These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes - We Are The Mighty
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These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes

When the Wild Weasels were formed, one of the candidates was said to have remarked of the mission: “You’ve got to be shitting me!”


Well, if you think pilots flying up against surface-to-air missile sights define crazy, you haven’t heard of the Hurricane Hunters – and these folks have been busy.

With Hurricane Harvey set to hit the coast of Texas with at least two major military bases in the bullseye, tracking its movement has been important. One of the ways the data is gathered is by flying into the storm to help determine how strong the storm is, and where it may be headed.

This is often done by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, attached to the 403rd Wing, based out of Keesler Air Force Base near Biloxi Mississippi.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes

According to a release by the 403rd Wing, WC-130J Super Hercules weather reconnaissance planes have already made 10 flights into Hurricane Harvey, presently a Category 2 storm slated to reach Category 3 when it makes landfall in Texas.

Each plane has a crew of five: a pilot, co-pilot, a weather reconnaissance officer, a navigator, and a loadmaster.

During the flights through Harvey, the Airmen made dozens of passes through the eye of the hurricane, braving the strong winds in the center of the storm. On each pass, a device known as a “dropsonde” is released, providing data on dew point, pressure, temperature, and of course, wind speed and direction.

That data is sent out immediately to the National Hurricane Center.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Master Sgt. Erik Marcus, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron loadmaster, loads a dropsonde into a dropsonde cannon during a flight into Hurricane Harvey Aug. 24, 2017 out of Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)

“As the Hurricane Hunters, our data is time sensitive and critical for the [National Hurricane Center],” Maj. Kendall Dunn, 53rd WRS pilot explained. “This storm is rapidly intensifying.”

You’d think these pilots would be full-time Air Force, but you’d be way off. These gutsy crews who brave the wrath of nature are with the Air Force Reserve – meaning that many of them are taking time off from their regular lives to serve their country. You can see them in action monitoring Hurricane Harvey in the video below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the Navy did its historic flyover for President Bush

The act of conducting a ceremonial flyover is nothing new for naval aviators, but the flyover that occurred Dec. 6, 2018, is one that has never occurred before in our Navy’s history.

At approximately 4:15 p.m. (CST), aviators from various squadrons assigned to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic (CSFWL) and Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL) flew an unprecedented 21 jet flyover at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library to honor the former naval aviator and president at his interment in College Station, Texas.


Following six days of national mourning, the ceremony served as the third and final stage of a state funeral for President Bush who was laid to rest alongside his wife of 72-years, former First Lady Barbara Bush and their late daughter, Robin.

Planning of a state funeral typically begins around the time of a president’s inauguration; however, the execution of that plan may not happen for decades and often with little notice of a president’s passing.

Navy Conducts Unprecedented Flyover for President George H.W. Bush

www.youtube.com

The plan for President Bush’s funeral service called for a 21 jet flyover, which was the responsibility of the operations team at CNAL led by Capt. Peter Hagge.

“Before I even checked in to [CNAL] a year and a half ago, this plan was in place.” Hagge said.Following the former first lady’s passing April 17, 2018, Hagge and the CNAL team coordinated efforts with CSFWL to start making preparation for the president’s death. On Nov. 30, 2018, both teams snapped in to action to execute that plan.

“We coordinated with Joint Reserve Base (JRB) Fort Worth and reached out to the commanding officer, executive officer and operations officer to make sure we had ramp space and hangar maintenance facilities,” said Hagge. “Cutting orders for the aircrew and all 50 maintainers and the other administrative details was the easy part. The tactical level detail was a lot more complex.”

All told, 30 jets made the trip to JRB Fort Worth in addition to the ground team on station at the presidential library in College Station. The extra nine jets served as backups to ensure mission success.

“It was reactionary to make sure we had the requisite number of aircraft with spares to make sure we could fill [the request] with 21 aircraft,” Hagge said.

The extra nine jets comprised of five airborne spares with four more spares on ground ready to support.

Cmdr. Justin Rubino, assigned to CNAL, served as the forward air controller on the ground. He remained in radio contact with the aircraft to match the flyover’s timing with the funeral events on the ground.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes

Naval aviators from various commands under Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic and Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, operating out of Naval Air Station Oceana, fly a 21-jet missing man formation over the George Bush Library and Museum at the interment ceremony for the late President George H.W. Bush.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl)

“I like the responsibility and feel like I had the most direct role in ensuring success — other than the aircraft of course,” Rubino said. “I like being the ‘point person,’ communicating what’s happening on the ground, relaying that information and directing when the flyover occurs.”

