The US Marine Corps' big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

A major Marine Corps force redesign is bringing big changes that could soon filter down to a secretive cave complex in Norway that the Corps has used since the Cold War.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said last year that the Corps needed to get rid of “big, heavy things” and build a more mobile force for naval expeditionary warfare in contested areas — namely the Asia-Pacific.


The Corps plans to cut its overall force 7% by 2030, shedding infantry battalions, eliminating helicopter squadrons, and getting rid of all of its tanks.

Marines in California have already said goodbye to their tanks, and more could leave soon, including those in a cave complex in Norway’s Trondheim region, where the Corps has stored weapons and other equipment for decades.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

Entrances to the Bjugn Cave Facility in Norway with equipment outside to be taken to Estonia for a military exercise, June 30, 1997. US Defense Department

The Corps’ Force Design 2030 “is a worldwide program aimed to make our force posture around the globe even more strategic and effective. As such, it calls for a divestment of certain capabilities and increases in others,” Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a spokesman for Marine Corps forces in Europe and Africa, said in an email.

The Marine Corps Prepositioning Program in Norway “will continue to support US Marine Corps forces for bilateral and multi-lateral exercises” in European and Africa, Rankine-Galloway said.

“We expect that Marine Corps prepositioned equipment will be updated to meet our service’s needs, with excess equipment to be removed and newer equipment to be added to the prepositioned facilities,” Rankine-Galloway added.

Rankine-Galloway didn’t say what equipment that might be, but in the Force Design 2030, Berger said the Corps is “over-invested in” weapons like “heavily armored ground combat systems (tanks) [and] towed cannon artillery” and had “shortfalls” in rocket artillery, air-defense systems, and long-range unmanned aircraft.

Marine Corps leaders say savings from those cuts will pay for high-tech gear needed to counter China, Russia, and others.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

M1A1 Abrams tanks and other equipment during a modernization of equipment at Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway, August 13, 2014. US Marine Corps/Master Sgt. Chad McMeen

A changing strategic game

The Marines’ underground storage in Norway’s Trondheim region dates to 1982, when the US and Norway agreed to preposition supplies and equipment in six climate-controlled caves there, allowing the Corps to store equipment closer than the US East Coast and “minimize the time necessary to form for combat.”

Much of the equipment there was withdrawn for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. A decade later, the Corps expanded its stocks, reportedly allowing tanks and other heavy vehicles to be stored there for the first time.

Since then, equipment has been taken out for exercises around Europe — in 2018 and 2019 the Corps shipped tanks from the caves to military exercises in Finland.

Changes to what the Marines store in Norway would come as the Corps alters its troop presence in the country.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

US Marine Corps High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle stored at Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway, February 10, 2020. US Marine Corps/Cpl. Joseph Atiyeh

Hundreds of Marines have been stationed in Norway on six-month rotations since 2017, but Norway’s military said earlier this month that the US would reduce that force.

Rankine-Galloway told several outlets the Corps wasn’t drawing down but rather adopting shorter, “episodic” deployments aligned with exercises — sometimes bringing more troops to the country than are there now — that allow it to balance Arctic warfare training with larger-scale training “as a naval expeditionary force.”

“We expect US Marine Corps forces deployed to the Nordic region to train and be prepared to fight in accordance with the Commandant’s vision for the force and that this transformation will make both US Marine Corps, allied, and partner forces more lethal and capable together,” Rankine-Galloway told Insider.

The Marines’ year-round presence in Norway angered Russia, whose border with Norway is near sensitive sites on the Kola Peninsula belonging to the powerful Northern Fleet, which oversees Russia’s nuclear ballistic-missile subs.

Recent Northern Fleet activity, especially of its submarines, has concerned NATO. Norway and its neighbors have been especially wary of Russia’s tests of new missiles.

Russian missiles have changed “the strategic game” in the region, according to Thomas Nilsen, editor of Norway-based news outlet The Barents Observer.

“Living on the Norwegian side of the border, we don’t see a scenario of a Russian military invasion trying to capture” northern Norway, Nilsen said at an Atlantic Council event in February.

Weapons like the Kinzhal hypersonic missile could be launched from Russian fighter jets and within minutes strike airbases in those Scandinavian countries, Nilsen said.

Aircraft at those bases, like Norway’s F-35s, are “what Russia is afraid of,” Nilsen added. “Those capabilities on the Scandinavian side that might … disturb their deploying of the ballistic-missile submarines.”

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

Articles

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


On April 26, Kristin Beck hopes to realize a dream of Quixotic proportions. The decorated former Navy SEAL and trans-woman aims to unseat entrenched Democratic incumbent Steny Hoyer in the primary for Maryland’s 5th Congressional District in a long-shot bid for a seat in the House.

But on April 21, five days before the vote, she was working to balance press interviews and campaign efforts with the more prosaic tasks of keeping up the farm she lives on with her wife in southern Maryland — including planning for the delivery of four tons of fertilizer the next day.

Beck, 50, began to live openly as a woman around 2013 after retiring from the Navy in 2011 as a senior chief petty officer. Then called Christopher, Beck earned a Bronze Star with valor device and a Purple Heart over the course of 13 deployments and spent time as a member of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six.

