These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management - especially for burns - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Doctors at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston are utilizing a novel method of administering pain medication to burn patients in the burn intensive care unit in hopes to mitigate opioid addiction and other complications associated with burn care.


“It’s something different,” said Dr. Clayne Benson, assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center, collocated with the USAISR Burn Center. “But the promise and benefits are huge.”

The pain medication is managed with the placement of an intrathecal catheter and infusion of preservative-free morphine. The concept is similar to epidural anesthesia used during labor for pain relief, except the catheter resides in the intrathecal space where the cerebrospinal fluid resides instead of the epidural space.

The catheter used is exactly like an epidural catheter used for laboring women.

“It’s an FDA-cleared device for a procedure that a lot of anesthesiologists have done for other reasons,” Benson said. “It had never been done on burn patients and we presented the idea of the study to the burn center leadership [Drs. Booker King, Lee Cancio, Jennifer Gurney, Kevin Chung and Craig Ainsworth] and they agreed to try this initiative.”

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Benson, an Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel, got the idea of using this technique in the intensive care unit while taking care of polytrauma soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany from 2009-2012. Benson said he is excited about the potential of this new pain management for burn patients.

“The results are amazing,” he said. “The best thing about it is that it only uses one-one hundredth of the amount of pain medication used with the traditional [intravenous] method.”

Intrathecal medication is delivered straight to where it is effective, the spinal cord, thereby minimizing systemic complications of IV medications.

Intravenous medication disperses pain medication throughout the entire body and only a tiny percentage of it gets to where it is needed.  This is especially beneficial for burn patients who require numerous painful operations and traditionally require being placed on a ventilator, with one of the reasons being pain control.

Longer ventilator times lead to complications like deconditioning, delirium, and pneumonia, which all impact quality of life and time in the Burn Intensive Care Unit.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns
Dr. Richard Erff, chief of the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Pain Clinic, administers cervical epidural steroid injections to a Soldier who suffers from chronic neck and back injuries stemming from his deployment to Iraq. (Army Photo by Patricia Deal)

“Also, the majority of patients who are mechanically ventilated are diagnosed with delirium and are likely to have increased length of hospitalization, increased ventilator days, and higher rates of long-term cognitive dysfunction,” Benson said.

Delirium is another complication burn patients experience with exposure to sedatives and pain medications.

“Delirium is when a patient’s awareness changes and they become confused, agitated, or they completely shut down,” said Sarah Shingleton, chief wound care nurse and clinical nurse specialist at the USAISR Burn Center Intensive Care Unit. “It can come and go, and is caused by a number of things to include different pain medications, pain, infections, a disturbed sleep cycle, or an unfamiliar environment.”

Members of the USAISR Burn Center Intensive Care Unit will present the data of the initiative at the 2018 American Burn Association meeting in April 2018. The presentation will describe a patient who sustained 45 percent burns to her body and had her pain and sedation managed with the placement of the intrathecal catheter.

The abstract prepared for the ABA meeting states, “During intrathecal administration of morphine, IV infusions of ketamine, propofol, and dexmedetomidine were discontinued. The patient was awake and responsive, reporting adequate pain control without systemic opioid administration. Following removal of the intrathecal morphine infusion, the patient’s opioid requirement remained lower than prior to catheter placement despite repeated surgical interventions.”

Also Read: This is why wounded troops don’t spend entire wars in field hospitals anymore

“This novel way of achieving pain control helped us get our patients off mechanical ventilation faster and shorten the time they needed to be in the [intensive care unit],” said Maj. (Dr.) Craig Ainsworth, Burn Intensive Care Unit medical director. “We are excited to share this treatment option with other members of the burn care community so that we can better care for our patients.”

Benson’s goal is to someday apply this type of pain management to patients with polytrauma to reduce pain and the amount of pain medication which could potentially lessen addictions to pain medication.

“It’s a new approach and I hope that eventually it becomes the main mode of pain control for burn and polytrauma patients,” Benson said. “It has been a good team effort with the burn staff and their ‘can do’ attitude. I’m looking forward to where this leads. I believe it will change pain management as well as help to prevent opioid addiction in patients who have suffered from polytrauma and burns.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coast Guard thinks it can only stop 25 percent of cocaine

During fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, 2018, the US Coast Guard intercepted just over 458,000 pounds of cocaine. That was the second most in a year on record, behind fiscal year 2017, when 493,000 pounds were seized, which topped the previous record of 443,000 pounds in fiscal year 2016.

“The Coast Guard has interdicted more than … 1.3 million pounds of illicit cocaine in the last three years, and that rolls up to be about $18 billion of wholesale value on American streets,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said Nov. 15, 2018, aboard the cutter James, which was offloading nearly 38,000 pounds of cocaine seized in the eastern Pacific Ocean.


The pursuit of traffickers on the high seas, working with other US agencies and international partners, was part of what Schultz described as a “push-out-the-border strategy” to target the smuggling process at the point when the loads were the largest and most vulnerable.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

US Coast Guardsmen board a narco sub as part of a drug seizure in early September 2016.

(US Coast Guard photo)

“We’re pushing our land border 1,500 miles deep into the ocean here a little bit, and that’s where we find the success taking large loads of cocaine down at sea,” Shultz said aboard the James, which seized more than 19,000 pounds of the cocaine offloaded on Nov. 15, 2018.

“When we take down drugs at sea it reduces the violence. It maximizes the impact. When these loads land in Mexico, in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, they get distributed into very small loads, very hard to detect, and there’s associated violence,” he added.

But the Coast Guard can see much more than it can catch.

In the eastern Pacific Ocean, where about 85% of the cocaine smuggling between South America and the US takes place, “We have visibility on about 85% of that activity,” Schultz said. “Because of the capacity — the number of ships, the number of aircraft — [we act on] about 25% to 30% of that,” he added.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A suspected smuggler, who jumped from his burning vessel, is pulled aboard an interceptor boat from the USS Zephyr by members of the US Coast Guard and Navy in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean on April 7, 2018.

(US Coast Guard photo)

Schultz is not the first Coast Guard official to note the gap between what the service can see and what it can stop.

In September 2017, Adm. Charles Ray told senators that the service has “good intelligence on between 80% and 90% of these movements,” referring to trafficking in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean.

