Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it's not clear who's doing it - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Drones are dropping explosives on US soldiers in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s behind the attacks, the head of US Central Command, which is responsible for the region, told lawmakers on Tuesday.


National Public Radio reporter Tom Bowman first reported the attacks on Friday, observing them as he joined a patrol by US soldiers tasked with protecting oil fields in northeast Syria.

“It was a multiday attack on two of the oil fields, the first one since the US mission began last fall to protect the oil fields,” Bowman said on All Things Considered. “There were soldiers from the West Virginia National Guard at one of the fields. And early Wednesday morning, a drone carrying a mortar dropped it near where they were sleeping. No one was injured, and the soldiers quickly drove off the base.”

A drone returned before dawn on Friday and dropped more mortars. “You could see the big circular holes in the ground, pockmarks on the US military trucks and one on one of the oil tanks,” Bowman said.

Sgt. 1st Class Mitch Morgan told Bowman they sprung up when the attack began, mounted their vehicles, and left in two minutes. “As we were going out, they was raining mortars in on top of us,” Morgan said.

Bowman said Army investigators had told him that some of the mortars “were made with 3D printers, which means that obviously someone pretty sophisticated put together these mortars, perhaps a nation-state.”

‘One of my highest priorities’

Questioned on Tuesday about the incidents, US Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of Central Command, said there had been attacks by unmanned aerial systems, or UAS, but disputed some of the details.

“We have reports — I don’t think as many as are in the NPR report — but yes … group 1 UAS, which are the small UAS, they’ll try to find a way to carry an explosive and fly it over.”

“The Russians have had some significant casualties in this regard, as have other nations that are operating there,” McKenzie said. “So yes, it is a problem. We look at it very hard. It’s one of my highest priorities.”

McKenzie said his command was still investigating the perpetrator but pointed to ISIS.

“If I had to judge today, I would say possibly ISIS, but [it’s] probably not a state entity operating the drones,” McKenzie told lawmakers.

ISIS has been defeated on the ground in Syria and in Iraq by a US-led international coalition and local partner forces, but it remains in pockets in both countries. ISIS has long used drones for reconnaissance and to drop explosives on opposing forces, often releasing photos and videos of the attacks for propaganda purposes.

Iraqi forces used US-supplied “jammers” to counter the commercial drones ISIS was using in Mosul during the campaign to liberate that city in 2016 and 2017.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

static.businessinsider.sg

‘One of the things that worries me’

The drone attack in Syria highlights the growing threat that small drones pose to US forces.

In early 2019, Marines used their Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System, mounted on an all-terrain vehicle strapped to the deck of the ship carrying them, to down an Iranian drone that flew within 1,000 yards of the them in the Strait of Hormuz.

McKenzie said Tuesday that such drones were a major concern.

“We aggressively pursue anything that will improve the capabilities, particularly against those group 1 and 2 UAS. That is one of the things that worries me the most in the theater every day, is the vulnerability of our forces to those small UAS,” McKenzie said.

Asked about using artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for defense against drones, McKenzie said he was “aware of some experimentation on that” but couldn’t specify.

“We have a very broad set of joint requirements to drive that, so it’s possible there’s something there,” he added.

Counter-drone systems were also included in Central Command’s unfunded priorities list, which contains funding requests not included in the budget request submitted to Congress.

Enemy unmanned aerial systems “have expanded in size, sophistication, range, lethality and numbers” and are being used throughout Central Command’s area of responsibility,” McKenzie wrote in the list, which was obtained by Business Insider.

Their “low velocity and altitude makes them difficult to detect on radar and limited options exist in effectively defeating them,” McKenzie wrote.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

The letter requested .6 million for systems to “help counter these airborne IEDs and intelligence gatherers.”

Asked Tuesday if his command’s counter-drone needs were being met, McKenzie said he was “convinced the system is generating as much as it can” and that he had talked to Defense Secretary Mark Esper about the issue.

“I own a lot of the systems that are available across the entire United States inventory,” McKenzie said. “I am not satisfied with where we are, and I believe we are at great risk because of this.”

“We’re open to anything, and a lot of smart people are looking at this,” McKenzie added. “We’re not there yet, but I think the Army, having executive agency for this, will actually help in a lot of ways. It will provide a focus to these efforts. This is a significant threat.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the US is vulnerable to space-based attacks

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats warned about threats from space at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats on Feb. 13, 2018.


