UPDATE: The Pentagon has identified the Special Forces soldier killed in a shootout April 8 in Afghanistan as Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland. De Alencar was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
A U.S. soldier was killed Saturday in Afghanistan while carrying out operations against the Islamic State group, a U.S. official said.
U.S. Navy Captain Bill Salvin, a spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, said the soldier was killed late April 8 during an operation against ISIS-Khorasan in Nangarhar province. ISIS-Khorasan is a branch of Islamic State active in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other parts of South Asia.
Reuters reported that the soldier was a member of the Special Forces.
The developers of one of China’s newest and most advanced combat drones have released a new video showcasing its destructive capabilities.
The video was released just one week prior to the start of the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, where this drone made its debut in 2016.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s CH-5 combat drone, nicknamed the “Air Bomb Truck” because it soars into battle with 16 missiles, is the successor to the CH-4, which many call the “AK-47 of drones.”
Resembling General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper drone, the developers claim the weapon is superior to its combat-tested American counterpart, which carries four Hellfire missiles and two 500-pound precision bombs. The Reaper is one of America’s top hunter-killer drones and a key weapon that can stalk and strike militants in the war on terror.
The CH-5 “can perform whatever operations the MQ-9 Reaper can and is even better than the US vehicle when it comes to flight duration and operational efficiency,” Shi Wen, a chief CH series drone designer at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, told the China Daily two years ago.
But, while the CH-5 and the MQ-9 may look a lot alike, it is technological similarity, not parity. The Reaper’s payload, for instance, is roughly double that of China’s CH-5. And, while China’s drone may excel in endurance, its American counterpart has a greater maximum take-off weight and a much higher service ceiling.
The sensors and communications equipment on the Chinese drone are also suspected to be inferior to those on the MQ-9, which in 2017 achieved the ability to not only wipe out ground targets but eliminate air assets as well.
Nonetheless, these systems can get the job done. The CH-4, the predecessor to the latest CH series drone, has been deployed in the fight against the Islamic State.
China has exported numerous drones to countries across the Middle East, presenting them as comparable to US products with less restrictions and for a lower price.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is now a master photographer, cartoonist, and storyteller.
Being the unit’s cartoonist is an incredible responsibility. For one, you have to decide what will live on in the annals of history and two, you have to find stories that are funny. A gift that has come to me throughout my life. Yes but a gift… or a curse?
I was approached on so, so many occasions by a chuckling brother to the effect: “Geo! ha ha ha, hey listen, ha ha ha, how ’bout you do a cartoon of Bob spilling his juice in the chow hall and all the guys are saying, like: ‘awww man… you spilled your juice!” ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”
The inherent humor in Bob spilling his juice is debatable at best, but let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s there. The narrative of the man’s snappy comeback… not so funny. I had two choices in the matter strictly from my perspective:
1. Let the man down gently: “Man, I’m really sorry, but that scenario just doesn’t pass the acid test, my brother. Look, it has nothing to do with you personally; it’s really just a business decision, a very difficult business decision. I got mad love for you my brother, but I have a reputation to maintain here in the Unit. I’m sorry, but my hands are tied.”
2. Freakish exaggerations are the very core of the power of the cartoon. I can take the pallid tale of Bob spilling of his juice coupled with the vapid remarks from the men and wildly exaggerate the whole scenario to make it so ridiculous as to be funny.
I can show a dozen men being washed out of the chow hall door by a flood of red liquid (Bob’s juice), with men donned in various levels of gear associated with waterborne operations and perhaps one man yelling: “Hey, do we get paid dive credit this month for this?!?
Not really funny? I feel you, dawg. There isn’t a set “formula” for hilarity, but two variables that help are mistakes and commanding officers. The poor Commanding Officer of our squadron had been out on the flat range one day with a new assault rifle in an effort to adjust his gun sites for accuracy. In some cases, new gun sites can be wildly off the bull’s eye.
