MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How vet-owned Sword & Plough is repurposing military gear for a mission of peace

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the Bright-eyed Hope Machine in your squadron:

~ a bag from the brand that’s turning military surplus into vet success 

Emily and Betsy Nuñez — sisters and co-founders of Sword Plough — represent the kind of entrepreneurial venn diagram that a truly bipartisan American government would engineer in a lab to ensure a Better Tomorrow.

Sisters, on a bit of a mission…

Growing up at West Point with their father, a 30-year Army veteran, Emily and Betsy were inculcated from an early age with the military life. Emily was one of only three students at Middlebury College in ROTC and would go on to serve on active duty as an intelligence officer with 10th Special Forces Group.

She would also be one of the first women to attend Ranger School.

At the same time, she and Betsy were laying the groundwork for a classic millennial start-up, a sustainable bags and accessories company dedicated to repurposing materials and people for the betterment of all. Since 2013, they’ve been operating at the energetic epicenter of 21st century feminism, social entrepreneurship, sustainable business modelling and post-9/11 veteran affairs.

But if there’s one anecdote from the early days of Sword Plough that, above all others, may have foretold the relentless success the company has enjoyed since its founding, it’s this one, from Emily:

Well, just before launching on Kickstarter, we did another business plan competition…at the Harvard Business School, their Pitch for Change Competition. And I got leave from the Army to attend the contest. It was just an amazing experience. We pitched to the audience and the judges and we won first place and the Audience Choice Award, which was just incredible. [But] we almost actually didn’t even have the chance to do the pitch because there was a blizzard that weekend [in Boston] and we were having a really hard time finding a cab…so we ended up hitching a ride with a snow plow…

Uh…hold please. I grew up in New England. Snow plows stop for no one. How did you pull that off?

I sprinted up to him. I was wearing high heels and a dress and I just told him…”We only have 20 minutes to get to Harvard Business School to pitch our idea to repurpose military surplus into bags and to work with veteran American manufacturers and donate part of our profits to veteran organizations!” [H]e waved us in and gave us a ride. It was a pretty lucky moment…

Was luck really the deciding factor? I doubt it. Faced with such a hyper-specific onslaught of enthusiasm, purpose, brains, and brass, what snow plow man — no matter how grizzled — could say no? Who among us would be so gripped with frozen-hearted pessimism that he’d turn such a pitch aside? It’s unimaginable.

The Nuñez sisters have created a recipe that is impossible to deny. Their products are excellent, unique, and sustainable. Their company is staffed by veterans at every level. Their profits are charitably apportioned. Their eyes are on the horizon and their mission is to serve.

**Now till midnight on Tuesday, November 28th, Sword Plough is offering 20% off sitewide with the discount code BLACKFRIDAY**

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company  dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force’s special ops supercar will blow your mind

This fully customized Dodge Challenger was built by Galpin Auto Sports of Van N California, and is outfitted with special gullwing doors, a carbon fiber body kit, and a “stealth” exhaust system that, when activated, allows the Vapor to run almost silently. Its features include cutting edge technology used by the , such as a forward looking infrared system for night operation and a high-resolution 360-degree surveillance camera with 1/4 mile range.


The Air Force’s customized Vapor Special Ops Supercar on display in the museum’s third building. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In addition, the car’s blacked-out “command center” interior is equipped with aircraft style controls, a passenger side steering wheel, and a windshield head-up display with both night and thermal vision capability, and its advanced computer system allows remote operation from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

The Air Force’s customized Vapor Special Ops Supercar on display in the museum’s third building. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Vapor Supercar toured the  for more than seven years with the  Recruiting Service, educating the public on opportunities for officers and enlisted airmen by showcasing   ingenuity, state-of the-art technology, and innovation.

Air Force’s customized Vapor Special Ops Supercar in the museum’s restoration hangar. (U.S. Air Force photo)

According to National Museum of the   Deputy Director and Senior Curator Krista Strider, having the Vapor Supercar on display at the museum will not only allow visitors to appreciate the advanced technology and unique aspects of the car, but could also lead to some extended mileage for its recruiting mission.