Rubino coordinates all of CNAL’s flyovers, but believes this one is special.

“It’s special because not only was he the 41st president, but he was also a naval aviator,” he said. “He flew off aircraft carriers just like we do today and that’s a bond all of us share. He’s one of us. Sure he was the president of the United States, yes, but he was also a naval aviator.”

Coordinating a nationally televised 21 jet flyover for a state funeral is no small task, but Hagge remains humble, giving much of the credit to the Joint Task Force National Capitol Region, which was responsible for the overall planning.

“As far as the complexity goes, for us, we are a really small portion of an incredibly complex machine.”

The “small portion” included executing the Navy’s first 21-jet formation that originated from an Air Force formation already in existence.

“We pretty much took the Air Force plan and put a little Navy spin on it,” Rubino said.

That “spin” included changing the distance between the aircraft and altering the formation to a diamond shape for the first four jets. The last formation utilized the standard “fingertip formation” in order to do the missing-man pull.

Hagge and his team were honored to support.

“A funeral is a family’s darkest hour and a flyover, an opportunity where we can support them in a time of mourning, means the world to them,” said Hagge. “But this one, I think, means the world to our nation.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here are 5 ways to earn and learn through a VA career

Juggling the demands of school, work, and life can take a toll. At VA, learning is central to delivering top-notch care to veterans. That’s why, with a VA career, it’s easier for you to advance your education and skills without burning out.

If you plan to work while you pursue a degree or credential, here are five ways to earn and learn through a VA career:


1. Apply for a scholarship

If costs threaten to derail your dreams of a degree, a VA scholarship can help put things back on track. We offer several scholarships — like the Employee Incentive Scholarship (EISP) Program and the National Nursing Education Initiative (NNEI) — that can help you continue your healthcare education without piling up debt.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes

The VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP) even pays your full salary and up to ,117 toward the cost of higher education.

“This generous scholarship paid a majority share of my tuition,” says Isaac Womack, a Registered Nurse at the VA Portland Healthcare System in Oregon. “It also matched my regular income, allowing me to focus on school, work and other professional pursuits.”

2. Explore repayment and reimbursement options

Student loans make it difficult to get ahead. Through VA’s Education Debt Reduction Program (EDRP), providers hired for mission-critical positions can receive up to 0,000 over a five-year period in reimbursements for tuition, books, supplies and lab costs.

“I still have a very large amount of medical school debt to service,” says Dr. Stephen Gau, a board-certified emergency medicine physician at VA Loma Linda Healthcare System in California. “The EDRP program helps to accelerate the pay off dramatically.”

Because VA is a federal government entity, you can also tackle school debt with the national Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

3. Gain valuable experience through a residency program

If you’re looking to gain real-world experience while pursuing your education, the VA Learning Opportunities Residency program offers nursing, pharmacy and medical technology students the chance to work alongside VA professionals at a local facility. If you’ve completed your junior year in an accredited clinical program, you can earn up to 800 hours of salary dollars while applying your skills to help veterans.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes

4. Ask about a flexible schedule or remote work

Not every job comes with flex time and telework options. But many VA careers offer options other than the traditional 9-to-5 workweek and can accommodate your school schedule. Options might include varying arrival and departure times, working longer but fewer days or even teleworking on a regular or ad-hoc basis with a formal agreement.

5. Enroll in continuing education

VA employees can check to see if your VA medical center pays for courses from nearby colleges and universities. And be sure to advance your skills through the VA Talent Management System, which provides access to thousands of online courses, learning activities and VA-required training through a web-based portal. Track your progress through the system’s official training record.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines can now 3D print their own bombs — and it’s awesome

Over the past few years, 3D printing has taken the consumer market by storm, taking products from mere concept to physical reality as fast as the creator plugs in the design.


In the of world explosive ordnance disposal, Marines are creating bomb-making materials from those same 3D printers, which can produce customized casings within a short, 24-hour window.

The bomb-making process. (Image via Giphy)

Related: This is how bombs are safely stored on amphibious assault ships

Trained EOD techs with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa are testing out specialized containers made from 3D printers at a Naval Station in Rota, Spain.

EOD techs are fully equipped with a robust online depository of printable files; the Marines simply load the data into a computer and the 3D-printer constructs as commanded.

After printing the explosive devices, the Marines put their newly created destruction-makers to the ultimate test: rigging them to blow.