Since the publication of a ghostwritten memoir in 2013 and a CNN mini-documentary that followed, Beck has achieved public acclaim as a transgender SEAL, even spending time living out of an RV as she traveled between speaking engagements. This run for Congress, however, is not a bid for more publicity, she said, but an effort to speak for others.

“I’m looking at the political machine and I see it leaving me behind,” she said. “If you’re a little bit different, not that Crackerjack box American, we get left out. I fought to defend every person. I fought for justice for all Americans.”

Rather than being daunted by the prospect of challenging Hoyer, the House minority whip who has held his seat since 1981, Beck said she felt compelled to run because of Hoyer’s very insider status.

On her campaign web site, which Beck runs with the aid of campaign manager Mike Phillips, a Marine veteran, she outlines her stance on no fewer than 71 issues ranging from ending the marriage tax penalty to reforming the Affordable Care Act, of which she is highly critical.

Beck said her campaign is most persuasive with those in her district under the age of 30 and her most effective outreach efforts are on social media, adding that her official Facebook page gets upward of 70,000 hits per week.

And while none of her platforms deals directly with the military, Beck has perspectives on many aspects of defense policy and has been closely watching efforts to open ground combat jobs to female troops. In her thinking on this issue, the tension between her former self as a no-nonsense Navy SEAL and her present efforts to promote openness and opportunity are most visible.

Beck said she absolutely stands by earlier statements that she would like to play a role in training the first female sailors to attempt the newly opened Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) courses. But she would do so, she said, only if Defense Department brass maintained their commitment to keeping the same tough physical standards, regardless of political pressure or how well women fare in the course.

“When I was in the SEAL teams, there were women I had working for me, doing UAV and intelligence work. They weren’t SEALS, but they were direct support to SEALs, doing hardcore work,” Beck said, adding that she believed there were women who were capable of completing SEAL training and thriving in the field.

But, she said, she fears that high attrition rates for women in BUD/S — which she sees as inevitable — will cause lawmakers to put pressure on the military to relax standards or gender-norm them and push more women through.

“We know that women can’t do pull-ups as well as men. If you’re going to have them gender-norm out pull-ups, what are you going to have them do?” Beck said. “The capability and the readiness of the military is so dependent on our physical abilities and how we apply our physical abilities. If you’re going up a ladder on a ship going 20 knots on eight-foot seas, pull-ups are an indication of how well you can do that.”

Of the roughly 1,000 men who attempt BUD/S each year, about 400 make it through, Beck said.

Assuming a much smaller number of female applicants who want to be SEALs and are physically qualified, Beck estimates between two and eight women will make it each year.

But for those who do make it through, Beck said the cultural challenge of entering an all-male career field might not be as daunting as some believe.

“The professionalism and the mission outweighs so many other things,” she said. “I don’t care if you can bench-press 500 pounds, I need you to bench-press 200 pounds, but do it 40 times … that’s professionalism.”

Beck, who served in the Pentagon before retiring, said she still receives invitations to speak with military brass, most recently briefing the chief of naval operations’ strategic studies group earlier this year.

On transgender troops, she advocates better education and a case-specific approach that considers the needs of the service member and the requirements of the military. She advocates, for example, that troops who opt to start living as a different gender be sent to a new duty station for a fresh start, limiting unnecessary confusion. Those who opt to undergo the lengthy process of medical transition, she suggested, might be temporarily assigned to work in a military hospital, where they could remain on duty and keep easy access to therapy and procedures.

“The biggest advice I gave them is, ‘This is going to happen and you can have a knee-jerk reaction or you can be ready for it,’ ” she said.

Beck’s battles with post-traumatic stress disorder have been documented, and she said the greatest need for other veterans with PTSD is a network of local centers that provide a safe community and companionship, outside of an impersonal institution. Veterans, she said, could meet, see movies together, share a drink, or even do physical labor on a farm like hers.

“It will be a mentoring program, a downtown store front, with a coffee pot, a place for vets to go,” she said. “A totally non-traditional program. By vets, for vets.”

For Beck herself, she sees stability, even if her congressional bid fails. She’s working on a feature film and another book now, she said, though she declined to further describe those projects.

And after decades of deployments and upheaval, she has found some permanence.

“I live here on the farm,” she said. “Win or lose, I’m here on the farm anyway.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

We fought for democracy. It’s time we demand our votes be counted.

I never voted.

I was wrong.


I remember the major calling me into his office as an 18-year-old private for a discussion. The discussion came around to the importance of voting and how it was my duty to vote. I liked to do things the hard way at the time, and I was honest about how I wouldn’t vote. That went over like a lead balloon with the major.

After some yelling and cursing on his part, I agreed to look into voting. It would not be the only time that I spoke bluntly about voting and paid the repercussions for it. As many young service members have found out, no matter how much you push the ground, it doesn’t move anywhere. I did get stronger and times like these reinforced my stubbornness.

I ignored politics on both the local and national level. I focused all of my energies on being the best soldier that I could. At least that is what I told myself. I didn’t feel it was right to pick my bosses, like POTUS, who sits atop the command chain. I never looked into the issues because I didn’t care what happened locally as I was going to be moving anyway, and I certainly didn’t care about what went on in Washington, DC. Plus, I had a high level of disdain for politicians; well, that one hasn’t changed much.