But “we only have the capacity to get after about 30% of those” shipments, added Ray, who is now the Coast Guard’s vice commandant.

The eastern Pacific Ocean from the west coast of South America to the Galapagos Islands and up to waters off western Mexico and the southwest US is an area about the size of the continental US, Ray said.

“On any given day we’ll have between six to 10 Coast Guard cutters down here,” he added. “If you imagine placing that on [an area the size of] the United States … it’s a capacity challenge.”

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

(Adam Isacson / US Southern Command)

Schultz’s predecessor, now-retired Adm. Paul Zukunft, noted a similar gap.

The Coast Guard provides the “biggest bang for the buck,” Zukunft told The New York Times in summer 2017. “But our resources are limited.”

“As a result, we can’t catch all the drug smuggling we know about,” Zukunft added. “Just last year we had intelligence on nearly 580 possible shipments but couldn’t go intercept them because we didn’t have the ships or planes to go after them.”

Schultz acknowledged that with more resources the Coast Guard could stop more, but said the service was getting the most out of its assets and its partners — including the Defense and Homeland Security departments and other countries in the region.

“We have DoD support, we have partner-nation contributions … so it’s that team sport, but there is a conversation about capacity,” Schultz said. “More Coast Guard capability, more enablers like long-range surveillance airplanes and … we’d take more drugs off the water.”

“What I’m proud about is we’re putting every ounce of energy we’ve got into this fight.”

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

The Coast Guard cutter James interdicts a low-profile vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Oct. 22, 2018.

(US Coast Guard photo)

A ‘resurgence’

Booming cocaine production in Colombia has kept a steady flow of drugs heading north. Smugglers use a variety of vessels, from simple outboard boats to commercial fishing vessels. The more frequent appearance of low-profile vessels, often called narco subs, points to traffickers’ increasing sophistication.

The Coast Guard has said it caught a record six narco subs in fiscal year 2016, which ended in September 2016. In September 2017, the service said it had seen a “resurgence” of such vessels, catching seven of them since June that year.

“We’re seeing more of these low-profile vessels; 40-plus feet long … it rides on the surface, multiple outboard engines, moves 18, 22 knots … and they can carry large loads of contraband,” Schultz told Business Insider in 2018.

Narco subs can cost id=”listicle-2620799501″ million to million but can carry multiton loads of cocaine worth tens of millions of dollars in the US.

Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, estimated Colombian traffickers were building 100 narco subs a year and said the DEA believed at least 30% to 40% of drugs coming to the US were moving on those vessels, but authorities were likely only intercepting 5% of them.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team investigates a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015.

(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

The Coast Guard’s own estimate indicates that it can block only a sliver of the narcotics coming to the US by sea.

Asked what was needed to address the flow of narcotics, Ray in late 2017 pointed to the offshore-patrol-cutter program, which the Coast Guard has said will bridge the gap between national-security cutters like the James, which patrol open ocean, and fast-response cutters, which patrol closer to shore.

The first offshore-patrol cutter isn’t scheduled to be delivered until 2021.

Coast Guard officials have touted the capabilities of national-security cutters, like the James, which were introduced in 2008 and of which six are in service.

But the other cutters that seized drugs offloaded by the James on Nov. 15, 2018, were, on average, 41 years old, “and are increasingly more difficult to maintain and more costly to operate” Claire Grady, the Homeland Security Department’s chief of management, said on Nov. 15, 2018.

“For the Coast Guard to remain always ready to combat transnational crime and conduct its 10 other statutory missions,” Grady added, “it’s imperative to recapitalize its aging fleet.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Air Force historians are aiding hurricane response

In 2017, when Hurricane Irma, a monster Category 5 storm, barreled toward Florida’s southern peninsula and Homestead Air Reserve Base, The Air Force Reserve commander had a lot of decisions to make.

Thankfully, history – in the form of Air Force historians – was on her side.

The Air Force Reserve Command history office pulled data and information from three previous hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5, which devastated the base 25 years ago. In just a few hours, the office had a timeline and a list of issues that came up in each of the three previous storms. Historians worked through the data with the Innovation, Analyses and Leadership Development directorate, or A9, and determined that the biggest issue was maintaining communications as Andrew had continued into Georgia, knocking out power to the AFRC’s battle staff.


The commander and staff then worked to prevent history from repeating itself.

The results were good communications throughout the storm, clean up and reconstitution. The base opened airfield operations and sustained 24-hour operations, offloading 112.8 short tons of cargo and relief supplies, including two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, cargo and personnel from the 66th and 920th Rescue Squadrons and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Those “good comms” resulted in the AFRC coordinating aircraft, relief supplies, Airmen and equipment with the right skills and the right gear to save lives. In previous years, relief efforts were delayed because nobody could talk.

“Now, did History do all that?” asked Dr. Jim Malachowski, a senior aerospace historian for the Air Force History and Museums Program at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. “No but knowing what worked and didn’t work in the past gave her a good starting point to ask the right questions.”

Malachowski explained when the right knowledge is injected with historical perspective at the right point in the decision cycle it helps commanders make better decisions.

The history of Air Force history

Located in the heart of Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, is a gold mine and although it does not contain precious metals, the Air Force Historical Research Agency is filled with the world’s largest and most valuable organized collection of original documents concerning U.S. military aviation. The more than 100 million pages of Air Force history inside the repository chronicles the evolution of American military flight and provides a treasure trove of information for researchers, authors and historians.

While touching the pages of history is unique, said Malachowski, applying the historical lessons learned from the study of past wars is fundamental to the preparation for the next. This is why it is so crucial for the Air Force’s operational and institutional memory is preserved.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Sam Shearin, a researcher with the Air Force Historical Research Agency looks through World War II unit lineage documents, June 7, 2018, at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. There are more than 70 million pages devoted to the history of the service, and represents the world’s largest and most valuable organized collection of documents on US military aviation.

(US Air Force photo by Perry Aston)

When he established the Army Air Forces (AAF) Historical Division in 1942, General Henry “Hap” Arnold, widely considered the architect of the Air Force, He assembled nine prominent historians from Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Harvard and asked them how the Air Force should organize and run its history program. Following their recommendations, Arnold put trained historians in every unit to record history “while it is hot.” Historians had to be independent so history would be recorded accurately and factually “without an axe to grind.”

