U.S. subs far better than China's, but it may not matter - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

The US and others around the Pacific have watched warily as China has boosted its submarine force over the last 20 years, building a modern, flexible force that now has more total ships than the US.

US subs remain far better than their Chinese counterparts, but in a conflict, numbers, and geography may help China mitigate some of the US and its partners’ advantages.

Naval modernization is part of Beijing’s “growing emphasis on the maritime domain,” the US Defense Department said in its annual report on Chinese military power.

As operational demands on China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy have increased, subs have become a high priority — and one that could counter the US Navy’s mastery of the sea.


The force currently numbers 56 subs — four nuclear-powered missile subs, five nuclear-powered attack subs, and 47 diesel-powered attack subs — and is likely grow to between 69 and 78 subs by 2020, according to the Pentagon.

China has built 10 nuclear-powered subs over the past 15 years. Its four operational Jin-class missile boats “represent China’s first credible, seabased nuclear deterrent,” the Pentagon report said.

In most likely conflict scenarios, however, those nuclear-powered subs would have limited utility, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Budgetary and Strategic Assessments.

“They’re relatively loud, pretty easy to track, and don’t really have significant capability other than they can launch land-attack cruise missiles, and they don’t have very many of those,” Clark said. “They’re more of a kind of threat the Chinese might use to maybe do an attack on a … more distant target like Guam or Hawaii.”

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

The locations and composition of major Chinese naval units, according to the Pentagon.

(US Defense Department)

Conventionally powered subs are the “more important part of their submarine force,” Clark said, particularly ones that can launch anti-ship missiles and those that use air-independent propulsion, or AIP, which allows nonnuclear subs to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen, replacing or augmenting diesel-electric systems.

Since the mid-1990s, China has built 13 Song-class diesel-electric attack subs and bought 12 Russian-made Kilo-class subs — eight of which can fire anti-ship cruise missiles.

Kilos are conventional diesel subs, which means they need to surface periodically.

“Even with that, they’re a good, sturdy, reliable submarine that carries long-range anti-ship missiles,” Clark said. On a shorter operation where a Kilo-class sub “can avoid snorkeling, it could … sneak up on you with a long-range attack, so that’s a concern for the US.”

China has also built 17 Yuan-class diesel-electric, air-independent-powered attack subs over the past two decades, a total expected to rise to 20 by 2020, according to the Pentagon.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

Then-Navy Secretary Ray Mabus leaves the Chinese Yuan-class submarine Hai Jun Chang in Ningbo, November 29, 2012.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm. Specialist Sam Shavers)

“The Yuan AIP submarine is very good,” said Clark, a former US Navy submarine officer and strategist.

“For the duration of a deployment that it might normally take, which is two or three weeks, where it can stay on its AIP plant and never have to come up and snorkel, they’re very good,” Clark added. “That’s a big concern, I think, for US and Japanese policymakers.”

Yuan-class boats can threaten surface forces with both torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.

For US anti-submarine-warfare practitioners in the western Pacific, Clark said, “it’s the Yuan they generally point to as being their target of concern, because it does offer this ability to attack US ships and [is] hard to track and there may be few opportunities to engage it.”

Despite concerns China’s current diesel-electric subs inspire, they have liabilities.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

A Chinese Yuan-class attack submarine.

(Congressional Research Service)

As quiet as they are, they are still not as quiet as a US nuclear-powered submarine operating in its quietest mode. They don’t have the same endurance as US subs and need to surface periodically. China’s sub crews also lack the depth of experience of their American counterparts.

“Chinese submarines are not … as good as the US submarines, by far,” Clark said.

China’s subs have made excursions into the Indian Ocean and done anti-piracy operations in waters off East Africa, but they mostly operate around the first island chain, which refers to major islands west of the East Asian mainland and encompasses the East and South China Seas.

Chinese subs also venture into the Philippine Sea, where they could strike at US ships, Clark said.

Much of the first island chain is within range of Chinese land-based planes and missiles, which are linchpins in Beijing’s anti-access/area denial strategy. It’s in that area where the US and its partners could see their advantages thwarted.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

The approximate boundaries of the first and second island chains in the western Pacific.

(US Defense Department)

“Now the Chinese have the advantage of numbers, because they have a large number of submarines that can operate, and they’ve only got a small area in which they need to conduct operations,” Clark said.

China could “flood the zone” with subs good enough to “maybe overwhelm US and Japanese [anti-submarine warfare] capabilities.”

The anti-submarine-warfare capabilities of the US and its partners may also be constrained.

US subs would likely be tasked with a range of missions, like land attacks or surveillance, rather than focusing on attacking Chinese subs, leaving much of the submarine-hunting to surface and air forces — exposing them to Chinese planes and missiles.