Hindsight is a great knowledge enhancer. As I look back, I was wrong for not exercising my constitutional right to vote.I ignored issues that I should have spent a little time researching, instead of watching a movie or having a few cold ones. I could have dug into the problems instead of sticking my head in the sand. Now having been retired for 18 months, I acknowledge how ignorant I was.

We put our lives on the line so that others can vote in countries around the world, and I failed to do my civic duty at home. I’m now passionate about ensuring service members vote and that their vote counts.

I’m proud to support Count Every Hero, an organization committed to ensuring that every service member’s ballot is counted before a winner is declared. Count Every Hero (CHO) is a cross-partisan, nonprofit organization chaired by General (Ret) Tony Zinni. CHO has two principles: 1: Every service member’s right to vote must be protected and their votes must be counted. 2: Military voters must have an opportunity to register, request an absentee ballot, and cast a vote regardless of their location in the world. To date, 16 retired four-star Flag Officers have joined the movement to ensure every hero’s vote is counted.

General Zinni said, “We count on our troops to fight for our freedom so we owe it to them to count their ballots. No candidate should be declared an election winner until all military ballots are counted.” I fully support his message. Who you vote for is a personal choice. This right is part of why I served for 20 years, defending our freedoms. I don’t care who you vote for, but your vote should and must be counted before determining the winners of our elections.

As for me, I will be like the Afghans and Iraqis I saw with ink on their fingers, so excited to have voted for the first time. I may not have ink on my fingers come Nov. 3, but I will have the same smile and sense of pride partaking in a critical function of our democracy.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This cyber threat will exploit almost all PCs, smartphones, and tablets

Silicon Valley is abuzz about “Meltdown” and “Spectre” — new ways for hackers to attack Intel, AMD, and ARM processors that were first discovered by Google last year and publicly disclosed Jan. 3.


Meltdown and Spectre, which take advantage of the same basic security vulnerability in those chips, could hypothetically be used by malicious actors to “read sensitive information in the system’s memory such as passwords, encryption keys, or sensitive information open in applications,” as Google puts it in a blog post.

The first thing you need to know: Pretty much every PC, laptop, tablet, and smartphone is affected by the security flaw, regardless of which company made the device or which operating system it runs. The vulnerability isn’t easy to exploit — it requires a specific set of circumstances, including having malware already running on the device — but it’s not just theoretical.

And the problem could affect much more than just personal devices. The flaw could be exploited on servers and in data centers and massive cloud-computing platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. In fact, given the right conditions, Meltdown or Spectre could be used by customers of those cloud services to actually steal data from one another.

Though fixes are already being rolled out for the vulnerability, they often will come with a price. Some devices, especially older PCs, could be slowed markedly by them.

Here’s what Meltdown and Spectre are. And, just as important, here’s what they’re not.

Am I in immediate danger from this?

There’s some good news: Intel and Google say they’ve never seen any attacks like Meltdown or Spectre actually being used in the wild. And companies including Intel, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are rushing to issue fixes, with the first wave already out.

The most immediate consequence of all of this will come from those fixes. Some devices will see a performance dip of as much as 30% after the fixes are installed, according to some reports. Intel, however, disputed that figure, saying the amount by which computers will be slowed will depend on how they’re being used.

The Meltdown attack primarily affects Intel processors, though ARM has said that its chips are vulnerable as well. You can guard against it with software updates, according to Google. Those are already starting to become available for Linux and Windows 10.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Brian Krzanich, Intel’s Chief Executive Officer. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Spectre, by contrast, appears to be much more dangerous. Google says it has been able to successfully execute Spectre attacks on processors from Intel, ARM, and AMD. And, according to the search giant, there’s no single, simple fix.

It’s harder to pull off a Spectre-based attack, which is why nobody is completely panicking. But the attack takes advantages of an integral part of how processors work, meaning it will take a new generation of hardware to stamp it out for good.

In fact, that’s how Spectre got its name.

“As it is not easy to fix, it will haunt us for quite some time,” the official Meltdown/Spectre FAQ says.

What are Meltdown and Spectre, anyway?

Despite how they’ve been discussed so far in the press, Meltdown and Spectre aren’t really “bugs.” Instead, they represent methods discovered by Google’s Project Zero cybersecurity lab to take advantage of the normal ways that Intel, ARM, and AMD processors work.

To use a Star Wars analogy, Google inspected the Death Star plans and found an exploitable weakness in a small thermal exhaust port. In the same way two precisely placed proton torpedoes could blow up the Death Star, so, too, can Meltdown and Spectre take advantage of a very specific design quirk and get around (or “melt down,” hence the name) processors’ normal security precautions.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Let’s just hope your processor doesn’t end up looking like this. (Image from Star Wars)

In this case, the design feature in question is something called speculative execution, a processing technique that most Intel chips have used since 1995 and that is also common in ARM and AMD processors. With speculative execution, processors essentially guess what you’re going to do next. If they guess right, then they’re already ahead of the curve, and you have a snappier computing experience. If they guess wrong, they dump the data and start over.

What Project Zero found were two key ways to trick even secure, well-designed apps into leaking data from those returned processes. The exploits take advantage of a flaw in how the data is dumped that could allow them — with the right malware installed — to read data that should be secret.

This vulnerability is potentially particularly dangerous in cloud-computing systems, where users essentially rent time from massive supercomputing clusters. The servers in those clusters may be shared among multiple users, meaning customers running unpatched and unprepared systems could fall prey to data thieves sharing their processors.