“As if we don’t have enough threats here on earth, we need to look to the heavens — threats in space,” he said.

“The global expansion of the space industry will extend space-enabled capabilities and situational awareness to nation-states and commercial space actors in the coming years. The primary concern relates to satellites and anti-satellite capabilities.”

Right now, the U.S. military is heavily reliant on GPS and signals sent between satellites in space. Col. Richard Zellmann, commander of the 1st Space Brigade, a unit within the Space and Missile Defense Command, said that up to 70% of the Army’s combat systems depend on signals sent from space.

Also read: China and Russia can now kill American satellites

In his prepared statement, Coats said Russia and China, having recognized the value of space-based communication and reconnaissance, “will continue to expand their space-based reconnaissance, communications, and navigation systems in terms of the numbers of satellites, the breadth of their capability, and the applications for use.”

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1A interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test in the Pacific Ocean, Feb. 13 2013. (Department of Defense)

To make matters worse, Russian and Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities are becoming increasingly advanced. Those capabilities include (ASAT) missiles, satellites capable of performing kamikaze-style attacks, jamming technology, and “directed-energy weapons” that could “blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors, such as those used for remote sensing or missile defense.”

Related: SpaceX launching a third top-secret satellite

China and Russia continue to at least publicly promote diplomatic efforts to prevent the militarization of space. But as Coats pointed out, “many classes of weapons would not be addressed by such proposals, allowing them to continue their pursuit of space warfare capabilities while publicly maintaining that space must be a peaceful domain.”

Coats estimated that Russian and Chinese ASAT weapons will probably “reach initial operational capability in the next few years.” If those weapons were to take out American satellites, American warfighting capabilities would be seriously hampered.

In the words of Zellmann: “When you start taking away those combat multipliers, we need to go back then to the days of the industrial-age army where you have to have three times as many people as the adversary does.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 missions of the military working dog

“The relationship between a military working dog and a military dog handler is about as close as a man and dog can become. You see this loyalty, a devotion unlike any other, and the protectiveness.”
– Robert Crais


The United States military has utilized working dogs since the Revolutionary war. They were originally used as pack animals, carrying as much as forty pounds of supplies between units, including food, guns and ammo. Then during World War I, they were used for more innovative purposes, like killing rats in the trenches. However, it was during World War II that there was a surge in the use of military working dogs. The U.S. military deployed more than 10,000 working dogs throughout WWII. These specially trained dogs were used as sentries, scouts, messengers, and mine detectors. It is estimated that there are approximately 2,300 military working dogs deployed worldwide today.

The military working dogs of today are utilized in many different missions and specialties. After intensive training, each dog is then assigned to a specific specialty based on their strengths and abilities. Once the military working dogs are assigned their specialty, they are shipped out to military installations worldwide.

A few of the possible specialties these dogs can be selected for are:

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Sentry dogs

Sentry dogs are trained to warn their handlers with a growl, bark, or other alert when danger or strangers are nearby. These dogs are valuable assets, especially for working in the dark when attacks from the rear or from cover are the most likely. Sentry dogs are often used on patrols, as well as guarding supply dumps, airports, war plants, and other vital installations.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Scout/Patrol dogs

Scout and patrol dogs are trained with the same skills that sentry dogs are. However, in addition, these dogs are trained to work in silence. Their job is to aid in the detection of ambushes, snipers, and other enemy forces. These particular dogs are somewhat elite among the military working dogs, because only dogs with both superior intelligence and a quiet disposition can be selected for this specialty. Scout and patrol dogs are generally sent out with their handlers to walk point during combat patrols, well ahead of the Infantry patrol.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Casualty dogs

Casualty dogs are trained in much the same way search and rescue dogs are. They are utilized to search for and report casualties in obscure areas, and casualties who are difficult for parties to locate. The time these dogs save in finding severely injured persons can often mean the difference between life and death.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Explosive detection

With the current war on terrorism, explosives hidden on a person, in a vehicle, or in a roadside location is a common threat. Explosive detection dogs are trained to alert their handlers to the scent of the chemicals that are commonly used in explosives. These dogs have such a superior sense of smell that it is nearly impossible to package explosives in a way that they cannot detect.