(Outdoor shooting flat range where the distance to the target is Known Distance, or KD)
His first mistake, well… his ONLY mistake, was to guest himself onto a range where the boys were already conducting *Blaze Ops. There are always those occasional line-walkers that feel the urge to stroll the target line to see how those around them fair in accuracy. Well, a brother noted that the boss’ cupboard was bare; he had slick paper with no bullet impacts on it. The launch sequence was initiated; the man couldn’t get to me fast enough to tell me all about how the boss himself had flown all of his rounds off his target:
“Ha, ha ha… Geo, you could show — ha, ha, ha, — the boss with a clean target — ha, ha, ha, — and the guys could all be saying, like, ‘Hey there boss… it looks like you missed your target!’ — ha, ha, ha!”
“Yeah, man… that’s a total riot — I’ll get right to work on that.”
Hence the morass (morass is what you use when you don’t have enough ass). I didn’t think it was necessarily funny that the boss had rounds off paper, but if anyone else had done that his chops would have been busted. I couldn’t let the boss off the hook so easily. I ginned up ideas that came to mind.
What is generally said to a person who launches with poor accuracy whether it a gun or a rock or a baseball? One of my more obscure phrases is: “He couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle,” said during WWII of the inaccurate pilot of a dive bomber.
(American SBD Dauntless dive bomber. It was this same bomber that sank all fourJapanese aircraft carriers during the pivotal battle of Midway.)
Ok then: “He couldn’t hit the side of a barn.” That nicely anchored the theme: Everyone’s target is the usual half man-sized cardboard target on a plank, with the boss’ target being an entire barn facing sideways… silo and hay loft… the nine yards. Then I added a Range Safety Officer in the parapet calling out the disposition of the bullet strikes to the men at the firing line.
It was a done deal. All that was left was to jones over that future moment when the boss and I would inevitably pass each other in the hall, just he and I… awkward!
Former Navy SEAL Andy Stumpf wants to raise $1 million for the Navy SEAL Foundation, a non-profit that supports the families of fallen SEALs, by jumping out of a plane at 36,500 feet. His jump aims to break the wing suit overland distance world record of 17.83 miles.
Please help Andy raise $1 million for the Navy SEAL Foundation by donating to his GoFundMe page.
On July 11, 2017, the Sri Lankan navy was conducting operations nine miles out to sea and spotted something surprising: an elephant swimming in the deep ocean.
Elephants are actually excellent swimmers for land animals, using their powerful legs to propel themselves forward and breathing through their trunk. But they aren’t true endurance swimmers or deepwater experts.
Wuhan, China, evacuees being held at a military base in California drafted a petition demanding improvements to the CDC’s quarantine protocol after a person infected with the coronavirus COVID-19 was accidentally released from hospital isolation.
Passengers aboard a State Department-mandated evacuation flight from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have been quarantined at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar.
One passenger, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was accidentally released from isolation at UC San Diego Medical Center back to the air base on Monday. The woman was discharged prematurely after her results were mislabeled, per the CDC’s methodology to protect patients’ identities, local news station KNSD reported.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the woman and three others were discharged and on the way back to the base when it was discovered that three of four tests had not been processed yet.
“We decided, OK, we’re going to put these people in isolation in their rooms and instruct them not to leave, not to mingle with the general population there at Miramar base, and we’re going to wait for the results of those tests,” CDC official Dr. Christopher Braden told The Union-Tribune. “Well, of course, as luck would have it, it was one of those tests that came back positive.”
The woman’s symptoms were described as mild and she was not exposed to members of the public. The woman was not symptomatic before she went to the hospital for testing, so it’s unclear what impact if any it will have on the others in quarantine at the base. The three people she was transported with, however, will likely have to extend their quarantine time, The Union-Tribune reported.
Still those on the base are concerned about their overall safety. The petition from those in quarantine was written “in light of the first confirmed case at Miramar coupled with the current precautions taken at the center,” and the listed improvements were “critical measures toward mitigating the potential risk of spreading the virus at the Miramar Center.”
The five suggestions in the petition are as follows:
“Everyone in the facility be tested.
“Preventing the gathering of large numbers of people into small, enclosed environments; suggesting meals be delivered to the door and town hall meetings through conference calls.
“Periodic delivery of personal protective gear to each room, including masks and sanitizing alcohol for in-room disinfection.
“Provision of hand sanitizer at the front desk and in the playground.
