The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

The US Defense Department is exploring its options to completely withdraw all US troops deployed in Afghanistan, in the event President Donald Trump abruptly makes the decision, according to NBC News.

The ongoing planning, which was not explicitly directed by the White House, includes procedures for a completely withdrawal of US forces within weeks, current and former officials reportedly said.

The Defense Department’s move comes in the wake of Trump’s decision to withdraw the majority of US troops in Syria, as Turkish-backed forces embark on a campaign against Kurdish groups near the Syria-Turkey northeast border.


An official described the planning as “prudent,” while another official called the recent actions in Syria as a potential “dress rehearsal” for Afghanistan, NBC News reported.

Trump initially recalled roughly two dozen service members in the immediate vicinity of the Turkish excursion into Syria, but later expanded that order to around 1,000 US troops in northern Syria. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Oct. 21, 2019, said that an undetermined, small number of US troops could still be stationed in northeast Syria to secure oil fields and prevent ISIS from taking control.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

(U.S. photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

Trump initially recalled roughly two dozen service members in the immediate vicinity of the Turkish excursion into Syria, but later expanded that order to around 1,000 US troops in northern Syria. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Oct. 21, 2019, said that an undetermined, small number of US troops could still be stationed in northeast Syria to secure oil fields and prevent ISIS from taking control.

“USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones,” Trump said in a now-deleted tweet on Sunday. “We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!”

Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces caught numerous military officials and lawmakers by surprise, and attracted bipartisan condemnation for what they characterized as an abandonment of US allies and principles. Roughly 11,000 Kurds — who were allied with the US in the region — were killed in the fight against ISIS, and many more were relied upon by the US to evict the extremists from their strongholds.

“This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos, Iran is licking their chops, and if I’m an ISIS fighter, I’ve got a second lease on life,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said during a Fox News interview on Oct. 7, 2019. (On Oct. 20, 2019, in an about-face, Graham told Fox News he is “increasingly optimistic this could turn out very well.”)

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

Sen. Lindsey Graham.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Former US Central Command commander and retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel also condemned the withdrawal, and reflected on the US’s reliance on the Kurds.

“Without it, President Donald Trump could not have declared the complete defeat of ISIS,” Votel wrote of the Kurdish help against ISIS in Syria. Trump has frequently claimed ISIS has been unequivocally defeated.

The US has pulled out 2,000 troops from Afghanistan so far this year, bringing the total number of forces in the country to around 13,000, Task Purpose reported. Earlier in October 2019, Esper said he was confident the US military could withdraw thousands more troops without adversely affecting operations.

Esper, who visited Afghanistan on Oct. 21, 2019, advised not to compare US policy for Syria with that of Afghanistan.

“Very different situations, very different adversaries if you will, very different level of commitment,” he said, according to NBC News. “Very clear policy direction on one.

“All these things should reassure Afghan allies and others they should not misinterpret our actions in the region in the recent week or so in regard to Syria and contrast that with Afghanistan,” Esper added.

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

The US Army is using its futuristic heads-up display to fight the coronavirus

The US Army is using its developmental Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) heads-up display, which was created to help soldiers better wage war on future battlefields, to combat the novel coronavirus, the service revealed.

The Army recently tweaked the software for a number of IVAS prototype goggles to allow the devices to detect fevers, and soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia have been using them to scan hundreds of troops on base.


“That’s the genius of this system; we can use this technology today to fight the virus, even as we shape it into the combat system our Soldiers need tomorrow,” Brig. Gen. Tony Potts, who heads PEO Soldier, said in a statement.

The Army has been partnering with Microsoft to create a mixed-reality heads-up display for the dismounted soldier that offers a warfighter immediate access to dozens of valuable combat tools in digital space.

With this system, soldiers can see in the dark, shoot around corners, translate text, take photos and video, and track targets, among other things.

Based on Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, IVAS is the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team’s signature modernization effort, and the team has been pushing forward with its development even as the coronavirus continues to upend plans.

At the same time, the Army has figured out how to use its IVAS head-up display to help combat the virus.

The service is using the system to “rapidly assess the temperature of hundreds of Soldiers as they prepare for training” at Fort Benning, where thousands of soldiers go through a variety of different courses and training programs, the Army said in a statement.

