The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

US airmen tasked with jobs like surveillance and cyber operations have a growing role on the battlefield, even though they are often physically distant from it.


To ensure that kind of work is recognized, the Air Force has introduced new hardware for its service men and women.

“As the impact of remote operations on combat continues to increase, the necessity of ensuring those actions are distinctly recognized grows,” Defense Department officials said in a memo published on January 7, 2016.

Now the Air Force has released criteria for new devices that signify different roles in military awards: “V” for valor, “C” for combat, and “R” for remote.

The “R” device “was established to distinguish that an award was earned for direct hands-on employment of a weapon system that had a direct and immediate impact on a combat or military operation,” the Air Force said in a release.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
The US Air Force’s ‘V,’ ‘C,’ and ‘R’ devices. Photo courtesy of USAF.

This refers to work done anywhere, as long as it doesn’t expose the service member to personal danger or put them at significant risk of personal danger. The new device would recognize the actions of drone pilots, cyber operators, and other airmen carrying out combat operations far from the battlefield.

“These members create direct combat effects that lead to strategic outcomes and deliver lethal force, while physically located outside the combat area,” said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services.

The “V” device denotes “unambiguous and distinctive recognition of distinguished acts of combat heroism,” while the “C” device was created to award airmen and women who perform “meritoriously under the most difficult combat conditions.”

While the devices were unveiled this week, they can be rewarded retroactively to January 2016, when the defense secretary established them.

The US military’s increasingly reliance on drones has created more demand for drone operators.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Drone operators remotely fly an MQ-1 Predator aircraft, October 22, 2013. Photo courtesy of USAF.

The service, which is straining under a personnel shortage, has introduced a new tiered bonus system to retain personnel, and drone pilots were among those in highest demand.

They, along with fighter pilots, are slated to get the highest maximum bonus of $35,000 a year.

Despite their distance from the battlefield, drone pilots’ duties in US campaigns throughout the Middle East and elsewhere has put them under some of the same strain faced by personnel who are forward deployed.

A 2013 study by researchers with the Defense Department found that drone pilots faced mental-health issues like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress at the same rate as those who flew manned aircraft over places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some pilots have spoken of the “psychological gymnastics” they adopt to deal with the mental and emotional impact of killing remotely.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines combine Osprey speed and JPADS precision for optimal training

As the wind swept through the tall green grass in an open field on the Ie Shima coast line, a group of Marines stood in anticipation as they watched a bundle soar across the bright sky. Guided by the Joint Precision Air Drop System, the package piloted itself onto the drop zone.

U.S. Marines with Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, 3rd Transportation Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, conducted air delivery operations with JPADS on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan June 6, 2019.

“Today we are conducting air delivery training using the Joint Precision Air Drop System,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Mulvey, the battalion commander of 3rd TSB. “What’s unique about our training today is that we coupled with the MV-22 Osprey. We are using the speed and distance of the Osprey with the precision air drop capability of the JPADS to really offer the warfighter sustainment.”


The JPADS is an airdrop system that uses prepared geographic coordinates programmed into a computer system to guide the parachute to the ground within 100 meters of the drop zone.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin Murphy, left, and Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Bird, right, conduct military free fall operations June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)

“The JPADS use a GPS to basically do what a free fall parachutist would do,” said Mulvey, a Cherryville, North Carolina native. “It understands the altitude and wind speed and it drives the parachute like a free fall parachutist would, the only difference is that it’s delivering cargo to Marines on the deck.”

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sheldon Ford prepares for a static line jump June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)


The JPADS allow 3rd TSB to drop cargo away from the enemy threats and guide it to the Marines on the ground not only making it more accurate, but also allowing Marines to recover the cargo faster.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, land at a drop zone on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan June 6, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mark Fike)

Mulvey said the training was a big step forward for III Marine Expeditionary Force because it wasIE SHIMA, Okinawa, Japan — As the wind swept through the tall green grass in an open field on the Ie Shima coast line, a group of Marines stood in anticipation as they watched a bundle soar across the bright sky. Guided by the Joint Precision Air Drop System, the package piloted itself onto the drop zone.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Paul Konicki returns to an MV-22 Osprey after a military free fall training June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)

“This mission is not possible without the help of the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force with the professional pilots and the crew of the Air Combat Element,” said Mulvey. “I’m very happy from the performance of the air delivery specialists of LS Co., the roughriders are great, I’d jump with them any day.” the first time they had dropped cargo utilizing the JPADS from an MV-22 Osprey.