“Disinfection of public areas two to three times a day, including playground, laundry room, door knobs, etc.”
“We really felt the need for these basic things to be addressed,” Jacob Wilson, who is being held at the airbase, told KNSD, “and we hope that the petition would at least be able to address these basic concerns.”
Wilson described what it was like under quarantine at the air base, saying the CDC recommended the residents stand six feet away from each other, but they are placed shoulder-to-shoulder for daily temperature checks, which he said “flies in the face of the protections and precautions.”
“We’re trying our best to disinfect things with the hand soap that we’ve been given, even though we don’t have disinfectant,” he told The Daily Beast. “We’re frustrated and worried.”
The 232 Wuhan evacuees arrived at MCAS Miramar on two flights — one on February 5 and the other on February 6. All passengers were subject to 14-day quarantines starting the day they left China.
Thus far there have been 14 cases reported in the US.
Marines and soldiers are trained to operate in any clime and place. Whenever troops are deployed to a combat zone, or anywhere for that matter, they’re briefed on the local fauna. The most important takeaway of the safety brief is to not mess with the wildlife. While some service members have a penchant for playing with dangerous animals, in combat, nature flips the script. One species in the animal kingdom gives the Marine Corps a run for its money when it comes to amphibious operations.
Indochinese Tiger – Vietnam
It sounds fantastical to the uninitiated but tiger attacks on U.S. and North Vietnamese Army troops were common enough to pose an actual threat to operations in the jungle. In 1968, 3rd Marine Recon Battalion set up an LP/OP, also known as a listening and observation post, near Quang Tri, Vietnam. By nature, tigers are nocturnal ambush predators, but no one could predict what would happen next. A sleeping Marine was attacked in the dead of night.
When the rest of the Marines awoke to the screams of their brother being dragged off into the jungle by the neck, they reacted. Fortunately, they were able to kill the tiger and rescue him. Unfortunately, that same tiger killed a Marine a month earlier 10 miles away. There are other accounts of troops being attacked by tigers in Vietnam. Not only was the battlefield dangerous because of “Charlie” and booby traps, but nature also had her own units on patrol.
The Oceanic Whitetip Shark – World War II
Japanese submarines were not the only thing lurking underneath the waters of the Pacific. The worst shark attack in history befell the crew of the USS Indianapolis after completing a top secret mission. After delivering components of the nuclear bombs that would end the war, the ship was ambushed by Japanese submarine I-58. Of the six torpedoes, two hit their mark and sank the USS Indianapolis within 12 minutes.
The animals were drawn by the sound of the explosions, the sinking of the ship and the thrashing and blood in the water. Though many species of shark live in the open water, none is considered as aggressive as the oceanic whitetip. Reports from the Indianapolis survivors indicate that the sharks tended to attack live victims close to the surface, leading historians to believe that most of the shark-related causalities came from oceanic whitetips.
Natasha Geiling, Smithsonian Magazine
Of the 900 survivors of the sinking, only 316 were rescued. There were three other ships that could have responded to the USS Indianapolis’ distress call but they ignored it. Of the 900 initial survivors, it is estimated that up to 150 died from shark attacks.
The mosquito – every clime and place, every conflict ever
Mosquitos are everywhere. Odds are there is probably one near you right now. The mosquito is responsible for over 700 million cases of malaria, dengue, West Nile Virus, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika. This tiny vampire doesn’t get much love from scientists either. There are countless testimonials from experts such as Professor Hilary Ranson, head of vector biology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who would “have no problem taking out the mosquito.” When it comes to the subject of mosquitoes, not all experts fully support their eradication and many play devil’s advocate for them.
Other scientists argue that of the 3,000+ different mosquito species around the world only an estimated 200 species target humans. They also argue that they are an important biomass in food chains and help pollinate plants. Yet, mosquitoes are not so important that they cannot be replaced if removed from the food web entirely.
As you noticed, there are no keystone species in mosquitoes. No ecosystem depends on any mosquito to the point that it would collapse if they were to disappear. An exception may be the Arctic, but the species there are non-vectors and thus can be left alone.