What can I do about it?

To guard against the security flaw and the exploits, the first and best thing you can do is make sure you’re up-to-date with your security patches. The major operating systems have already started issuing patches that will guard against the Meltdown and Spectre attacks. In fact, fixes have already begun to hit Linux, Android, Apple’s MacOS, and Microsoft’s Windows 10. So whether you have an Android phone or you’re a developer using Linux in the cloud, it’s time to update your operating system.

Microsoft told Business Insider it’s working on rolling out mitigations for its Azure cloud platform. Google Cloud is urging customers to update their operating systems, too.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
It’s a good idea to stay current with your Windows updates. (Screenshot from Matt Weinberger)

It’s just as important to make sure you stay up to date. While Spectre may not have an easy fix, Google says there are ways to guard against related exploits. Expect Microsoft, Apple, and Google to issue a series of updates to their operating systems as new Spectre-related attacks are discovered.

Additionally, because Meltdown and Spectre require malicious code to already be running on your system, let this be a reminder to practice good online safety behaviors. Don’t download any software from a source you don’t trust. And don’t click on any links or files claiming you won $10 million in a contest you never entered.

Why could the fixes also slow down my device?

The Meltdown and Spectre attacks take advantage of how the “kernels,” or cores, of operating systems interact with processors. Theoretically, the two are supposed to be separated to some degree to prevent exactly this kind of attack. Google’s report, however, proves the existing precautions aren’t enough.

Operating system developers are said to be adopting a new level of virtual isolation, basically making requests between the processor and the kernel take the long way around.

The problem is that enforcing this kind of separation requires at least a little extra processing power, which would no longer be available to the rest of the system.

Related: Why it’s a big deal that Cyber Command is now a combatant command

As The New York Times notes, researchers are concerned that the fixes could slow down computers by as much as 20% to 30%. Microsoft is reported to believe that PCs with Intel processors older than the 2-year-old Skylake models could see significant slowdowns.

Intel disputes that the performance hits will be as dramatic as The Times suggests.

Some of the slowdowns, should they come to pass, could be mitigated by future software updates. Because the vulnerability was just made public, it’s possible that workarounds and new techniques for circumventing the performance hit will come to light as more developers work on solving the problem.

What happens next?

Publicly, Intel is confident the Meltdown and Spectre bugs won’t have a material impact on its stock price or market share, given that they’re relatively hard to execute and have never been used (that we know of). AMD shares are soaring on word that the easier-to-pull-off Meltdown attack isn’t known to work on its processors.

But as Google is so eager to remind us, Spectre looms large. Speculative execution has been a cornerstone of processor design for more than two decades. It will require a huge rethinking from the processor industry to guard against this kind of attack in the future. The threat of Spectre means the next generation of processors — from all the major chip designers — will be a lot different than they are today.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Google is urging customers of its Google Cloud supercomputing service, hosted from data centers like this, to update their operating systems. (Image via Google)

Even so, the threat of Spectre is likely to linger far into the future. Consumers are replacing their PCs less frequently, which means older PCs that are at risk of the Spectre attack could be used for years to come.

As for mobile, there has been a persistent problem with updating Android devices to the latest version of the operating system, so there are likely to be lots of unpatched smartphones and tablets in use for as far as the eye can see. Would-be Spectre attackers are therefore likely to have their choice of targets.

It’s not the end of the world. But it just may be the end of an era for Intel, AMD, ARM, and the way processors are built.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Upon entering a room lined with panels and LED lights, described solely as something out of a science fiction movie, people in polar white suits are ready to re-skin a new beast.

The airmen working across two shifts in the work center, paint and renovate the aircraft and equipment assigned to the Air Force’s largest combat F-16 Fighting Falcon wing.


The work being performed on the aircraft is intended to provide a protective finish that prevents damage to the structure and enhance the aircraft’s overall lifespan.

“Our mission here is to remove defective aircraft coatings,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Tinsley, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control noncommissioned officer in charge. “We also inspect for corrosion and reapply coats should the aircraft need it.”

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control paint barn, work on an F-16CM Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 13, 2018.

Tinsley went on to say the flight helps identify and troubleshoot paint fatigue that may be caused by consistent flights.

Within the facility, a locker room houses the protective gear of the airmen assigned to the 20th EMS aircraft structural maintenance flight.

“When we paint, no matter what we are working on that day, we keep safety in mind at all times,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Harris, 20th EMS corrosion control shift lead.

Each job requires the airmen to gear up from top to bottom to prevent any damage or poisoning that could be caused by the exposure to paint fumes.

During the painting process, corrosion control airmen inspect the aircraft for any cracks or wear that may have been caused through various aerial missions.

“Our airmen are the ones out there doing the hard work,” said Tinsley. “They are either sanding or painting anything that may come into the paint barn … they’re the real work horses, they’re killing it.”

With the continued support of these technicians the mission of the 20th Fighter Wing can thrive and allow the pilots to accomplish the suppression of enemy air defenses mission anytime, anywhere.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What life is like for 10 countries with mandatory draft

A recent report shows that the US is looking into its draft program, weighing options from mandating service for women to getting rid of the draft altogether.

While a reinvigorated draft may alarm US citizens, nearly 60 countries around the world still have some form of conscription.