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

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Navy nixes cyber attack theory on USS Fitzgerald and McCain collision

The promised investigation into the circumstances of the recent, devastating Navy collisions has turned up zero evidence that cyber attacks disabled either the USS Fitzgerald or USS John S. McCain.


Navy Adm. John Richardson said in an all-hands call streamed live on Facebook Aug. 30 that, despite the Navy giving an “amazing amount of attention” to the postulate that cyber attacks were behind the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain, the investigation has found no evidence of such claimed attacks.

“We’ve given that an amazing amount of attention,” Richardson said. “It is sort of a reality of our current situation that part of any kind of investigation or inspection is going to have to take a look at the computer, the cyber, the information warfare aspects of our business. We’re doing that with these inspections as well, but to date, the inspections that we have done show that there is no evidence of any kind of cyber intrusion.”

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson (right) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano stream a digital all hands call, Aug. 30, 2017.

“We’ll continue to look deeper and deeper but I just want to assure you that, to date, there’s been nothing that we’ve found to point to that,” Richardson said.

Richardson said in a tweet Aug. 21 that there may have been indications of cyber intrusion, but said the Navy would continue looking into that possibility. With his recent all-hands call, Richardson has all but foreclosed completely the potential for a discovery of a cyber intrusion involved in the collisions of the Navy vessels.

 

The statement effectively puts to rest the enormous amount of speculation in security circles about whether cyber attacks were in any way involved in disrupting the navigational systems of these two Navy vessels, but even in the beginning other experts suspected that negligence was a far more likely explanation.

“The balance of the evidence still leads me to believe that it was crew negligence as the most likely explanation — and I hate to say that because I hate to think that the Navy fleet was negligent,” University of Texas at Austin aerospace professor Todd Humphreys told USA Today.

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These are the best military photos for the week of August 5th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

A B-52H Stratofortress is parked on the flightline at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 31, 2017. The B-52 has an unrefueled combat range in-excess of 8,000 miles.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Capko, pilot, 19th Operations Group, and Capt. Caitlin Curran, pilot, 61st Airlift Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., land a C-130J Super Hercules on the ramp at Yakima Airfield, Wash., in support of Exercise Mobility Guardian, Aug. 03, 2017. More than 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian.

The exercise is intended to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments. Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command’s premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen’s skills in support of combatant commander requirements.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook

Army:

U.S. Soldiers assigned to Alpha Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery conducted an M4 Range at the 25 m Range Baumholder Local Training Area, Baumholder, Germany on Aug. 2, 2017.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
U.S. Army Photo by Visual Information Specialist, Erich Backes

Paratroopers of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, move to a firing position during a live fire exercise at the High Altitude Military Marksmanship Range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2017.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love

Navy:

Fire Controlman 1st Class Zachary Gehrig fires a M240B machine gun on the starboard bridge wing of Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) during a live-fire exercise. Rushmore is underway off the coast of Southern California participating in a series of qualifications and certifications as part of the basic phase of training in preparation for future operations and deployments.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse Monford

Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199) (middle) conducts replenishment at sea operations with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) (front) and Takanami class destroyer JS Sazanami (DD-113) July 30, 2017.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Photo courtesy of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force

Marine Corps:

A Marine with 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Scout Sniper platoon from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, participates in battle drills by firing his M4 at a 25 meter target Aug. 3, 2017 in preparation for a training exercise during Northern Strike 17 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center.

Northern Strike 17 is a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 service members from 13 states and five coalition countries during the first two weeks of August 2017 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan and operated by the Michigan National Guard.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Michigan National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Ames

Marine Corps Body Bearers with Bravo Company, Marine Barracks Washington D.C., fold the National Ensign during a funeral for Marine Sgt. Julian Kevianne at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Aug. 3, 2017. Kevianne, 31, was one of the 15 Marines and one Navy sailor who perished when their KC130-T Hercules crashed in Mississippi, July 10, 2017. He was part of the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, Marine Aircraft Group 49, 4th Marine Air Wing, based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert Knapp

Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a medium icebreaker, sits in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska during an Arctic deployment in support of scientific research and polar operations, Saturday, July 29, 2107. The Coast Guard’s leadership role in providing a continued Arctic presence is essential to national security, maritime domain awareness, freedom of navigation, U.S. sovereign interests and scientific research.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

A U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk Helicopter from Air Station Astoria performs a mock rescue during a search and rescue demonstration with a 45-foot response boat -medium from Coast Guard Station Seattle over Elliott Bay as part of the 68th annual Seafair Fleet Week Aug. 2, 2017. Seafair Fleet Week is an annual celebration of the sea services where Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from visiting U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Canadian ships make the city a port of call.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Kelley.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Shanahan officially takes over from Mattis at Pentagon

Patrick Shanahan has taken over the helm of the Pentagon, as U.S. President Donald Trump attacked his Defense Department predecessor, pointing to what he said was a lack of success in Afghanistan.