Matan Shelomi, Forbes, Quora
So, causing the extinction of a whole species over a few bad actors is overkill, apparently. If we were able to ask the one million people killed by mosquito-borne illnesses each year, they may just say to nuke the planet. With a kill ratio like that, the mosquito is the deadliest thing a troop can encounter in combat.
While most of the world was watching Trident Juncture, the massive NATO war games where 31 countries sent 50,000 participants and Russia responded with missiles and other provocations, the U.S. was participating in more war games on the other side of the world.
The U.S. and Japan sent a record number of troops to Keen Sword, Pacific war games to which Canada also sent ships and sailors.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, center left, and the Japanese helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga, center right, sail in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force as aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly overhead in formation during Keen Sword 2019 in the Philippine Sea, November 8, 2018.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters)
Keen Sword is focused on ensuring that Japan can defend its territory, and the U.S. and other allies take part to improve their ability to operate with the Japanese Self-Defense Force. Over the past few years, China’s aggression in the region has increasingly shaped the narrative — but China is far from the only threat Japan faces.
An E-2D Hawkeye lands on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during exercise Keen Sword 19, November 7, 2018.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman)
Japan is deeply within range of North Korea’s missiles and has an ongoing dispute with Russia over islands dating back to World War II.
Therefore, its annual hosting of Keen Sword is crucial. Japan sent 47,000 troops, about a fifth of its active military, and America sent 9,500 more. Canada sent two ships to the exercise.
U.S. Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 5 fast rope from an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter onto the USS Ronald Reagan during Keen Sword 19 in the Philippine Sea, November 1, 2018.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano)
The Japanese forces carry a lot of American hardware, everything from F-35s to Apache helicopters to Aegis missile defense systems. But Japan has still felt the need to further expand their military capabilities, standing up amphibious assault forces and increasing their ability to rapidly deploy with forces such as paratroopers.
The forces practiced these marine and airborne operations as well as submarine hunting, combat search and rescue, and other operations. See more photos from the exercise below:
A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier assigned to the 1st Airborne Brigade jumps from a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron over Hiju-dai drop zone, Oita prefecture, Japan, November 4, 2018, during Keen Sword 19.
(U.S. Air Force Yasuo Osakabe)
A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force solider assigned to the 1st Airborne Brigade performs personnel accountability on a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Tsuiki Air Base, Japan, November 4, 2018, during Keen Sword 19.
(U.S. Air Force Yasuo Osakabe)
A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier assigned to the 1st Airborne Brigade waits to jump from a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules over Hiju-dai drop zone, Oita prefecture, Japan, November 4, 2018, during Keen Sword 19.
(U.S. Air Force Yasuo Osakabe)
Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of Task Force 70, departs an E-2D Hawkeye on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during exercise Keen Sword 19, November 7, 2018.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman)
U.S. Air Force pararescue specialists assigned to the 31st Rescue Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, charge land during a combat search and rescue training near Misawa Air Base, Japan, October 31, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)
Sailors perform preflight checks on an E/A-18G Growler on the flight deck of the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during exercise Keen Sword 19, November 1, 2018.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman)
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 5 ready themselves for training during Keen Sword 19.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano)
U.S. Airmen stand in front of an E-3 Sentry during Exercise Keen Sword 2019, at Kadena Air Base, Japan, October 29, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Seefeldt)
A Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine participates in Exercise Keen Sword with Submarine Group 7 and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailors and staff. For the submarine force, the exercise was an opportunity to demonstrate how both countries’ submariners would detect, locate, track and engage enemy assets.
(U.S. Navy Chief Electronics Technician Robert Gulini)
U.S. and Japanese ships maneuver during a photo event at the end of Keen Sword 19 on November 8, 2018.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters)
Defense officials at the highest levels of South Korea’s government told Yonhap News on Wednesday that the US would deploy “strategic assets” to the peninsula amid tensions with North Korea.
“The US has pledged to expand the rotational deployment of its strategic assets near the Korean Peninsula,” Chung Eui-young, the chief of the National Security Office said according to Yonhap.
While “strategic assets” can refer to nuclear weapons, it can also mean nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carriers, or stealth aircraft. Chung said the deployment could happen as early as the end of 2017.