The stealth-black Air Force Challenger ‘Vapor’ features a biometric access to open the vertical doors, a custom stealth body kit with jet enhancements and a carbon fiber exterior trim. Other exterior components include one-off carbon fiber wheels, a custom stealth exhaust mode that allows the vehicle to run in complete silence or the headers can be opened facilitate the aggressive sound of the engine. The vehicle features a shaker hood, radar-absorbing paint, proximity sensors and a 360-degree camera with a quarter-mile range. The Vapor is one of the Air Force’s newest mobile marketing assets and will be touring high schools and a variety of Air Force sponsored events as part of the 2009 Super Car Tour. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Scott Reed)

“The special features and innovative technology associated with the Vapor Supercar is really interesting for visitors to see,” said Strider. “A major part of the museum’s mission is to inspire our youth toward an  or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career, and the Vapor Supercar is another asset that we can utilize to help  accomplish that goal.”

The stealth-black Air Force Challenger ‘Vapor’ interior featuers aircraft style controls, a passenger side steering wheel, GPS tracking, night and thermal vision via a film on the front windshield, and the most technologically-advanced computer system with remote control UAV-type access from anywhere in the world utilizing the Internet. The ‘Vapor’ also comes with two custom flight helmets in line with the Air Force theme of the vehicle. The Vapor is one of the Air Force’s newest mobile marketing assets and will be touring high schools and a variety of Air Force sponsored events as part of the 2009 Super Car Tour. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Scott Reed)

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force will clear out hundreds of ‘stupid’ regulations

At an Air Force Association breakfast March 30, 2018, the Secretary of the Air Force talked up the service’s progress in ridding the service of outdated rules and procedures that burden airmen.

When she took office in May 2017, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson ordered a two-year review of the service’s blizzard of instructions, policies, and rules with the overall goal of eliminating the unnecessary ones. Since then, the Air Force has gotten rid of about 100 of the total of about 1,400 instructions, she said.


As an example, Wilson cited a regulation that would have required her as Air Force secretary to sign off on how an obstacle course could be constructed on a base.

“We have an instruction on how to build an obstacle course,” Wilson said. “My guess is, if they need to build an obstacle course, they can probably figure it out.”

Wilson said the work continues to whittle down the Air Force’s body of rules and regulations.

Tech. Sgt. Joe Lovanisci climbs the inverted rope challenge.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

“We are prioritizing the ones that are outdated and actually track them every month,” Wilson said. “The biggest challenge we have been facing is in personnel and operations” as the Air Force presses to push decision-making down to the lowest levels to save time and money.

In addition to eliminating red tape, the Air Force is also intent on teaching airmen to act on their own initiative, she said.

“We don’t expect in future conflicts to have the exquisite command, control and communication we’ve had over the last 27 years of combat” as potential adversaries become more adept at jamming, Wilson said.

“We will need airmen to take what they know and take mission orders and execute the mission using their best judgment for the circumstances at the time. If we expect them to work that way in wartime, then we need to treat them that way in peacetime,” she said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS-inspired terror suspect injures himself with pipe bomb in NYC

The New York City Police Department had one man in custody Dec. 11 after responding to a bombing in one of New York City’s busiest transit hubs.


An explosion rippled through a passageway connecting the Times Square and Port Authority subway stations at about 7:30 a.m. local time, the police said. Three people in addition to the suspect suffered minor injuries, the police said. By around 10:20 a.m., the NYPD declared Port Authority had reopened.

“This was an attempted terrorist attack,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said. “Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.”

Bill de Blasio’s inauguration as NYC Public Advocate, 2010. (Photograph by William Alatriste)

The police identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah, whom they described as a 27-year-old Bangladeshi male. Bill Bratton, the former NYPD commissioner, told MSNBC’s Lisa Daftari the suspect was believed to have acted in the name of ISIS. The police did not confirm that information at a press conference later the morning of Dec. 11.

The police said Ullah was wearing an improvised low-tech device, based on a pipe bomb, that was affixed to him via a combination of velcro and belt ties. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after the incident, the police said. Sources told the New York Post that he told investigators he made the explosive device at the electrical company where he works.