Another successful and controlled detonation. (Image via Giphy)

Also Read: 14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

Packed with explosives, the EOD Marines carefully set the fuses and prepare for detonation, demonstrating the effects on hardened steel.

3D printing affords Marines the unique ability to construct items that are unable for purchase — or even create components that don’t yet exist — on the fly.

Check out Department of Defense’s video below to see for yourself how these explosive devices go from concept to action.

(Department of Defense, YouTube)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

China’s massive flying boat just took off for the first time

While the United States Navy has not used the flying boat in a long time, other countries have kept these planes around. After all, they do have some advantages in a military setting. You can’t exactly ground them by bombing a runway, it’s easy to re-deploy them to a new forward base, and flying boats are versatile assets – just look at the PBY Catalina.


One of the countries that is keeping the flying boat alive is China. This country operated the Harbin SH-5 flying boat as a maritime patrol and search-and-rescue asset. It has a top speed of 345 miles per hour and a range of just under 3,000 miles, according to MilitaryFactory.com. It can carry 13,000 pounds of bombs, missiles, or torpedoes. The Chinese only built seven of these planes, and FlightGlobal.com notes that three are still in service.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Harbin SH-5 seaplane. (Wikimedia Commons)

China has not stopped with the SH-5. According to a report by CNBC.com, the AG600, a four-engine flying boat roughly the size of the 737 has just made its first flight. Officially, the aircraft is intended to carry out firefighting and search-and-rescue missions. MilitaryFactory.com reports that has a top speed of 311 miles per hour and a range of just over 2,700 miles. So far, at least 17 airframes have been ordered.

Some Chinese media outlets are reporting the AG600 – or a variant – could be useful for military operations in the South China Sea. China has been building “unsinkable aircraft carriers” in the maritime flashpoint, enabling the People’s Liberation Army Navy and People’s Liberation Army Air Force to operate fighters in the area. This sort of development prompted the United States military to retire its flying boats.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Two artists’s impressions of the AG-600. (AVIC graphic)

China’s continued pursuit of flying boats could be seen as a hedge against the United States being able to disable the island bases in the South China Sea. The AG600 does have the capability to haul cargo and specialists to either repair a base, or to maintain a presence until a base can be fixed.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

New changes to the ‘Pinks and Greens’ will make it the best uniform ever

It’s almost time for the Marine Corps’ Blue Dress Uniform to get knocked off their pedestal for the first time since their introduction in the late 19th century. The Army’s recent change to the uniform standard reintroduces the much-beloved WWII “Pinks and Greens” dress uniform. So far, this decision has been met almost-universal praise from the Army and veteran community.


Recent changes have been made to the prototypes. Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Daniel A. Dailey, brought four soldiers to Capitol Hill on Feb. 2 to spotlight the variations of the new dress uniform.

Here’s what you need to know.

Nostalgic color scheme

The uniforms are a callback to the dress uniforms worn by WWII-era soldiers and they’re just beautiful. The first prototypes surfaced at the annual AUSA meeting and were made nearly-official when Sgt. Maj. Dailey wore them to the Army-Navy game.

I’m not saying that we won the Army-Navy game because of how majestic the “Pinks and Greens” are, but if that’s why, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Headgear

The headgear looks much sharper than the current dress uniform’s beret. The crush cap and garrison cap are a welcome callback to previous generations of soldiers. The crush cap will be authorized for NCOs and officers. The garrison cap will, to put it bluntly, look better on a Private’s head if they don’t know how to properly shape a beret.

The reintroduction of the “Pinks and Greens” headgear will be another nail in the coffin of the standard-issued black beret.

Jacket belt

Not only does the belt give soldiers a much slimmer appearance, it also distinguishes the Class-A uniform from the business-suit-with-medals look that the Air Force has going on. Even from the back, this belt makes the uniform clearly identifiable as military.

I guess it also gives the “bigger” folks in formation an incentive to shrink their waistline.

Female pocket flaps

For male soldiers, setting up the ribbon racks, awards, badges, and name tapes are simple. Take a ruler and go 1/8th of an inch up from the pocket, make sure they’re not crooked, and you’re done. Female soldiers? Not so easy.

Without the pockets to use as a guideline, female soldiers have to put on the uniform, approximately mark where everything should go according to the name tape (which should be 1″ to 2″ above the top button), take off the uniform, affix decorations, put the uniform back on, realize everything’s slightly off, try again, realize it’s still off, and then give up hope and pray no one notices. Those pocket flaps will make things much simpler for female soldiers setting up their dress uniform.