No matter what their specialty or their mission, the reality is these highly trained K9s are an invaluable part of today’s military. There has yet to be a technology created that can match the ability and heart that military working dogs sustain every day. These dogs are the unsung heroes of the U.S. military, and it is only in recent years that there has been a movement to make sure they are given the appreciation and benefits they deserve. There is constant research going into the best ways to protect them in combat. And along with a push to make K9 Veterans Day an official holiday, there is also a movement to make sure these four-legged heroes are taken care of when their time in service comes to an end.

Articles

The Navy’s ruling just came down on the USS Fitzgerald’s top leaders — and it isn’t good

The commander of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the executive officer have been permanently detached from the ship and face non-judicial punishment over the deadly collision in June with a container ship, the Navy announced August 17.


Cmdr. Bryce Benson, commander of the Fitzgerald, and Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, the executive officer, are “being detached for cause,” meaning that the Navy “has lost trust and confidence in their ability to lead,” Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, said during a press conference.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet, has also decided that the top enlisted sailor aboard the Fitzgerald and several other sailors on the watch crew at the time of the collision on June 17 will also face non-judicial punishment, Moran said.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart

Aucoin ruled that “serious mistakes were made by the crew,” Moran said.

The Fitzgerald was hit nearly broadside by the ACX Crystal cargo ship in the early morning hours of June 17 in Japanese waters. Seven sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Fitzgerald were killed.

The service members, whose bodies were found in flooded berthing compartments, on August 17 were posthumously promoted.

The top enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald was later identified as Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin. He, Benson, and Babbitt were all in their berths when the collision occurred.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
Honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald who were killed in a collision at sea. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III

However, Aucoin found that all three bore chief responsibility for the watch crew on the bridge losing “situational awareness” as the destroyer was proceeding at about 20 knots on a clear moonlit night in relatively calm seas, Moran said.

When asked if the non-judicial punishment against Benson, Babbitt, and Baldwin would be career-ending, Moran said: “Look at what happened here — it’s going to be pretty hard to recover from this.” Moran said investigations were continuing but he declined to speculate on whether courts martial might be pursued against any of the Fitzgerald’s crew.

Since the accident occurred, naval experts have pondered how a fast and agile destroyer carrying some of the world’s most advanced radars and proceeding on a clear moonlit night in calm seas could have been hit nearly broadside by a slow and plodding cargo ship.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock after sustaining significant damage in the June 17 collision. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leonard Adams.

The speculation has centered on whether the bridge watch crew was either poorly trained or simply not alert. Moran said only that collisions should not happen in the US Navy — “We got it wrong.”

A “line of duty” investigation released by the Navy earlier August 17 on actions following the collision gave evidence of the enormous damage inflicted on the Fitzgerald and the heroic actions of the crew in saving the ship and their fellow sailors.

Berthing Area 2, two decks below the main deck where 35 sailors were sleeping in three-decker buns, was exposed to the open sea, the investigation said. The bulbous nose of the ACX Crystal had ripped a 13×17 foot hole into the side of the Fitzgerald.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
Repairs to a hole punctured into the side of the USS Fitzgerald after colliding with a merchant vessel on June 17, 2017. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor.

“As a result, nothing separated Berthing 2 from the onrushing sea, allowing a great volume of water to enter Berthing 2 very quickly,” the investigation said. The seven sailors killed in the collision were all in Berthing 2. They were “directly in the path of the onrushing water,” the investigation said.

The force of the collision knocked the Fitzgerald into a 14-degree list to port before the ship rocked back violently into a seven-degree list to starboard. “One sailor saw another knocked out of his rack by water,” the investigation said.

“Others began waking up shipmates who had slept through the initial impact. At least one sailor had to be pulled from his rack and into the water before he woke up,” the investigation said.

The sailors were in water up to their necks as they scrambled to reach a ladder to safety. The last rescued sailor had been in the bathroom at the time of the crash. Other sailors “pulled him from the water, red-faced and with bloodshot eyes. He reported he was taking his final breath before being saved,” the investigation said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US destroyer sails through Chinese-claimed territory

US Navy warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait Jan. Jan. 24, 2019, in an apparent challenge to Beijing.

The Areligh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl conducted a Taiwan Strait transit, demonstrating “the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” US Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman told CNN.

“The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” he added.


The rhetoric in his statement is consistent with that used for freedom-of-navigation operations (FONOPs) and bomber overflights in the South China Sea, actions that tend to agitate the Chinese government.

