Army Spc. Ezra Maes and two other soldiers fell asleep in their tank last year after a weeklong training exercise in Europe. When he woke up, the vehicle was speeding down a hill.
“I called out to the driver, ‘Step on the brakes!'” the armor crewman recalled in an Army news release. But the parking brake had failed. And when the crew tried to use emergency braking procedures, the vehicle kept moving.
The 65-ton M1A2 Abrams tank had a hydraulic leak. The operational systems weren’t responding, and the tank was speeding down the hill at about 90 mph.
“We realized there was nothing else we could do and just held on,” Maes said in the release.
The tank slammed into an embankment, throwing Maes across the vehicle. His leg caught in the turret gear, and he thought it was broken.
Army Spc. Ezra Maes undergoes physical rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center’s cutting-edge rehabilitation center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Oct. 2, 2019.
(U.S. Army photo by Corey Toye)
Sgt. Aechere Crump, the gunner, was bleeding badly from a cut on her thigh, and Pfc. Victor Alamo, the driver, suffered a broken back. He was pinned down, the release states.
Determined to get to the other soldiers to assist with their injuries, Maes said he began tugging his leg to free it.
“But when I moved away, my leg was completely gone,” he said.
He was losing blood fast, but said he pushed his pain and panic aside. He headed to the back of the tank to find the medical kit. Lightheaded, he knew his body was going into shock. But all he could think about was that no one knew they were down there, he said.
“Either I step up or we all die,” Maes said.
The soldier began shock procedures on himself, according to the release, forcing himself to remain calm, keep his heart rate down and elevate his lower body. He used his own belt to form a makeshift tourniquet.
Crump, the gunner with the bad cut on her thigh, did the same. Her other leg was broken.
They tried to radio for help, but the system wasn’t working. Then, Maes’ cell phone rang. It was the only phone that survived the crash, and it was picking up service.
Candace Pellock, physical therapy assistant, guides Army Spc. Ezra Maes at the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center’s rehabilitation center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Oct. 2, 2019.
(U.S. Army photo by Corey Toye)
Crump was able to reach the phone and pass it to Maes, who fired off a text message. The crew had spent the week in Slovakia, which borders Poland and Ukraine, during Exercise Atlantic Resolve.
The last thing Maes remembers from the crash site was his sergeant major running up the hill with his leg on his shoulder. They tried to save it, but it was too damaged.
The specialist was flown by helicopter to a local hospital. From there, he went to Landstuhl, Germany.
He’s now undergoing physical and occupational therapy at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. He’s awaiting surgery to receive a new type of prosthetic leg that will be directly attached to his remaining limb.
Despite the devastating injury, the 21-year-old said he and his crew “feel super lucky.”
“So many things could have gone wrong,” he said in the release. “Besides my leg, we all walked away pretty much unscathed.”
The soldier now hopes to become a prosthetist to help other people who’ve lost their limbs.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
An artist’s illustration of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the sun.
NASA’s record-breaking solar probe has discovered new, mysterious phenomena at the edge of the sun.
Since it launched in August 2018, the Parker Solar Probe has rocketed around the sun three times, getting closer than any spacecraft before it and traveling faster than any other human-made object in history.
The research revealed never-before-seen activity in the plasma and energy at the edges of the sun’s atmosphere, including reversals of the sun’s magnetic field and “bursts” in its stream of electrically charged particles, called solar wind.
A sunrise near the International Space Station on December 25, 2017.
‘Bursty’ solar wind bends the sun’s magnetic field
This wind surges into space and washes over Earth, so studying its source could help scientists figure out how to protect astronauts and Earth’s electric grid from unpredictable, violent solar explosions.
By sending the Parker probe to the sun, NASA is studying this dangerous wind in more detail than scientists could from Earth.
“Imagine that we live halfway down a waterfall, and the water is always flowing past us. It’s very turbulent, chaotic, unstructured, and we want to know what is the source of the waterfall up at the top,” Stuart Bale, a physicist who leads the team that investigates the probe’s solar-wind data, said in a press call. “It’s very hard to tell from halfway down.”
The Parker Solar Probe observed a slow solar wind flowing out from the small coronal hole — the long, thin black spot seen on the left side of the sun in this image captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — on October 27, 2018.