Some, like Israel, need the draft to ensure it can maintain its armed forces. Others, like China, often have enough recruits that a draft is unnecessary.

Some countries, like Norway and Israel, have allowed transgender people to serve for decades.

This is a look at 10 countries that still require every man, or every woman and man, to serve.


The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

1. Russia

One year of military service is required for Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27.

The country allows for some exceptions — sons or brothers of men killed during their military service are released from conscription, for example.

Even with these exceptions, Russians have been evading the draft at alarming rates, and the government has considered forcing men to report even if they have not been selected.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

2. Switzerland

Military service is mandatory for Swiss men.

As recently as 2017, Switzerland was considering adding women to its draft roles.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

3. Israel

Israeli men must serve in the defense force for three years.

Women are conscripted for two years.

Transgender Israelis have been allowed to serve since 1993.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

4. Norway

Norway was the first NATO country to expand conscription to include women. It was also one of the first countries in the world to allow transgender people to serve, changing its policy in 1973.

The country’s conscription is selective; everyone has to register but won’t necessarily be called to serve.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

5. China

Although China does mandate military service, it has routinely exceeded recruitment goals and has not needed to force conscription.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

6. Iran

Conscription is mandatory for Iranian men, who must serve from 18 months to two years.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

7. North Korea

North Korea has the longest conscription period in the world.

Men are required to serve for 10 years, starting at age 17.

Women must serve for seven years.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

8. Egypt

Egyptian men must serve for a period of one to three years, depending on their level of education.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

9. Austria

In Austria, men can choose between six months of military service and nine months of civil service.

Austria has allowed transgender troops to serve since 2004.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

10. Meanwhile, other countries like Taiwan are getting rid of conscription altogether.

Taiwan pledged in 2011 to end conscription. The country is moving closer towards its goal of an all-volunteer force, but is facing hurdles as younger generations are choosing not to serve.

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

popular

6 things geardos buy that are actually useful

No one wants to be labelled a “geardo.” They’re the person in the unit that spends way too much money to buy themselves things that are either not authorized for wear with the uniform or are redundant because the issued version is just as good.

It’s not inherently a bad thing to make yourself more prepared for combat, it’s more that people who buy extra crap are wasting their money to tack on useless crap that will do nothing but slow them down. Being fully decked out in mostly useless gear is also a telltale sign that the person has no idea what is actually used in combat — meaning they’re probably a POG.

All that being said, some of the crap they buy isn’t without merit. Sometimes, buying your own version of gear, something that was designed by someone other than the lowest bidder, helps plenty. The following pieces of gear are popular among geardos, but are actually useful.


The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
If you’re on a boring field op that you know won’t require you to fire your weapon, having a muzzle cap will make it so you can just immediately turn your weapon into the armorer, no problem. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dustin D. Biven, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Muzzle caps

A dumb geardo buys anything to look cool. Smart geardos, however, buy things that actually serve a tangible purpose. Take the muzzle cap, for instance. It costs all of seven bucks for a pack of five and it’s literally just a piece of plastic.

That insignificant-seeming muzzle cover makes sure that dust and sand don’t get inside your barrel. Typically, grunts clean their rifles more often than POGs, but making sure that you’re spending time cleaning just carbon out of the chamber instead of all the rest of the gunk makes life so much easier.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
They also make great unit shirts that everyone will actually want to wear… just saying. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño)

Moisture-wicking shirts

If you’re sent to the desert, you’re going to sweat every minute of the day. Standard-issue undershirts are made of heavy cotton, which means they’re heavier, thicker, and hold all that nasty sweat.

Most Army regulations state the undershirt of your ACU top needs to be the same, “coyote tan” color. Thankfully, there’s a lot of wiggle room in the regulations and there are plenty of third-party options to pick from.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
They’re helpful, once you learn how to put the damn thing on. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Cayce Nevers)

Three-point rifle slings

When you’re deployed, you constantly need to have your assigned weapon on your person, POG or grunt. The single-strap sling that you’re given can get caught when you’re trying to get to the low-ready. The three-point sling makes things a lot more ergonomic and less of a hassle.

And then there’s the overly cool one-point slings that just tie around the buttstock. You’re going to drag your rifle through the dirt and mud with that thing — that’s entirely a geardo buy.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
You seriously don’t want to ever overdo it. Ounces make pounds, after all. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson)

Store-bought magazine pouches

One of the defining traits of a geardo is the number of pouches they have on their kit or rucksack. As long as you don’t have more than your standard six plus one magazine pouches, no one will accuse you of being a Fobbit.

But if you swap out the six that the Army gave you with the store-bought varieties, you can use the extra magazine pouches to hold all the other crap, like those AAFES pogs that replaced coins. The M249 SAW drum pouch is actually extremely useful because it’s about the same size as a folded-up poncho.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Whatever it takes to make you not go deaf. (DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kitt Amaritnant)

High-speed ear pro

Tinnitus is a very serious problem. It’s a constant ringing in your ears that lasts for the rest of your life, and it seems to hit the military community in far greater numbers than the civilian world — for obvious reasons. It’s actually the number one disability among U.S. veterans.