De Blasio said there were no other specific or credible threats against New York City. New York’s official emergency-notification channel earlier had reported police activity at Port Authority, the massive transit hub at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

Shortly after reports of an explosion surfaced, photos emerged on social media apparently showing a police bomb-squad truck arriving at the scene. Videos from the area showed dozens of armed police officers and several ambulances rushing to the scene.

 

A photo of the suspect, injured.

“There was a stampede up the stairs to get out,” Diego Fernandez, a commuter at Port Authority, told Reuters. “Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”

New York City most recently suffered a terrorist attack on October 31, when a man drove a rented truck down a pedestrian trail on the Manhattan’s west side, killing eight and injuring nearly a dozen others.

Read More: This is what makes the NYC attacker a terrorist

On Monday, the Port Authority Bus Terminal was evacuated, the streets around the terminal were closed, and subway lines were rerouted around both Port Authority and the connecting Times Square stop. Find information about train delays and rerouting here.

In 2016, the terminal saw a more than quarter of a million daily trips at the terminal.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army wants a new light tank to fill gaps on the battlefield

The United States Army is on the hunt for what they call, “Mobile Protected Firepower” — or, to put it in layman’s terms, the Army wants a light tank. For military buffs, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s been a big gap in capabilities since the M551 Sheridan was retired in 1996.


The M551 Sheridan tank firing a Shillelagh missile. (Photo by U.S. Army)

According to a report by the Army Times, the Army is now looking to rectify that gap in capabilities. The M1A2 Abrams tank brings tons of firepower and armored protection, but it can’t be dropped. You need a C-5 or C-17 to bring it to an airfield, and then it has to drive to the battlefield. Not good when you need the firepower right away.

As part of the Mobile Protected Firepower program, the Army is looking for a vehicle that weighs no more than 32 tons. The size of the main gun, however, is still up for determination — it could be a 57mm gun, a 105mm gun like the one on the M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System, or a 120mm gun like that on the Abrams.

Previously, the Army had been looking at the M8 Buford Armored Gun System as a replacement for the M551 in the early 1990s. The Buford has three levels of armor protection, a 105mm main gun, and has the ability to hold 30 rounds for the main gun — two thirds more than the Stryker Mobile Gun System.

The XM8 Armored Gun System. (US Army photo)

The Buford, named for a Union cavalry general in World War II, was cancelled by the Clinton Administration in 1997 to pay for other programs. In the 1980s, a light tank called the Stingray, equipped with a 105mm main gun and 32 rounds, was developed by Cadillac-Gage. The Thai Army ordered 106 in the 1980s.

It could be very interesting to see if the Army’s choice in the Mobile Protected Firepower system will end up replacing the Stingray — and supplying other American allies. However, the first light tanks will not arrive until 2025, and even then, there will only be 54. Just enough, perhaps, to supply the 82nd Airborne Division with the tank battalion they once had.

Articles

The US Navy had 90 seconds to defend itself when Iranian-backed militants fired on them off Yemen

USS Mason (DDG-87) fires an SM-2 during a March 2016 exercise. | US Navy photo


At about 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday in the Bab-al-Mandab Strait between Yemen and Eritrea, the USS Mason, a guided missile destroyer, detected an incoming missile.

The ship’s Aegis Combat System, an advanced radar and fire control system spotted the thread as it zoomed towards the ship.

“You have about 90 seconds from saying ‘yes, that’s a missile” to launching an interceptor missile, one US official told Stars and Stripes.

And that’s exactly what the commanding officer of the Mason did.

“We actually saw an explosion,” an official involved with the operation told Stars and Stripes.

For decades now Aegis radar and fire control systems have protected US ships and citizens by keeping a close eye on the skies

MIGHTY TRENDING

This veteran went from the Marine Corps to a successful photography career

Cedric Terrell exchanged a stable career in the Marine Corps to pursue his passion for photography. Now his efforts have resulted in growing name recognition and a footprint that stretches from coast to coast. In this Spotlight Series, Terrell focuses his lens on veterans who have separated and started their own careers in the entertainment industry.