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Army soldiers use the digital thermal sensors in modified IVAS goggles to look for fevers in Army personnel at Fort Benning, Georgia.

US Army

One common symptom among individuals who have been infected by the coronavirus is a fever.

Last week, Tom Bowman, the director of IVAS Science Technology Special Project Office with C5ISR’s Night Vision Laboratory at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, realized that the HUD’s digital thermal sensors used to detect enemies in the dark could be repurposed to spot temperature spikes.

Modified IVAS heads-up displays were quickly sent to Fort Benning, Georgia. With these devices, which display scanned forehead and inner eye temperatures in the user’s goggles, soldiers were able to scan and process around 300 individuals in just 30 minutes.

The Army said that anyone who had a fever was sent to a nearby medical facility for evaluation.

Scanning was carried out indoors in a facility where commercial thermal referencing sources were used to calibrate the devices to room temperature.

“We’ve always planned for an agile software system and a digital platform that can be upgraded and adapted to use against emerging threats in the future. No one anticipated the next threat to emerge would be a virus, but that’s the enemy we face today,” Bowman said in a statement.

If everything goes according to plan, the Army intends to start fielding IVAS goggles to soldiers in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021, in summer of next year.

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

Articles

US troops reach out to scared Muslim child with ‘#IWillProtectYou’ hashtag

Amid a recent wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, current members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are using social media networks to reassure all Muslim Americans, and specifically Sofia Yassini, a Texas-based 8-year-old, they will fight for the rights of all U.S. citizens.


The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
Little Sofia Yassini outside a mosque in her hometown.

Inspired the social media story of Sofia’s mother reacting to her daughter’s fear of being deported, the hashtag #IWillProtectYou started trending on Facebook and Twitter.

Sofia’s mother, Melissa Chance Yassini, originally took to Facebook to write about her daughter’s reactions to Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States:

She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes. She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.

The post was shared more than 20,000 times. The story was picked up by the Associated Press and Army veteran Kerri Peek of Colorado, also a mother, saw the story.

“I was up all night, it bothered me,” Peek told ABC News. “I’m a mom, for mother to mother … I know you want to protect your children from everything.”

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

She posted a photo of herself in her Army uniform with the message “Here’s a picture of me as a mom and soldier and I’ll come to protect you.” Peek then asked her veteran friends to do the same.

“Post on Facebook or Twitter with the #IWillProtectYou and your picture of uniform. Make this go viral so that these children see this.”

It wasn’t just Peek’s Army friends who responded. Current and former military service members from all branches and eras are re-affirming their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Follow the trend on Twitter and Facebook.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

10 things you need to know about dating someone in the military


They move fast.

This may not go for everyone, but typical military life usually means being away for months at a time. Because of this unique schedule, members of the armed forces tend to move on different romantic timelines than the average Joe. Often, that equates to getting a lot more serious a lot more quickly.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

Being in the military might run in the family.

There are plenty of young adults who opt to join the military all on their own. That said, it’s not uncommon for military life to be passed down through generations. Serving one’s country is a badge of pride in many families. What does that mean for you? If you decide to settle down with someone in the armed forces, be prepared for your own kids to follow a similar path.

They’ll love you, but they also love their country. A lot.

Even if military life is completely new to you (or even seems a little crazy), respecting their decision to serve their country is non-negotiable. They’re doing it to protect not just you, but everyone else, too. That’s a lot of love!

You might have to move, more than once. 

The military brat title exists for a reason. It’s not uncommon for military families to have to hop from base to base over the years, so prepare yourself for that possibility.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

They’ll be gone often.

This goes without saying, but their schedules won’t be predictable. They’ll be gone for major holidays and life events, and you won’t have a say. If you can’t roll with the punches, stay out of the military dating game.

Their squad will be their second family. 

Seriously. Whether they’re in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, or the Air Force, they learn right off the bat to stand by their team. They have each other’s backs, for better or worse. They’re responsible for getting each other home safely. When your partner’s battle buddies (brothers and sisters, really), are around, embrace it and give them time to catch up.

They may keep a few secrets.