NASA scientists are seeking answers to two major questions about the sun: What causes solar wind to accelerate as it shoots out into space? And why is the sun’s outer layer, called the corona, up to 500 times as hot as its inner layers?
The new data offers some initial clues. For the first time, Parker identified a clear source of a stream of slow, steady wind flowing out from the sun. It came from a hole in the corona — a spot where the gas is cooler and less dense.
Scientists knew that wind coming from the sun’s poles moves faster, but this was the first time they detected an origin point for the slow wind coming from its equator.
The Parker probe also detected rogue waves of magnetic energy rushing through the solar wind. As those magnetic waves washed over the spacecraft, the probe detected huge spikes in the speed of the solar wind — sometimes it jumped over 300,000 mph in seconds. Then just as quickly, the rapid winds were gone.
“We see that the solar wind is very bursty,” Bale said. “It’s bubbly. It’s unstable. And this is not how it is near Earth.”
The bursts could explain why the corona is so hot.
“We think it tells us, possibly, a path towards understanding how energy is getting from the sun into the atmosphere and heating it,” Justin Kasper, another physicist who studied Parker’s observations of solar wind, said in the call.
Scientists had never observed these bursts and bubbles before, but they seem to be common; the Parker spacecraft observed about 1,000 of them in 11 days.
The rogue spikes of energy also delivered an additional surprise: The bursts were so strong that they flipped the sun’s magnetic field.
The scientists call these events “switchbacks” because in the affected area the sun’s magnetic field whips backward so that it’s almost pointing directly at the sun.
The switchbacks seem to occur only close to the sun (within Mercury’s orbit), so scientists could never have observed them without the Parker probe.
“These are great clues, and now we can go look at the surface of the sun and figure out what’s causing those [bursts] and launching them up into space,” Kasper said.
An illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe as it flies toward the sun.
Parker confirmed that there’s a dust-free zone around the sun
Scientists have long suspected that the sun is surrounded by an area without cosmic dust, the tiny crumbs of planets and asteroids that float through space and fall into stars’ orbits. That’s because the sun’s heat should vaporize any solid dust that gets too close.
For the first time, Parker flew close enough to the sun to provide evidence that such a dust-free zone exists. It observed that the dust did indeed get thinner closer to the sun.
Still, this zone wasn’t quite what scientists expected.
“What was a bit of a surprise is that the dust decrease is very smooth,” Russell Howard, another astrophysicist working with the probe, said in the call. “We don’t see any sudden decreases indicating that some material has evaporated.”
That will be another mystery to prod as the spacecraft gets closer to the sun.
6 more years and 21 more flybys
More knowledge about solar wind and the sun’s magnetic field could help scientists better protect astronauts and spacecraft from two types of violent space weather: energetic-particle storms and coronal mass ejections.
In energetic-particle storms, events on the sun send out floods of the ions and electrons that make up solar wind. These particles travel almost at the speed of light, which makes them nearly impossible to foresee. They can reach Earth in under half an hour and damage spacecraft electronics. This can be especially dangerous to astronauts traveling far from Earth.
In a coronal mass ejection, the sun sends billions of tons of coronal material hurtling into space. Such an explosion could massively damage Earth’s power grids and pipelines.
Over the next six years, Parker is set to approach the sun 21 more times, getting closer and closer. In its final pass, it should fly within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface.
During each flyby, the probe will gather more data that could answer physicists’ questions about the sun’s corona and solar wind.
“As we get closer, we’ll be right in the sources of the heat, the sources of the acceleration of particles, and of course those amazing eruptions,” Nicola Fox, NASA’s director of heliophysics, said in the call. “Even with what we have now, we already know that we will need to adjust the model used to understand the sun.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
NO. Nothing of interest happened in the White House, Congress, or Hollywood. And definitely not on Twitter.
I’m joking. Of course it did, this is 2017 and everyone is mad about something… most of those people are justified, but some of them are outraged to be outraged. You can be outraged at how hilarious these military memes are.
Or you can be outraged at how boss that segue was.