“The stuff we use for ASW is the stuff that’s most vulnerable to the Chinese anti-access approach, and you’re doing it close proximity to China, so you could get stuck and not be able to engage their submarines before they get out,” Clark said.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

Crew members demonstrate a P-8A Poseidon for Malaysian defense forces chief Gen. Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, April 21, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Jay M. Chu)

Numbers and location also give China a potential edge in a “gray-zone” conflict, or a confrontation that stops short of open combat, for which US Navy leadership has said the service needs to prepare.

China’s subs present “a challenge [US officials] see as, ‘What if we get into one of these gray-zone confrontations with China, and China decides to start sortieing their submarines through the first island chain and get them out to open ocean a little bit so they’re harder to contain,'” Clark said.

“If we’re in a gray-zone situation, we can’t just shoot them, and we don’t necessarily have the capacity to track all of them, so now you’ve got these unlocated Yuans roaming around the Philippine Sea, then you may end up with a situation where if you decide to try to escalate, you’ve got worry about these Yuans and their ability to launch cruise missiles at your ships,” Clark added.

“As the home team, essentially, China’s got the ability to control the tempo and the intensity,” he said.

The US and its partners have already encountered such tactics.

Beijing often deploys its coast guard to enforce its expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea (which an international court has rejected) and has built artificial islands containing military outposts to bolster its position.

When those coast guard ships encounter US Navy ships, China points to the US as the aggressor.

In the waters off the Chinese coast and around those man-made islands, “they do a lot of that because they’re on their home turf and protected by their land-based missiles and sensors,” Clark said. “Because of that, they can sort of ramp [the intensity] up and ramp it down … as they desire.”

The circumstances of a potential conflict may give Chinese subs an edge, but it won’t change their technical capability, the shortcomings of which may be revealed in a protracted fight.

“Can the Chinese submarines — like the Yuans that have limited time on their AIP plants — can they do something before they start to run out of propellant, oxygen, and start having to snorkel?” Clark said.

“So there’s a little bit of a time dimension to it,” he added. “If the US and Japan can wait out the Chinese, then their Yuans have to start snorkeling or pulling into port … that might make them more vulnerable.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why the Russian military is so ‘accident-prone’

While every military has accidents, the Russian military appears to be more accident-prone than other great powers.

“There’s a tendency for accidents to happen in Russia,” Jeffrey Edmonds, a Russia expert at CNA, told INSIDER.

Edmonds, a former CIA analyst and member of the National Security Council, said that the problem appears to be that Russia often combines a willingness to take risks with an outdated military infrastructure that simply can’t support that culture, creating an environment where accidents are more likely.

In recent weeks, many people have been killed or wounded in various Russian military accidents, including a deadly fire aboard a top-secret submarine, an ammunition dump explosion at a military base, and a missile engine explosion at a military test site.


Fourteen Russian sailors died on July 1, 2019, when fire broke out aboard a submarine thought to be the Losharik, a deep-diving vessel believed to have been built to gather intelligence as well as possibly destroy or tap into undersea cables.

The incident was the worst Russian naval accident since 20 Russian sailors and civilians died aboard the nuclear-powered submarine Nerpa in 2008 — a tragedy preceded by the loss of 118 sailors aboard the nuclear-powered cruise-missile sub Kursk in 2000.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

Nuclear-powered submarine Nerpa.

These are just a few of a number of deadly submarine accidents since the turn of the century.

“The aging Russian navy (and the predecessor Soviet Navy) in general has had a far higher number of operational accidents than any other ‘major’ fleet,” A.D. Baker, a former naval intelligence officer, previously told INSIDER.

The Russian navy lost its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, last fall when a heavy crane punched a large hole in it, and the only dry dock suitable for carrying out the necessary repairs and maintenance on a ship of that size sank due to a sudden power failure.

Even when it was deployed, the Kuznetsov was routinely followed around by tug boats in expectation of an accident.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

Accidents are by no means limited to the Russian navy. An ammunition depot housing tens of thousands of artillery shells at a military base in Siberia exploded on Aug. 5, 2019, killing one and wounding over a dozen people. Then, on Aug. 8, 2019, a missile engine at a military test site in northern Russia unexpectedly exploded, killing two and injuring another six.

Russia also experiences aircraft accidents and other incidents common to other militaries, the US included.

“Russia really pushes an infrastructure that is old to try to keep up or gain parity with the United States,” Edmonds told INSIDER. “They’re pushing their fleet and pushing their military to perform in a certain way that is often beyond what is safe for them to actually do considering the age of the equipment and the age of the infrastructure.”

At the same time, though, “there is a culture of aggressiveness and risk-taking,” Edmonds added, pointing to some of the close calls the Russian military has had while executing dangerous maneuvers in the air and at sea in close proximity to the US military.

“There is a culture of risk-taking in the Russian military that you don’t have in the United States,” he explained. “You would never allow a US pilot to do a low flyover of a Russian ship. The pilot would immediately have his career ended.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Fort Riley IDs soldier after Medevac training death

Fort Riley officials on Sept. 14 identified the 1st Infantry Division soldier who was killed during a training exercise Sept. 12 in Fort Hood, Texas.