The harsh reality is that veterans have seen a lot more than most civilians can imagine. They’ve seen pain, made tough calls, and experienced a different kind of heartbreak. When they return, they may not want to talk about it. If they seem like a closed door, don’t take it personally. They probably don’t want to burden you with difficult memories, and they may not be ready to relive them. It can take time to open up! At the end of the day, some secrets might just stay secret…and you have to be okay with that.

Complete strangers will take over your lives.

In a way, the government will dictate where you live. Where your kids go to school. When you can take that family vacation. People you’ve never met will decide whether your partner is home for the holidays. Flexibility is a must, as is loyalty. Starting a life with someone in the military means that you, too, will live a military lifestyle. Before you take that leap, make sure you can handle it!

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

Being a military spouse is scary.

When your partner is deployed, nothing is guaranteed. You can pray they are safe, but you can’t always be sure. It’s scary, but it also makes their return home so much sweeter. You really learn to cherish every moment together.

media.defense.gov

When they’re home, they’re all yours.

If members of the armed services know one thing, it’s devotion. Life with them may be complicated, but it will be filled with adventure, new experiences, and lots of love.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China rushed its stealth fighter and now it isn’t even stealthy

Chinese state media announced on Feb. 9 that the Chengdu J-20 stealth jet had officially entered into service as a combat-ready platform — but inside sources say it’s a long way from fighting fit and has an embarrassing flaw.


Citing military sources with knowledge of the J-20’s development, the South China Morning Post reported that the jets that entered service didn’t feature the engine China custom-built for the platform but used an older one instead.

The result is an underpowered, less stealthy jet that can’t cruise at supersonic speeds and is therefore not a true fifth-generation fighter.

The Posts’ sources pinned the jet’s troubles on a test in 2015 in which the custom-built engine, the WS-15, exploded — something they attributed to China’s inability to consistently build engines that can handle the extreme heat of jet propulsion.

Also Read: China’s J-20 stealth fighter enters military service

“It’s so embarrassing to change engines for such an important aircraft project several times … just because of the unreliability of the current WS-15 engines,” one of the sources told the Post. “It is the long-standing core problem among home-grown aircraft.”

How an old engine makes the J-20 fight like an old fighter

The older engine, the WS-10B, is basically the same kind used in the J-11 and J-10 fighters in 1998 and 2002.

Without the new engine, the J-20 can’t supercruise, or fly above the speed of sound, without igniting its afterburners like the U.S.’s F-22 and F-35 can.

“Afterburners do make any fighter much easier to detect, track, and target using Infrared and Electro-Optical systems at closer ranges when in use,” Justin Bronk, a combat-aviation expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
The two Chengdu J-20s making their first public appearance at Airshow China 2016 (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Experts have assessed that the goal of the J-20 platform is to launch long-range missiles at supersonic speeds, but they won’t perform as well if they can’t fire at such speeds, Bronk said.

“The major drawback from not having the ability to supercruise in this case would be having to choose between using a great deal of fuel to go supersonic or stay subsonic and accept shorter effective range from the fighter’s missiles and an inferior energy position compared to a supercruising opponent,” he said.

A senior scientist working on stealth aircraft who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of their work previously told Business Insider that the J-20’s design had a decent stealth profile from the front angle but could be exposed from others.

According to Bronk, the older engine may exacerbate that problem.

Did they even really deploy the thing?

A U.S. Air Force affiliate researching the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force told Business Insider that an analysis of imagery suggested the service’s 9th Brigade traded its Russian-made Su-30s for J-20s, but they disputed whether the jet was operational in the way Western militaries use the word.

“The aircraft and its pilots and maintenance group need to master the type before it can be sent on a ‘real’ mission, not a training mission,” said the researcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity because their employer’s report has not been released.

Also Read: The real purpose behind China’s mysterious J-20 combat jet

The researcher said that even for planes that aren’t stealth and as radically different as the J-20, that could take up to a year, adding that the new WS-15 engines most likely won’t be added until 2020.

So while China claims it has become the only nation other than the U.S. to field a fifth-generation stealth jet, at the moment it looks as if it’s hardly stealth, hardly fifth-generation, and a long way from the field.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the 65-year old B-52 Stratofortress just keeps getting better with age

Usually as planes get older, they become less capable. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has been a decided exception to that rule.