After the USS McCampbell conducted a FONOP earlier this month, Chinese media responded with a warning that its military had deployed DF-26 missiles capable of sinking enemy ships in the South China Sea.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

The USS McCampbell.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 1st Class Bobbie G. Attaway)

While Taiwan Strait transits by US warships occurred infrequently in the past, the US has made these maneuvers routine in the past year, which has been characterized by rising tension between Washington and Beijing.

The US Navy sent the destroyer USS Stockdale and the replenishment oiler USNS Pecos through the strait in November 2018, just a few weeks after the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the cruiser USS Antietam did the same in October 2018.

The destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold sailed the strait between mainland China and Taiwan for the first time in July 2018.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

The Chinese government views Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic territory, as a renegade province, and is deeply concerned about foreign interference, particularly US military support.

Beijing feels it may embolden pro-independence forces. In a recent speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping made it clear that forceful reunification remains on the table.

A new Defense Intelligence Agency assessment of China’s military might explains: “Beijing’s longstanding interest to eventually compel Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence has served as the primary driver for China’s military modernization.”

“Beijing’s anticipation that foreign forces would intervene in a Taiwan scenario led the [Chinese military] to develop a range of systems to deter and deny foreign regional force projection.”

In a recent meeting with Adm. John Richardson, chief of US naval operations, Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng asserted, “If anyone wants to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will safeguard the national unity at all costs so as to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Richardson said in Japan that the Taiwan Strait is an international waterway, and left the door open for the US to send an aircraft carrier through if necessary.

China sent military aircraft, specifically a Sukhoi Su-30 and a Shaanxi Y-8 transport plane, flying past Taiwan Jan. 22, 2019, causing the Taiwanese military to scramble aircraft and surveillance ships in response. China regularly conducts encirclement drills around Taiwan.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

The most amazing charity work done by NFL players

It’s a well-known and well-reported fact that an NFL athlete makes a pretty penny… billions of them, to be precise. People train their whole lives for a shot at the big time. Sometimes, when they get there, they’re barely 22 years old or younger. Sometimes, they fall hard. But other times, they their sudden fortune into good fortune for those around them.


That’s especially true of sports personalities. Big-ticket players enter a city’s franchise team and become entrenched in the city’s culture, even though they may not hail from that city originally. The people embrace them and, when times get rough, these players turn around and offer assistance and comfort to those in need.

JJ Watt, Houston Texans

JJ Watt, a Wisconsin native who played with the Badgers in his college years, is kind of an intense guy in everything he does. This helps the Texans defensively on the field and it helps Texans in general off the field.

The defensive player raised some million for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts across Texas, a sizable chunk of the cost of rebuilding. The JJ Watt Foundation has raised millions to fund after-school athletics in the state and Watt personally intervenes to take care of burdened Texas families – like those of the Santa Fe High School shooting victims.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz was raised in North Dakota and played football for ND State but the Eagles quarterback can often be found elsewhere. With other Eagles players, he helped raise half a million dollars to build a sports complex in ravaged areas of Haiti and his Audience Of One Foundation operates a food truck that can be seen on the streets of Philadelphia, handing out food to those in need. In true food truck fashion, the truck’s name is “Thy Kingdom Crumb.”

When he’s not building in the developing world or handing out food, he’s running a series of summer camps to give youth in urban areas a true outdoor experience.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos

Brandon Marshall, a Las Vegas native who attended UNLV, was one of many NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem protests. But rather than just make a statement for the cameras, Marshall decided to take action off the field as well. After he took his first knee on Sept. 8, 2016, Marshall met with Denver police chief Robert White to facilitate dialogue between urban communities and the Denver police.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Michael Thomas and The First Step, founded by community philanthropist, Scott Van Duzer, a focuses on making genuine, lasting connections between kids and local law enforcement.

Michael Thomas, New York Giants

Whenever a list of the NFL’s most charitable players is written, Giants safety Michael Thomas has to make the list. Though he doesn’t necessarily operate his own foundation, he is a prolific volunteer in the Florida area and beyond (until 2018, he was with the Miami Dolphins).

The Houston native assisted in raising money to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, he helps young kinds interact with community leaders and local law enforcement through a program called “First Step,” he’s an active Big Brother and a volunteer for Food for the Hungry.

“The best thing you can give to these kids in these communities is time,” he told Points of Light, “show that you actually care.”

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

That’s the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees, an Austin, Texas native who played for Purdue in Indiana and was originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers, has forgotten none of those places. And he certainly hasn’t forgotten about New Orleans… or anywhere else, for that matter. He founded the Dream Brees Foundation in 2003 to support cancer victims, in memory of his wife’s aunt, who died of cancer. Brees and his organization have raised million to support those programs.