Staff Sgt. Sean Devoy, a 28-year-old medic, died after falling during hoist training near Robert Gray Army Airfield, officials said.

The cause of the incident, which is being called an “accident,” is under investigation, a news release said.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to Staff Sgt. Sean Devoy’s family and friends during this difficult time,” said Lt. Col. Khirsten Schwenn, 2nd GSAB, 1st Avn. Regt., commander. “The unexpected death of a family member is profoundly tragic. Staff Sgt. Devoy touched countless lives as a flight paramedic. We are deeply saddened by the loss of an extraordinary noncommissioned officer and teammate.”

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter
A flight medic extracts a patient during live hoist extraction training. Army photo by Spc. Adeline Witherspoon.

Devoy, whose home of record is Ballwin, Mo., arrived at Fort Riley in December 2012 after joining the Army in March 2010. He was posthumously promoted to staff sergeant.

He deployed to Germany in 2010 and Afghanistan in 2011, 2013, and 2016.

He earned several awards and decorations throughout his career.

A team from the US Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., is leading the investigation.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army issues tips for operating weapons in extreme cold

The U.S. Army recently put out a reminder to soldiers on how to make sure their weapons continue to function when temperatures dip below freezing.


“Cold temperatures can greatly affect the maintenance, functioning, and employment of infantry weapons,” according to a Jan. 2 Army press release. “The Army will continue to operate in cold weather environments worldwide, so we must be able to maintain our weapons in any climate.”

Condensation is a killer.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter
A Special Forces Operator assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) fires a round at a target hundreds of meters away during sniper training Feb. 8, 2017 at Limestone Hills Training Area at Fort Harrison, Montana. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Cantrell)

Also known as sweating, condensation forms on weapons when troops move them from freezing temperatures into a warm shelter. Taking weapons dripping with condensation back out into the cold will result in the internal mechanisms freezing together, causing stoppages, the release states.

If possible, keep weapons outside during extremely cold weather. When left outside, weapons should be readily accessible, guarded, and sheltered to keep ice and snow from accumulating in the working mechanisms, sights, or barrel, according to the release.

If weapons must be kept inside a shelter, keeping them near the floor will reduce the chance of condensation. Keeping the inside temperature of the shelter close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit will also cut down on condensation, according to the release. Condensation will continue to form for about an hour after bringing weapons into a shelter, so wait until it stops before wiping weapons down.

Also Read: Silver coating may be the future of military cold weather clothing

Upon leaving the shelter, take a few minutes to pull the charging handle to the rear and drop the magazine several times to prevent parts from freezing, the release states.

Also, use “Lubricant, Arctic Weapon” on all weapons except the M249 squad automatic weapon and the M2 .50 caliber machine gun instead of Break-Free CLP, which can thicken and cause weapons to operate sluggishly or jam, the release states.

What else? How do you keep your gear ready for cold-weather environments?

MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch Keanu Reeves’ best moments from Comic-Con 2020

Keanu Reeves has not only earned respect from the operator community for his tactical dedication, he’s also managed to charm his way into the hearts of everyone who isn’t dead inside. And then, of course, there’s the fact that he’s the face of multiple fandoms from The Matrix to John Wick to Bill & Ted.


Twitter

twitter.com

Watch the Bill & Ted Face the Music trailer:

He’s such a good guy — and he’s so good at what he does — that it’s just plain fun to adore him, which made this year’s Comic-Con@Home all the more delightful. While celebrating the 15th anniversary of Constantine and the upcoming release of Bill Ted Face the Music, Reeves really brightened up the doldrums of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of his best moments from the Con.

Twitter

twitter.com

What Bill & Ted means to him:

“There’s nothing like…I mean, I can’t feel or laugh or do anything like the way that working on Bill Ted and working with Alex [makes me feel]. That doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world for me. So to partner up and work on the craft side of it and get to play, get to play these characters that Chris [Matheson] and Ed [Solomon] have created….there’s no other place where I can laugh like this,” he shared.

Everything Reeves says is incredibly genuine and is he single?

Twitter

twitter.com

“Excited Keanu is the best Keanu”

Reeves gushed on and on about his favorite moments from Constantine. “Getting to work with such extraordinary artists…” he beamed. “Production design was great. And the crew! Peter Stormare, as I’m bleeding out, and he’s leaning in to me! Philippe Rousselot was the cinematographer. Throwing down with Tilda Swinton as she’s choking me…”

Twitter

twitter.com

The moment Francis Lawrence reveals he has the Holy Shotgun:

The joy. The sincerity. The celebration.

LOOK UPON HIS FACE AND SWOON.

Twitter

twitter.com

His modesty can’t be thrown:

Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub complimented Reeves for how awesome and gracious he is to the crew. He then asked Reeves how he stays grounded, and of course even Reeves’ response was, well, grounded. “That’s kind of you to say, Steve. I don’t know. I love what I do and I like going to work and I like being creative. We’re all in it together. Go play and have some fun.”