Shanahan, who has been serving as deputy defense secretary, worked his first day in office as acting defense secretary on Jan. 2, 2019, as the replacement for Jim Mattis, who resigned as defense chief on Dec. 20, 2018, saying his policies were not fully “aligned” with the president.


Trump has not specified a time frame for choosing a permanent defense secretary or said whether Shanahan could potentially assume that role.

Mattis initially said he would be leaving the Pentagon at the end of February 2019. But Trump later announced that Mattis, 68, would be leaving earlier after the defense secretary published a letter that directly criticized the president.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

(DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

In televised remarks on Jan. 2, 2019, Trump said he “essentially fired” Mattis. “I’m not happy with what [he has] done in Afghanistan — and I shouldn’t be happy,” said Trump, as Shanahan sat by his side.

“I wish him well. I hope he does well. But as you know, President [Barack] Obama fired him, and essentially so did I. I want results.”

A former Marine general, Mattis was fired by Obama in 2013 as head of U.S. Central Command over what the then-president said were too hawkish views toward Iran.

Shanahan, 56, meanwhile, said his priorities would include the impending U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria and countering China’s military might.

“While we are focused on ongoing operations, Acting Secretary Shanahan told the team to remember: China, China, China,” a Pentagon official said.

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

Articles

Here is what Capt. Kirk’s ship could do to the North Korean navy

With the news that the stealth destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), under the command of United States Navy Capt. James A. Kirk (we won’t know for another two centuries if he is related to James T. Kirk), is potentially deploying off the North Korean coast.


The question many will ask is: “What can the Zumwalt do against the North Korean Navy?”

The short answer is: “A lot.”

Let’s take a look at the firepower the Zumwalt carries. According to a US Navy fact sheet, the USS Zumwalt packs two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems, two 30mm “Close-In Guns,” 80 Advanced Vertical-Launch System cells, and two M-60R helicopters capable of carrying torpedoes and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

The 80 missile cells can carry BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, RIM-66 SM-2 Standard Missiles, and RIM-174 SM-6 Extended Range Active Missiles.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

This is a very powerful weapons suite.

To compare, let’s look at the North Korean navy’s most powerful ship, which is known as 823 — the only Soho-class frigate in service. According to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World,” that ship has four single SS-N-2 launchers; a single 100mm gun; two twin 37mm guns; two twin 30mm guns; and two twin 25mm guns.

“Combat Fleets” notes that the North Korean Navy also has at least one Najin-class light frigate, and 15 missile boats, all armed with at least two SS-N-2A missiles.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Najin-class light frigate. (US Navy photo)

How does the Zumwalt fare against this swarm? The good news is that the helicopters on board will likely be able to pick off a number of the missile boats before they can launch their missiles.

Since each MH-60 carries four Hellfires, we can assume that the fifteen missile boats will be cut down some. Zumwalt will probably empty her Tomahawks at North Korean targets as well.

Lil’ Kim ain’t gonna like how that ends up.

The survivors may launch their missiles at the Zumwalt but the SS-N-2A is a much less advanced missile than the Noor anti-ship missiles launched at USS Mason (DDG 87) on multiple occasions of the coast of Yemen in October. Zumwalt, with the ability to use the same missiles as the Mason did, will likely be able to shoot them down or decoy them using chaff.

At this point, the Zumwalt will use her 155mm guns to take out any North Korean surface vessels that try to approach. What rounds they will fire is up in the air due to the cancellation of the Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles, but there are a number of options that she can use aside from spitballs.

Once she dispatches the surface force, the Zumwalt will then make sail away from the coast to evade North Korea’s sizable force of old electric (and quiet) submarines. Any that are close will likely get a torpedo from a MH-60.