Also read: 4 most annoying regulations for women in the military

Even the WAC of WWII understood the need for female pocket flaps.

Maternity version

The current maternity Class-A uniform isn’t being changed by much, except for tweaks to the color scheme and the addition of shoulder epaulets to show the soldier’s rank. Although these are small changes, they go a long way in making the uniform “more military.”

 

Articles

Will this AR-15 weapon light live up to all the hype?

A gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo at Breach-Bang-Clear.


Remember. At the risk of sounding orgulous, we must remind you – this is just an advisement, a public service if you will, letting you know these things exist and might be of interest. It’s no more a review, endorsement or denunciation than it is an episiotomy.

Grunts: Orgulous.

We’ll warn you in advance—we don’t know too much about this WML (Weapon Mounted Light) from Firefield (@firefieldtm). The PR company that notified us about it doesn’t do the best job of explaining things, or of providing decent imagery (at least, not the correct imagery, though that doesn’t necessarily have nuthin’ to do with the quality of the ole’ lumens) but we’ll tell you what we do know.

Given how they describe it, and the pitiful number of lumens it pushes out, it’s going to be hard not to make fun of it…though we shall endeavor to persevere.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
The Firefield Charge AR weapon light looks a heck of a lot like the PEQ-4, which is tacticool AF. (Photo from Firefield)

BLUF: This is a gear porn bulletin, provided as a public service to you epistemophiliacs out there by the Mad Duo. It’s not a review, nor is it an endorsement. Neither is it approbation or denunciation.

Grunts: Epistemophilia

The Charge AR works off a single CR2 battery, pushing 180 lumens of “blinding light” for up to 3.5 hours, activated by either a push-button or pressure pad. You’re gonna want one because, “Low-light shooting situations call for an easily accessible flashlight accessory. Whether in a home defense, tactical or hunting situation, clear line of sight and quick target acquisition are extremely important.”

Plus, it kinda looks like an AN/PEQ 4.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Firefield says the Charger AR can mount to a rifle’s side rail so it doesn’t interfere with the forward sight. (Photo from Firefield)

As you can read, Firefield has the dramatic prose down pat! Not surprising. After all, their gear is Forged in victory. “Transform fear to power, panic to excitement and chaos to glory with Firefield.”

*Cue Wilhelm Scream here.

The Charge AR is 2.2 ounces and manufactured of aluminum, with an anodized matte black finish. It’s compatible with both Weaver and Picatinny rails (a distinction they felt important to make) and designed to throw light offset from the rail to allow use unimpeded by an AR front sight post.

The MSRP on the Charge AR is $35.99 on the Fire-field website, which is good news for everyone saving their dollar bills for the dancing moms.

You can probably find it online for even less if you look.

The direct link to the Charge AR is here:

FEATURES

  • Powered by 1 single CR2 battery
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Push button or pressure pad operation
  • Low profile design

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Battery life (hours) – Light-3.5
  • Battery Type – CR2
  • Body Material – Aluminium
  • Bulb Type – LED
  • Height (in/mm) – 1.1/28
  • IP Rating (waterproof) – IP55-water resistant
  • LED Output – 180 lumens
  • Length (in/mm) – 2.2/56
  • Maximum Recoil – 800g’s
  • Mount Type – Weaver/Picatinny
  • Operating temperature, F/C – -17° to 48° / 0° to 120°
  • Shockproof – Yes
  • Weight (oz) – 2.2
  • Width (in/mm) – 1.65/42

Note—if you were wondering, Pic rails and Weaver rails are damn near the same thing. Pic rails are MIL-STD-1913; their grooves are to be .206-inches wide and should have a center-to-center width of .394-inches to be considered in spec.

Articles

Pentagon approves new tanker for production

The U.S. Defense Department has approved the Air Force’s new KC-46A Pegasus refueling tanker for initial production despite recent technical challenges that resulted in program delays.


The service late last week announced that Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, approved the Boeing Co.-made aircraft based on the 767 airliner for low-rate initial production, known in acquisition parlance as Milestone C.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter receives a tour of a Boeing KC-46 at at the Boeing facilities in Seattle, March 3, 2016. | US Navy photo by Tim D. Godbee

“I commend the team for diligently working through some difficult technical challenges,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, said in a statement.

Earlier in the week, she suggested Kendall’s decision might not come until later in the month and that failure by Congress to approve a budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 would hurt the acquisition effort.

Under a continuing resolution, “KC-46 production would be capped at 12 aircraft,” not the 15 as proposed in the fiscal 2017 budget, and the result would be to “delay operational fielding of this platform,” James said.