Twitter

twitter.com

Constantine: 15th Anniversary Reunion | Comic-Con@Home 2020

www.youtube.com


MIGHTY CULTURE

Guard soldier competes in ‘American Ninja Warrior’

A Pennsylvania National Guard soldier competed in the “American Ninja Warrior” television show in Philadelphia, May 19-20, 2018.

Army Sgt. Tyler Waters, a motor transport operator with the 337th Engineer Battalion, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 28th Infantry Division, placed 17th in the competition.

“I’ve been a fan of the show for years and I’ve always felt that I had the combination of strength and athleticism to excel on any of the ever-changing courses,” Waters said.


Waters came within seconds of advancing to the national competition held in Las Vegas, which would have required finishing in the top 15.

‘The experience was great’

“The experience was great,” he said. “It was interesting to see the different competitors from different walks of life that excelled in the course. Simply being physically fit, as some of the competitors appeared to be sculpted from stone, wasn’t enough.”

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

Sgt. Tyler Waters.

Waters credits both his family and his unit for supporting him through the competition.

“Being in the Army definitely helped to sharpen what I already envisioned as a strength of mine; my mental focus and toughness,” he said.

In his civilian life, Waters is a Pennsylvania State Trooper, which he said has many similarities to a military career and allows him to carry the same mindset he’s cultivated as a soldier at all times.

This mentality enabled Waters’ success in the American Ninja Warrior contest, and he said he hopes to compete again and reach the finals.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

popular

Shipping costs to troops spiked in 2018 and need to switch back

Care packages are how troops stay connected with the ones they love back home. Most troops will have their family send them little trinkets or mama-made cookies to make things better while troops without families have their day brightened by a sweet, heartfelt thank-you card sent by a grade schooler.

These packages are the one constant that every troop, regardless of where or when they served, can depend on. But on January 21st, 2018, the shipping costs for postage to and from all APO/FPO/DPO addresses increased substantially. Thankfully, this increase can be reverted and the rate for shipping can be permanently fixed, benefiting the troops.


U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

Nothing can bring joy to troops like a care package from home.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

The increases in shipping costs to APO/FPO/DPO addresses were part of an overall increase in the price for all mailing services, across the board. Rates for APO/FPO/DPO mailing addresses were hit hardest — almost doubled. In the defense of the United States Postal Service, the APO/FPO flat-rate box was only increased by five cents and they’ve always supported the troops, but a recently proposed bill can take that support further.

If there were a separate, fixed rate for all postage going to and from troops at APO/FPO addresses, it would be classified as Zone 1/2 postage from any CONUS location. Meaning, that if you were to ship a big ol’ care package not in a APO/FPO flat-rate box, it would cost the same as sending a letter to a soldier stationed in Germany.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

But mainly, you don’t want to screw over the nice people who just want to help support the troops.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot)

In addition to offering a single, fixed rate for those who want to send a care package abroad that might not fit within a fixed-rate box, this could also open up companies to more readily offer online shopping opportunities to deployed troops.

This also means that troops would be more able to ship things from deployed environments back to the States. So, a deployed parent could pick up souvenirs at a local bazaar for their kid while crafty troops could ship certain personal belongings home before they return stateside so don’t need to wait for the connex to return months later.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

The bill would apply to all troops everywhere, even if they’re sailing in the middle of nowhere.

(U.S. Navy photo by Lorenzo J. Burleson)

The bill that includes this fixed cost, H.R.6231 – Care Packages for Our Heroes Act of 2018, has been introduced to Congress by Rep. Thomas MacArthur. It would permanently establish a single rate for mail and packages being sent to and from at APO/FPO/DPO addresses.

Congressman MacArthur has championed veteran issues since his assignment to the Armed Services Committee and its two subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. He also introduced the Veterans’ Mental Health Care Access Act, which would have allowed veterans to access any mental health care facility and eligible for reimbursement — but it failed to garner approval.

To help make sure that this bill makes it through Congress, contact your representative and let them know how you feel. Let them know that this bill will greatly benefit the morale of our fighting men and women. According to Skopos Labs, the bill only has a 3 percent chance of being enacted, so if you feel passionately about it, don’t wait; act.

If you’re unsure of who your representative is, you can use this tool right here and let them know you support H.R.6231 — the Care Packages for Our Heroes Act of 2018.

Articles

This sub sank because its commander couldn’t flush his toilet

In April 1945, being a German submariner was a dangerous prospect. Allied sub hunters had become much more effective and German u-boats were being sunk faster than they could be built. Technical breakthroughs like radar and new weapons like the homing torpedo were sinking the Germans left and right.


For the crew of U-1206, the greatest threat was actually lurking in their commander’s bowels. German Navy Capt. Karl-Adolf Schlitt was on his first patrol as a commander when he felt the call of nature and headed to the vessel’s state-of-the-art toilet.