The collection of historical data for the Air Force began before the service’s inception, even pre-dating the Army Air Corps. Without a plan to preserve it, the bulk of airpower history from the First World War was lost. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Committee on Records of War Administration to preserve an accurate and objective account of military experiences. By 1943 the AAF Archives had been established and historians began collecting, assimilating and organizing contemporary and historical information.

The creation of this archive dedicated to receiving, organizing and preserving the information gathered by these early historians has evolved into today’s collection.

The majority of AFHRA’s library consists of unit histories, written by unit historians, which chronicle Air Force operations and activities in peace and war from World War I to the present day. These materials provide the data and historical perspective to support planning and decision-making processes throughout the Air Force.

The archive was later moved to Maxwell AFB from Washington D.C., putting it in the direct control of the Air Force and at the disposal of professional military education students, faculty, and the public.

The history kept inside of AFHRA’s walls isn’t just sitting idle – it’s continually being added to, vigorously being researched and, most importantly, actively being interpreted by Air Force historians to get valuable information to leaders and decision makers to create a more efficient and lethal Air Force.

Collecting the data

Capturing Air Force history begins with aerospace historians. Today, there are just over 200 historians placed at wings and 10 major commands, which is 75 percent less than in 1990. Air Force civilians now fill all roles in collecting the history at wings and commands.

Air Force civilian and Reserve historians also support a continuous deployment rotation as combat historians to support combatant commands and joint staff tasking across the globe.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A researcher at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., looks through microfilm to track down the shipment history of bomber aircraft that were shipped overseas to fight during WWII, June 7, 2018, at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. Private researchers can visit and use the AFHRA for research.

(US Air Force photo by Perry Aston)

Dr. Bill Harris, the Deputy Director of the Air Force History and Museums Program, says whether at home station or deployed the most important aspect of a historian’s job is being actively involved in their organizations.

“What Aerospace historians bring to the table is we are the only person in the room whose sole job is to capture and preserve the institutional memory,” said Harris. “Just documenting the events of this war will not help the leaders of the next. We also interpret. So, in history professor terms, interpreting is how we help decision makers understand and learn from the past.”

Harris explains when historians are operationally integrated into situations they observe while also collecting and recording what happens, documenting the “right now for the future.” A historian will understand the organization’s history and have a deep knowledge base of the mission set. They recognize patterns and can provide a quick write-up to inject information to leadership on that highlights how other people have navigated similar situations before decisions are made this time.”

The first priority for field historians at the wing and MAJCOM level is to complete and submit an accurate periodic history report, which are the official history of an organization and serves as its institutional memory in AFHRA’s archive.

“To do the job, you have to get out there and be part of the mission, collect hundreds of important documents, reports, and emails and then figure out where the holes are., We do that with interviews.” said Malachowski. “Research interviews are more QA to find out what’s going on inside the organization. Oral history interviews are a little bit more in-depth interviews conducted with key personnel whose memories and perspectives are recorded for future generations.”

Job two for historians is heritage.

The Air Force history slogan is history makes us smart, heritage makes us proud.

In addition to a dozen field museums, historians often work within their organizations to build squadron heritage rooms and displays to showcase physical reminders of the unit’s historical past to promote morale and serve as daily reminders of a unit’s identity.

That identity is also visible in a unit’s heraldry. “Organizations use visible, enduring symbols to promote spirit de corps, morale and a sense of heritage,” said Jack Waid, a historian at Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters. “Air Force heraldry in the form of emblems gives Airmen a connection to the past and the motivation to live up to the proud lineage from which they come.”


These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns


The Air Force Historical Research Agency keeps a repository on the unit’s emblem history, including original and re-designed emblems and the paperwork approving the artwork.

(US Air Force photo by Perry Aston)

With the newly authorized transition from the Airman Battle Uniform, which did not permit the wear of unit patches, to the Operational Camouflage Pattern, Airmen will once again be to wear their units on their sleeve.

Waid explains it’s important to understand, emblems and patches are completely separate entities and authorization to display them is approved and maintained by different Air Force offices as well.

“Our office deals with a unit’s official emblem, but anything that goes on the uniform, like patches, are approved through the AF/A1 (Office of Personnel) uniform office,” said Waid. “A unit’s history and lineage goes with an emblem whereas a patch is a wearable symbol of pride, history, warrior spirit and honor.”

With more than 7,000 emblems to convert into OCP patches, there is a huge demand for the production and supply chain. The Air Force estimates it will take the full-30 month OCP transition period to manufacture and distribute all the patches. For units with approved emblems, the MAJCOM/A1 office will notify them when their patches are ready to order.

Units without an approved emblem should contact their historian.

“Since June we have been doing everything in our control to help units make sure they have an accurate emblem,” said Waid. “More than two-thirds of AFMC’s units are without an emblem or possessing one that does not meet standards.”

“It is important to make sure the time-honored Air Force unit patch returns to the uniform properly so that units can display their heritage with pride. Wearing the squadron patch completes the family group, you have your name tape and then you have the greater family, the Air Force, but now these patches give Airman an opportunity to show how extended their family is and how rich their heritage is by wearing their unit’s emblem.”

Changing the paradigm

For decades, periodic history reports were written in narrative monograph format, a print-era framework that could reach hundreds of pages. It was long and time consuming to write and worse to search for answers. “Even with academic historians, the monograph just isn’t the answer anymore. Technology has changed, but our reports haven’t.” said Malachowski.

The Secretary of the Air Force recently directed that commanders would integrate their historians in operations at the wing-level and above and ensure they had access to data and information to complete timely history reports.

With fewer historians, a high-demand deployment schedule and mountains of data to ingest, historians have little time to write long, cumbersome reports and even less time if they want to be fully involved in their organizations.

Something had to change.

“With the help of the Air Force Survey Office, we asked more than 150 wing and group commanders what they needed from historians. The commanders are very adamant that they don’t want these hundred-page tombs. They want something much, much shorter because they don’t have whole lot of time and they want something focused more on their priorities,” said Harris.

A survey of historians said the same thing. Historians want to be more involved with their units and want a better process.