1. It’s almost Halloween, are you prepared? (via Pop Smoke)
2. The Navy won Jeopardy this week. (via Navy Crow)
In the summer of 2011, Marine Gunnery Sgt. David Smith was out riding his motorcycle about a block away from his home in San Diego when something absolutely terrible happened — he was viciously rear-ended by an SUV. Witnesses report that a Chevrolet Blazer hit the Marine and quickly fled the scene. And he was left internally decapitated.
The horrible crash left Smith with extensive damage to his spinal cord and deadly internal bleeding. When the paramedics arrived at the scene, the Marine was unresponsive, so they initiated spinal-damage protocol and effectively stabilized his neck and provided him with oxygen.
(Photo by Vanessa Potts)
He was rushed to the hospital where a team of medical professionals, led by Dr. David Cloyd, put Smith through several tests to better identify his exact injuries. An MRI showed that Smith had suffered from an internal spinal decapitation. Once the results were confirmed, the medical staff devised proper treatment for the Marine, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Their goal was to stabilize Smith’s delicate vertebrae, working extremely carefully to avoid doing any additional damage to the spinal cord. Doctors were unsure if Smith would ever walk again.
Approximately 10 days later, Smith was rolled into surgery where highly-trained doctors and nurses fused three of his cervical vertebrae back together — a very complicated procedure.
(Photo by Marine Lance Cpl. Crystal Druery)
Courageously, just two days later, Smith managed to generate enough strength to take his first steps since the horrible crash. This compelled the strong Marine to begin his pain-filled physical therapy process, through which he hoped to regain his old strength.
After three short weeks, Smith walked out of the Palomar Medical Center and straight into the medical history books as one of the very few, lucky individuals to have recovered from internal spinal decapitation.
The drunk driver who fled the scene was found and sentenced to four years and four months in prison.
The Navy gets 14 new ships, including a carrier; the Air Force adds 56 F-35s; the Army gets 17 Apache and 11 Lakota helicopters; the Marine Corps receives 24 vertical landing F-35Bs; and the Coast Guard gets a long-needed icebreaker.
All the troops get funding for a 2.4 percent pay raise that took effect at the beginning of the year, with the possibility for more next year.
The Air Force also gets $103 million for the wing replacement program on the A-10 Thunderbolt as a start in what Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said is a plan to keep the “Warthogs” flying at least to 2030.
These are some of the highlights from the submissions of the Senate and House Defense Appropriations subcommittees in the overall 2,342-page, $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package for fiscal 2018, including nearly $700 billion for the military and $591 billion for non-defense funding.
The $700 billion includes $65.2 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations, or “war budget” funding mostly for Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
“Overall, this is the biggest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 years — a $61 billion increase over FY2017 enacted levels,” the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee said in its overview.
Yet Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said it isn’t enough to completely reverse the shortfalls in readiness and modernization brought about by the budget restraints under the sequester process.
“It is not enough to fix our problems, but it’s probably the right amount to be spent this year,” he told Fox News on March 21, 2018.
The Defense Department has been promised $716 billion for fiscal 2019 under a two-year military spending plan already approved by Congress — $700 billion in 2018 and $716 billion in 2019.
All of that funding is contingent on Congress approving the $1.3 trillion omnibus package, which is still hung up on debates over health care, immigration, gun control, and the funding of Planned Parenthood.
Since failing to adopt a fiscal 2018 budget Oct. 1, 2017, the government has gone through two brief shutdowns and five continuing resolutions that kept spending at 2017 levels. The latest continuing resolution runs out at midnight March 23, 2018.
The proposed fiscal 2018 budget for the DoD includes $137.7 billion overall for personnel and the 2.4 percent pay raise; $89.2 billion for research and development, up $16 billion over 2017; $144.3 billion for procurement, up $25.4 billion over 2017; and $238 billion for operations and maintenance — about $1 billion above the Trump administration’s request.
The omnibus package would also fully fund an active-duty end strength of 1,322,500 and a reserve component end strength of 816,900 — an overall increase of 9,500.
The Missile Defense Agency would get at least a $2 billion increase over its original request to a total of $11.5 billion, mainly to counter the growing threat from North Korea.
The additional MDA funding includes $568 million to initiate the expansion of Missile Field #4 at Fort Greely, Alaska, with 20 additional Ground-Based Interceptors.