The ear pro that your supply NCO tosses out barely works and is a pain in the ass to put in properly. If going out of your way to buy a good set of ear protection gets you to actually use them and not screw up your hearing, it’s a hundred-percent justified.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Once you make the switch, it’s kinda hard to go back to regular boots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert L. McIlrath)

Barely authorized boots

If there’s one piece of military gear that the Army keeps issuing out despite being complete garbage, it’s got to be the general-issue boots. They rip easily, they have no arch or heel support, and the soles wear out extremely quickly.

As long as you can find a pair that is within regulations for your branch and your command doesn’t seem to mind if you supply your own, these are a must.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russian shops test facial-payment technology, possible rollout in 2020

Russia is testing facial-payment technology at supermarkets and could roll it out on a large scale by the middle of the year.


VTB, Russia’s second-largest lender, is testing the technology in the Lenta supermarket chain, the head of the bank’s digital division told Izvestia.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

live.staticflickr.com

Promsvyazbank, another Russian lender, is holding talks to launch the technology in other supermarket chains next year, the paper said, citing a top manager at the bank.

The technology will enable shoppers who have linked an image of their face to a bank account to pay for goods by posing in front of point-of-sale machines equipped with cameras.

China, which has one of the most advanced mobile-payment systems, has already rolled out facial-recognition technology in many stores.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Security forces: our first line of defense

media.defense.gov

SnapPay, a Canadian company, announced in October it would offer the payment method in North America.

The popularity of the technology could receive a boost from the novel coronavirus, amid concerns that the virus can be transmitted through cash and cards, Finam analyst Aleksei Kornenev told Izvestia.

Advocates say it’s more convenient and speeds up the checkout process.

However, the use of facial-recognition technology has raised concerns over privacy, especially in countries with authoritarian governments.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5-year-old grandson gets veteran to quit smoking

United States Army veteran Tony Fife-Patterson started smoking when he was 17 because “the cool guys in the neighborhood were doing it, and I wanted to fit in.” Eventually, he settled in to a pack a day habit, and never considered that he might be addicted to nicotine. Occasionally, someone would tell him he ought to quit, but it only made him want to smoke more.

A couple of years ago, Tony’s daughter called him about his 5-year-old grandson who was crying after watching a “Truth Ad” on television. The ad is part of a national campaign to eliminate teen smoking. Tony’s grandson never liked how smoking made Tony smell, but the advertisement made him worry about how smoking could hurt his grandfather’s health.


Although Tony began contemplating his cigarette smoking, he still didn’t think he had a problem. Yet a few days later, after lighting a cigarette, Tony had an epiphany.

“At that moment, I realized I really was getting tired of this habit,” Tony said. “It had become something that no longer was fun.”

At his next VA appointment, Tony asked his provider about quitting and learned about Truman VA’s “Thinking About Quitting?” program.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

(Photo by Paweł Czerwiński)

“This really DOES control me!”

Tony agreed to attend the program’s orientation class. At first, he had doubts; however, once he learned that his smoking was an addiction, he knew he didn’t want tobacco to control him.

“Wait a minute,” Tony thought. “This really DOES control me!”

The realization that he was controlled by cigarettes offended him and he was determined to do something about it.

Tony enrolled in Truman VA’s Quit program with other veterans who wanted to quit tobacco. The first three classes helped Tony develop a personal plan to manage the physical, psychological and habit parts of his smoking addiction. He also learned how to get through urges to smoke without giving in. On the program’s “Quit Day,” Tony found it was helpful to quit with other motivated veterans. The final three classes focused on lifestyle changes to help him remain tobacco-free and avoid a relapse.

In the photo above, proud “Thinking About Quitting” graduate Tony poses with Joseph Hinkebein, Ph.D., Truman VA psychologist and tobacco cessation coordinator.

It’s now a year-and-a-half since Tony’s “Quit Day,” and he remains tobacco-free.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

(Photo by Gilles Lambert)

Tracks progress…and SAVINGS…with app

As part of his success, Tony uses a quit smoking smart phone app to track how long he has been tobacco-free and how much money he has saved since quitting. He’s saved almost id=”listicle-2641557022″,400 so far.

More importantly, Tony loves the tobacco-free lifestyle. His sense of taste and smell has improved, and he no longer gets complaints from his grandson about smelling like smoke.

“I didn’t realize how bad I smelled, but now I get it,” Tony said.

Most of all, he is proud to no longer be controlled by cigarettes. While the thought of smoking still crosses his mind every now and then, when stressed, he reminds himself, “I don’t need a cigarette to cope with stress anymore!”

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

Tony tries to lead by example and never “lectures or nags” those who still smoke. He just wants other veterans to know that they can quit when they are ready to do it for their own reasons. He encourages veterans to attend the “Thinking About Quitting” orientation class to learn how to successfully quit. The program provided education and support to help him be successful, but Tony gets all the credit.

“I never thought I could do this,” Tony said. “But I did it. It is something I am immensely proud of!”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

For the first time in American history, a female Soldier has completed U.S. Army Special Forces training and has earned the right to don the legendary Green Beret.

Despite how often people get the moniker wrong, Special Forces is only a title that applies to the U.S. Army’s elite special operations Green Berets. SEALs, Rangers, Marine Raiders and others all fall under the broader term of “Special Operations,” but only the Green Berets are rightfully called Special Forces.