In fact, as it gets older it get even more deadly.

Part of this venerable bomber’s ascent to a new level of combat capability is new electronics. The short version: The B-52 is becoming “smarter” through the addition of the Combat Network Communication Technology package, or CONECT.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
Airmen assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load an inert AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile onto a B-52H Stratofortress during a munitions loading exercise July 13, 2016, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Ann Henderson)

According to a 2014 Boeing release, CONECT allows a B-52 to use intelligence in real time on moving map displays, the re-targeting of weapons in flight, and also gives the BUFF a state-of-the-art computing network. This makes the B-52 a much more flexible asset, meaning ordnance doesn’t have to be brought back if the target is gone for one reason or another.

The Air Force, though, has also been tinkering with the bomb bays on the 76 B-52s in service to add the ability to carry more weapons, according to a 2014 announcement by the service. This would not be the first time such a modification was done on B-52 bomb bays.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
B-52D dropping 500-lb bombs – it was able to carry 84 internally and 24 on the wings. (Image: Wikimedia)

In 1965, the Air Force modified most of the B-52D versions of the Stratofortress to carry a lot of conventional bombs. The modifications increased the number of bombs from 27 to either 84 Mk 82 500-pound bombs or 42 750-pound M117 bombs. These bombers proved effective, first in the bombing missions in support of ground troops, then during Operation Linebacker II.

When the modification program is complete, the B-52H bombers in service will be able to carry a dozen missiles like the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile on the wing pylons and eight in the bomb bay. In essence, each B-52 will be able to carry 20 weapons, as opposed to 12 — that’s a 66 percent increase in targeting capability.

It means fewer sorties, and less strain on a force that has just turned 65 years old.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
Once the modifications are done, imagine this happening 20 times per B-52. (YouTube: Lockheed Martin)

That’s not a bad thing. You can see a video about the upgrades to the B-52 below.

Articles

Watch the F-22 take on 5 F-15s — and dominate

The F-22 Raptor is an expensive plane. While some critics pegged its cost at over 0 million a plane, the actual fly-away cost could go down to 6 million per Raptor, according to a 2006 Air Force release.


An F-22 deploys flares. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-22 was slated to replace the F-15A/B/C/D Eagles as the premier air-superiority fighter. But the Raptor’s production was halted at 187 airframes. Let’s go through a tale of the tape on these planes, before we see what happens when five Eagles jump a Raptor.

According to Joe Baugher, the F-15 has a top speed of Mach 2.5, a cruising speed of 570 knots, can carry eight air-to-air missiles (usually four AIM-120/AIM-7 and four AIM-9), and has a 20mm M61 cannon with 940 rounds. It has a range of 3,450 miles.

Baugher notes that the F-22 has a top speed of Mach 2.2 slightly slower than the F-15. But the F-22 cruises at Mach 1.6. It carries four AIM-120 and four AIM-9 missiles. It also has a 20mm M61 cannon. It has a combat radius of up to 800 nautical miles.

Here’s the video showing how the five Eagles fared against the Raptor. Warning: This was not a fair fight.

1 F22 vs 5 F15 Real dogfight who will win

youtu.be

MIGHTY HISTORY

This vet crash-landed a 767 on a race track on family day

Air Canada Flight 143 was supposed to be routine. The crew took possession of their airplane from the departing crew, reloaded on fuel, grabbed the passengers, and headed out of Montreal bound for Edmonton at 41,000 feet.

But then they got a fuel pressure warning. “No big deal,” they may have thought. Pumps fail all the time and gravity can feed these engines, “turn off the alarm.” But then a second one went off. What they would later learn was that the ground crew had entered their fuel measurement using formulas for pounds — but the systems had been converted to work with kilograms.

Shortly after dinner service, the plane ran out of gas.


The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan

The “Gimli Glider” was crash-landed on a race track as families watched in horror and fascination after it ran out of gas thousands of feet in the air.

(Aero Icarus, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The crew heard a long warning noise that none of the members had ever heard before, even in the simulators. The warning signaled a total loss of both engines. The plane had ran out of gas. This is an even bigger problem than it would be in your Chevy since the plane needs engine power to run a host of systems, including the hydraulics

Suddenly, the crew was piloting a massive glider with nearly no power, no hydraulics, and limited instruments — and they were still over 1,000 miles from their destination. To make matters worse, air traffic control suddenly had their own issues guiding the flight since the plane’s radio transponders were powered by, you guessed it, the engines.