Another South Korean publication, Chosun, reported on Tuesday that a government source said the US may send an aircraft carrier, B-2 stealth bombers, and the world’s stealthiest and most lethal combat plane, the F-22 Raptor.
The talk of increased US firepower in South Korea comes after North Korea interpreted some of President Donald Trump’s tweets as a declaration of war, and announced it would try to shoot down US bombers flying anywhere near its airspace.
As it stands, the US has B-1B Lancer bombers stationed in Guam that frequently respond to North Korean missile or nuclear tests by doing flybys near its borders accompanied by advanced US, Japanese, or South Korean jets.
But the B-1B isn’t nuclear capable, nor is it stealth. The B-2, however, has both.
Although the US already has F-22 and F-35 stealth aircraft stationed nearby in Japan, placing them on the Korean Peninsula could spur further escalation of an already-tense situation.
The B-2 can carry 16 nuclear warheads as well as massive ordnance penetrators — bunker-busting bombs that would be the US’s best bet for hunting North Korea’s leadership as they hide in underground caves.
NK News recently reported that the US had to tell North Korea about the last flight of the B-1 near its borders, because Pyongyang couldn’t really track the supersonic bomber jet. If North Korea struggled with the non-stealth B-1, then it has little hope of spotting a B-2 and virtually no chance of spotting the F-22 on its radar screens.
Still, the move could backfire and destabilize the situation in North Korea, as the US’ asymmetrical advantage over North Korea’s aging forces could cause an uneasy Kim Jong Un to think he has no choice but to strike first.
“Often times when we think we’re sending very clear signals, we can’t be sure they’re being interpreted that way,” Jenny Town, the assistant director of the US-Korea Institute, told Business Insider of the US’s attempts to show its strength towards North Korea.
“In South Korea they’ve talked about trying to scare North Korea into changing their behavior,” Town said, referring to the deployment of US military assets to South Korea. But, “the way they change their behavior is not necessarily the way we want them to.”
Enlisted pilots have not been in the Air Force since its inception in 1947. They were not paid well, they did not have many opportunities for promotion, and were treated “harshly” in training. Even the title of the book about enlisted pilot heritage is called They Also Flew.
The lack of commissioned officers to handle global aircraft transport and other monotonous work led to three generations of enlisted pilots. Non-commissioned officers were usually certified to fly in the civilian world, but not qualified to be commanders.
After “months of study,” the Air Force is working to fix the issues of its drone operations programs. Drones have become the signature tool in the Global War on Terror in recent years, operating in intelligence, counter-terrorism, and surveillance roles. Drone pilots complain they are overworked and stressed out while Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says Air Force commanders demand more and more drone operations.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk (U.S. Air Force photo/Bobbi Zapka)
Now enlisted personnel will be allowed to pilot the unarmed RQ-4 Global Hawk spy drone and may eventually be permitted to operate the missile-firing MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones. The Air Force says the initial step of opening the Global Hawk is because it is easier to operate.
In days gone by, enlisted pilots usually were assigned to fly light reconnaissance and artillery-spotter aircraft, cargo aircraft, and medium- and heavy-weight bombers. In 1942, Congress passed the Flight Officer Act, which replaced flying sergeants with Warrant Officers, which were also discarded by the Air Force. In 1943, all enlisted flyers were promoted to the new “Flight Officer” rank. The enlisted legacy is a long and storied one. Enlisted pilots taught Charles Lindbergh to fly. One of the last members of the enlisted pilot training program was Gen. Chuck Yeager, who would become famous for breaking the sound barrier later in his career.
Drone pilots already complain that they are held in lower regard than traditional fighter pilots and that allowing enlisted airmen in will only increase the stigma.
The Veterans Affairs Make the Connection team is looking for veterans who want to share their stories about seeking support for mental health challenges and take part in a national mental health campaign.
The same obstacles that may, at first, seem insurmountable to an individual are much less daunting when faced by a team. More than 500 veterans and military family members have already stepped up to be that team for their brothers and sisters by sharing their stories in videos on MakeTheConnection.net, a mental health website from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Make the Connection helps veterans and their loved ones realize that reaching out for support and seeking mental health treatment is a sign of strength, and thousands of veterans have found help to overcome their challenges.