In short, the Zumwalt can trash the North Korean Navy’s surface fleet. Her Tomahawks will trash their bases. Then, she will reload and come back to hit land targets with her weapons.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army’s new high-tech eyewear adjusts to changing light

Army equipment officials have issued a reminder to soldiers that the service’s authorized protective eyewear list is being updated regularly with high-tech options like lenses that adjust to changing light in the blink of an eye.

The Transition Combat Eye Protection lens features sensors with much greater sensitivity than commercial transitional lenses because they are designed to respond to visible light instead of UV rays, according to a recent Army press release.

“It’s a one-second button,” Capt. Michael McCown, assistant product manager of Head Protection at Program Executive Office Soldier, said in the release. “It’s not like your transition lenses that you get from your doctor that change as you go in and outdoors … it’s electronic.”


The authorized protective eyewear list, or APEL, is updated about every two years and offers a wide range of brands and styles of protective sunglasses and goggles which feature the APEL logo. All of the 27 types of eyewear on the list have been through rigorous ballistic and non-ballistic testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, according to the release.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

(U.S. Army photo)

Soldiers who chose to buy non-authorized eyewear run the risk of suffering irreversible injuries, Lt. Col. Ginger Whitehead, the product manager for protective equipment at PEO Soldier, said in the release.

“We have seen some really horrific injuries with roadside bombs,” Whitehead said.

Facial injuries will still occur with authorized eyewear, but there is a chance the soldier’s eyes will be protected, she said in the release.

“The soldier’s face is all chewed up,” Whitehead said. “But when they pull his glasses off, where the skin is intact around their eyes, where you know without a doubt that eyewear saved their eyes.”

Soldiers can check out the Army’s APEL online and buy approved eyewear at most Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army artillery’s new ‘giant sniper rifle’ tech is already in the field

US Army Field Artillery soldiers recently wrapped up testing of the Joint Effects Targeting System Target Location Designation System on the rugged terrain of the Cold Regions Test Center at Fort Greely in Alaska.


The JETS handheld targeting system “is a paradigm shift” in how field artillery can be used on the battlefield, Lt. Col. Michael Frank, product manager for Soldier Precision Targeting Devices, said in October. The system could turn a howitzer or the Paladin self-propelled artillery weapon “into a giant sniper rifle,” he added.

Also read: These are the Army’s high-tech helicopters that will fly in 2030

Twenty soldiers from the 8th Field Artillery Regiment and 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment recently put the system through its paces in a wide range of scenarios at Fort Greely, the Army said in a release.

The troops used the system’s infrared imager and color-day imager to detect and identify vehicles and personnel at various distances, determining whether each was a friend or adversary. They also tested the system in a simulated urban environment, clearing buildings, rooftops, and rooms in order to observe enemy forces in the area.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Spc. Tyler Carlson gets ready to scan for targets using the Joint Effects Targeting System Target Location Designation System during testing at the Cold Regions Test Center, Fort Greely, Alaska. (Photo by Scott D. McClellan/US Army Operational Test Command)

“Since the system is smaller, you don’t have to worry about bumping it around when clearing a building,” Sgt. Nicholas Apperson, of the 377the Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, said. “If you have to switch buildings, disassembling and reassembling the system is much quicker than other targeting devices.”

Soldiers were also placed at random rally points anywhere from 500 meters to 2 kilometers from their designated observation posts. After moving to their observation posts, they set up their systems and found targets all around them. They then set up fire missions and sent them to a simulated fire-support team using the new Precision Fires-Dismounted system, an app on the Nett Warrior device, which is an Android-enabled smartphone.

Related: The Army just picked its new sniper rifle

The soldiers were also deployed with maneuver units to walk ridgelines. Upon receiving simulated intelligence reports about enemy targets along their routes, the soldiers had to set up their systems and quickly acquire targets.

They averaged 40 fire missions on each 10-hour day.

Frank praised the system’s accuracy and compact design, and the soldiers testing it at Fort Greely lauded it for similar reasons.

“Its light weight makes it easy to take it out on a mission and utilize it to its fullest capability,” said Pfc. Anthony Greenwood of the 8th Artillery Regiment.

“The JETS system is definitely much lighter and a lot easier to pick up and learn all the functions quickly,” Staff Sgt. Christopher McKoy, also of the 8th Field Artillery, said in the Army release. “It is so simple that you can pick it up and learn it in five minutes.”

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
Soldiers set up the Joint Effects Targeting System at the Cold Regions Test Center, Fort Greely, Alaska, in 2017. (Photo by US Army)

The Army currently has the Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder for targeting purposes, but it is larger and heavier than the JETS, weighing about 35 pounds. It’s also considered a crew-served system, though it is operated by a single soldier.