While Allied subs had toilets that flushed into a small internal tank that took up needed space in the submarine, the Germans had developed a compact system that expelled waste into the sea. The high-tech system even worked while the sub was deep underwater.

Unfortunately, the toilet was very complex. By doctrine, there was a toilet-flushing specialist on every sub that operated the necessary valves. The captain, either too prideful or too impatient to search out the specialist, attempted to flush it himself. When it didn’t properly flush, he finally called the specialist.

The specialist attempted to rectify the situation, but opened the exterior valve while the interior valve was still open. The ocean quickly began flooding in, covering the floor in a layer of sewage and seawater. The specialist got the valves closed, but it was too late.

The toilet was positioned above the battery bank. As the saltwater cascaded onto the batteries, it created chlorine gas that rapidly spread through the sub and threatened to kill the crew. Schlitt ordered the sub to surface.

The sub reached the surface about 10 miles from the Scottish coast and was quickly spotted by British planes. One sailor was killed as the sub was attacked. The order was given to scuttle the ship and escape. Three more sailors drowned attempting to make it to shore. The other 37 sailors aboard the U-1206 were quickly captured and became prisoners of war.

Luckily for them, the war was nearly over. The sub sank April 14, 1945. Hitler killed himself April 30 and Germany surrendered May 8.

Articles

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

“Nothing’s off limits.”


That’s a quote from one of the actors in Range 15, but it’s also the way the creators of the film live their lives.

And before you start getting all teary-eyed over it, know that it’s also the attitude they bring to their dark, effed up, and glorious comedic projects.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

For people who can relate to military humor, it doesn’t get much better than the veteran-produced zombie flick “Range 15”…until you find out they also made a behind-the-scenes documentary.

For those who haven’t seen “Range 15” (it’s for sale as a digital download at Amazon.com), it’s about some military buddies who have a wild party and find themselves tossed into the drunk tank. They wake up to the realization that the zombie apocalypse is in full swing.

Think of what follows as a threesome between “Team America,” “Zombieland,” and “The Hangover.”

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

According to a report by the Military Times, the documentary made its debut on June 30, 2017. The video, dubbed Not a War Story, details the making of the movie, which was filmed in 13 days — a balls crazy pace. The 80 vets who made the film, some of them amputees, had very little (if any) experience shooting feature films, but they didn’t let that stop them.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

In the trailer, William Shatner, who plays an attorney in the film, strikes a very poignant tone as he recognizes the sacrifices many of these veterans have made. “You’re the fellows who altered your life to do the job,” he says.

Oh, and good news for Range 15 fans: Military Times mentioned that a sequel is reportedly in the works.

In the meantime, check out the trailer for Not a War Story and check out the film on iTunes Nov. 7, 2017.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why the “Ghost Army” was a silly, yet absolutely brilliant strategy

When playing poker, a bluff is a completely logical strategy. You’ve got basically nothing and you’re trying to pressure your opponent into thinking you’ve got them completely beat via pure posturing. In a time of war, when both sides employ hundreds of scouts, do near-constant aerial reconnaissance, and have spies constantly floating around the battlefield, bluffs shouldn’t work.

You’d think that any soldier with a pair of binoculars would realize that something was amiss upon observing a bunch of plywood artillery cannons, tank-shaped balloons, cardboard cutouts of troops, and a couple commo guys messing around on the airwaves. And yet the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, better known as the “Ghost Army,” went on to fool the Nazis at every turn.

As the old Army saying goes, if it looks stupid, but works, it ain’t stupid.


U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

If you saw this from your cockpit for half a second and you had no idea your enemy was using inflatable tanks, you might fall for it, too.

(National Archives)

The Ghost Army was inspired, in part, by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s successful use of hoax tanks as part of Operation Bertram, but during Operation Quicksilver, Americans took things to the next level. British measures employed to successfully fool Axis onlookers were good, but the assets of the Ghost Army were exceedingly precise. Each inflatable tank took days to make, and they were so realistic that enemy reconnaissance couldn’t tell the difference.

To help sell the illusion, radio guys blasted the sounds of tanks through loud speakers. This way, any onlooking Nazi scout would hear what sounded like an entire division of tanks rolling through the area, quickly glimpse the balloon tanks in the distance, and promptly run back to their commander to prepare for the impending “fight.” The inflatable Sherman tanks weren’t alone — they also employed wooden mock-ups of artillery guns in dugouts that would draw out enemy fire.

Visual deception was key, but another crucial task was sending out relevant radio transmissions in hopes that they’d be intercepted by the Germans. The illusion worked best when several types of deception worked in concert. The Nazi code-breaker would “intercept” a message about the 23rd moving to a certain point on the Rhine, the Luftwaffe would fly ahead and see the “tanks,” and, if any Nazi scouts were to see soldiers of the 23rd, they’d likely see troops donning high-ranking officers uniforms — and this is exactly what the Ghost Army wanted them to see: a seemingly ripe target.