Parts of the plane that required reworking included the boom used to refuel Air Force planes (hoses extend from the body and wings to refuel Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, as well as those from allies); the fuel system (which was overhauled after workers loaded a mislabeled chemical into it); and wiring and software.

Boeing has reportedly spent more than $1.2 billion on the repairs, including installing hydraulic pressure relief valves to alleviate “higher than expected axial loads in the boom” discovered in tests to refuel the C-17 Globemaster III, according to the Air Force statement.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Concept image | Boeing

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said he was confident “the KC-46 is ready to take the next step.”

Meanwhile, Darlene Costello, an acquisition executive with the service, said, “I appreciate Boeing’s continued focus as they work to finish development prior to first aircraft delivery.”

Boeing plans to deliver the first 18 KC-46As to the service by January 2018, a date that was previously scheduled for August 2017.

The Air Force within the next month will award the Chicago-based aerospace giant two contracts with a combined value of $2.8 billion for 19 aircraft.

The service plans to spend $48 billion to develop and build 179 of the planes to replace its aging fleet of KC-135s, according to Pentagon budget documents. Boeing forecasts an $80 billion global market for the new tankers, the website Trading Alpha has reported.

The Air Force has selected as preferred bases for the aircraft Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the 7 ways for Congress to deal with North Korea

The Congressional Research Service has prepared a briefing for Congress that reveals the seven US military options for dealing with the growing threat from North Korea.


The options, often hinted at by President Donald Trump and members of his cabinet, represent the full range of US military might and strategy, but sometimes in unexpected ways.

For example, not every option has to do with use of force. In some cases, the US may just continue business as usual. In other cases, the military may withdraw completely from South Korea.

Below, you can see the same information that Congress has on the US’s military options in North Korea.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
North Korea from the DMZ. (Photo: Wikipedia/Henrik Ishihara Globaljuggler)

7. Maintain the status quo

Simply put, the US military could just continue regular activities and military drills while the State Department works on sanctions and diplomatic solutions to the problem.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because former President Barack Obama spent eight years doing it to limited effect.

On the plus side, this course of action presents a lower risk of elevating the tense situation into a full-blown crisis or warfare. Those against this policy of “strategic patience,” as the Obama administration dubbed it, point out that it has failed for years to stop North Korea from gaining a nuclear weapon or creating long-range missiles.

So far, Trump has stuck to the basic principals of strategic patience but supplemented it with more deployments of aircraft carriers and sometimes frightening threats to “totally destroy” the country with “fire and fury.”

Read Also: Those times former US Presidents had to free Americans held by North Korea

6. Arm the region to the teeth and watch North Korea like a hawk

This option takes the status quo and jacks it up with the US’s scariest, most capable platforms coming to the region and closely monitoring North Korea to make it feel its nuclear program is unwise.

US stealth jets and bombers, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, guided-missile destroyers, and even tactical nuclear weapons could deploy to South Korea and Japan on a more permanent basis to step up the US presence in the area.

Meanwhile, an increased cyber and naval presence would seek to interdict any shipments to North Korea that could further Pyongyang’s weapons program.

Skeptics of this approach point out that North Korea hates US military deployments to the peninsula and could easily see such a move as further justification to continue its weapons program at any cost.

Furthermore, the US can’t simply place these assets in the region — it needs to credibly threaten using them. What happens if a North Korean ship opens fire on US Navy sailors trying to board and inspect its cargo?

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile. Photo from KCNA

5. Shoot down every medium- to long-range missile North Korea fires to restrict its testing

This approach disregards the long-stated US goal of denuclearizing North Korea and goes straight for a more realistic goal of freezing its nuclear-missile program.

Basically, North Korea has to keep testing its missiles to achieve a credible nuclear threat to the US, but to do so it has to test missiles that fly beyond its borders.

If the US and allies shot down North Korea’s test fires, it would deny Pyongyang the testing data it needs to have confidence in its fleet.

But this would require US ballistic-missile-defense assets, like its Navy destroyers, to constantly commit to the region, limiting resources available elsewhere.

Additionally, North Korea could still test shorter-range missiles that put US forces in the region at risk, and it’s unknown how Pyongyang would respond to having its missiles shot down.

Read Also: U.S. detects, tracks multiple North Korea missile launches

4. Destroy all ICBM sites and missile launch pads

This represents the first massively kinetic military response to North Korea.