The proposed agreement calls for $23.8 billion to go to Navy shipbuilding programs, $3.4 billion above the initial budget request.
In total, the agreement funds the construction of 14 new ships: one aircraft carrier, two Virginia- class submarines, two DDG-51 destroyers, three Littoral Combat Ships, one LX(R) amphibious assault ship, one Expeditionary Fast Transport ship, one Expeditionary Sea Base, one TAO fleet oiler, one Towing, Salvage and Rescue ship (ATS), and one T-AGS oceanographic survey ship.
The agreement also fully funds advance procurement activities for Ohio-class and Virginia-class submarines. Other critical shipbuilding investments include an additional $225 million for the expansion of the submarine industrial base and $150 million to accelerate procurement of a Heavy Polar Icebreaker, according to the Senate overview.
The Army would get $348 million for 116 Stryker Double V-Hull upgrades; $300 million for Stryker lethality upgrades; $1.1 billion for the upgrade of 85 Abrams tanks; and $483 million for the upgrade of 145 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
In addition, the Army would get $220 million for National Guard High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle recapitalization, including $120 million specifically for ambulance modernization.
The proposed bill includes a total of $44 billion for aircraft procurement programs, $9.5 billion above the amount requested by the Trump administration. The bill would provide:
• $2.9 billion for 10 conventional take-off, six carrier variant, and four vertical take-off F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, as well as additional tooling and spare engines (Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps).
• $739 million for 10 F-18 Super Hornet aircraft (Navy).
• $676 million for eight V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft (Marine Corps and Navy).
• $600 million for five MC-130J aircraft (Special Operations Command).
• $577 million for 17 AH-64 Apache helicopters (Army).
• $510 million for three KC-46A tanker aircraft (Air Force).
• $501 million for three P-8A Poseidon aircraft (Navy).
• $480 million for six C-130J aircraft (Air National Guard).
• $400 million for eight MH-60R helicopters (Navy).
• $387 million for eight CH-47 Chinook helicopters (Army and Special Operations Command).
• $343 million for four KC-130J tanker aircraft (Marine Corps).
• $250 million for two CH-53K King Stallion helicopters (Marine Corps).
• $221 million for seven UH-1Y/AH-1Z helicopters (Marine Corps).
• $207 million for two C-40 aircraft (Marine Corps).
• $130 million for two C-37B aircraft (Air Force).
• $110 million for additional RQ-7 Shadow systems (Army).
• $108 million for eight UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters (Army National Guard).
• $107 million for nine MQ-1 Grey Eagle vehicles and payloads (Army).
• $100 million for one HC-130J aircraft (Air Force).
• $90 million for 11 UH-72 Lakota helicopters (Army).
• $84 million for six MQ-8 Fire Scout vehicles (Navy).
• $40 million for two SATURN ARCH aircraft (Army).
• $29 million for one Dash 8 maritime patrol aircraft (Southern Command).
American military heroes typically spend a lot of time fighting in other countries. The leaders of those countries can give medals or official thanks, but sometimes they induct American warriors into their chivalric orders and turn them into knights. For American citizens the honor comes without the title of “sir” or any of the official perks, but it’s still way better than a challenge coin.
1. Gen. James Doolittle
Medal of Honor recipient and leader of the Doolittle Raid, Gen. James Doolittle also has a number of honorary knighthoods including Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath from Great Britain, the Order of the Condor of Bolivia, and the Grand Order of the Crown from Belgium.
2. Adm. Chester W. Nimitz
The naval hero who commanded the fleets at the battles of Midway, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and others was named to two foreign knighthoods. First, he was appointed as Knight Grand Cross of the Military Division of the Order of Bath by Great Britain, then Knight Grand-Cross in the Order of Orange Nassau by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
Gen. Omar N. Bradley was a five-star general, World War II and Korean War commander, the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the first Chairman of the NATO Committee. For his years of military service, Bradley was made an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire.
5. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower has way too many knighthoods to list here, but some highlights include: Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath from Great Britain, Grand Cordon with Palm of the Order of Leopold from Belgium, and the Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor from France.
6. Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur retired from the Army in 1937, but returned in 1941 after a request from President Roosevelt. Gen. MacArthur went on to become commander of occupied Japan and of United Nations Forces in Korea. For his World War II service, MacArthur was appointed as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath of Great Britain.