“If we lock ourselves away for half of our time to write we are not out in our units doing our job. So we have to refocus the writing and we have to improve our ability to put the right things into the archives for future researchers,” said Malachowski. “So all we can really do is record the present for the future and the real funny thing is it is exactly what Gen. “Hap” Arnold told us in 1943. He wanted us to record the present for the future. So we’re going back to the future, if you will.”

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold was a pioneer airman who was taught to fly by the Wright Brothers, and commander of Army Air Forces in victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. He established the Army Air Forces (AAF) Historical Division in 1942, when he assembled nine prominent historians from Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Harvard and asked them how the Air Force should organize and run its history program. Following their recommendations, Arnold put trained historians in every unit to record history “while it is hot.”

Arnold’s direction was to document the operations and activities of an organization immediately into a rough form that future historians would improve on. He believed the only reason a history program should exist is to further the operational efficiency of the Air Force.

The Air Force History program had to redesign itself in a dynamic new way and embrace change by revising their policies and revolutionizing their processes.

Now, a modular history report is being adapted that stresses accuracy, speed and relevance across the joint enterprise. It provides uniformity and consistency, which synchronizes history operations across the Air Force and focuses on unit activities and operations at the right level of warfare. This new system also creates one standard of writing for peacetime and wartime reports.

The four-part modular system reduces the writing complexity of history reports to a more short and concise process on what matters most to the commander, unit and mission. Short studies are written and published immediately, freeing up historians to be historians.

Another change is the creation of an Operational History Branch that is solely focused on war and contingency operations. All wartime history reports will be routed and evaluated through this fusion cell to write monthly and annual summaries that provide a holistic picture of combat operations.

“The way it’s designed the Operational Historian Branch will help us mature history at the Joint warfighting level, improve historical support to deployed commanders, and prevent several historians from deploying each year,” said Malachowski. “Most wings only have one historian so this saves us from turning out the lights at so many home station history offices.”

Focused on the past since its inception, the Air Force History Program has now reinvented itself by embracing its own past in order to create a more efficient future.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force prepares for knockdown fight near Russia

Russia has positioned a considerable naval armada in the Mediterranean near Syria after accusing the US of plotting a false-flag chemical-weapons attack in rebel-held areas — and it looks as if it’s preparing for war with the US.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, recently said the US had built up its naval forces in the Mediterranean and accused it of “once again preparing major provocations in Syria using poisonous substances to severely destabilize the situation and disrupt the steady dynamics of the ongoing peace process.”


But the Pentagon on Aug. 28, 2018, denied any such buildup, calling Russia’s claims “nothing more than propaganda” and warning that the US military was not “unprepared to respond should the president direct such an action,” CNN’s Ryan Browne reported. Business Insider reviewed monitors of Mediterranean maritime traffic and found only one US Navy destroyer reported in the area.

The same naval monitors suggest Russia may have up to 13 ships in the region, with submarines on the way.

International investigators have linked Syria’s government to more than 100 chemical attacks since the beginning of Syria’s civil war, and Russia has frequently made debunked claims about the existence or perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria.

Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russian foreign policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Business Insider that Moscow was alleging a US false flag possibly to help support a weak Syrian government in cracking down on one of the last rebel strongholds, crackdowns for which chemical attacks have become a weapon of choice.

“Using chemical weapons terrorizes civilians, so raising fear serves one purpose: It is especially demoralizing those who oppose” Syrian President Bashar Assad, Borshchevskaya told Business Insider, adding that Assad may look to chemical weapons because his conventional military has weakened over seven years of conflict.

Since President Donald Trump took office, the US has twice struck Syria in response to what it called incontrovertible evidence of chemical attacks on civilians. Trump’s White House has warned that any further chemical attacks attributed to the Syrian government would be met with more strikes.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Russian Akula-class submarine Vepr (K-157).

Looks like war

This time, Russia looks as if it’s up to more than simply conducting a public-relations battle with the US. Russia’s navy buildup around Syria represents the biggest since Moscow kicked off its intervention in Syria with its sole aircraft carrier in 2015.

But even with its massive naval presence, Moscow doesn’t stand a chance of stopping any US attack in Syria, Omar Lamrani, a military analyst at the geopolitical-consulting firm Stratfor, told Business Insider.

“Physically, the Russians really can’t do anything to stop that strike,” Lamrani said. “If the US comes in and launches cruise missiles” — as it has in past strikes — “the Russians have to be ideally positioned to defend against them, still won’t shoot down all of them, and will risk being seen as engaging the US,” which might cause US ships to attack them.

Lamrani said that in all previous US strikes in Syria, the US has taken pains to avoid killing Russian forces and escalating a conflict with Syria to a conflict between the world’s two greatest nuclear powers — “not because the US cannot wipe out the flotilla of vessels if they want to,” he said, but because the US wouldn’t risk sparking World War III with Russia over the Syrian government’s gassing of its civilians.

“To be frank,” Lamrani said, “the US has absolute dominance” in the Mediterranean, and Russia’s ships wouldn’t matter.

If Russian ships were to engage the US, “the US would use its overwhelming airpower in the region, and every single Russian vessel on the surface will turn into a hulk in a very short time,” Lamrani said.

So instead of an epic naval and aerial clash, expect Russia to stick to its real weapon for modern war: propaganda.

The US would most likely avoid striking Syria’s most important targets, as Russian forces integrated there raise the risk of escalation, and Russia would most likely then describe the limited US strike as a failure, as it has before.

Russia has made dubious and false claims about its air defenses in Syria, and it could continue down that path as a way of saving face should the US once again strike in Syria as if Russia’s forces inspired no fear.

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

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 8 edition)

Reveille! Reveille! Here’s the news you need to know about to start your day fully mission-ready:


Now check this out: 13 professional baseball players who became war heroes 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Proposal over Amazon facial recognition software fails to pass

Two proposals concerning Amazon’s controversial facial recognition software failed to pass at the company’s shareholders meeting on May 22, 2019, according to reports from CNET and TechCrunch.

The first proposal would have prevented the Seattle tech giant from selling the software — called Rekognition — to the government, while the other would have required an independent human rights group to study the technology.

The decision marks a contentious turning point in a saga that put Amazon at odds with activist shareholders and civil rights groups, which have vocally opposed government use of facial recognition due to privacy concerns.