The 23rd drew the attention away from many key Allied movements, leaving the Germans easily flanked by the actual Army that came to fight. The Germans were too distracted by the Ghost Army to realize that the Americans started crossing the Ruhr River and, as a consequence, they arrived first at the Maginot Line many, many miles away from where the Americans would break through.

All thanks to a bunch of artists and jokers.

To learn more about the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, check out the video below:

Articles

China is close to entering the ‘war on terror’ — and they won’t be on our side

By now, everyone who follows the fight against terrorism will know that there was an unsuccessful VBIED attack on Aug. 30 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in which a suicide bomber attempted to ram the embassy gates before detonating. This attack only managed to kill one person – the bomber – though it wounded several others. In the past year, Kyrgyzstan’s authorities have successfully foiled multiple alleged plots and an estimated 500 of its citizens are believed to be in territory controlled by ISIL. Whether or not ISIL eventually claims credit for this attack, it will likely have been carried out by ethnically Uighur separatists from Western China – a population that not only has a presence in ISIL’s ranks, but also is actively being trained for attacks on Chinese targets by Dutch jihadi Israfil Yilmaz.


The ongoing conflict between East Turkestan separatists/Uighur jihadists and the Chinese government has been at a low-broil for decades. Strict movement controls, an intense intelligence collection apparatus with an emphasis on big data analysis, and a heavy occupying presence in Muslim majority areas of China will largely continue to prevent successful mass casualty attacks against prestige targets. However, small-scale incidents, such as stabbings and rudimentary IED attacks, continue to affect cities in Western China from time to time – probably more than is possible to independently verify, given the inability of Western journalists to report in these areas.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter
An anti-China, pro-Uighur protest outside the White House. Photo from Flickr user Malcolm Brown.

In the meantime, at risk of sounding cliché, China is rising. President Xi Jinping has embarked on a well-known effort to modernize China’s oversized, lumbering, corrupt, Cold War-era military into an efficient, combat-ready force ready for contingencies wherever they occur – from the South China Sea to the transportation infrastructure in its Western near-abroad known as the New Silk Road. This “Silk Road” seeks to modernize the ancient trade route of the same name and will undoubtedly re-orient Central Asian economies towards China.

These Central Asian countries, run by aging autocrats, are universally known as some of the least free nations in the world and are potential tinderboxes. They clamp down heavily on religion (the local religion is largely Sunni Islam). They rely on trade with Russia and high energy prices – and energy prices have been low for a while now. They have restive and young populations. Saudi Wahhabis fund unemployed youths’ spiritual journeys, and some of these very youths are already trained and combat-experienced from battlefields in Syria, Iraq, Chechnya, and Afghanistan. Expect more attacks against Chinese targets where and when possible.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter
Soldiers with the People’s Liberation Army at Shenyang training base in China, March 24, 2007. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, US Air Force.

So what does this imply for the United States? Several things, but it does not mean a straightforward area of potential military and diplomatic cooperation. China will likely reluctantly find itself more combat-experienced than it currently is (it last fought a war in 1979 against Vietnam – it did not go well for China). It will bring China to the world stage like never before as it picks up the slack it previously left for the US alone. However, China has signaled strongly that is not aligned with US counter-terrorism policy. When the heartbreaking video of wounded Syrian child Omran Daqneesh emerged, Chinese state-media ridiculed it as faked, saying that he was “eligible for an Oscar.” The People’s Liberation Army has instituted a training mission for Syrian forces (taking place safely in Mainland China). In other words, China is stepping up – and will continue to step up – but it will do so in a manner more aligned with Russia and Iran than with the United States and NATO.

Many Western analysts believe that for a country of its size, China really ought to do more to stabilize the world. Given what we know about the Chinese government and Xi’s modus operandus, and given the pressure China will be under from its nationalist netizens should a more successful attack against Chinese interests occur, we should be careful what we wish for. China stepping up will not mean closer partnership with the United States.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Dennis Rodman might attend the world’s most important meeting

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman will reportedly be in Singapore when President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a landmark summit on June 12, 2018, according to sources cited in a New York Post report on June 5, 2018.

“No matter you might think about his presence. One thing’s for sure the ratings will be huge,” a source said in the report. “A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy, countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill and whether you agree with it or not Dennis Rodman fits the bill.”


Rodman has developed a rapport with Kim over the last several years, so much so that he made two trips to the reclusive nation and is one of the few American citizens to have met with its leader. Kim is widely believed to be a fan of the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Rodman was on the team from 1995 to 1998, playing alongside the legendary Michael Jordan.

Rodman has a connection to Trump, who hosted NBC’s reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” In 2013, Rodman was fired by Trump on the show, after misspelling Melania Trump’s name on a promotional poster as “Milania.”

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter
President Donald Trump
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Rodman will reportedly arrive in Singapore on June 11, 2018, and could have some role in the upcoming negotiations, sources told the Post, but it’s unclear what that role could be.

Rodman, who fancies himself a sports ambassador to North Korea, said that he did not “want to take all the credit” for laying the groundwork for the summit.