7. Gen. George S. Patton
A veteran of the Border War with Mexico, World War I, and World War II, Gen. George S. Patton was named to numerous orders including the Order of the British Empire, the Order of Leopold, and the Order of Adolphe of Nassau, among others.
America’s military and police working dogs’ needs are fully supported and funded by the government, until they retire. The costs of their care after years of dedicated service can be high. This is where Project K9 Hero jumps in.
According to their website, their vision is to ensure quality of life for America’s retired Military Working Dogs and Police K9 Heroes by providing the needed assistance for their medical, food and end-of-duty services. These dogs have worked and trained their entire career. Many will retire with serious medical issues that can be costly and may also suffer from anxiety or PTSD. Project K9 Hero has made it their mission to ensure these heroes receive everything they need to enjoy their retirement years.
MWD and Police K9s that have what are deemed “special needs” are considered first by the board of directors of Project K9 Hero for financial assistance. Many also have to demonstrate that their care is a financial burden on their owners. They accept dogs into their program that have served within all branches of the military or law enforcement.
(Project K9 Hero)
Project K9 Hero is a national 501c3 nonprofit organization that relies on the generous donations of the public and corporate sponsorships to continue their vital work to support these heroes. Currently there are no public funds to support these K9s. Some go on hundreds of deployments and missions, serving this country faithfully for years on end. But once that service ends, their support lies in the hands of nonprofits and those that adopt them.
Project K9 Hero has been heavily involved in working on legislation to support K9s for years. The K9 Hero Act will allocate million in federal grants to be awarded to nonprofits for the medical bills of retired military working dogs and police K9s. But Project K9 needs the public’s help to get the bill moving forward. It was introduced into Congress in November of 2019 but has not been brought forward for a vote yet. The public can help support and move this legislation by asking their representatives and senators to support this bill.
On Project K9 Hero’s website, founder Jason Johnsons stated, “For me it’s a legacy as the Founder of Project K-9 Hero. I want to make sure that the work is being carried on for generations to come. It’s time our government take into consideration that if we’re going to use them and treat them like heroes when they’re on duty and during their service that we’re going to treat them the same way in retirement.”
(Project K9 Hero)
The needs of America’s K9 heroes go beyond medical and financial, though. They also need safe and secure retirement homes as well. Project K9 is currently fundraising to build a rehabilitation and rehoming facility in Tennessee which will allow them to further their mission. According to their website, it will be a 6,340 square foot facility that will have kennels, a play zone, a veterinary clinic and grooming facility. It will also become their corporate headquarters.
Around 90 percent of MWD and police K9s are adopted to their handlers, who usually get the opportunity to adopt first. While the public tends to be quick to adopt MWD and K9 puppies that don’t make the cut for the program, the older dogs aren’t adopted quite as quickly. This facility will aim to support these heroes by providing an enriching, safe and healthy environment for those in need of an immediate home. The public can donate to support this facility or purchase items in their REDD (remember every dog deployed) collection, which will support the opening of this facility.
Project K9 Hero wants to make sure that the loyal service MWD and Police K9s provided to this country is never forgotten. Their statement on their website says it all: Protecting Those Who Protected Us. To learn more about this nonprofit and how you can support their mission of taking care of our K9 heroes, click here.
Pfc. Kanayochukwu Onyejeli, with Platoon 3235, Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, conducts the fireman carry during the maneuver under fire portion of the Combat Fitness Test at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., on Dec. 22, 2014. Marines will have to wear a cloth face covering during events where social distancing cannot be maintained. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jericho Crutcher)
Marines‘ brief reprieve from fitness tests and dreaded body-tape measurements is over.
The service announced Tuesday that the combat and physical fitness tests, along with the Body Composition Program, will resume immediately. That’s after Commandant Gen. David Berger announced in April that some of those requirements were suspended at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Marines will be required to complete the Combat Fitness Test by the end of the year, a new administrative message released Tuesday announced. And even though the Physical Fitness Test, which normally runs the first half of the year, was previously waived, anyone who failed it in 2019 must be ready to pass it in the next 90 days.