But with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos controlling a significant, though not a majority, stake in the company he founded and many large institutional shareholders holding similar voting rights as Bezos, it was a long shot that the proposals would pass.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Rekognition, which Amazon launched in 2016, can identify people and objects in both videos and photos and has been used by government groups as well as media organizations. Amazon said the software has been used to rescue victims of human trafficking, for example, and Sky News used it to identify celebrities attending the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last year.

But the technology has been heavily criticized by civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which has raised concerns over Rekognition’s accuracy and its potential to be used for surveillance. Last July, the organization found that the facial recognition software incorrectly identified 28 members of Congress with images of people who had been arrested. Prior to May 22, 2019’s meeting, the ACLU published an open letter urging shareholders to back both proposals.

Amazon has said in a previous statement to Business Insider that it has been working with working with academics, researchers, customers, and lawmakers to balance the “benefits of facial recognition technology with the potential risks.”

The decision comes after Amazon unsuccessfully requested that the SEC block the proposals in January. The company is expected to share a filing with the final vote tally later this week.

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

Articles

Now the VA will let you schedule an appointment with your smartphone

The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking new steps to use technology to improve access to health care for veterans across the country, including in rural areas.


Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin says the initiatives include using video technology and diagnostic tools to conduct medical exams. Shulkin says veterans will also be able to use mobile devices to schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments with a VA doctor.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns
Marines, veterans and care providers watch as the American flag is walked to the flagpole at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ. Photo by Sgt. Justin Boling

Shulkin says the new programs will make it possible to provide medical care to veterans wherever they are, whether they’re in their homes or are traveling.

The new programs are in addition to existing “telehealth” programs that Shulkin says provided care to more than 700,000 veterans last year.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of May 4th

Still no news about Kim Jong Un – even after TMZ reported (yet didn’t confirm) his death on April 25 and everyone outside the Intelligence community has been coming up with their own theories, whether he died during a botched heart surgery to whatever because he missed two major holiday appearances.

I don’t know. The logical side of my brain says that he’s probably smart enough to know that being a dictator of the country with rampant malnutrition, horrid living conditions and legalized crystal meth is doing far worse when their only trading partner is the epicenter of a deadly pandemic. He’s probably been self-isolating like everyone else in the world (except his countrymen).

But I’m still hoping the methed-out cardiothoracic surgeon did him in. Anyways, here are some memes…


[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FfXfP7chjl69hDOwqmnqkNylJREx1kxCycu42hXyU_tw60OPTLwq10oP3rTtHW7KJQ1-sfn5oI3MsUrfj6L7ZRBSCKs8pY6JiXgOCM3vt9cMVwMp3keyV63Olo_MnYeWOdL0fW7k7Mw4WdBkAOA&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=605&h=054f021ffa79e3f8ce3fbaa724215df03565548434db675397c422564283b83c&size=980x&c=3096972227 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FfXfP7chjl69hDOwqmnqkNylJREx1kxCycu42hXyU_tw60OPTLwq10oP3rTtHW7KJQ1-sfn5oI3MsUrfj6L7ZRBSCKs8pY6JiXgOCM3vt9cMVwMp3keyV63Olo_MnYeWOdL0fW7k7Mw4WdBkAOA%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D605%26h%3D054f021ffa79e3f8ce3fbaa724215df03565548434db675397c422564283b83c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3096972227%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

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(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FuZdG86Gasx3QkOw_tlmrRHo6wzD1d_t7unnR0k07L_BWXLhDLhWNyJPSupLwLJ1WfdYRH18W-q6NTC2qCt6Tdb0N5hQwaKhPWKsdo6kXCyBt4J5eCeoiTucecb4m1wya9bx6b0m5lc09r1mONA&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=881&h=fa3a3fe0d3e132d763dd2d323bd04a28cabb531f973678afdf47a2e72175b318&size=980x&c=2319782301 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FuZdG86Gasx3QkOw_tlmrRHo6wzD1d_t7unnR0k07L_BWXLhDLhWNyJPSupLwLJ1WfdYRH18W-q6NTC2qCt6Tdb0N5hQwaKhPWKsdo6kXCyBt4J5eCeoiTucecb4m1wya9bx6b0m5lc09r1mONA%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D881%26h%3Dfa3a3fe0d3e132d763dd2d323bd04a28cabb531f973678afdf47a2e72175b318%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2319782301%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

(Meme via Call for Fire)

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(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

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(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FuVvTLoPfSJaLE2lpSTdu9ua1LFJKmklEXjI-AultsLctRtLeJxSXHUEQSY3p-YAFSNKPdCanCAHyIE0sCjM71pU_8oOt5Ego3frR8FFtoztRrGwIMm04UQszt1d-kqy6kDmpq14vobJ1QDlcFA&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=9&h=ee9ce776a481645a6f1d0440301b4419a238b5a56a17a7b8ffa07cd906d2714e&size=980x&c=3573263540 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FuVvTLoPfSJaLE2lpSTdu9ua1LFJKmklEXjI-AultsLctRtLeJxSXHUEQSY3p-YAFSNKPdCanCAHyIE0sCjM71pU_8oOt5Ego3frR8FFtoztRrGwIMm04UQszt1d-kqy6kDmpq14vobJ1QDlcFA%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D9%26h%3Dee9ce776a481645a6f1d0440301b4419a238b5a56a17a7b8ffa07cd906d2714e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3573263540%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FlCnNjfwe9QT_-N8HaDyrUpWLQITEdmfknbFsaOt24roFUiEYkPVY4GmjHY3281dR7Bvewu9S1lkk6DGcd878XGjd0GzPtQTfH7_yVZmq&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=165&h=533bf8b0aba4aba244706c5424ae48115184f3d50bcc848b8a83103d9f6d283e&size=980x&c=1398079424 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FlCnNjfwe9QT_-N8HaDyrUpWLQITEdmfknbFsaOt24roFUiEYkPVY4GmjHY3281dR7Bvewu9S1lkk6DGcd878XGjd0GzPtQTfH7_yVZmq%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D165%26h%3D533bf8b0aba4aba244706c5424ae48115184f3d50bcc848b8a83103d9f6d283e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1398079424%22%7D” expand=1]