With limited airstrikes and likely some Tomahawk missile launches from the US Navy, the US military would look to destroy in one quick pass every single known missile launchpad and ICBM manufacturing site.

But the US doesn’t know the full extent of North Korea’s missile-producing infrastructure, and could easily leave behind some secret or underground sites. And while most North Korean missiles are fired from fixed sites, North Korea has developed solid-fueled missiles that can launch from anywhere at virtually any time.

While this strike could conceivably remove the threat to the US from North Korean ICBMs, Pyongyang may very well see the attack as a larger-scale decapitation attack against the Kim regime.

Therefore, North Korea may unleash its full, massive artillery force against South Korea and the US forces there. It may fire nuclear missiles at Japan and South Korea. Experts assess that an all out war could cost 30,000 to 300,000 lives a day, with many of those coming from the civilian populations of the US’s allies in Asia.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Center for Strategic and International Studies/Missile Defense Project

3. Complete denuclearization by force

This option stages an even bigger military campaign targeting every known nuclear and missile site across North Korea. Instead of just airstrikes and cruise-missile launches, this type of attack may necessitate US Special Forces pouring over the border to neutralize key North Korean sites.

Because the US does not know the location of every North Korean nuclear and missile site, intense surveillance and guess-and-check work would follow the initial salvo.

This option only increases the already dire risk to the US’s allies.

Also Read: North Korea accuses White House of assassination plot

2. Decapitation of the Kim regime

Although the US military, Secretary of State Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis all say unequivocally that the US does not want or train for regime-change missions in North Korea, the president and the military have to do what’s best for the country at any cost.

If the US assesses that the Kim regime has bad intentions for the people of the US, regime change by military force could come into play.

But the US couldn’t simply kill Kim Jong Un and have the other 25 million North Koreans surrender. North Korea still technically exists under the “forever leader” of Kim Il Sung, who has been dead for decades. Rank-and-file North Koreans inculcated with propaganda would fight on, perhaps even more savagely, after Kim died.

Therefore the military would have to target “not only nuclear infrastructure but command and control facilities, key leaders, artillery and missile units, chemical and biological weapons facilities, airfields, ports, and other targets deemed critical to regime survival,” according to the report for Congress.

“This operation would be tantamount to pursuing full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula, and risk conflict elsewhere in the region,” the report concludes.

The conflict would have every opportunity to be drawn out and grow every bit as bloody as the Vietnam War or the first Korean conflict, and for that reason it remains unlikely.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of Defense Song Young-moo visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea during a visit to the Joint Security Area in South Korea, Oct. 27, 2017. DoD photo by US Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

1. Just walk away

This option represents the polar opposite of all other military possibilities by fundamentally reordering the US’s considerations on North Korea.

Essentially, some believe North Korea pursues nuclear weapons because the US has troops in South Korea and Japan. If the US withdrew those troops, Kim Jong Un wouldn’t feel as pressured and China or the international community could more easily sway him to denuclearize.

But this idea speculates heavily on Kim’s response to a weakened South Korea. Nothing guarantees that Kim would negotiate after gaining the upper hand on South Korea. Additionally, it argues that the US should end its legal troop deployments to Japan and South Korea in hopes that North Korea would end its illegal development of nuclear weapons, which sounds a lot like blackmail.

Additionally, North Korea has long stated one of its goals as reuniting the Korean Peninsula under the Kim dynasty, and if the US ceded to Pyongyang, it just may feel emboldened to do so.

Also Read: Pacific Thunder, aka why North Korea cries, kicks off in South Korea

Conclusion

None of the military options provided to Congress offers a perfect solution, and many offer catastrophic solutions.

In the end, North Korea’s rogue leadership and nuclear pursuits exist as political, not solely military options.

In that respect, while the US and allied militaries could certainly defeat North Korea and crush its nuclear program, it would cost potentially hundreds of thousands of lives and open the world to the possibility of nuclear warfare in the 21st century.

Simply put, military solutions don’t solve political problems, but in case of disaster, the US always has options ready.

MIGHTY TRENDING

President Trump says he ordered the US Navy to ‘destroy’ any Iranian gunboat that harasses American ships at sea

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he had ordered the US Navy to “destroy” any Iranian gunboat that harassed US ships.


https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/statuses/1252932181447630848
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.

twitter.com

No additional clarity or guidance on such an order to the Navy has been provided.

The president’s announcement follows an incident last week in which a swarm of nearly a dozen Iranian gunboats sailed out to harass US Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating in the Persian Gulf.