The tape test is also back for Marines outside height and weight standards who need body composition evaluations. Any Marine who couldn’t get a tape test during tight restrictions due to the pandemic must now be measured by the end of the month, the message states.
Marines will wear cloth face coverings during fitness tests if they’re not able to keep at least six feet apart. The distancing requirement will be impossible for some events, including one on the CFT that requires Marines to carry and drag a teammate. Marines also hold each other’s legs for the crunches portion of the PFT, though the test allows them to swap out that event and opt to hold a push-ups-like plank position.
During the tests, Marines must follow Defense Department guidance issued during the pandemic that requires frequent cleaning of gym equipment. Items that might require disinfection include the ammunition cans Marines lift during the CFT and the pull-up bar they use during the PFT.
The pandemic has changed a host of military policies, affecting everything from boot camp to deployments and unit physical training. When canceling some fitness tests earlier this year, Berger stressed that Marines’ fitness must remain a priority.
“I expect each of us to continue to maintain our fighting condition,” he said in April.
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal signed with Iran and five other countries in 2015, Tehran has responded with one of its most frequent threats: closing the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 30% of world’s oil flows.
“If Iran’s oil exports are to be prevented, we will not give permission for oil to be exported to the world through the Strait of Hormuz,” a Revolutionary Guards commander said in July 2018.
Coastal defenses and naval vessels would have a big role in that effort, but it would most likely revolve around one of Iran’s favorite military assets: sea mines, a vicious weapon that presents an acute challenge for a US Navy that is shifting between old and new mine-countermeasure systems.
Iran has laid mines at sea in past conflicts, and even these much less sophisticated weapons have disabled and nearly sunk US Navy warships.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits the Strait of Hormuz in May 2012.
(Photo by Alex R. Forster)
An asymmetric threat
“As far back as the early 1980s, Iran was mining waters in the Gulf to prevent oil tankers from coming in or out of ports in the Arab part of the Gulf — Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc. — and it has extensive experience in trying to also menace warships,” said Scott Savitz, a senior engineer at the Rand Corporation.
Sea mines remain “a big part of the Iranian approach,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The sea mines Iran used at that time were relatively unsophisticated — the mine that almost sank the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts in 1988 was a World War I-era device — but mines it can deploy now are more advanced and more dangerous, with some warheads weighing nearly 2,500 pounds.
As of 2012, Iran was believed to have grown its supply of sea mines from about 1,500 during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s to more than 6,000, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
That stockpile is not as vast as those of North Korea, China, or Russia, which also rely on anti-access or area-denial approaches to limit movement in contested areas, but it includes an array of mines, such as cheap, conventional ones and more advanced “smart mines,” which may be able to track multiple targets, discern different types of ships, and avoid detection by lurking on or near the seafloor.
Advanced mines can be triggered by sound, pressure, or magnetic influence. But even conventional ones that require contact to detonate are a threat to US warships and other commercial vessels. Iran also has an array of ships to lay them — some can even be deployed through submarine torpedo tubes.
Iran’s naval forces are no match for the US Navy, but sea mines are asymmetric weapons that a weaker side can use to foil a stronger opponent — even one with the world’s strongest navy. They can be deployed to deny access or freedom of movement and can be used to escalate tensions more incrementally than would a cruise-missile attack on an enemy warship.
“The Iranians see [mines] as a good tool for them to be able to threaten to close the strait and do it in a way that they can threaten it and you don’t know that the mines are really there,” Clark said, “and then if they do have some mines out there, the damage they’re going to inflict is going to be more in terms of preventing people from freely going back and forth rather than having to kill a lot of people to make a point.”
“You can threaten the use of mines and actually not have any out there,” Clark added. “However, a very small number of mines … in a place where someone’s likely to run into one, and then that damages a ship, and then you can say that you’ve got a much larger field, even though you may not.”
The USS Avenger off the coast of Hawaii during the Rim of the Pacific exercise in 2004.
(U.S. Navy photo)
Speed and scope
The US has previously said attempts to deploy mines would draw a military response, but the Navy also has means to counter mines.
The service keeps several of its 14 Avenger-class ships stationed in Bahrain all year.