(Tweet via the Madlad himself, Gen. Jay Raymond)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FbxOztQ2_LFAuq1lY0Df5VHbMwFvjsk93IWVh9W2pyl6r2t4_zm0sAvQ3vjaGp17aNpQGzZvjd5ugET8U7BEC2tR4ZuhlVevmOZKRalFDo9xgJtoZj6jRwytyQFQ5m2KnQ4mqdxNSJ5u06zw-9Q&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=1016&h=e65752688eace76531a207a053764ed76b10334d0dcf62f615c2141951c9daa3&size=980x&c=4193862130 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FbxOztQ2_LFAuq1lY0Df5VHbMwFvjsk93IWVh9W2pyl6r2t4_zm0sAvQ3vjaGp17aNpQGzZvjd5ugET8U7BEC2tR4ZuhlVevmOZKRalFDo9xgJtoZj6jRwytyQFQ5m2KnQ4mqdxNSJ5u06zw-9Q%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D1016%26h%3De65752688eace76531a207a053764ed76b10334d0dcf62f615c2141951c9daa3%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4193862130%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via VET Tv)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F7_YMJkq0vczNxC6_EmTojmXWX7DDBt9bL9IaHfJfV42Sk8iAYUhRXl-ZdKE66T9WGPc7Fi0Nxm8wL_037653f3XgRKpGyNqfFpGs7OVGVyTFXjX67aXlWobO_sJUQIAq5JnrSujsbhm19-GjQg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=394&h=e57290aceabf47b52b75767544b44077a2e7cdb2ec73c22e3ea5154798e5bca4&size=980x&c=4208256651 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F7_YMJkq0vczNxC6_EmTojmXWX7DDBt9bL9IaHfJfV42Sk8iAYUhRXl-ZdKE66T9WGPc7Fi0Nxm8wL_037653f3XgRKpGyNqfFpGs7OVGVyTFXjX67aXlWobO_sJUQIAq5JnrSujsbhm19-GjQg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D394%26h%3De57290aceabf47b52b75767544b44077a2e7cdb2ec73c22e3ea5154798e5bca4%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4208256651%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Uniform Humor)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

(Meme via Private News Network)

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(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Articles

Drone strike kills suspected al-Qaeda militant in Yemen

A drone strike killed a suspected al-Qaeda militant in southern Yemen on April 6 as the U.S. steps up its air war against the extremists.


The missile hit al-Qaeda provincial official Ahmed Ali Saana as he was riding a motorbike late on April 5 in the town of Khabar al-Muraqasha in Abyan province, a major target of recent drone strikes, an official said on condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon has confirmed more than 70 airstrikes on al-Qaeda targets in Yemen since Feb. 28.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Yemeni security officials have reported dozens of suspected fighters killed in the strikes on Abyan and the neighboring provinces of Shabwa and Baida.

A commando raid against al-Qaeda in Baida province was the first operation U.S. President Donald Trump ordered after taking office in January.

It went badly wrong, resulting in the deaths of a U.S. Navy SEAL and multiple civilians — including women and children — the Pentagon acknowledged.

In March, Trump reportedly gave the CIA new powers to authorize drone strikes against extremist targets in the Middle East independently of the Pentagon.

More than two years of civil war have created a power vacuum that al-Qaeda has exploited to consolidate its presence.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since Saudi Arabia entered the conflict in March 2015 after Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sana’a and overthrew President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, according to the United Nations.

The U.S. has supported the Saudi-led coalition through weapons sales, air-to-air refueling of jets, and intelligence sharing.

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 Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

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 Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

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 TRENDING

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Some 8,600 personnel, 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft, and two submarines from 18 countries are in the Baltic Sea this month for Baltic Operations.

The annual BaltOps exercise, led this year by the US Navy’s recently revived 2nd Fleet in its first major European engagement, allows partners to practice air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, amphibious operations, and mine warfare.

Mines are especially dangerous in confined, heavily trafficked waterways, like the Strait of Hormuz or the Baltic Sea.

Bordered by six NATO members, the Baltic is littered with World War I- and II-era mines, and Russia is believed to have the world’s largest arsenal of naval mines — as many as a quarter-million, by one estimate.


“The Baltic Sea is of vital strategic importance for the alliance,” said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu, who stressed that the exercise was not targeted at any country but noted the deterioration of European security since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

BaltOps 2019’s Mine Warfare Task Group had sailors and experts, including more than 70 divers, from 11 countries manning more than 15 mine-countermeasures ships, 15 unmanned undersea vehicles, five drone ships, and airborne mine-countermeasures systems.

“There is a lot of value in this exercise as it supports not only our US capability, but our work with partner nations in the mine-warfare space,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Claytor, officer in charge of a detachment from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28.

Below, you can see how the US and NATO train for a uniquely complicated, and uniquely dangerous, form of warfare.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Researchers from the US Office of Naval Research and German Naval Research aboard FSG Konsort, conduct MCM Experimentations using an Mk 18 Mod 2 unmanned underwater vehicles during BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Lt. Alex Burtness, left, a field support representative for Mk 18 Mod 2, prepares to lower a Mk 18 Mod 2 from the stern of FSG Kronsor during experimental Mine Countermeasure operations at BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A Mk 18 Mod 2 is submerged from the stern of FSG Kronsort during experimental Mine Countermeasure (MCM) operations at BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

The Mk 18 Mod 2 UUVs being tested had two kinds of sensor packages: The Small Synthetic Aperture Minehunter and the Autonomous Topographic Large Area Survey forward-looking sonar.

Small Synthetic Aperture Minehunter systems work on a range of wavelengths, providing fine-grain imaging of the seafloor and of small man-made objects as well as peering into the seabed to provide imagery and analysis of buried objects.

The SSAM II module used at BaltOps “provides higher resolution and is intended to hunt bottom mines,” said Navy Lt. Matthew Stroup, public affairs officer for the BaltOps 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group.

SSAM II “has two modes; linear [synthetic aperture sonar] mode for rapid search and circular SAS, which provides very high-resolution images to enable” reacquiring and identification, Stroup added.

Autonomous Topographic Large Area Survey forward-looking sonar, known as ATLAS, has a wide search-area width that’s meant for volume mine-hunting, Stroup said. It can also be used to gather information, including mapping of clutter and large-object detection on the seafloor and to gauge ocean depth.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A Mk 18 Mod 2 unmanned underwater vehicle is submerged from FSG Kronsort during experimental Mine Countermeasures operations at BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

Mine warfare is key to maintaining sea lines of communications, particularly in ports and landing areas, said US Navy Rear Adm. Scott Robertson.