Cedric joined the Marines during his junior year, and left for boot camp a week after he graduated. No gap year, no summer break. He didn’t even tell his mother he was joining until it was too late to stop him.

At the time in 2005, the situation in the Middle East was hairy and his friends and family had plenty of questions about why he wanted to go. Even though he knew what might be waiting for him, he had faith that everything would work out, and he would have his fellow Marines by his side through it all.

As a Marine security guard, his first station was in Beijing, China, where his love of photography began to develop. He bought his first camera, and he took more and more photos.

When he stepped out of the military in 2010, everyone around him once again wondered why he would move from a relatively routine life to photography, which offered no stability. He went to school first and used photography as a side gig, but it quickly became his main focus.

Garnering success, he put his attention into expanding his business and opening a studio. He especially loves working with veterans, because he can put his trust in them and they can trust him. They have a shared background, but are all working toward their own goals.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Social-distancing hobbies that will help decrease your stress level

2020 sure hasn’t been the most relaxing year, now has it? If you’re anything like me then you’re over everything.

You don’t even want to scroll social media anymore because it makes your blood pressure rise. I have always been able to fall down the Instagram rabbit hole into trashy reality TV star drama to zone out for a bit, but now even that isn’t possible because they are on hiatus due to quarantine too! So, what am I doing to try and rid myself of some of the negative energy surrounding me these days? How do I disconnect after hearing the newest updates on what it will be like to teach for the 2020-2021 school year? Well, sometimes whiskey. But more recently I’ve been looking into healthier ways to deal with my stress and try to zone out for a bit.


First up is yoga. 

Now, I am hardly the lithe yogi you see in the movies. I used to laugh at the idea of doing yoga to relax. Mainly because I would get so in my own head about not being bendy enough to traditional-looking enough to be in a yoga class. But now I find that it is actually a great way to get out of my head. While I’m still glad no one can see me doing downward dog from the comfort of my living room, I like the soothing music, the calm tone of the yoga instructors, and the 30 minuets a day I carve out for just my own well-being. If you aren’t sure where to start with a yoga routine head to YouTube, one of my favorites is MadFit. She is just very encouraging and calming, even laughing at herself when she falls out of a pose.

I have a friend that turns to meditation when the stress levels are getting too high. 

He told me a quote once that stuck with me. “Meditate 20 minutes every day. And if you don’t have the time, then do 40.” It took me a moment to realize what he was saying. It means that you NEED to make time for the things that will help you be healthy, physically and mentally. While I am not big on meditation myself, I can find a few moments to do some deep breathing when yet another news update rolls across my screen.

You can also turn into your grandma to relax. 

Don’t laugh! There has been a huge upswing in 20- 30-year old’s learning to crochet and knit these days! Maybe yarn crafts aren’t your thing, but you get creative in some other way. Painting, writing, coloring curse words in an adult coloring book. Any of those things help you focus on the task at hand and get you out of your head and your problems for a while. I know that when I wasn’t focused on the scarves I was knitting on deployment (I’ve been an 80 year old woman in a 30 year old body for a long time), I’d end up having to take the whole thing apart and start over. While I never quite mastered anything bigger than a baby blanket, just having something to keep my hands busy that wasn’t my cell phone seemed to calm me.

There is also the option to go get some fresh air. 

Going on a hike or a bike ride or even just walking the dog are all socially-distanced approved activities still. Get out of the house and get your sweat on. Remind yourself from a beautiful mountain top that there is more to this world than the four walls you may feel trapped in these days. Daily I take my dog on a walk that should take us about 10 minutes. However, he likes to stop and smell EVERYTHING. His pace forces me to slow down and enjoy the feeling of the sun on my face. If you live somewhere coastal, you can drive on down to the water and let the sound of the waves calm you the same way. Just get out of the house. Stretch your legs. Breathe deeply and return home refreshed.

Are these things too tame for you? 