He donates millions to hurricane victims, including those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Sandy, and of course, Katrina. He also helps fund the Purdue football team and, through Operation Kids, helped rebuild and restore youth athletic programs, parks, and playgrounds, and neighborhood revitalization programs throughout New Orleans. He even routinely visits deployed US troops on tour with the USO.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Eli Manning, New York Giants

Eli is definitely elite among generous athletes. He was named to Forbes 2012 Most Generous Athletes list for a sizable donation to his alma mater’s, University of Mississippi, sports program, named one of the the top philanthropists under age 40 in 2015, and even funds an operational clinic for children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Co-Winner also matched donations for Hackensack University Medical Center’s “Tackle Childhood Cancer” initiative, which ended up raising .5 million.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers

Sherman, the Stanford-educated cornerback, founded Blanket Coverage – The Richard Sherman Family Foundation, an organization dedicated to channeling its resources to “ensure that as many children as possible are provided with proper school supplies and adequate clothing.”

He doesn’t stop at clothing. He also works with Microsoft to bring surface computer labs to underfunded high schools in places like his native Compton, Calif. and has affected more than 10,000 students in Los Angeles alone.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Hostage-taking on Ukrainian bus ends, all passengers safe, after 12-hour ordeal

LUTSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces have captured an armed man who was holding 13 people hostage inside a bus in the northwestern town of Lutsk, ending a 12-hour ordeal.

No one was injured.


An armored personnel carrier with Ukrainian special forces pulled up alongside the bus around 9:30 p.m. seconds after an explosion created a bright flash near the vehicle, a video posted by an onlooker showed:

Максима Плохого задержали, автобус брали штурмом

www.youtube.com

Maksym Kryvosh, a 44-year-old resident of Lutsk who has a criminal record and was once treated at a psychiatric center, was arrested. Kryvosh also went by the last name Plokhoy, which means “bad” in Russian.

Police said Kryvosh ranted against “the system” in his negotiations, called the nation’s oligarchs and officials “terrorists,” and demanded that people watch the 2005 documentary film Earthlings about the suffering endured by animals at farms, research labs, and other locations.

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a short video on Facebook recommending that people watch the documentary. Local media said Kryvosh was following the news about his hostage-taking on his smartphone. Zelenskiy deleted the video after Kryvosh’s capture.

Regional police chief Yuriy Kroshko said earlier in the day that Kryvosh had told police that he was armed and had a large amount of explosives with him.

He also claimed to have placed a bomb at another site in the city and said he could detonate it remotely.

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


MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy’s Osprey landed, refueled and took off from an aircraft carrier for the first time

Since 1965, the Navy’s carrier onboard delivery mission has been performed by the Grumman C-2 Greyhound. The C-2s fly mail, passengers and supplies between aircraft carriers and land bases. Despite decades of overhauls and upgrades, the Navy plans to replace the C-2 with the CMV-22B Osprey by 2024. On November 20, 2020, the Osprey reached its first major milestone on its path to taking on the COD role.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
A CMV-22B from VRM-30 lands on the USS Carl Vinson for the first time on November 20 (U.S. Navy)

While conducting routine maritime operations in the Pacific, USS Carl Vinson received an Osprey aboard its deck. The landing marked the first time that the new COD platform has ever landed on a carrier. The operations continued the next day to include a refueling and rolling takeoff.

The CMV-22B can carry up to 6,000 pounds of cargo and has a range of 1,150 nautical miles. While these performance figures are inferior to the outgoing C-2, the Osprey’s adoption is driven by its ability to support the new F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The Osprey is able to carry the F-35’s Pratt & Whitney F135 engine and deliver it to and from both aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. Additionally, the Osprey brings a slew of new capabilities to the COD role.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
The first refueling of a CMV-22B aboard an aircraft carrier on November 21 (U.S. Navy)

Modified from the existing MV-22B Block C platform, the CMV-22B includes Navy-specific features including: a secure beyond-line-of-sight HF radio, an internal PA system to address passengers, fuel jettison capability, improved cargo bay and load ramp lighting, and an extended-range capability with fore and aft external conformal fuel tanks in the wings and sponsons.