Luckily, the pilot often flew and towed gliders for fun, and the first officer, a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, was intimately familiar with the airspace and landing strips nearby from his time in the service. The two men tapped into their respective skill banks to save the flight and get all 69 people on the plane down safely, eventually netting them awards for their flying in what would later be known as the “Gimli Glider” incident.

This video from Today I Found Out shows how it all went down:

www.youtube.com

An earlier version of this story referred to the race track as a “go-kart track.” The track was being used by small sports cars on the day of the landing, not go-karts.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army National Guard helping in Hawaii as volcano erupts

Joint Task Force 5-0 in Hawaii is helping authorities handle evacuations, provide security, and monitor air quality as Mount Kilauea spews out clouds of toxic gas and lava destroys homes in its path.

About 2,000 residents have been forced to evacuate their homes so far on the big island of Hawaii, but the majority are staying with friends and family, said Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, state public affairs officer. Only a few hundred are in temporary community shelters, he said.


More than 150 National Guard troops have volunteered for active duty to help with evacuations and to man checkpoints in front of the lava flow. Other troops are standing by in case more mass evacuations are needed.

Black Hawk helicopters are conducting aerial surveys to monitor the lava and check on fissures, Anthony said. At least 17 fissures in the Puna district are currently emitting lava and toxic gasses. One lava flow is approaching the Puna Geothermal Plant and Anthony said that situation is being watched closely.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
Spc. Donavan Wills, Bravo Co., 227th Brigade Engineer Battalion, directs traffic May 12, 2018 in response to the volcano eruption, at Leilani Estates, Pahoa, Hawaii.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

Members of the 93rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team are monitoring air quality to ensure dangerous gasses do not encroach on populated areas.

In May 2018, Army National Guard Soldiers went door to door in neighborhoods such as the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens to warn residents of the danger and advise them to evacuate in front of the approaching lava flow. Anthony said some residents waited until the last minute.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
A member of the Hawaii National Guard observes three lava fissures May 15, 2018, at Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, Pahoa, Hawaii.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)



“I have no idea how anybody could stay inside that evacuation zone for days on end,” Anthony said. “The amount of gas and smoke and steam … sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid and all is incredibly nasty stuff.”

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
A lava fissure erupts May 18, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

The troops of JTF 5-0 are staged in the town of Hilo, about 15 miles north of the evacuation zone. They go into the evacuation zone for about four hours at a time to conduct roving patrols and help police man checkpoints, Anthony said.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Joint Task Force 5-0 commander, and Hawaii Governor David Ige examine an area in Leilani Estates where lava over ran the road, May 08, 2018, Pahoa Hawaii.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson)

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara is the task force commander. He is the deputy adjutant general of Hawaii. Some active force officers and Soldiers from the island of Oahu have joined him on the JTF staff, Anthony said. They are planning for contingencies in case the volcano eruption worsens.

Despite the troubles with Mount Kilauea, across most of the island, business continues as usual, Anthony said.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Hawaii National Guard deputy adjutant general, and Hawaii Governor David Ige (center), look at an earthquake damaged roadway in Leilani Estates, May 08, 2018, Pahoa Hawaii.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson)

“It’s just a beautiful, picture-perfect day on a Hawaiian beach,” he said. Then he contrasted it with the situation inside the evacuation zone where toxic fumes kill foliage and hot lava obliterates structures.

“It’s a mix of paradise and a freaking hellscape,” he said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Boats full of dead North Koreans are still showing up in Japan

The seemingly endless appearances of “ghost ships” full of dead North Koreans on the shores of Japan is indicative of Kim Jong Un’s weakening grip over his citizens, experts say.


The latest took place, when a capsized boat containing the decayed remains of seven bodies washed ashore in Kanazawa, a city on Japan’s west coast.

A badge portraying former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il was also found nearby.

It was the second such discovery in Japan in January 2018.