“Good for her! It was only a matter of time and I would guess it will become more and more common over the next few years, across USSOF.”
-Former Navy SEAL/CIA Officer Frumentarius
The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

Special Forces Assessment and Selection (US Army)

In 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the formal ban on women serving in combat roles, and in 2016 all military occupational specialties were opened up to female service members, including those in elite special operations fields.

“There will be no exceptions,” former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in 2015. “They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

The identity of the woman that fought her way through all six phases of Special Forces training has not been revealed, citing privacy concerns for the Army’s newest Green Beret, but the impact of her accomplishment remains.

We don’t need to know her name or see her to be inspired by her, just knowing that there is a female green beret can motivate any Soldier to do better or to reach for their goals.”
-Specialist Hannah Johnson, Utah National Guard

What we do know about this history-making Soldier is that she was among only a handful of females that made it through the initial 24-day assessment that serves as a screening to eliminate those who may not have the mental or physical capacity to complete the training. Now, even with Special Forces training behind the America’s female Green Beret, her days of training are far from over. Once you earn a spot in a Special Operations unit, training is continuous to ensure special operators are well prepared for any challenges they may face.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

Special Forces Green Beret soldiers from each of the Army’s seven Special Forces Groups stand silent watch during the wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of President John F. Kennedy (U.S. Army Photo)

Former Green Beret NCO and Warrant Officer Steve Balestrieri used to oversee portions of the selection process, and earlier this year wrote an article for Sandboxx News entitled, “Women Passing Special Forces Selection? Yes you can,” in which he outlines the challenges all aspiring Green Berets must face, as well as some that are specific to females serving in that capacity. We asked Balestrieri how he feels about seeing this historic event unfold.

“I think that (from what I heard from those who know), this woman had no corners cut for her, and not only met but exceeded the standards. For her, now the journey really begins. I truly wish her all the best.”
-Former Green Beret Steve Balestrieri

As Balestrieri writes in his piece, some members of the Special Operations community may well harbor some outdated beliefs when it comes to women serving in these elite roles, but as he points out (and our discussions with other Special Operations veterans seem to further prove), many of America’s elite warfighters are happy to see their female peers work their way into their elite company.

“I wish her all the best, I hope she crushes it. There are a lot of outside opinions that ultimately don’t matter so long as she does her job and does it well.”
“At the end of the day, SOF is a place where politics don’t really matter as long as you can do your job to standard.”
-Luke Ryan, Former Army Ranger
The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier with the National Guard shares best practices to U.S. and Chile counterparts. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite/Released)

Green Berets are tasked with a number of difficult mission sets in combat environments, from direct action operations to training foreign military forces to provide their own defense. Alongside their peers in the Special Operations community, Green Berets have served as part of the backbone of America’s presence in Global War on Terror operations the world over.

Earning the right to wear the Green Beret is an incredible feat for any Soldier, but becoming the first female to earn one is not only historic, it’s an important message to Soldiers of all types across the force: Being a man is not a prerequisite to becoming one of America’s most elite war fighters. Because the history-making Soldier serves in the National Guard, it also shines a valuable light on the opportunities service members of both genders have in both active and reserve capacities.

“I mean it’s a major win for females everywhere, it’s bigger than just the Army, especially the National Guard. It’s proof that women are capable and that institutions are capable of change. She’ll be able to bring her own strengths and capabilities to that community, which will make it better. “
-Specialist Hannah Johnson, Utah National Guard

In 1981, a female Soldier named Capt. Kathleen Wilder was failed as she very nearly completed Special Forces training. After an investigation into her dismissal, it was found that she had “been wrongly denied graduation.” Now, nearly four decades later, significant challenges remain for women in military service, but this momentous occasion is a step in the right direction.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Articles

Navy nixes cyber attack theory on USS Fitzgerald and McCain collision

The promised investigation into the circumstances of the recent, devastating Navy collisions has turned up zero evidence that cyber attacks disabled either the USS Fitzgerald or USS John S. McCain.


Navy Adm. John Richardson said in an all-hands call streamed live on Facebook Aug. 30 that, despite the Navy giving an “amazing amount of attention” to the postulate that cyber attacks were behind the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain, the investigation has found no evidence of such claimed attacks.

“We’ve given that an amazing amount of attention,” Richardson said. “It is sort of a reality of our current situation that part of any kind of investigation or inspection is going to have to take a look at the computer, the cyber, the information warfare aspects of our business. We’re doing that with these inspections as well, but to date, the inspections that we have done show that there is no evidence of any kind of cyber intrusion.”

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson (right) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano stream a digital all hands call, Aug. 30, 2017.

“We’ll continue to look deeper and deeper but I just want to assure you that, to date, there’s been nothing that we’ve found to point to that,” Richardson said.

Richardson said in a tweet Aug. 21 that there may have been indications of cyber intrusion, but said the Navy would continue looking into that possibility. With his recent all-hands call, Richardson has all but foreclosed completely the potential for a discovery of a cyber intrusion involved in the collisions of the Navy vessels.

 

The statement effectively puts to rest the enormous amount of speculation in security circles about whether cyber attacks were in any way involved in disrupting the navigational systems of these two Navy vessels, but even in the beginning other experts suspected that negligence was a far more likely explanation.

“The balance of the evidence still leads me to believe that it was crew negligence as the most likely explanation — and I hate to say that because I hate to think that the Navy fleet was negligent,” University of Texas at Austin aerospace professor Todd Humphreys told USA Today.