Because not everyone is looking to get their Zen on, and I understand that. If that’s the case, see if you can’t swap the yoga videos for some kickboxing instead. And maybe instead of wandering the beach you can see if your local shooting range is practicing safe social distancing standards. I’ll admit that as much as I love relaxing with a good book, there is a serious adrenaline rush that makes me calm down just as much when I have torn apart a target or two on the range. Plus, it makes me feel better knowing my aim isn’t getting rusty…

So, whatever it is that makes you feel a little less frazzled, make time for it. Make it a priority the same way you do your job, your family, your faith. You schedule everything else that is important to you, why not schedule in some time to make sure your mental health can be kept on track with some relaxation too?

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Articles

Air Force 4-Star: F-16s may be vulnerable to cyber attack

Air Force fighter jet mission data, sensors, missiles, intelligence information, precision guidance technology, data links and weapons targeting systems are all increasingly integrated with computer systems in today’s fast-moving high-tech warfare environment — a scenario which simultaneously upgrades lethality, decision-making and combat ability while also increasing risk and cyber-vulnerability, senior service leaders explained.


With this paradox and its commensurate rationale in mind, senior Air Force leaders unveiled a comprehensive “cyber campaign plan” designed to advance seven different lines of attack against cyber threats.

While faster processing speeds, advanced algorithms and emerging computer programs massively increase the efficiency, accuracy and precision of combat networks and weapons systems, increased computer-reliance also means weapons systems themselves can become more vulnerable to cyber-attack in the absence of sufficient protection.

For instance, how could Joint Direct Attack Munitions pinpoint targets in a combat environment where GPS signals have been destroyed, hacked or knocked out? What if navigation and geographical orientation were destroyed as well? How could an F-35 use its “sensor fusion” to instantly integrate targeting, mapping and threat information for the pilot if its computer system were hacked or compromised? How could drone feeds provide life-saving real-time targeting video feeds if the data links were hacked, re-directed, taken over or compromised?

These are precisely the kind of scenarios Air Force future planners and weapons developers are trying to anticipate.

Seven Lines of Attack 

Speaking at the annual Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, National Harbor, Md., Gen. Ellen Marie Pawlikowski Commander, Air Force Materiel Command, delineated the inspiration and direction for the 7 lines of attack.

US Air Force photo

A key impetus for the effort, as outlined in the first line of attack, is working to secure mission planning and recognized cyber vulnerabilities, Pawlikowski explained.

For instance, she explained the prior to embarking upon a global attack mission, an Air Force F-16 would need to acquire and organize its intelligence information and mission data planning – activities which are almost entirely computer-dependent.

“We did some mission planning before we got that in the air. Part of that mission planning was uploaded into a computer,” Pawlikowski said.  “An OFP (operational flight plan) is developed using software tools, processors and computers. When you lay out a mission thread it takes to conduct a global mission attack, you find that there are cyber threat surfaces all over the place. How do you make sure your F-16 is secure? We need to address each and every one of those threat surfaces.”

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska | US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford Jr.

The second line of attack is described in terms of technology acquisition and weapons development procedures. The idea, Pawlikowski said, was to engineer future weapons systems with a built-in cyber resilience both protecting them from cyber-attacks and allowing them to integrate updated software and computer technology as it emerges.

“We want to understand cyber security as early as we can and develop tools that are needed by program managers. We want to engineer weapons systems that include cyber testing in developmental and operational tests,” she said.

Brining the right mixture of cyber security experts and security engineers into the force is the thrust behind the third line of attack, and working to ensure weapons themselves are cyber resilient provides the premise for the fourth line of attack.

“We can’t take ten years to change out the PNT (precision, navigation and timing) equipment in an airplane if there is a cyber threat that negates our ability to use GPS,” Pawlikowski explained.

Part of this equation involves the use of an often-described weapons development term called “open architecture” which can be explained as an attempt to engineer software and hardware able to easily accommodate and integrate new technologies as they emerge. Upon this basis, weapons systems in development can then be built to be more agile, or adaptive to a wider range of threats and combat operating conditions.

In many cases, this could mean updating a weapons system with new software tailored to address specific threats.

“Open mission systems enable me in avionics to do more of a plug-and-play capability, making our weapons systems adaptable to evolving cyber threats,” she explained.

The fifth line of effort involves establishing a common security environment for “classification” guides to ensure a common level of security, and the sixth line of attack involves working with experts and engineers with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop built-in cyber hardening tools.