The Make the Connection team will be conducting more on-camera interviews in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, and is looking for veterans who want to share their stories about seeking help and overcoming mental health and other challenges. Veterans who participate in the video shoot will receive a stipend to offset their expenses for time and travel. When the videos are posted on the Make the Connection website, only the first names of participants are used.
Since its launch six years ago, the Make the Connection campaign has spread positive stories about veteran mental health via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Veterans featured on the website and in social media have served across all branches of service in every U.S. conflict, from WWII to today. They also represent the full diversity of the military community. Each veteran has coped with conditions, such as addiction, anxiety, depression, serious mental illness, PTSD, and the effects of military sexual trauma and traumatic brain injury.
Veterans who want to tell their stories to help fellow veterans like them can email their name, phone number, and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our outreach team directly at 1-323-813-1426.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter kicked off a visit to DoD’s nuclear deterrence enterprise, telling airmen at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, that DoD will invest, innovate and sustain to rebuild that enterprise’s capabilities that remain the bedrock of U.S. defense strategy.
The secretary spoke at a hangar on the flightline of the base. He thanked the airmen at the base, and by extension, thanked the thousands of other technicians who man, maintain, guard and operate the bombers, ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines and the command-and-control systems around the world.
“As you know, everyone has their role to play,” he said, “and while each physical piece is important, it’s really the people who make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.”
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Launch Facility-4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base Calif. The Minuteman III ICBM is an element of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)
The secretary emphasized throughout his talk with the airmen that America’s nuclear deterrence is the bedrock of U.S. security and the highest priority mission in the Defense Department.
“Because while it is a remarkable achievement that in the more than seven decades since 1945, nuclear weapons have not again been used in war, that’s not something we can ever take for granted,” he said. “And that’s why today, I want to talk about how we’re innovating and investing to sustain that bedrock.”
Carter has a long history with the nuclear mission, working in the 1980s on basing for the MX missile system. He speaks from experience when he says the deterrence mission has both remained the same and changed.
“At a strategic level, of course, you deter large-scale nuclear attack against the United States and our allies,” he said. “You help convince potential adversaries that they can’t escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression. You assure allies that our extended deterrence guarantees are credible — enabling many of them to forgo developing nuclear weapons themselves, despite the tough strategic environment they find themselves in and the technological ease with which they could develop such weapons.”
The nuclear deterrent also provides an umbrella under which service members accomplish conventional missions around the world, the secretary said.
But the nuclear landscape has changed and it will continue to pose challenges, Carter said.
“One way the nuclear landscape has changed: we didn’t build new types of nuclear weapons or delivery systems for the last 25 years, but others did, at the same time that our allies in Asia, the Middle East, and NATO did not,” the secretary said, “so we must continue to sustain our deterrence.”
Russia has modernized its nuclear arsenal, and there is some doubt about Russian leaders’ strategies for the weapons.
“Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations underscore that a diverse and dynamic spectrum of nuclear threats still exists,” Carter said. “So our deterrence must be credible, and extended to our allies in the region.”
North Korea is building nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them, the secretary said. The North Korean threat spurs spending on missile defense in the United States and the deployment of systems to South Korea, he added.
“We back all of that up with the commitment that any attack on America or our allies will be not only defeated, but that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an overwhelming and effective response,” Carter said.
India and China are behaving responsibly with their nuclear enterprises, the secretary said.
“In Iran, their nuclear aspirations have been constrained and transparency over their activities increased by last year’s nuclear accord, which, as long as it continues to be implemented, will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Carter said. “The last example I’ll cite is Pakistan, where nuclear weapons are entangled in a history of tension, and while they are not a threat to the United States directly, we work with Pakistan to ensure stability.”
Despite the changes since the end of the Cold War, the nature of deterrence has not changed, the secretary said.
“Even in 2016, deterrence still depends on perception — what potential adversaries see, and therefore believe — about our will and ability to act,” he said. “This means that as their perceptions shift, so must our strategy and actions.”