The number of ghost ships — vessels discovered with no living crew — reached 104 in 2017, the highest since authorities started collecting data in 2013, Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted the national coast guard as saying.

The US is drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan
Sea of Japan / East Sea between North Korea and Japan.

It remains unclear exactly who these people were, or why they showed up in Japan — experts have posited theories including food insecurity in North Korea, annual quotas imposed on fishermen, and a deal for fishing rights between North Korea and China.

A new theory suggested to Business Insider is that the increasing arrivals of these boats indicate Kim Jong Un’s weakening grip over his country and its people.

It came from Professor Hazel Smith, a researcher at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London.

Also read: This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

North Korea, notoriously, tightly controls its borders to prevent defections. Soldiers opened fire on one of their own who was caught in the act of defecting to South Korea in November 2017.

The army also plants landmines on various spots around its border — including the west coast — to prevent citizens from leaving and invaders from entering.

Smith, who lived in North Korea from 1998 to 2001, told Business Insider (BI):

“Security is disintegrating. There was always an incentive for people to get hold of a boat to try to fish and come back and sell it and make some money, but security was always extremely tight on the coasts.

“You had mined beaches, you had surveillance on the coast, so the fact that this is happening is not a surprise economically — people are taking the opportunities while they can — but what it shows also is the disintegration of the state’s ability to stop people going out in boats.”

She added that previously, obtaining boats was seen as a highly risky issue, and that only people with high security clearance could access them.

“Going to sea in any way was seen as first and foremost a political issue, not an economic issue, because individuals were so controlled,” she said.

Related: It looks like the North Koreans uncovered secret plans to assassinate Kim Jong-un

What’s changed now is the fact that North Korea doesn’t have the “capacity” to control its borders as tightly as before due to other, more pressing concerns — such as the country’s nuclear development and continuous, crippling international sanctions, Smith said.

She said: “They’ve only got the capacity to focus on certain aspects of state activity at a time now. They’re focusing on the nuclear issue, and they don’t have the capacity to focus on every aspect of economic activity, and they don’t have the money to feed people, so they have to let people do their own thing.”

Further reading: This is why no one in North Korea is celebrating Kim Jong Un’s birthday

She previously told BI it was “a lot easier” to bypass the country’s security apparatus now than it 20 years ago, because some security officials are willing to turn a blind eye in exchange for profits if someone comes back with a catch.

The sheer number of the boats appearing in recent years also suggests that people were leaving North Korea as part of small enterprises rather than a monolithic state enterprise, another expert observed.

It points to an opening of the North Korean economy, said Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, an editor at North Korean Economy Watch.

He told BI: “It may tell us something about the extent to which economic activity has been liberalised, but also put under pressure.

“In other words, companies run with relative freedom by individuals may have increased space to operate, but in some cases, they may also receive quotas to fill by the state or other government entities.

“In the case of the ghost ships, while their circumstances aren’t fully known, the pressure to meet quotas could explain why they need to venture further out into the ocean searching for their catch, perhaps not with adequate fuel resources on board.”

Smith added: “It looks like state priorities over vessels have either broken down or been allowed to lapse in order to permit people to go out and find ways to engage in trade to make a bit of money, which is a change.

“It might not be a major change, but it is a change in the way that the government approaches economic activity. It’s less security-focused.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Submariners practice lifesaving rescue techniques

Undersea Rescue Command (URC) and the Chilean submarine CS Simpson (SS 21) completed the submarine search and rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII off the coast of San Diego, Aug. 3-7, 2018.

CHILEMAR is a bilateral exercise designed to demonstrate interoperability between the United States submarine rescue systems and Chilean submarines, which includes a search and rescue phase. This is the eighth exercise of its kind and is conducted off the coast of San Diego biennially with the exception of CHILEMAR VII, which took place in 2017 off the coast of Talcauhano, Chile.


“CHILEMAR and similar exercises with our foreign partners are extremely important to Undersea Rescue Command as they provide nearly all of our opportunities to operate with an actual submarine,” said Cmdr. Michael Eberlein, commanding officer, Undersea Rescue Command. “These exercises provide assurance to our Navy, allies, Sailors and families, that URC can bring a real capability to rescue distressed submariners worldwide if a tragedy occurs.”