The JETS target-locator module weighs less than 5.5 pounds and the entire system, including a tripod and batteries, weighs about 20 pounds.

JETS underwent testing during 2017, including airdrop tests at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in August as well as operational testing at Fort Greely in October 2017.

More: The Army is issuing a Marine Corps sniper rifle to squads

The Army said at the end of 2017 that it expected to wrap up JETS testing in early 2018 and have the system in the hands of every forward-observation team by the middle of the year.

The soldiers at Fort Greely, who spent a month with the system, looked forward to using it in the field.

“This system is definitely a major jump from what forward observers are used to and makes our job much more efficient,” said Spc. Tyler Carlson of Battery D, 2-377 PFAR.

MIGHTY TRENDING

During showdown with US Navy, Russian sailors were caught… sunbathing?

A Russian destroyer and a US Navy cruiser nearly collided at sea on June 7, 2019. Videos released by the Navy appear to show Russian sailors sunbathing shirtless on the back of their warship during this close encounter.

The Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov engaged in “unsafe and unprofessional” behavior by sailing dangerously close to the US Navy Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chancellorsville, the US 7th Fleet said in a statement accompanied by photos and videos of the incident.

The Russians accused the American vessel of acting improperly, arguing that the USS Chancellorsville abruptly changed course and cut across the path of the destroyer.


(1/2) USS Chancellorsville Avoids Collision with Russian Destroyer Udaloy I DD 572

www.youtube.com

Amid the back and forth over who is to blame for the latest US-Russia confrontation, eagle-eyed observers took note of something peculiar in the videos released by the Navy — what appears to be Russian sailors sunbathing shirtless, if not naked, as one appears to be, on the helicopter pad.

NPR reported the unusual Russian behavior in an article discussing the showdown between the Russian and US warships.

“In an odd sight, the videos show several Russian service members seemed to be sunbathing on an aft platform aboard the destroyer as it nears the American warship,” the writer observed.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

While Department of Defense and Navy officials noted the behavior, none were willing to speculate on the record about what exactly the Russians were doing or why.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

West backs up Ukraine as it tries to recover captured sailors

A Russian court has ordered several of the Ukrainian sailors who were captured by Russian coast-guard forces during a confrontation at sea off Crimea to be held in custody for two months.

The Nov. 27, 2018, rulings by the court in Simferopol, the capital of Russian-controlled Crimea, signaled the Kremlin’s defiance of calls by Kyiv and the West to release two dozen crew members who were seized along with three Ukrainian Navy vessels following hours of hostility at sea two days earlier.


Raising the stakes after tensions spiked when Russian coast-guard craft rammed and fired on the Ukrainian boats on Nov. 25, 2018, the court was holding custody hearings for 12 of the crewmen. A Russian official said nine others would face hearings on Nov. 28, 2018.

So far, four have been ordered held in pretrial detention — which usually means custody behind bars in a jail — until Jan. 25, 2019. Under Russian law, detention terms can be extended by courts at the request of prosecutors, and it was not immediately clear when the sailors might face trial.

Officials identified the Ukrainians as Volodymyr Varemez, the captain of a navy tugboat that was rammed by a Russian vessel, and sailors Serhiy Tsybizov, Andriy Oprysko, and Viktor Bespalchenko.

The Russian news agency Interfax reported that the Ukrainians were charged with “illegal border crossing by a group of individuals acting in collusion, or by an organized group, or with the use of or the threat to use violence.”

The court hearings came hours after Western leaders, speaking on Nov. 26, 2018, condemned what they called Russia’s “outrageous” violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty as well as international maritime treaties, and called on Moscow to immediately release the detainees.

Conflicting reports have put the number of Ukrainians detained at 23 and 24. The court rulings put them in a situation similar to that of several Ukrainians, including film director Oleh Sentsov, who are being held in Russian prisons and jails for what Kyiv and Western governments say are political reasons.

In the running confrontation off Crimea on Nov. 25, 2018, a Russian coast-guard vessel rammed the Ukrainian tugboat in an initial encounter, and a few hours later the Russian vessels opened fire before special forces stormed the three Ukrainian boats. Six Ukrainians were injured.

The hostilities injected yet more animus into the badly damaged relationship between Kyiv and Moscow, which seized Crimea in March 2014 and backs armed separatists in a simmering war that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since that April.