The ships are designed for anti-mine warfare, using sonar and video systems, cable cutters, and a mine-detonating device to neutralize mines. Their hulls are made of wood covered with fiberglass for lower magnetic resonance. The engines are also designed to lower the ships’ magnetic and acoustic signatures. This is exceedingly dangerous work for these ships and their explosive ordnance disposal teams, which involves getting close to lurking mines to find and neutralize them.
The Avenger-class ships based in Bahrain are “immensely capable” and have multiple capabilities for and approaches to mine warfare, Rand’s Savitz said. They are lightly armed, however, and would require escorts.
But the Avenger class is aging, and the problem for the US Navy is that the mine threat looms as it struggles to move from those ships and the MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters that often accompany them to a newer platform that uses unmanned systems deployed aboard littoral combat ships.”
The US is in this transition from a more traditional minesweeping approach, where a minesweeper goes out and either drags minesweeping equipment behind it that physically entangles the mines or sets them off by magnetic influence,” Clark said.
“Now they’re transitioning to the use of unmanned vehicles to do a lot of this,” he added. “So they’ll have an unmanned ship drive out … sweep gear behind it to pick up mines, and they’ll have unmanned vehicles go around and hunt for mines that might be on the seafloor” or otherwise submerged.
But other cost overruns, delays, and malfunctions — like the cancellation of the Remote Minehunting System after nearly a billion dollars and almost two decades of work — have hindered the mine-countermeasure program.
Mine-countermeasure systems in general “don’t get as much attention as they need,” Clark said. “It’s not a sexy part of the Navy.” Older systems, he said, “could’ve been replaced a long time ago, or at least improved before this became an issue.”
The shift between older platforms and newer systems with limited capabilities is “a huge liability” for the Navy, Clark said.
“They’re in the middle of this transition, so they don’t have these unmanned systems really completely tested out and fully fielded, and so there’s still a lot of the traditional sweep gear and traditional approaches,” he said.
The Sea Dragon, which is the Navy’s oldest helicopter in service, was supposed to retire in 2005. But the service has yet to find a replacement for the heavy-lift helicopter, which can haul a variety of minesweeping gear and deploy anywhere in the world within 72 hours. The Avengers, introduced in the early 1990s, have also had their service lives extended, requiring upgrades.
Those ships and helicopters remain capable, but they aren’t “scalable,” meaning they “can’t ramp it up when there’s a minefield,” Clark said. Those systems aren’t necessarily a problem because they’re old, he added, they’re “just limited in speed and scope.”
The Remote Minehunting System and an AN/AQS-20 mine-hunting sonar being brought aboard the littoral combat ship USS Independence during testing of the mine-warfare mission module package in 2012.
Timelines and risks
The issues facing US mine-countermeasure systems do not mean Iran has a clear advantage, however.
“While the Persian Gulf is not wide, it’s big enough that Iran would have to cover a swath in order to prevent ships from going through it without encountering mines,” Savitz said. “So it would be challenging for them.”
Moreover, because it lacks refining capacity, Iran needs to be able to ship oil and refined products in and out.
“It would be cutting its own throat if it tried to shut down all traffic in the Gulf,” Savitz said. “If it leaves open a significant pathway, then others can potentially use it too.”
If Iranian ships start behaving in ways that indicate they’re laying mines, “that can be interdicted,” Savitz added. And the US would watch closely for any effort to reseed minefields that had been cleared.
“That’s the best mine-countermeasure solution of all, is to catch the adversary laying the mines or to detect roughly where the mines are laid,” to focus mine-countermeasure efforts, Savitz said.
A naval aircrewman preparing a Q-24 sonar side-looking vehicle to be lowered into the Persian Gulf from an MH-53E Sea Dragon during mine-countermeasure training on May 18, 2017.
(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns)
But the scalability issue would loom over any effort to track down and clear mines from the area.
“Mine countermeasures is also typically a slow area of warfare that requires intense attention to detail, so it also entails thinking about trade-offs between timelines and risk,” Savitz said. “How quickly a water space can be opened up after … mine countermeasures have begun depends on what level of risk is acceptable.”
Former Adm. James Stavridis, who was the supreme allied commander in Europe before retiring in 2013, told CNBC in July 2018 that, should Iran try to use its military to close the Strait of Hormuz, the US and its partners “would be able to open it in a matter of days.”