At the start of the exercise, Simpson bottomed off the coast of San Diego to simulate a disabled submarine that is unable to surface. Once bottomed, Simpson launched a Submarine Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (SEPIRB) which transmits the initial GPS position and other distress data to indicate a submarine in distress.

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Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 and 45, a P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 and unmanned undersea vehicles from the newly established Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron (UUVRON) 1 conducted simulated searches of the ocean floor to hone their ability to identify a bottomed disabled submarine.

With Simpson located, the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator positioned itself over their location to launch the Sibitzky Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). During a rescue, the Sibitzky ROV provides the first picture of a disabled submarine to URC. Using two robotic arms, the ROV is able to clear any debris from the hatch used for rescue and cameras provide critical information necessary for conducting a rescue such as the hull integrity of the submarine and its position on the ocean floor.

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Navy Diver 1st Class Michael Eckert, assigned to Undersea Rescue Command (URC), serves as the aft compartment controller for URC’s pressurized rescue module (PRM), as the PRM mates with the Chilean Submarine (CS) Simpson (SS 21) on the ocean floor during CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

“Over the years, we have built a great relationship with the Chilean Submarine Force through the DESI program,” said Cmdr. Josh Powers, Submarine Squadron 11 deputy for undersea rescue. “This partnership allows us to continually build upon our rescue capabilities and the proficiency of both countries that comes with routine exercises such as CHILEMAR.”

Once the Sibitzky ROV has completed its assessment of the disabled submarine, the Pressurized Rescue Module can be deployed from the back of the Dominator. The PRM is a remotely operated submarine rescue vehicle capable of diving to depths of 2,000 feet and mating with a disabled submarine on the sea floor. The PRM is capable of rescuing up to 16 personnel at a time in addition to the two crewmembers required to operate it.

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Chilean Cmdr. Federico Karl Saelzer Concha, commanding officer of the Chilean Submarine (CS) Simpson (SS 21), climbs into the pressurized rescue module (PRM) of Undersea Rescue Command (URC) during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

During CHILEMAR VIII, the PRM completed three open hatch mattings with the Simpson, allowing U.S. and Chilean Sailors to traverse between the PRM and the submarine to shake hands with each other on the ocean floor.

“The exercises conducted during CHILEMAR demonstrated the advanced rescue capability our Navy provides the world,” said Lt. Cmdr. Pat Bray, Submarine Squadron 11 engineering officer. “The operations carried out by the dedicated URC and Phoenix team were impressive!”

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Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)


URC’s mission is worldwide submarine assessment, intervention and expedient rescue if there is a submarine in distress. The PRM is the primary component of the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS), which can be transported by truck, air or ship to efficiently aid in international submarine rescue operations.

Simpson is operating with U.S. 3rd Fleet naval forces as part of the Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI). DESI enhances the Navy’s capability to operate with diesel-electric submarines by partnering with South American navies equipped with these vessels. This provides a degree of authenticity and realism to exercises, providing the Navy with opportunities to build experience both tracking and operating with them.

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

Articles

Here’s What Life Is Like For US Army Tankers

With a 68-ton armored vehicle packing a 120mm cannon, U.S. Army tankers can take the fight to the enemy in just about any environment.


Tankers consider themselves part of a brotherhood with roots in World War I. Now driving the M1 Abrams tank, these soldiers continue that legacy today. Here is a taste of what their life is like.

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Photo: US Army Sgt Sarah Dietz

Also Read: These Crazy Photos Show 30+ Ton Tanks In Flight 

The Abrams can fire different rounds for different purposes, and tank crews have to train in a variety of environments. That means they get a lot of time on the range.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Kim Browne

The crews are tested at twelve different levels, referred to as tables. The tables demand crews prove they can drive, fire, and coordinate together in battle in a variety of conditions.

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Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Caldwell

The main gun is what most people think of when it comes to tanks, but crews also have to certify on the machine guns mounted outside, as well as the M9 pistols and M4 carbines they’re equipped with.

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Photo Credit: Gertrud Zach/US Army

Crews generally have four members. There is a tank commander, a gunner, a driver, and a loader.

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Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus A. Floyd

 The inside of the tank can be a little cramped with equipment and crew.