Those Russian actions, a response to the downfall of a Moscow-friendly Ukrainian president who was pushed from power by the pro-European protest movement known as the Euromaidan, have also severely damaged its ties with the West.

The confrontation came days before Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump ion the sidelines of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2018.

It followed months of growing tension over the waters in and around the Kerch Strait — the narrow body of water, now spanned by a bridge from Russia to Crimea, that is the only route for ships traveling between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine has several ports, including Mariupol.

On Nov. 26, 2018, Ukraine declared martial law in 10 of its 27 regions — including all of those that border Russia or have coastlines — following what it called a Russian “act of aggression.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned “this aggressive Russian action,” and called on Moscow to return the vessels and crews, and abide by Ukraine’s “internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.”

Pompeo said both sides should “exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments” and said Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, should “engage directly to resolve this situation.”

Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Nov. 26, 2018, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the incident an “outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory” and a “reckless Russian escalation” of its conflict with Ukraine.

Britain’s Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen said Russia “wants to consolidate its illegal annexation of Crimea and annex the Sea of Azov.”

The international community will not accept this, he said, insisting that Russia “must not be allowed to rewrite history by establishing new realities on the ground.”

Martial law will come into force on Nov. 28, 2018, in 10 Ukrainian regions that Poroshenko said are the most vulnerable to “aggression from Russia,” and will be in place for 30 days.

The measure includes a partial mobilization of forces, a strengthening of Ukraine’s air defenses, and other unspecified steps “to strengthen the counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and countersabotage regime.”

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

Putin expressed “serious concern” over the Ukrainian decision in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin said on Nov. 27, 2018.

The Russian leader also said he hoped “Berlin could influence the Ukrainian authorities to dissuade them from further reckless acts,” a statement said.

“The imposition of martial law in various regions potentially could lead to the threat of an escalation of tension in the conflict region, in the southeast” of Ukraine, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later told reporters.

Hours before the court hearings, Russian state-run TV channel Rossia-24 showed images of several of the detained Ukrainians that were apparently recorded during interrogations by Russia’s security services.

One of them parroted the version of events put forward by Russian authorities, saying, “The actions of the Ukrainian armed vessels in the Kerch Strait had a provocative character.”

One of the detained appeared to be reading his statement. Russian law enforcement agencies frequently provide state media with footage of suspects being questioned under duress.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) confirmed that a number of its officers were among those captured.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

One of them was seriously wounded after a Russian aircraft fired two missiles at the Ukrainian boats, SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak said in a statement.

Calling Russia’s capture of Ukrainian crews “unacceptable,” the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Federica Mogherini, urged Russia to “immediately release” those detained and provide them with medical aid.

She also called on both sides to use “utmost restraint” to prevent the only live war in Europe from escalating.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia “has to understand that its actions have consequences. We will remain in contact with the Ukrainian government to underline our support.”

Unlike other U.S. officials, who vocally backed Ukraine and criticized Russia, President Trump did not name either country in a brief response to a reporter’s question about the confrontation.

“Either way, we don’t like what’s happening. And hopefully they’ll get straightened out. I know Europe is not — they are not thrilled. They are working on it, too. We are all working on it together,” Trump said.

Russia’s acting UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, accused the Ukrainian Navy of “staging an aggressive provocation,” which he claimed was aimed at drumming up public support for Poroshenko ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election in March.

“They have no hope to remain in power otherwise,” he said, while condemning Western leaders for condoning what he called their “puppets” in Kyiv.

“I want to warn you that the policy run by Kyiv in coordination with the EU and the U.S. of provoking conflict with Russia is fraught with most serious consequences,” Polyansky said.

At the outset of the UN Security Council meeting on the incident, Russia suffered a setback after it sought to discuss the clash under an agenda item that described the incident as a violation of Russia’s borders.

This was rejected in a procedural vote, with only China, Bolivia, and Kazakhstan siding with Russia. The Security Council then discussed the clash under terms laid out by Ukraine.

The naval confrontation took place as the Ukrainian vessels were approaching the Kerch Strait, the only access to the Sea of Azov.

A 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters.

But Moscow has been asserting greater control since its takeover of Crimea — particularly since May 2018, when it opened a bridge linking the peninsula to Russian territory on the eastern side of the Kerch Strait.

“I have to emphasize that, according to the international law, Crimea and respective territorial waters are the Ukrainian territory temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko told the Security Council.

