sept. 6, 2018, into early Sept. 7, 2018, according to Jacksonville’s local WJAX-TV station.


Most of them were taken into custody on drunk and disorderly charges, The Florida Times-Union reported.

Three of them were also charged with resisting arrest. One pushed and pulled an officer, one was actively fighting and refused to stop, and another refused to put his hands behind his back and was ultimately stunned by a Taser, according to WJAX-TV.

The group were held overnight before being released back onboard the warship on Sept. 7, 2018, The Sun reported.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in the US in September 2018 after leaving the UK on Aug. 18, 2018. It is on its way to carry out F-35 trials at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland with US and British pilots late September 2018.

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The HMS Queen Elizabeth passes by the Florida coast, where it is stopping to refuel before sailing north to Maryland. Sept. 5, 2018.

(WJXT News / Youtube)

The British navy acknowledged the incident but declined to provide further comment.

A spokesperson for the Royal Navy told Business Insider in a statement:

“We can confirm that a number of naval personnel are assisting US police with their enquiries — it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

“The Naval Service places great importance on maintaining the highest possible standards of behaviour from its personnel at all times.”

Sergeant Larry Smith of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department also confirmed that all the arrests were related to alcohol, but that they were “a case of good people making bad decisions.”

Smith told the Sun:

“Our officers went down to the ship to speak to their commanders, and while they were still out on the town on Thursday night, there were no more problems from the sailors.

“It was a case of good people making bad decisions, they got drunk and they fought among themselves.

“It happens. They seem to beat the mess out of each other and knock their teeth out, but once they pick up their teeth off the ground they hug and then are best friends again.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful aircraft carrier in British history. It took eight years to build and cost the Royal Navy £3.5 billion (.6 billion).

It is home to 900 people — 700 Royal Navy members and 200 industry personnel.

The deployment to the US is significant because it will mark the first fighter jet landing on a British aircraft carrier in eight years, since the decommissioning of HMS Ark Royal.

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

Articles

How realistic are the firearms in ‘Battlefield 1’?

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EA capture


For once, Internet rumors have proved true. Swedish video-game developer DICE, a subsidiary of EA, is looking to the past for the setting of the newest installation in its Battlefield series of first-person shooters.

But how realistic are the weapons in Battlefield 1? It turns out — pretty realistic for a game of this sort. But there are a couple of odd anachronisms.

DICE launched the Battlefield series back in 2002 with Battlefield 1942, set during World War II. Most of the Battlefield games are set in the present or future, but one takes place during the Vietnam War. As such, the Battlefieldseries has a history with, ahem, history.

Today in 2016 we’re in the middle of the Great War centennial — and this no doubt inspired DICE’s decision to set Battlefield 1 during World War I. It’s also possible that the developers hoped to recreate the success of the excellent multiplayer game Verdun, which recreates the eponymous 1916 battle.

Having played some of their earlier games — namely Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam — and having been impressed with the level accuracy and detail, I decided to take a close look at some of the weapons that appear in the 60-second teaser trailer DICE recently released for Battlefield 1.

Melee Weapons

In the first 10 seconds of the trailer, we see what looks to be a German soldier wearing a Gaede helmet and a gas mask and bludgeoning an enemy with a trench club.

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At left — EA capture. At right — German soldiers in Gaede helmets, c. 1915. Photo via Reddit

A short while later, the trailer cuts to what appears to be a sabre-wielding Arab horseman charging through a desert. All pretty convincing.

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At left — EA capture. At right — Arab cavalry in 1916. Library of Congress photo

Lewis Gun

Thirteen seconds into the trailer, there’s a spectacular aerial shot of a Western Front battlefield from over the shoulder of an observer manning what appears to be a Mk. II Aerial Lewis Gun.

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EA capture

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
A Royal Air Force Bristol F.2 fighter with two Mk. II Aerial Lewis Guns. Photo via Wikipedia

Trench Gun

Another scene again shows a Gaede-wearing German dispatching an apparent American infantryman armed with what could be a Winchester M1897 Trench Gun or, alternatively, a Remington Model 10A Trench Gun, which the U.S. Marine Corps deployed in limited numbers during World War I.