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Photo: US Army Spc. Luke Thornberry

The driver sits in a small hole in the front of the tank. His control panel is located immediately in front of him.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tankers sometimes bring their family to see the “office.”

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Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Ruth Pagan

Much of the maintenance for the tank is done by the crew.

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Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus A. Floyd

Considering everything the M1 is designed to withstand, it can be surprising that tanks sometimes break down because of soft sand or loose soil pushing a track out of place.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Richard Andrade

When tanks break down and have to be towed out, it takes specialized equipment. The main recovery vehicle for an Abrams tank is the M88. Here, an M88 rolls up the tread from a damaged Abrams before towing the Abrams to a maintenance area.

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Photo: Us Army Sgt. Richard Andrade

Transporting tanks can also be problematic due to the tank’s weight. Crews will generally take their tanks to railways …

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Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus A. Floyd

… or Naval ports for transport for deployments or exercises. Here, an Abrams tank is driven off of a ship.

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Photo: US Navy

When the mission calls for it, M1 tanks can also be flown on the Air Force’s largest planes.

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Photo: US Air Force Courtesy Photo

Air Force C-17s, like the one in the following photo, can carry one tank while C-5s can carry two.

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Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Richard Wrigley

While on deployment, tankers can end up working for 20-hour days.

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Photo: US Army

U.S. tank crews are commonly called on to train foreign allies. Recently, the Iraqi Army got a large number of Abrams tanks and U.S. soldiers provided training.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Chad Menegay

Sometimes the mission calls for tankers to operate on foot or from other vehicles. Here, tank crews conduct a patrol in Humvees.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Eric Rutherford

The tanker tradition dates back to WWI when the first combat cars and tanks took to the battlefield with tank crews leading the way into mechanized warfare.

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Photo: Poster by J.P. Wharton, Public Domain

 Today, US crews continue the tradition, carrying armored combat into the future.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Aaron Braddy

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia’s ‘new’ tank tactics are actually old US maneuvers

Russia claims to have developed new tank attack strategies to baffle and destroy modern adversaries while counteracting dangers, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency.

With the advent of suicide cars, IEDs and anti-tank missile systems, Russian T-72 tank crews have implemented new strategies, such as “tank carousels,” “tank trousers” and “Syrian shaft,” according to Defence Blog, which cited the RIA article.


Tank carousels involve several platforms rotating in a circle and firing like a revolver.

“It allows us to fire over an unlimited time period,” Captain Roman Schegolev told RIA, according to Sputnik. “There can be three, six, nine or more machines. They move uninterrupted in a circular motion, one pummeling the enemy, the other moving to the rear and reloading, the third preparing to enter firing position, and so on. Non-stop shooting; just make sure to feed the shells.”

Unlike Abrams tanks, T-72s have automatic loaders which allows for the maneuver, Schegolev added.

“On the other side they will break down and open return fire, revealing their armament,” Schegolev said. “Then our disguised sniper tanks with specially trained crews step into action. They quickly and efficiently strike the identified targets.”

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Russian T-72

(Russian Defense Ministry)

This strategy was especially successful in Syria, where T-72s were able to fire atop and then hide behind embankments. It can even be used when the tank crews don’t know with what the enemy is armed, Defence Blog reported, citing RIA.

The tank trousers tactic, on the other hand, involves tanks rotating between trenches, staying in each trench for no more than a few seconds.

“The tank enters the trench, fires, kicks into reverse and moves to the next. Enemy anti-tank weapons don’t have time to react,” Sputnik reported.

The third tactic, Syrian shaft, involves tanks hiding behind parapets and shooting through holes in the wall before scooting away, which is effective against ATGM and IED attacks, according to Jane’s 360.

Unfortunately for the Russian crews, The National Interest’s Michael Peck adroitly rained on their parade.

“What’s interesting here isn’t the tactics themselves, but rather that Russia is trumpeting them as innovative,” Peck wrote.

“Rotating tanks in and out of the firing line, rapid fire shooting and switching between alternate firing positions have been standard practice since World War II (the Russians would have learned this the hard way at the hands of the Germans),” Peck wrote. “These are tactics that American, British, Israeli and other tank crews would be familiar with.”

“Tanks may differ between nations,” Peck wrote. “But often tactics are the same.”

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