US Naval Forces Central Command said last Wednesday that 11 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy boats “conducted dangerous and harassing approaches,” repeatedly crossing the bows and sterns of the US ships.

At one point, the US said, one of the Iranian boats closed to within 10 yards of a Coast Guard cutter.

The US military said that the US vessels issued multiple warnings over bridge-to-bridge radio and sounded their horns but that the Iranian boats did not respond for about an hour.

After responding, the Iranian vessels moved away from the American ships.

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The Navy said in a statement last week that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy had committed “dangerous and provocative actions” that “increased the risk of miscalculation and collision.”

US Navy

“The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision,” US Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement.

At the time of the incident, the Navy expeditionary mobile base vessel Lewis B. Puller, the destroyer Paul Hamilton, and the patrol ships Firebolt and Sirocco, together with the Coast Guard cutters Wrangell and Maui, were carrying out joint operations with Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the Persian Gulf.

The US military, according to a separate recent statement, has been letting US Army helicopters take off from Navy ships in exercises meant to boost “the capabilities of US forces to respond to surface threats,” such as the gunboats Iran routinely sends out to harass both military and commercial vessels.

In its statement following last week’s run-in with Iranian forces, US Naval Forces Central Command concluded by saying that “US naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense.”

Insider reached out the Navy and US Central Command for comment but was redirected to the White House, which did not comment on the president’s tweet.

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

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China’s airpower may overtake the US Air Force by 2030

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
China’s J-20 stealth fighter | YouTube


In a stark assessment, the US Air Force chief-of-staff warned that China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) will be poised to overtake the US Air Force by 2030.

On March 2, General Mark Welsh told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee that currently it is estimated that the US has a “couple thousand more aircraft” than China, The National Interest reports.

The PLAAF is larger than the US Air Force in terms of personnel, and that size will be represented by the number of aircraft China has in the coming years.

“At the rate they’re building, the models they’re fielding, by 2030 they will have fielded—they will have made up that 2,000 aircraft gap and they will be at least as big—if not bigger—than our air forces,” Welsh told the subcommittee.

More importantly than just the number of aircraft and personnel in the PLAAF, though, is Beijing’s trend of acquiring and successfully fielding more and more advanced weapons systems. This drive by the PLAAF will also shrink the commanding technological advantage that the US currently holds over China.

“We are not keeping up with that kind of technology development,” Welsh said. “We are still in a position of—we will have the best technology in the battlespace especially if we can continue with our current big three modernization programs.”

Welsh also went on to warn that China “will have a lot of technology that’s better than the stuff we’ve had before.”

China is currently constructing prototypes for two different fifth-generation fighters that are specifically tailored to different mission sets. It’s J-20 is thought to be making quick development progress, while it’s J-31 is believed to be the equal of the F-35 due to espionage and Chinese theft of trade secrets.

Additionally, China is also developing a stealth drone as well as seeking to buy Russia’s highly capable Su-35S fighter aircraft.

All these measures taken together will cumulatively make China a significantly more capable military force that could project its will against US protest across East Asia.

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Watch the US Navy test its new ship against 10,000 pound bombs

When the US Navy fields a new ship, they don’t just take the engineer’s word for it that it can withstand nearby bombs — they test it out.


The USS Jackson, an Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) meant for patrols in shallow water, just passed the first of three scheduled “shock trials.” The shock trials are composed of the ship sailing along as the Navy carefully detonates 10,000 pound bombs on either side of it. The results are then measured.

“The shock trials are designed to demonstrate the ship’s ability to withstand the effects of nearby underwater explosion and retain required capability,” according to a Navy statement.

“This is no kidding, things moving, stuff falling off of bulkheads … Some things are going to break. We have models that predict how electronics are going to move and cabinets are going to move, but some things are going to happen, and we’re going to learn a lot from this test,” US Navy Rear Adm. Brian Antonio told USNI News.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
USS Jackson (LCS 6) successfully completed the first of three scheduled full ship shock trials June 10. | US Navy photo

So far, the Jackson has passed the trials handsomely.

The Independence class, along with the Freedom class LCSs, represent the Navy’s vision of the future of surface warfare. Though both classes have suffered significant engineering difficulties, their modular design promises to revolutionize the way US Navy ships equip, train for, and deploy capabilities.

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This is what the US cyber command could look like

After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation’s military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America’s ability to wage cyber war against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to US officials.


Under the plans, US Cyber Command would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency.

Details are still being worked out, but officials say they expect a decision and announcement in the coming weeks. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter so requested anonymity.