“Hence, there are no Russian borders in the area where the incident happened. I repeat — there are no Russian state borders around the Crimean Peninsula,” he said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 things your drill sergeant can do that are worse than getting punched

There’s probably a part of us that is worried about our drill sergeant, drill instructor, training instructor, and RDCs are going to lose their cool and just pummel us into basic trainee mush. If you’ve ever seen their faces close enough to smell what they had for breakfast, they were probably really ripping into you, and that’s enough to make anyone wonder: Am I in danger?

In reality, that’s probably the least of your worries.


The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

Quick! Give him a nickname! I’m going with “The Drew Carey Show.”

Give you a nickname for the rest of your life.

There’s a good chance you’re going to tech school, AIT, or whatever your branch of service calls career training with some of the guys or gals from your basic training unit. While many of us can safely walk away from basic training saying to ourselves, “Well, at least no one saw that,” gaining a funny nickname from your training instructors is the kind of thing that could follow you your whole career – and it’s not cool unless it’s a call sign.

Nothing would be worse than retiring after 20 years and everyone calling you Chief “Chunkin.'”

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

The opposite of water discipline.

Make you chug your entire canteen.

It’s not easy to chug that much water in one breath, especially without getting it all over yourself, but sometimes, when a grown man is yelling at you, demanding you do it that way, that’s what you have to do. This is the most military punishment since push-ups were created, except this one is dumb. Watching a recruit open their throat and try to take a whole canteen like it’s a beer shotgun is the like watching someone stand to be waterboarded. It did not look fun.

Then, of course, 15 minutes later, you have to ask that same drill sergeant to use the latrine.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

But with a mattress.

Force you to use your mattress as a scrub brush.

The first thing training instructors are is funny. Then, when the bizarre punishments happen to you, those same people become awful and absurd. There are few greater absurd punishments than watching a platoon scrub a floor with a wet mattress on a Sunday.

God help you if that’s your mattress.

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Smoke you all day.

PT, literally all day. The only time you get to stop is to eat. Until those times, you will run in circles around your platoon or flight as it marches, you will do push-ups until you have to roll your body over and can only get up with assistance, and you will do so many mountain climbers, it creates a defensive fire position for every single person in your unit, so they don’t have to dig.

And you’ll still do PT the next day.

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Recycle you.

If you read the previous four entries on this list, imagine having a few more weeks of opportunity to experience them all again. For the civilians of the world out there, recycling means moving a basic trainee into a previous week of training, forcing the recruit to go back and re-do the weeks of training he or she already did, and extending basic training by that long.

No one wants to be in basic training for longer than necessary. It’s summer camp for the power bottom crowd.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

A stare as old as time.

Just stare.

The icy, cold stare that informs you:

  1. 1. You messed up.
  2. 2. Bad.
  3. 3. But you don’t know how bad.
  4. 4. And you probably don’t know what it was.
  5. 5. You want to be anywhere else.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Norway releases video from inside sunken elite warship

A little over a month after the Helge Ingstad sank after colliding with a tanker in a Norwegian fjord, the Norwegian military has released footage from the submerged frigate.

The warship was rammed by a Malta-flagged tanker in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2018, in the port of Sture, north of Bergen, which is Norway’s second-largest city.


The frigate displaces 5,290 tons, and the tanker displaces over 62,500 tons when empty. But when the tanker is fully loaded, as it was at the time of the collision, that jumps to about 113,000 tons, more than an aircraft carrier. The collision tore a large hole in the starboard side of the frigate’s hull, which caused other compartments to flood.

Footage released by the Norwegian military, which you can see below, shows the damage sustained by the frigate.

Damage to the Helge Ingstad

www.youtube.com

The 0 million, 442-foot-long warship was returning from NATO’s massive, multinational Trident Juncture military exercise when it collided with the 820-foot-long tanker.

A Norwegian rescue official said at the time of the collision that the frigate was “taking in more water than they can pump out. There is no control over the leak and the stern is heavily in the sea.”

According to a preliminary report released at the end of November 2018, control of the frigate’s rudder and propulsion systems was lost, which caused the ship to drift toward the shore, where it ran aground about 10 minutes after the collision.

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Recovery operations for the Helge Ingstad on Nov. 28, 2018.

(Norwegian armed forces photo)

Running aground prevented it from sinking in the fjord, but later, a wire used to stabilize the sunken vessel snapped, allowing it to sink farther. Only the frigate’s top masts remain above the surface.