The shotgun’s profile — it doesn’t appear to have an exposed hammer like the Winchester does — and its bayonet lug indicate it’s the latter weapon. However, the weapon lacks the wooden heat shield which fit to the top of the Model 10A’s barrel. The pump handle also appears to be missing!

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EA capture

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
Rock Island Auction photo

Maxim LMG 08/15

The trailer features a series of aerial dogfights over a number of different theaters. Twenty seconds in, we see a red German plane — possibly a Fokker Dr.I — chase an Allied biplane through a canyon, ultimately destroying it with its MG 08/15 Maxim machine guns.

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EA capture

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
Aerial MG08. CRsenal photo

Tankgewehr M1918

At the 25-second mark, the world’s first anti-tank rifle — the German T-Gewehr — is briefly visible. A soldier sprints beside a British Mk. IV Male tank — which, by the way, is moving far too fast to be realistic. It’s quite the feat, considering the T-Gewehr weighed 41 pounds!

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At left — EA capture. At right — New Zealand troops with a captured T-Gewehr. Imperial War Museum photo

Colt M1911

Halfway through the trailer, there’s a brief glimpse of a 1911 pistol. This scene also hints that the game could involve more than just trench combat.

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At left — EA capture. At right — Photo via Zwickelundkrieg

Gas Weapons

At the trailer’s midpoint, we finally get our first glimpses of gas warfare. A shattered ruin collapses under artillery fire and a Lewis Gun operator blasts a German infantryman before donning a gas mask.

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At left — EA capture. At right — A U.S. Marine test-fires an M1917 Lewis Gun in 1917. Library of Congress photo

Carcano M1891 Carbine

The trailer cuts to a group of what seem to be Italian infantry wearing Adrian helmet — and getting brutally cut down by machine-gun fire. The carbines they carry are the trailer’s first mystery. They’re not quite Carcanos, but what else would Italian troops be carrying in 1916?

The weapons lack the Carcano’s curved bolt handle, folding bayonet and magazine — but no other weapon fits the bill. Maybe this represents a rare oversight in DICE’s game design. Or maybe the weapon we see in the trailer is a placeholder for a gun that the designers are still working on rendering.

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At left — EA capture. At right — YouTube capture

SMLE

At 38 seconds, the iconic British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield makes an appearance as the camera pans across a trench full of British troops scrambling to fix bayonets.

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At left — EA capture. At right — British soldiers with Lee-Enfield rifles during World War II

Scoped Gewehr 98

For a split-second as a building explodes, we catch a glimpse of a sniper’s scope-equipped Gewehr 98 rifle.

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At left — EA capture. At right — A German soldier with a Gewehr 98. Capture from the 1943 film ‘Sahara’

MG 08/15 or Bergmann MG15nA

It’s difficult to see quite what this unrealistically armor-clad soldier is hip-firing, but it’s probably either a MG08/15 or possibly a Bergmann MG15nA — which had a carrying handle — as these were the only light machine guns Germany used during the war.

This brief scene concerns me, as the armor looks more like something from the 15th century than from World War I. Not only that, the MG 08/15 weighed nearly 40 pounds, so it was impossible to fire from the hip for very long.

While it’s true that the Germans experimented with infantry armor during World War I, most of the combatant nations — including Germany — found heavy armor to be impractical and never deployed it outside of static fortifications.

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EA capture

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
At left—Bergmann MG15nA. World.guns.ru photo. At right — Mg 08 15. Mitrailleuse.fr photo

Mauser C96 Bergmann MP18

Let’s round things out with a look at the weapons in the first promotional images DICE made available following the trailer’s debut. They show a man armed with a trench club in one hand, the iconic Mauser C96 in the other and a Bergmann MP18 submachine gun — complete with a trommel magazine slung at his side!

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EA capture

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence
At left — Mauser C96. Photo via Wikipedia. At right — Bergmann MP18. World.guns.ru photo

No doubt, once Battlefield 1 drops in October 2016, we’ll also see BARs,Chauchats, Lebels, Lugers and a host of Maxim guns. But what about more obscure weapons? Perhaps an Italian Villar Perosa, a French RSC 1917, a British Webley automatic or even a Pedersen Device jutting out of an M1903 Springfield.

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