The Fleet Logisitics Multi-Mission Squadron VRM-30 “Titans”, based out of NAS North Island, California, took possession of its first Osprey this summer. The squadron is scheduled to field the Osprey on its first operational detachment aboard the Carl Vinson in 2021. The Navy plans to establish a second COD Osprey squadron, VRM-40, on the east coast and equip them with aircraft in FY2022. A training squadron, VRM-50, is also planned to be stood up in California adjacent to VRM-30.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is now grooming kids to make AI weapons

An elite group of “patriotic” students in China have been selected to begin training for new artificial intelligence weapons development program.

31 kids — all under 18 — have been recruited to participate in the “Experimental Program for Intelligent Weapons Systems” at the Beijing Institute of Technology, South China Morning Post reported Nov. 8, 2018, citing an announcement from the Beijing Institute of Technology. The program selected 27 boys and four girls from more than 5,000 applicants, the school’s website said, according to the Post.

“These kids are all exceptionally bright, but being bright is not enough,” a BIT professor who asked not to be identified told the Post.


“We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, a persistence when facing challenges,” he said. “A passion for developing new weapons is a must … and they must also be patriots.”

According to the program’s brochure, each student will be mentored by two weapons scientists with both academic and defense backgrounds. The kids will later be tasked with choosing a specialization within the weapons sector and will be assigned to the relevant defense laboratory to hone their skills under the guidance of experts.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

RoboCup 2015.

The institute expects students will go on to complete doctorate degrees and become leaders in the field of AI weapons technology, the Post said.

China has been outspoken about its interest in developing AI technology

China has touted its AI development across sectors, including a trillion-dollar autonomous-driving revolution and a massive expansion of its facial-recognition software.

In his 2017 keynote speech to the ruling Communist Party, President Xi Jinping called for the embedding of artificial intelligence technologies into the economy to create growth and expand its capabilities across industries.

In July 2018, China released its own AI development plan, which proposed building up its domestic AI industry to 0 billion over the next few years to establish the country as an “innovation center for AI” by 2030.

And while China has largely kept the development of its AI-weapons technology opaque, Elsa B. Kania an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, predicts that China’s army will “likely leverage AI to enhance its future capabilities, including in intelligent and autonomous unmanned systems.”

China is reportedly working on a fleet of drone submarines in order to give China’s navy an advantage at sea. And in April 2018, the Chinese air force released details about an upcoming drill using fully autonomous swarms of drones.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

A Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Air System.

(Photo by Corporal Steve Follows RAF)

But experts have repeatedly warned about the dangers of AI

Experts have repeatedly warned about the dangers AI, arguing that advanced systems which can make thousands of complex decisions every second could have “dual-use” to help or harm, depending on its design.

In February 2018, AI experts across industries outlined in a 100-page report the dangers of AI technology and how the technology could be weaponized for malicious use. Aside from using AI technology for attacks in the digital realm, the technology could be used in the physical realm to turn technology, like drones, into weapons and attack targets at the push of a button or the click of a mouse.

In April 2018, China submitted its proposal to the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems announcing its desire to create a new protocol for restricting the use of AI weapons. In its proposal, China highlighted the dangers of AI weaponry but also stressed the need to continue developing AI technology.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why North Korea’s dictator travels by train

A flight from Pyongyang to Hanoi is just 13 hours and 15 minutes. But no one wants to sit on a plane that long, least of all Kim Jong Un, Marshal and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army. He prefers the 70-hour train ride, just like his father and grandfather before him – although for vastly different reasons.


Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Who doesn’t enjoy a good smoke break?

Kim’s grandfather was Kim Il-Sung, architect of the Korean War and still-ruling President of North Korea, despite being dead for more than 25 years. Kim Il-Sung first caught a taste for train travel during the Korean War, when every hardened structure he ever set foot in was probably bombed to smithereens within hours of the UN forces realizing there were still structures to bomb in North Korea.

Even after the war ended, he enjoyed the security of a private, armored train and built his palaces to be accessible only by rail. The grandfather Kim even toured all of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe via rail. It doesn’t hurt that the North Korean railway system is the most reliable way to get around, either. How else are you going to randomly give advice to farmers when you know nothing about growing wheat?

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

“Look at all this magnificent grain we photoshopped in.”

His son and Kim Jong Un’s dad, Kim Jong-Il had a different reason. Kim Jong-Il was deathly afraid of flying and never traveled anywhere via air. Kim, the father, had a luxury armored train with some 22 different cars, each carrying an important detail, including equipment to allow for the train to travel on different countries’ railway gauges.