In December 2018, Norwegian explosive-ordnance-disposal divers returned to the ship to remove the missile launchers from its foredeck.

Below, you can see footage of them detaching the launchers and floating them to the surface.

Missile removal Helge Ingstad

www.youtube.com

“All diving assignments we undertake require detailed planning and thorough preparation. We must be able to solve the assignments we are given, while providing as low a risk as possible,” diving unit leader Bengt Berdal said, according to The Maritime Executive.

“Our biggest concern [during this mission] is any increased movement of the vessel.”

With the missiles off the ship, all its weapons have been removed. Recovery crews are preparing to raise the ship, putting chains under the hull to lift it on a semisubmersible barge that will take it to Haakonsvern naval base.

The frigate will not be raised until after Christmas, according to The Maritime Executive.

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Chains being readied aboard the heavy-lift vessel Rambiz to lift the sunken Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad on Dec. 7, 2018.

(Norwegian armed forces photo by Jakob Østheim)

The oil tanker was not seriously damaged in the incident and didn’t leak any of its cargo. Only eight of the 137 crew aboard the Helge Ingstad were injured, but the multimillion-dollar ship was one of Norway’s five capital Nansen-class frigates and was one of Norway’s most advanced warships. (It also leaked diesel and helicopter fuel, but that was contained and recovered.)

The preliminary report found that the warnings to the frigate, which was headed into the port, went unheeded until too late, allowing the outbound tanker to run into it.

According to the report, the frigate’s automatic identification system was turned off, hindering its recognition by other ships in the area, and there was confusion on its bridge because of a change in watch — both of which contributed to the accident.

The preliminary report also raised questions about other ships in the class and the Spanish shipbuilder that constructed it.

The review board “found safety critical issues relating to the vessel’s watertight compartments. This must be assumed to also apply to the other four Nansen-class frigates,” the report said.

“It cannot be excluded that the same applies to vessels of a similar design delivered by Navantia, or that the design concept continues to be used for similar vessel models.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China likely has a new bomber, tipping South China Sea

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) appears to have a new bomber in its ranks, and it could boost China’s military strength in disputed waterways.

Satellite images of the PLANAF base at Guiping-Mengshu in Guangxi Province, China show what observers suspect are Xian H-6J bombers, new naval variants of the upgraded H-6Ks that have been in service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) since 2011, IHS Janes first reported Oct. 11, 2018.

The H-6Js are expected to replace the H-6G maritime striker bombers first fielded in the 1990s, The Diplomat reported Oct. 12, 2018.


The new bombers are believed to carry three times as many anti-ship missiles as their predecessor, with experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project predicting that the new aircraft will be paired with the YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile, which can cover roughly 400 km in about six minutes.

The Chinese PLAN has at times found itself in tense showdowns with the US military. When the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation near Chinese military outposts in the Spratly Islands in early October 2018, the Chinese navy dispatched the Type 052C Luyang II-class guided-missile destroyer Lanzhou to confront the American warship.

The PLANAF H-6Js would give China extra firepower in any potential conflict. The H-6Js are also thought to have a greater range of about 3,500 kilometers, allowing these aircraft to patrol almost all of the South China Sea with mid-air refueling.

The satellite photos, taken on Sept. 7, 2018, appeared on Twitter around the start of October 2018.

The PLANAF appears to have at least four H-6Js in its arsenal, but it will presumably want to establish a full regiment, The Diplomat explained.

Chinese bombers have been increasingly active above contested waterways, such as the East and South China Seas, in recent years, according to a 2018 Department of Defense report on China’s military power.

“The PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” the report said. In 2017, the PLA flew a dozen operational flights through the Sea of Japan, into the Western Pacific, around Taiwan, and over the East and South China Seas — all potential regional flash points.

In recent months, the US military has been putting pressure on China with regular B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bomber flights through the East and South China Seas, with the most recent occurring in October 2018.

The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers

A B-52 Stratofortress.

(Photo by Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo)

“One US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber, deployed to the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, conducted a routine training mission Oct. 10, 2018,” Pacific Air Forces told Business Insider on Oct. 12, 2018. “The bomber integrated with four Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-15Js in the vicinity of the East China Sea before returning to Guam.”

China has previously characterized these types of flights as “provocative,” criticizing the US for its repeated flybys in August and September 2018.

The recent flight, like the many others before it, was in support of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence operations, which are intended to send a deterrence message to any and all potential challengers.

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

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