“I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘I did this. I did that.’ No, that’s not my intention,” Rodman told the celebrity gossip outlet TMZ in April 2018. “And I’ve always asked [Kim] to talk to me because he wants the people of North Korea — and the government over there asked me to talk to Donald Trump about what they want and how we can solve things.”

The meeting between Trump and Kim will be held at the Capella Hotel in Singapore. It will be the first such dialogue between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force ranges support environmental and cultural conservation

Within the confines of U.S. Air Force ranges there are things that exist nowhere else in the world.

Vast expanses of natural habitat containing unique plants and animals, archaeological sites and artifacts of Paleolithic Native Americans and cultures past, are contained in these, sometimes misunderstood, restricted spaces.

In fact, U.S. Air Force ranges support conservation efforts which strive to expand beyond man-made borders to increase numbers of threatened and endangered species to a healthy and sustainable population.

“I think the public has the perception that the training range is a bombing range in that we obliterate the entire range but that is a very large misconception,” said Anna Johnson, Nellis Air Force Base Natural Resource manager. “The target areas are a very small portion of the range and those target areas have remained the same for decades … going into the future the target areas are not supposed to change at all.”


These ranges, which are utilized for a wide variety of military training and or testing, try to strike a balance between responsible land stewardship and mission accomplishment.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

A very small area of the range is used for missions and targets while the surrounding area is left virtually untouched.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

According to Johnson, ranges require a lot of land area because of the distance and speed at which aircraft travel and for safety buffer zones during weapons employment.

Roads, targets and infrastructure account for less than 10 percent of the Nellis Test and Training Range landscape and the rest of the 2.9 million acres has been undeveloped and untouched. In fact, the only litter of note found on the range, according to Johnson, comes in the form of mylar balloons which travel extremely long distances.

The same can be said for ranges across the U.S. including Avon Park Air Force Range, which covers 106,000 acres, in Central Florida.

“Plain and simple, if we as the Air Force don’t take care of this property we’re going to lose the ability to use it,” said Mr. Buck MacLaughlin, APAFR range manager. “This is natural real estate and this is land we have been entrusted with to be able to do our training.”

That trust is granted by the American people and backed by U.S. federal regulations.

“The stewardship of the land is a responsibility that falls upon the Department of Defense and by proxy the Air Force, through the Sikes Act, where essentially we are mandated to partner with conservation organizations,” said Col. Chris Zuhkle, NTTR commander.

“In this case [with the NTTR] it’s the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife that make sure that we meet not only our mission needs but also that we do everything in our power to meet the conservation requirements and sustainment for those lands.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over 300 federally listed species live on Defense Department land. Range environmental management offices must always be mindful they’re falling within the guidelines of the endangered species act to keep the best interest of the mission and environment on their radar. Avon Park has 12 endangered species, which are spread throughout the entire range area. The large habitat poses some unique challenges when it comes to mission planning.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

‘I hear people call this place, the last bit of wild Florida or real Florida. You know, it’s pretty cool’ said Aline Morrow, a Fish Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, assigned to Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida.

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

“If we are putting undue impact on these threatened and endangered species, and really not even just the threatened and endangered ones, all the natural species in Central Florida that make this range their home, if we’re not balancing the requirements between taking care of those species and doing the military mission the military mission is going to get curtailed,” said MacLaughlin.

“That costs money in terms of fuel, it costs money in terms of manpower and more importantly the units that need this training, those men and women who are going to go in harm’s way, they don’t get the ability to practice their craft if we’re not doing that other part.

According to Brent Bonner, APAFR environmental flight chief, the wildlife management piece takes a lot of moving parts to ensure mission accomplishment.

As part of the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan species are constantly monitored so range operations knows their location and status, especially during critical times, such as nesting season for endangered birds, to help protect future generations of these rare creatures.

Aline Morrow, a USFWS biologist who works closely with the environmental flight, helps survey and track animals, such as the Florida Bonneted Bat, which some consider to be the most endangered bat in North America. She says the first natural roost of the bat was found on an impact area of Avon Park in 2014.

Once a roost is found, it’s marked and mission planners know to buffer a certain area around the roost so as not to disturb the bats.

“It’s just 110 percent support from everybody who’s out here,” exclaimed Morrow. “They’re [the Air Force] always asking us, ‘what are you doing?’ and they get just as excited as we do when, for example, just a couple weeks ago, we had a sighting of a Florida Panther and the commander sent an email out with the pictures to everybody. Now everyone has the picture as their background on their laptop … I never felt like someone from the Air Force sees us as a regulator, they see us as a partner. We’re there to help you guys [the Air Force] see your mission as much as ours.”

While most of the efforts focus on managing the landscapes inhabited by wildlife to ensure they are able to thrive, it’s just a piece of the bigger picture.

The Wild and Free Roaming Wild Horses and Burro Act of 1971 established requirements to manage these animals, which aided America’s expansion and growth, while also making sure there is an ecological balance.