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6 jobs in the military that require insane brainpower

Not all military jobs are created equal. Some are dangerous, some are highly technical, and most fall somewhere in between.


Here are the 6 brainiest enlisted military jobs (in terms of ASVAB score and training):

1. Navy Electronics Technician Nuclear

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher K. Hwang/USN

These sailors test, calibrate, maintain, and repair reactor instrumentation and control systems on surface ships and submarines.

2. Navy Machinist’s Mate Nuclear

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/ USN

These are the guys who make the ship move. Their main job is to operate, maintain, and repair the steam plant that provides propulsion, electric power, potable water, and service steam to the ship.

3. Navy Electrician’s Mate Nuclear

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Achterling/USN

These sailors operate and perform maintenance on generators, switchboards, control equipment and electrical equipment. They direct electricity to all spaces on the ship.

Navy Nuclear Field (NF) Program

To qualify for the three rates (Navy jobs) above, applicants must meet at least one of these ASVAB score combinations. After qualifying, the sailor is placed in one of the three rates: Electronics Technician Nuclear, Machinist’s Mate Nuclear, or Electrician’s Mate Nuclear.

Upon completion, nuclear sailors move onto their designated “A” school where they get specific with their rate. No matter which rate they get, nuclear sailors must attend Nuclear Power School (NPS) in Charleston, South Carolina, where they learn the basics of nuclear power plants and associated equipment. The course is an intense study of nuclear physics and reactor engineering. A nuclear sailor’s average contract length is six years because their training takes about two years. Learn more about the Navy Nuclear Field.

4. Air Force Scientific Applications Specialist

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Photo: USAF

ASVAB Line Score: Air Force line scores of Mechanical 88 & Electrical 85 and above.

These airmen use classified techniques and tools to detect, gather, analyze, and report the use of weapons throughout the world. These include nuclear, chemical, biological, and other weapons. Basically, they’re like the CSI for weapons.

To become a Scientific Applications Specialist, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED with 15 college credits. Their skills are based on mathematics, electronics, physics, data analysis, and careful observation. Learn more about Scientific Applications Specialist.

5. Navy Cryptologic Technician – Networks

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sabrina Fine/USN

To qualify for this rate, applicants must meet at least one of these ASVAB score combinations:

  • A combined score of 235 in subsections (AR) Arithmetic Reasoning, (MK) Mechanical Knowledge and (GS) General Science.
  • A combined score of 235 in subsections (VE) Verbal, (AR) Arithmetic reasoning, (MK) Mechanical knowledge, and (MC) Mechanical Comprehension.

These sailors collect, decipher and translate enemy communications. They provide computer network defense, access tool development, and computer network forensics.

Sailors who go into this field train for an additional 30 weeks after basic training. Learn more about the CTN rate.

6. Army Satellite Communication Systems Operator-Maintainer

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway
Photo: US Army

ASVAB Line Score: An Army electronics score of 117 or above.

These soldiers install, operate, and maintain satellite communications for the Army in remote locations around the world. They make sure the lines of communications are always running.

They also identify and report electronic jamming and deception and apply appropriate electronic retaliation on attackers. Learn more about Satellite Communication Systems Operator – Maintainer.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out this video of Russian gunships in action

Aviadarts is an yearly Russian all-Army competition attended by units of the Aerospace Forces, four military districts and the Northern Fleet (and invited foreign air arms, such as China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force – PLAAF, that took part in the previous editions). During the games, the best aircrews compete on different military specialties and conduct live firing exercises “to reinforce international military and technical military cooperation of the Contest participants; to raise the prestige of military service; to raise the level of training of the Contest participants; to demonstrate combat capabilities (military performance) of modern models of equipment, of weapons and military equipment.”


Once the qualifying rounds (or “preliminaries”) are completed, Aviadarts contest is carried out in three stages:

  1. Physical training: with main and backup crews involved in physical exercises, pull-ups, freestyle swimming etc.
  2. Visual aerial reconnaissance, that also includes formation flying
  3. Combat employment against ground targets: during which combat planes and helicopter engage ground targets while military transport aircraft conduct cargo airdrops.

The All-Army Stage of the Aviadarts 2019 Competition is currently underway in Crimea. From May 24 to June 9, 2019, Aviation crews of the Aerospace Forces, 60 crews flying MiG-29SMT, Su-27SM3, Su-30SM, Su-35, Su-34, Su-24M, Su-25, Tu-22M3, Il-76MD and Mi-24, Mi-35 as well as Ka-52 and Mi-8 helicopters will take part in the drills.

The US Marine Corps’ big plans to redesign its force means changes to what it stores in secret caves in Norway

A Russian Air Force MiG-29SMT.

Dealing with the helicopters, crews of Ka-52 Alligator, Mi-8 AMTSH Terminator, Mi-35 and Mi-28N Night Hunter helicopters perform ground attacks using 80-mm unguided missiles and firing 30-mm cannons at more than 70 targets (divided into 12 types for various types of weapons) at the Chaud range in Crimea.

The following video, released by the Russian MoD, shows some of the Russian gunships in action during Aviadarts 2019. The gunner seat view is particularly interesting.

Боевое применение авиации на всеармейском этапе конкурса «Авиадартс-2019»

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

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