Robertson is commander of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center and led the BaltOps 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Lyle Valtron, a field support representative, operates an Mk 18 Mod 2 aboard FSG Kronsort during experimental Mine Countermeasure operations at BaltOps 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A mine countermeasure ship attached to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) transports divers in preparation for an investigative dive during a mine countermeasure exercise in support of Baltic Operations 2019.

(NATO/CPO Brian Djurslev)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

Naval Aircrewman 1st Class Patrick Miller operates the common console, used for both Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS), aboard a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A close-up of the common console aboard a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during BaltOps 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

The Airborne Laser Mine Detection System aboard an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter heading to the Baltic Sea during BaltOps 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A team of Norwegian explosive ordnancemen prepare to detonate a World War II-era, air-laid mine weighing approximately 1,000 pounds in the Baltic Sea, June 2019. The team is operating as part of an 11-nation Mine Warfare Task Group in BALTOPS 2019.

(US Nav photo by Lt. Matthew A. Stroup)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A team of Norwegian explosive ordnancemen prepare to detonate a World War II-era, air-laid mine weighing approximately 1,000 pounds in the Baltic Sea, June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

An unexploded A Mark I-VI mine at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It was detected, identified, and detonated by Norwegian and Danish naval personnel during BaltOps 2019 in June 2019.

(Royal Danish Navy)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A diver attached to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) prepares an investigative dive during a mine-countermeasure exercise at Baltic Operations 2019.

(NATO photo by CPO Brian Djurslev)

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

A roughly 1,000-pound WWII-era air-laid mine detonates in the Baltic Sea after being discovered by the BALTOPS 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group and being rigged for detonation by a team of Norwegian explosive ordancemen in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

“There is a good chance we will find more of these mines as the exercise continues, and it’s reassuring to know our international task group has the training and expertise necessary to safely dispose of them,” Robertson added.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Navy used to have nuclear-powered cruisers

While nuclear-powered carriers and submarines are all the rage in the U.S. Navy today, the sea-going service used to have a much wider nuclear portfolio with nuclear-powered destroyers and cruisers that could sail around the world with no need to refuel, protecting carrier and projecting American power ashore with missiles and guns.


These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

The USS Long Beach fires a Terrier missile in 1961.

(U.S. Navy)

The first nuclear surface combatant in the world wasn’t a carrier, it was the USS Long Beach, a cruiser launched in 1959. That ship was followed by eight other nuclear cruisers, Truxtun, California, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The Arkansas was the last nuclear-powered cruiser launched, coming to sea in 1980.

During the same period, a nuclear-powered destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, took to the seas as well. Due to changes in ship nomenclature over the period, it was a frigate when designed, a destroyer when launched, but would be classified as a cruiser by the time the ship retired.

The head of the Navy’s nuclear program for decades was Adm. Hyman G. Rickover who had a vision for an entirely nuclear-powered carrier battle group. This would maximize the benefits of nuclear vessels and create a lethal American presence in the ocean that could run forever with just an occasional shipment of food, spare parts, and replacement personnel.

These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

The Navy launched Operation Sea Orbit where nuclear-powered ships sailed together in 1964. This is the USS Enterprise, a carrier; the USS Long Beach, a cruiser; and the USS Bainbridge, classified at the time as a destroyer.

(U.S. Navy)

The big advantage of nuclear vessels, which required many more highly trained personnel as well as a lot of hull space for the reactor, was that they could sail forever at their top speed. The speed thing was a big advantage. They weren’t necessarily faster than their conventionally fueled counterparts, but gas and diesel ships had to time their sprints for maximum effect since going fast churned through fuel.

That meant conventional vessels couldn’t sail too fast for submarines to catch them, couldn’t sprint from one side of the ocean to the other during contingency operations, and relied on tankers to remain on station for extended periods of time.

Nuclear vessels got around all these problems, but their great speed and endurance only really helped them if they weren’t accompanied by conventional ships. After all, the cruisers and destroyer can’t sprint across the ocean if that means they are outrunning the rest of the fleet in dangerous waters.

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The Navy detonates an explosive charge off the starboard side of the USS Arkansas, a nuclear-powered cruiser, during sea trials.

(U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Toon)

That’s why Rickover wanted a full nuclear battle group. It could move as a single unit and enjoy its numerous advantages without being slowed down by other ships.

And the ships were quite lethal when they arrived. Nuclear carriers at the time were similar to those today, sailing at a decent clip of about 39 mph (33.6 knots) while carrying interceptor aircraft and bombers.

The 10 nuclear cruisers (counting the Bainbridge as a cruiser), were guided-missile cruisers. Four ships were Virginia-Class ships focused on air defense but also featuring weapons needed to attack enemy submarines and ships as well as to bombard enemy shores.

The other most common nuclear cruiser was the California Class with three ships. The California Class was focused on offensive weaponry, capable of taking the fight to enemy ships with Harpoon missiles, subs with anti-submarine rockets and torpedoes, and enemy shores with missiles and guns. But, it could defend itself and its fleet with surface-to-air missiles and other weapons.

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Ticonderoga-class cruisers like the USS Hue City, front, and Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers like the USS Oscar Austin, rear, replaced the nuclear cruisers.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Wilson)

But the nuclear fleet had one crippling problem: expense. Rickover knew that to ensure that the larger Navy and America would continue to embrace nuclear power at sea, the ships had to be extremely dependable and secure. To do this, ships needed good shielding and a highly capable, highly trained crew.

Nuclear cruisers had about 600 sailors in each crew, while the Ticonderoga-class that took to the sea in 1983 required 350. And the Ticonderoga crew could be more quickly and cheaply trained since those sailors didn’t need to go through nuclear training.

Also, the reactors took up a lot of space within the hull, requiring larger ships than conventional ones with the same battle capabilities. So, when budget constraints came up in the 1990s, the nuclear fleet was sent to mothballs except for the carriers.

And even at that stage, the nuclear cruisers cost more than their counterparts. Conventional cruisers can be sold to allied navies, commercial interests, or sent to common scrap yards after their service. Nuclear cruisers require expensive decommissioning and specially trained personnel to deal with the reactors and irradiated steel.