Kim’s trains ran in groups of three: the first train ran twenty minutes ahead of the others to ensure the safety of the rail line and maybe take the brunt of an assassination attempt. The second carried the Dear Leader and his closest entourage, along with everything he might need, including lobsters and Hennessey. The last train had his communications, his staff, and the things he actually needed to run the government.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Which is probably just more cases of Hennessy.

For Kim Jong Un, much of his new life has been maintaining his grip on power. In this respect, he has decided to emulate his grandfather in many ways that are recognizable to the North Korean public – from the way he dresses, to the hats he wears, to the way he visits farmers for his “on the spot guidance.” His father was never as popular as his grandfather. Kim Jong-Il came to power after the fall of the Soviet Union when subsidies to the North Koreans ended and created a famine. Life for the average North Korean suffered under Kim Jong-Il.

So it’s no surprise he makes his visits to the populace via rail, just like Kim Il-Sung did.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Kim Jong Un comes in to Hanoi like a very, very slow wrecking ball

The trains still reportedly travel in groups, with many on the train reporting no loss in luxury from when his father was alive, despite an increase in international sanctions. The train’s armor means it can only crawl from one stop to another, at a maximum speed of 37 miles per hour.

Which is why the leader took 70 hours to arrive at his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to talk denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS is now fighting US Marines head-on in Syria

U.S. Marines, attached to special operations forces in Syria, often found themselves in direct-fire gunfights with Islamic State fighters early 2018, according to the commander of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response for Central Command.

The unit, designed with capability to launch combat forces within six hours anywhere in the CENTCOM theater, sent two rifle companies to support Special Operations Command units operating in Northern Syria between January and April 2018, Marine Col. Christopher Gideons, commander of the task force, said June 8, 2018, at the Potomac Institute.


“When Marines deploy, they want to get involved,” he said. “When there is a gunfight out there … they want to find that opportunity to feel like they are making a meaningful contribution. We did exactly that.”

Gideons initially deployed a platoon-size element that linked up with Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) teams.

“They were integrated with [special operations forces], absolutely integrated. We were providing Marine infantry, we were providing indirect fires, and we were providing anti-tank fires,” he said.

The SOF elements would push forward, advising Syrian Democratic Forces, “the ones that were primarily engaged in the direct firefights with ISIS,” Gideons said.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

“You would have Marines integrated with those ODAs … providing fires down at that lower tactical level,” he said.

During its 243-day deployment, the unit had to conduct several “rapid planning processes” to deploy forces on short notice, he added.

Over time, more support was needed in Syria, so Gideons deployed more Marines to grow the platoon-size element to “two infantry [companies minus]” that were located in two separate locations in Northern Syria.

“We anticipated that that requirement would grow with a need for Marine Corps capabilities, and it did,” he said.

Soon the fighting intensified.

“On a number of different occasions, there would be various engagements, some direct, some indirect,” Gideons said. “As the SDF would close in sometimes, they would outstretch particularly what our mortar fires could provide.

“We would displace out of our small [forward operating bases] we were operating out of, move closer in behind the SDF and then provide fires — a lot of times mortar fire … and of course as you were getting into an engagement, there is the potential for stuff to come back at you,” he said.

Marines operated in both mounted and dismounted roles. F/A-18s coming out of Bahrain provided close-air support when needed, Gideons said.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
F/A-18

Despite the action Marines saw, there were no casualties.

“I am very happy and proud to say that we brought everybody home,” Gideons said.

He described the deployment as “dynamic.”

“What was unique on our watch is over our 243 days in theater … from our perspective, we were more distributed than any other SPMAGTF up until that point,” he said. “We had Marines operating in 10 different countries and 24 separate locations. I had Marines from Egypt to Afghanistan.

“I didn’t own missions in Iraq or Syria, but I had capabilities that could augment and support that mission’s successful accomplishment.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is sick of people stealing its supercomputer technology

China’s military has suggested the country increase its intellectual property control of military and technological innovations.


In an article in China National Defence News, reported by South China Morning Post, the military said China needed to create intellectual property barriers to its equipment, including supercomputers, drones, dredgers, and rocket-launch simulation technology.

According to the Post, the article highlighted that China has made several scientific breakthroughs over the last decade and needed to protect them. Otherwise, the article added, technology could be utilized by a foreign power and may even threaten national security.