That time frame is not so certain. It depends on how large the Navy and its partners believe the affected minefield to be.
“If it’s the whole Strait of Hormuz, the Navy says that could take weeks,” Clark said. While many modern tankers have features like double hulls that could mitigate some mine risks, closing or restricting access to the Gulf would upend the global economy.
Stavridis may have meant the US and its partners could clear a “very narrow channel” through a minefield during that period, Clark added, but that would slow down traffic, and each ship would need an escort. There would be “much less access than was previously available,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The United States Navy has rarely had to use its surface-to-air missiles in real combat. In fact, over the last thirty years, far more of the Navy’s action has involved hitting land targets instead of going after enemy aircraft in the skies. That’s one reason why 2016 actions involving the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) were so notable.
According to a Navy release, the upgrade is going to be an active seeker, like the ones used on the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and the RIM-174 Standard SM-6 Extended Range Active Missiles. This is a massive shift in the missile’s capabilities.
The safe return to Norfolk by the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) was made possible by the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.
(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maria I. Alvarez)
Since its introduction in 1976, the Sea Sparrow (like the AIM-7 Sparrow) has used semi-active radar guidance, according to a US Navy fact sheet. That means that the ship or plane firing it has to “paint” a target with its radar in order to guide the missile. Not only does this require leaving the radar on, it also means you must predictably point your radar toward the target. Sound like a fun way to fight? We don’t think so, either.
Amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) fires a NATO Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missile to intercept a remote-controlled drone. The semi-active guidance of this missile creates a vulnerability for ships and aircraft,
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan)
For a ship, having to leave a radar on to “paint” a target can invite incoming anti-radar missiles, like the Russian AS-12 Kegler, which has a range of up to 21.6 nautical miles. Not only are radars expensive to replace, such an attack would also leave the ship’s missiles without guidance capabilities.
An active seeker, which houses the radar needed for guidance in the missile, greatly reduces that vulnerability, creating a “fire and forget” capability for ships and aircraft.
The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile can be fired from Mk 29 launchers or from vertical-launch systems.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Green)
The RIM-162 ESSM Block II, the missile with the active seeker, is currently going through live-fire testing. In the first test, held in July, 2018, the missile successfully destroyed a BQM-74E Chukar target drone.
“My job was to catch spies,” shared former FBI agent Joe Navarro. He was straight up recruited to the FBI when he was a 23-year-old cop and he spent the next 25 years with the Bureau, working in counterintelligence and counterterrorism.
He specialized in the science of nonverbal communication — reading the unspoken clues about a person just by observing their body language and behavior.
“Most of my career I spent within the National Security Division. A lot of it had to do with looking at specific targets and then it was about, ‘How do I get in their heads and neutralize them?'”
There are a lot of myths out there. Take crossing your arms; Navarro says many people think of this as a “blocking behavior,” but crossed arms are actually known as “self-soothing” — the action of calming or comforting oneself when unhappy or distressed. “It’s a self hug,” he asserts.
“We are never in a state where we’re not transmitting information,” Navarro says with confidence. Check out the video to see precisely what that means:
Former FBI Agent Explains How to Read Body Language | Tradecraft | WIRED
Even body posturing in the stance Navarro calls “arms akimbo” can communicate different behavior based on the placement of the fingers. On the left, the fingers forward might indicate territorial behavior. It changes to a more inquisitive stance when the thumbs are forward.
Navarro can discern meaning from hand placement to foot activity.
“It really is looking at an individual and saying, ‘What are they transmitting?'” From walking pace to blink-rate, agents like Navarro will determine whether they should marshall resources to monitor or question an individual.
In the video, Navarro goes on to describe the effect a handshake can have on people, down to the very bonding chemicals that may or may not be produced by the body. He also unsettles a pair of strangers and describes the ramifications that action has on their interaction.
Then the video gets interesting, that is, if you’re a poker fan.
Navarro breaks down the body language of a poker table. “This is a great opportunity to be looking for behaviors indicative of discomfort,” he explains. “Even before the game starts this is an opportunity to collect ‘poker intelligence.'” If you think you’ve got a killer poker face, you may want to check out the video above! You’ll never look at your thumbs the same way again…