MIGHTY TRENDING

From iPhones to fighter jets: Here’s the list of casualties in the trade war between the US and China

China is dropping heavy hints that it could restrict exports of rare-earth metals to the US as part of the trade war through highly staged photo ops and heavy hints in state media.

If such a ban happened, it could seriously harm the American tech, defense, and manufacturing industries. Eighty percent of US imports of rare-earth metals come from China, according to the US Geological Survey.

Stocks in rare-earth companies have skyrocketed since China first hinted that it might weaponize rare earth in the trade war, when President Xi Jinping made a highly publicized visit to a rare-earth factory.


This has most likely driven up the price of the materials, which could in turn drive up the consumer prices of those goods.

Here’s what rare earths are and the US products that would be affected by a Chinese ban.

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Rare earths, clockwise from top center, praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium and gadolinium.

(U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Peggy Greb)

What are rare-earth metals?

“Rare-earth metals” is a collective term for 17 metals in the periodic table of elements, which appear in low concentrations in the ground.

Rare earths are considered “rare” because it’s hard to find them in sufficient concentrations to exploit economically. They also require a lot of energy to extract and process for further use.

The elements are lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, and yttrium.

They have a variety of physical and chemical properties and are put to different uses. Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, and samarium are classed as “light rare-earth elements,” while the others are classed as “heavy rare-earth elements.”

They have grown in importance in recent years because of their use in high-tech manufacturing. Here are some everyday products that depend on rare-earth metals.

iPhones, Teslas, and flat-screen TVs

Yttrium, europium, and terbium are used in LED screens, which you can find on most smartphones, tablets, laptops, and flat-screen TVs. Their red-green-blue phosphors help power the display screen, according to a 2014 US Geological Survey fact sheet.

Those elements are also used in iPhone batteries and help make the phone vibrate when you get a text, Business Insider’s Jeremy Berke reported.

Apple said in 2017 that it would “one day” stop using rare earths to make its phones and pivot to recycled materials instead, though that idea has yet to become a reality.

Lanthanum is also used in as many as half of all digital and cellphone camera lenses, the USGS said.

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Samsung’s giant flat-screen TV, named “The Wall.”

(Samsung)

The electric-vehicle industry also depends on lanthanum alloys to make its rechargeable, batteries, with some makers needing as much as 10 to 15 kilograms, or 22 to 33 pounds, a car, the USGS reported.

Neodymium-based permanent magnets are also used to make electric-vehicle motors, The Verge reported, citing Frances Wall, a professor of applied mineralogy at Britain’s University of Exeter.

Tesla has also relied on rare-earth permanent magnets from the Chinese producer Beijing Zhong Ke San Huan Hi-Tech Co. since 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s not clear whether Tesla uses other magnet suppliers too.

As global demand for electric vehicles continues to climb, so too will that for rare earths, Ryan Castilloux, the managing director of the rare-earth consultancy Adamas Intelligence, told Business Insider.

Permanent magnets produced from rare earths are also used to make computer hard disks, and CD-ROM and DVD disk drives, the USGS noted. The magnets help stabilize the disk when it spins.

Restricting magnet-related rare earths to the US would hurt “a lot of industries and cause a lot of economic pain,” Castilloux said.

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A Tomahawk cruise missile launching from the stern vertical launch system of the USS Shiloh to attack selected air-defense targets south of the 33rd parallel in Iraq on on Sept. 3, 1996, as part of Operation Desert Strike.

(US Department of Defense)

Drones, missiles, and satellites

The Department of Defense uses rare earths for jet-engine coatings, missile-guidance systems, missile-defense systems, satellites, and communications systems, the US Government Accountability Office said in a 2016 report.

The Pentagon’s demand for the minerals makes up 1% of total US demand. “Reliable access to the necessary material, regardless of the overall level of defense demand, is a bedrock requirement for DoD,” the office said.

The Defense Department on May 29, 2019, said it was seeking new federal funds to support US production of rare-earth metals to reduce its reliance on China, according to Reuters.

Commercial defense companies, like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and BAE, also rely on rare earths to make their missile-guidance systems and sensors.

Fighter jets also heavily rely on rare-earth metals. Each F-35 jet requires 920 pounds of material made from rare earths, Air Force Magazine reported, citing the Defense Department.

F-22 tail fins and rudders — which steer the planes — are powered by motors made by permanent magnets derived from rare earths, Air Force Magazine said.

Yttrium and terbium are used to make laser targeting, armored fighting vehicles, Predator drones, and Tomahawk cruise missiles, Bloomberg reported, citing the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence managing director Simon Moores.

The government and private companies have since 2010 built up stockpiles of rare earths and components that use them, Reuters reported, citing the former Pentagon supply-chain official Eugene Gholz. It’s not clear how long these stockpiles would last if a shortage hit.

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An explosion caused by a Tomahawk missile, made by Raytheon.

(Department of Defense)

Clean energy

Manufacturers of offshore wind turbines rely on magnets made from elements like neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, or terbium, according to the Renewables Consulting Group. Makers include Siemens and MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, the consultancy said.

Using rare-earth magnets makes the wind turbines more reliable, the consultancy said, because such components are more resilient than alternatives made with conventional materials.

Big oil

Rare-earth metals are to help refine crude oil into gasoline and other end products, according to the Rare Earth Technology Alliance.

Using rare-earth metals as catalysts in the process leads to higher yields and purer end products, RETA said.

They also play a role in the chemistry of catalytic converters, which reduce harmful car emissions by speeding up breakdown of exhaust fumes.

The Global Times, China’s state-run tabloid news outlet, cited a rare-earth analyst named Wu Chenhui who called a Chinese ban on the elements a “smart hit” against the US.

The prospect was raised after the US this month proposed tariffs on 0 billion worth of Chinese goods and blacklisted the telecom giant Huawei from working with US companies.

Many rare-earth experts doubt that China would follow through with a ban, though, because it wouldn’t be in China’s interest for the US and other countries to start looking elsewhere for rare-earth imports.

But “even if it doesn’t go ahead, it’s a wake-up call,” Castilloux of Adamas said of Chinese restrictions. “It’s causing the US and other countries to take a more serious look into their supply chains.”

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

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