A large-scale nuclear attack is not likely, the secretary said. The most likely scenario is “the unwise resort to smaller but still unprecedentedly terrible attacks, for example by Russia or North Korea, to try to coerce a conventionally superior opponent to back off or abandon an ally during a crisis,” Carter said. “We cannot allow that to happen, which is why we’re working with our allies in both regions to innovate and operate in new ways that sustain deterrence and continue to preserve strategic stability.”
NATO is reexamining the nuclear strategy to integrate conventional and nuclear deterrence to deter Russia, he said.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific, the United States engages in formal deterrence dialogues with its allies Japan and South Korea, Carter said, “to ensure we’re poised to address nuclear deterrence challenges in Asia.”
Carter said the U.S. is taking steps to ensure that its nuclear triad — bombers, ICBMS and ballistic missile submarines — do not become obsolete.
“We’re now beginning the process of correcting decades of under-investment in nuclear deterrence,” the secretary said.
The Pentagon has underfunded its nuclear deterrence enterprise since the end of the Cold War, Carter added.
“Over the last 25 years since then, we only made modest investments in basic sustainment and operations, about $15 billion a year,” he said. “And it turned out that wasn’t enough.”
The fiscal year 2017 budget request invests a total of $19 billion in the nuclear enterprise, Carter said. Over the next five years, he said, plans call for the department to spend $108 billion to sustain and recapitalize the nuclear force and associated strategic command, control, communications, and intelligence systems.
The budget also looks to modernization, the secretary said. Plans call for replacing old ICBMs with new ones that will be less expensive to maintain, keeping strategic bombers effective in the face of more advanced air defense systems, and building replacements for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the secretary said.
“If we don’t replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more, and become unsafe, unreliable, and ineffective,” Carter said. “The fact is, most of our nuclear weapon delivery systems have already been extended decades beyond their original expected service lives. So it’s not a choice between replacing these platforms or keeping them. It’s really a choice between replacing them or losing them. That would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter, which we can’t afford in today’s volatile security environment.”
While these plans are expensive, they are only a small percentage of total defense spending, the secretary said.
“In the end, though, this is about maintaining the bedrock of our security,” Carter said. “And after too many years of not investing enough, it’s an investment that we as a nation have to make, because it’s critical to sustaining nuclear deterrence in the 21st century.”
The U.S. Army recently awarded a $34 million contract to McMurdo Inc. for personnel recovery devices that can be used to pinpoint a missing soldier’s location.
This PRD is a dual-mode personal locator beacon built to military specifications that will be integrated into the Army’s Personnel Recovery Support System, or PRSS.
“The PRD will be capable of transmitting both open and secure signals (training/combat dual mode) to alert and notify that a soldier has become isolated, missing, detained or captured,” according to an April 11, 2018 press release from Orolia, McMurdo’s parent company.
McMurdo was awarded a contract in 2016 to develop working prototypes of the PRD that could coordinate with the service’s PRSS.
“The Army recognized a need to complement its PRSS with a dual-mode, easy-to-use distress beacon to provide initial report/locate functionality, even in remote locations,” said Mark Cianciolo, general manager of McMurdo’s aerospace, defense and government programs, in a 2016 press release.
(McMurdo Group photo)
Commercially made personal locator beacons have become extremely popular with mountain climbers and other adventurers, who depend on them to send a signal to rescuers in the event they become injured in remote locations.
McMurdo’s positioning device has been designed to meet military standards and has improved accuracy. It also has decreased size, weight and power requirements, the release states.
“We are extremely proud and honored to have been selected by the U.S. Army as the provider of this critical positioning device for the safety of U.S. warfighters,” Jean-Yves Courtois, chief executive officer of Orolia, said in the April 11, 2018 press release.
The PRD is based on Orolia’s new rugged and small positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) platform, but the release did not specify the exact model being produced for the Army.
The Coast Guard awarded McMurdo a $3 million contract in 2016 for 16,000 FastFind 220 personal locator beacons.
The handheld FastFind 220 is used to notify emergency personnel during an air, land or water emergency in remote or high-risk environments. It uses a 406MHz frequency and transmits a distress signal containing unique beacon identification information and location data through the international search-and-rescue satellite system operated by Cospas-Sarsat, according to an Aug. 17, 2016, post on Intelligent Aerospace.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.