The goal, they said, is to give US Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA, which is responsible for monitoring and collecting telephone, internet, and other intelligence data from around the world — a responsibility that can sometimes clash with military operations against enemy forces.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Making cyber an independent military command will put the fight in digital space on the same footing as more traditional realms of battle on land, in the air, at sea, and in space.

The move reflects the escalating threat of cyberattacks and intrusions from other nation states, terrorist groups, and hackers, and comes as the US faces ever-widening fears about Russian hacking following Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 American election.

The US has long operated quietly in cyberspace, using it to collect information, disrupt enemy networks, and aid conventional military missions. But as other nations and foes expand their use of cyberspying and attacks, the US is determined to improve its ability to incorporate cyber operations into its everyday warfighting.

Experts said the command will need time to find its footing.

“Right now I think it’s inevitable, but it’s on a very slow glide path,” said Jim Lewis, a cybersecurity expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But, he added, “A new entity is not going to be able to duplicate NSA’s capabilities.”

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
U.S. Air Force photo by Raymond McCoy

The NSA, for example, has 300 of the country’s leading mathematicians “and a gigantic super computer,” Lewis said. “Things like this are hard to duplicate.”

He added, however, that over time, the US has increasingly used cyber as a tactical weapon, bolstering the argument for separating it from the NSA.

The two highly secretive organizations, based at Fort Meade, Maryland, have been under the same four-star commander since Cyber Command’s creation in 2009.

But the Defense Department has been agitating for a separation, perceiving the NSA and intelligence community as resistant to more aggressive cyber warfare, particularly after the Islamic State’s transformation in recent years from an obscure insurgent force into an organization holding significant territory across Iraq and Syria and with a worldwide recruiting network.

While the military wanted to attack IS networks, intelligence objectives prioritized gathering information from them, according to US officials familiar with the debate. They weren’t authorized to discuss internal deliberations publicly and requested anonymity.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Former United States Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter.

Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter sent a plan to President Barack Obama last year to make Cyber Command an independent military headquarters and break it away from the NSA, believing that the agency’s desire to collect intelligence was at times preventing the military from eliminating IS’ ability to raise money, inspire attacks, and command its widely dispersed network of fighters.

Carter, at the time, also pushed for the ouster of Adm. Mike Rogers, who still heads both bodies. The Pentagon, he warned, was losing the war in the cyber domain, focusing on cyberthreats from nations such as Iran, Russia, and China, rather than on countering the communications and propaganda campaigns of internet-savvy insurgents.

Officials also grew alarmed by the growing number of cyberattacks against the US government, including several serious, high-level Defense Department breaches that occurred under Rogers’ watch.

“NSA is truly an intelligence-collection organization,” said Lauren Fish, a research associate with the Center for a New American Security. “It should be collecting information, writing reports on it. Cyber Command is meant to be an organization that uses tools to have military operational effect.”

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Director of United States National Security Agency, Mike Rogers. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

After President Donald Trump’s inauguration, officials said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis endorsed much of the plan. But debate over details has dragged on for months.

It’s unclear how fast the Cyber Command will break off on its own. Some officials believe the new command isn’t battle-ready, given its current reliance on the NSA’s expertise, staff, and equipment. That effort will require the department to continue to attract and retain cyber experts.

Cyber Command was created in 2009 by the Obama administration to address threats of cyber espionage and other attacks. It was set up as a sub-unit under US Strategic Command to coordinate the Pentagon’s ability to conduct cyber warfare and to defend its own networks, including those that are used by combat forces in battle.

Officials originally said the new cyber effort would likely involve hundreds, rather than thousands, of new employees.

These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes
Graduates from the Master of Cyber Systems and Operations program inside NPS’ Hamming High Performance Computing Center. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya.

Since then, the command has grown to more than 700 military and civilian employees. The military services also have their own cyber units, with a goal of having 133 fully operational teams with as many as 6,200 personnel.

Its proposed budget for next year is $647 million. Rogers told Congress in May that represents a 16 percent increase over this year’s budget to cover costs associated with building the cyber force, fighting IS, and becoming an independent command.

Under the new plan being forwarded by the Pentagon to the White House, officials said Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville would be nominated to lead Cyber Command. Leadership of the NSA could be turned over to a civilian.

Mayville is currently the director of the military’s joint staff and has extensive experience as a combat-hardened commander. He deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, leading the 173rd Airborne Brigade when it made its assault into Iraq in March 2003 and later heading coalition operations in eastern Afghanistan.