Tabatha Romero, BLM Wild Horse and Burro specialist, knows first-hand how important management practices are.

She says people have an idealized version of how these horses are and the animals should just be left alone, but they don’t see the harm caused when the horses are overpopulated and they overgraze or run out of water and mothers have foals that can’t nurse because they can’t produce milk.

“With the NTTR it goes to show how sound our management practices can be,” said Romero. “When we are allowed to use the tools available to us and conduct comprehensive environmental management programs we have healthy horses on healthy ranges and that’s the ultimate goal of our program.”

Sound management practices are essential to ensuring the mission is accomplished, but with ranges providing pristine landscapes and safe havens for several endangered species it can sometimes become the only place these plants and animals live. In order to protect these species, and more effectively accomplish training, ranges have started looking at growing conservation efforts outside their physical boundaries.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

Range borders protect against development leaving a majority of the range land as a safety buffer zone and therefore untouched. This pristine habitat (right) sometimes ends where the range fences end leaving the outside land (left) open for development or public usage.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

According to MacLaughlin, it all started with the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program. This program works with willing landowners that border ranges, and partners with conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, using federal money to purchase conservation easements.

“This is a real estate negotiation with a landowner that comes to the table and says ‘I want to protect my property’,” stressed MacLaughlin.

The REPI program presented potential for conservation efforts and education to expand in a big way, but sometimes there were unforeseen issues.

Agencies such as the Department of Interior or Department of Agriculture may be trying to accomplish the same thing on the same lands but due to existing laws, where federal money could not be used from one account to the other, the efforts may be halted.

This is where the Sentinel Landscape Program, which APAFR was declared an official Sentinel Landscape in 2016, came in that allowed multiple agencies to leverage each other’s programs and focus on combined efforts.

“It’s a direct sustainment of the mission,” said Bonner. “As we increase the species on our property and they’re decreased off property they become more valuable to the public … we want to make sure we don’t get in a situation where we are the only people with Red Cockaded Woodpeckers – that will impact our mission. So, we want to go outside the fence on those conservation efforts, protecting those species.”

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker is an endangered species thriving on the Avon Park Air Force Range. About the size of a cardinal, the RCW calls the longleaf pines located on the range home. Marked and protected by the range mangers. The goal of the range is to expand the RCW habitat off the range and increase the population.

(U.S. Air Force courtesy Photo)

While the natural resource management team is focused on current issues, facing threatened and endangered species, they are also looking at preserving the past. Many Air Force ranges are homes to thousands of years of cultural history which could potentially be lost forever if it weren’t housed in the safety of the range’s fences.

When a base or range requires building a new structure or beginning a new mission, it’s much more complicated than just planning for operations and making it happen.

Surveys and studies are done to ensure the space isn’t on ground that contains a culturally significant site, meaning it contains vital information such as relevant tools, or qualifying traces of history, that are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

A map of the cultural dig sites on the Nevada Test and Training Range.

(Nellis Cultural Resource Office)

According to Kathy Couturier, APAFR cultural resource manager, she helps determine the Area of Potential Effect for a particular site and what the mission impacts will be on the site.

She then provides guidance or alternative solutions to operating around those sites and runs the plans up to the State Historic Preservation Office for review and approval. This process ensures that time, money, and resources are utilized in the best way possible to effectively accomplish the mission while still ensuring eligible sites remain protected.

Federal laws, regulations, and procedures, such as determining the APE, have been put in place to ensure these sites are preserved and treated with respect so as to not repeat the mistakes of the past when significant cultural resources were destroyed as highways and cities were built on top of potentially significant cultural sites.

Environmental teams across the nation’s ranges such as the NTTR, which has sites dating back 10,000 years and works closely with 17 Native American tribes, try to ensure that cultural ownership of the land is not lost.

“These tribes are very intact in their language, they still speak it fluently, they teach it in their schools to their children,” says Kish LaPierre, NAFB cultural resource manager. “They have amazing oral history so we work very closely with them and they give us information to help us protect the prehistoric and ethno historic sites.”

LaPierre says the conditions around the NTTR are perfect for the preservation of artifacts. There are several sites where, often times, there are baskets sitting still full of seeds and tools laying around as if the inhabitants just left and were planning to come back but they didn’t.

U.S. subs far better than China’s, but it may not matter

While cultural sites on public lands are sometimes vandalized (left), sites on ranges remain pristine (right) due to limited access.

(Bureau of Land Management) (Nellis Cultural Resource Office)

“We have almost 3 million acres of land and it is virtually untouched,” said LaPierre. “The NTTR has been blocked off from the public since 1940 so it’s a huge prehistoric time capsule – it’s like a living museum.”

Understanding and mitigating the impact of how land use can have long lasting and far-reaching effects is on the forefront of the Air Force’s environmental programs.

Range teams across the country take great care when executing their mission to make sure they are not only following federal laws but also taking a vested interest in the lands they have been granted the ability to use so the past and present are preserved for future generations.

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