“We must work on protecting technology as much as we have on researching and developing it,” the article said.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
Chinese People’s Liberation Army during the Moscow Victory Day Parade.

China achieved numerous scientific breakthroughs over the last year alone, including building the world’s fastest wind tunnel to test weapons, as well as launching test spy drones in a near space area called the “death zone.”

The military said that while many new innovations had been created in China’s private sector, they have not focused on helping protect China’s national security.

“There have been dangerous cases involving some privately owned companies, research institutions, and individuals in pursuit of economic interests or academic honor,” the article said.

The military added that the country’s intellectual protection laws lag behind other countries.

“We must work fast to close the gap,” it said.

The U.S. has accused China of stealing its intellectual property

The military’s comments follow an August investigation by the U.S. into whether China stole its intellectual property.

U.S. President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. Trade Representative to look into “Chinese law, policies, and practices which may be harming American intellectual property rights, innovation, or technology development,” and last month said there was a “potential fine” that will “come out soon.”

Also Read: How Russia and China are dodging North Korea’s sanctions

China has been accused in the past of trying to force companies to give away their intellectual property by spying, hacking, or intimidating companies, an allegation which Beijing denies. One report estimated the cost to the U.S. economy at $600 billion a year.

Several U.S. tech giants including Apple and IBM spoke out on the topic in October during the first hearing in the U.S.’ investigation. The companies allege China’s rules on inbound investment violate the intellectual property rights of their companies.

China likely sees the U.S. investigation as an act of aggression, because it provides a loophole for the U.S. President to take actions against its economy without consulting with the WTO.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The designer of the most popular rifle in the world just got his own statue in Moscow

With a sprinkle of holy water and a protester condemning the late Mikhail Kalashnikov as a “manufacturer of death,” Russian authorities have unveiled a monument to the designer of the widely used AK-47 assault rifle.


Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and the head of state-run military-industrial conglomerate Rostec were on hand for the dedication of the monument to Kalashnikov on the Garden Ring road in central Moscow on September 19.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
AK-47 | Public Domain photo

The statue — not far from monuments to renowned poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Aleksandr Pushkin — was unveiled by Kalashnikov’s daughter, Yelena Kalashnikova.

Minutes before the ceremony began, a man unfurled a sign saying, “the manufacturer of weapons is a manufacturer of death.” He was quickly detained by police and taken away from the site.

The weapon Kalashnikov invented is the most widely used assault rifle in the world and has been fired in nearly every conflict around the globe for the last 50 years.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
Hungarian rebels carrying captured AK-47s. Public domain photo.

There are estimated to be as many as 200 million Kalashnikov rifles around the world.

“Mikhail Kalashnikov is an embodiment of the best features of a Russian person — extraordinary natural giftedness, simplicity, honesty, organizational talent,” Medinsky said, adding that “the Kalashnikov assault rifle is truly…a cultural brand of Russia.”

The head of Russia’s Udmurtia region, Aleksandr Brechalov, spoke at the ceremony, praising Kalashnikov for his contribution to “Russia’s glory and defense.”

Kalashnikov lived and worked for many years in the capital of Udmurtia, Izhevsk, where Kalashnikov assault rifles are still made.

A Russian Orthodox priest then prayed for Kalashnikov and sprinkled the monument with water sanctified by the church.

But Kalashnikov — who was born into a peasant family during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution and died in 2013 at the age of 94 — voiced mixed feelings about his achievements and his legacy late in life.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
US Marines test firing AK-47 rifles. The AK-47 is the most popular assault rifle in the world. (Photo US Marine Corps)

Several months before his death, he wrote a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in which he said: “The pain in my soul is unbearable.

“I keep asking myself the same unsolvable question: If my assault rifle took people’s lives that means that I…am responsible for people’s deaths.”

Medinsky presented plans to Putin for the Kalashnikov statue in September 2016 during a tour of the Kalashnikov Group’s headquarters in Izhevsk.

The project was backed by the Russian Military-Historical Society — which is chaired by Medinsky — and by Rostec, whose CEO is Putin ally Sergei Chemezov. Rostec is the majority owner of Kalashnikov.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

The monument was unveiled on a state-mandated professional holiday honoring Russian arms makers going back to tsarist times.

Kremlin critics say that Putin, who has involved Russia in wars in Syria and Ukraine and touts Soviet and imperial-era battlefield achievements to promote patriotism, focuses on military affairs to draw attention away from domestic troubles.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information