US Air Force photo

For instance, Pawlikowski explained that by the 2020s, every Air Force base would have cyber hardening “baked” into its systems and cyber officers on standby against potential cyber-attack.

Preparing to anticipate the areas of expected cyber threats, and therefore developing the requisite intelligence to prepare, is the key thrust of the seventh line of effort.

“We planned and built our defenses against an expectation of what our adversary was able to do. We need to understand where the threat is going so we can try to defend against it,” Pawlikowski said.

Articles

Watch a WWII tank commander reunite with his Hellcat

A group of tank restorers was working on a World War II Hellcat when they realized that the man who worked that exact Hellcat from Omaha Beach to V-E Day, Don Verle Breinholt, happened to live just a few miles down the road from them.


The restorers rushed to finish their restoration in time for Breinholt and his tank to reunite at a veteran appreciation event.

An M18 Hellcat sits on display during an event in the Netherlands. (Photo: Dammit, CC BY-SA 2.5 nl)

The M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer was one of the fastest and most agile armored vehicles of World War II. It was custom designed to cripple Germany’s Panzer Corps, quickly moving to the heart of the action and firing its 76mm main gun into Nazi armor. It would also dart ahead of an enemy thrust and then lie in wait to launch an ambush.

The Hellcat was so fast that America’s modern and feared Abrams Main Battle Tank, widely praised for its speed, is actually slower than the Hellcat. The Abrams can book it across the battlefield at 45 mph. The Hellcat can swing past it at 53 mph.

An M18 Hellcat fires its 76mm main gun in Germany in 1945. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

And the ammo on the Hellcat was vicious. While the gun itself was similar to the one on most American medium tanks, Hellcats carried high-velocity, armor-piercing rounds designed to jet molten metal right through German armor.

While Hellcats were lethal, they were also vulnerable. The Hellcats carried minimal armor and could be killed with everything from tank rounds to panzerfausts to heavy machine guns.

That’s what makes it so amazing that Breinholt made it from Omaha as a gunner to where he met up with the Russians as a vehicle commander without suffering his own life-threatening injury or losing his Hellcat.

You can watch the restoration and learn a lot more about the M18 Hellcat and the modern M1 Abrams in the video below. Breinholt speaks throughout the video, but you can see him meet his old vehicle for the first time since May 1945 at the 46-minute mark:

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army’s about to unveil its new plan to fight wars — and Russia had better listen up

The Army will release a new combat “FM 3.0 Operations” doctrine designed to better position the service for the prospect of large-scale, mechanized, force-on-force warfare against technologically advanced near-peer rivals – such as Russia or China – able to substantially challenge US military technological superiority.


Senior Army leaders involved in ongoing analysis of current and future threats, as they pertain to a fast-changing operational land-combat environment, explained that changing global circumstances, inspired the need for the Army to craft new doctrinal specifics.

The new “Operations” doctrine, to be unveiled in a matter of days at the Association of the United States Army Annual Convention, is intended as a supplement or adjustment to the Army’s current “FM 3.0 Full Spectrum” Field Manual, a doctrine which first emerged more than several years ago.

Authors of the new doctrine explain that while many elements of the Army’s previous “Full Spectrum” doctrine are retained, updated and expounded upon in the new doctrine — FM 3.0 Full Spectrum was written when the Russians had not attacked Ukraine, the Army was fully immersed in war in Afghanistan and the current tensions in the South China Sea had not yet emerged to the extent they do today, Col. Rich Creed, Combined Arms Director Ft. Leavenworth, told Scout Warrior in an exclusive interview.

“The Army needs to be prepared for large-scale combat operations against potential near-peer capabilities within a regional context. The operational scenario is different now. We are retaining lessons and experiences from prior doctrine, but we need to address the tactics and procedures conducted by large-scale units to conduct land combat,” Creed said. “We update doctrine when the situation requires it.”

Spc. Anthony Tramonte, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, a native of Peachtree City, Ga., lines up a target as Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Corter, an instructor with the U.S. Army Sniper School and a native of Casa Grande, Ariz., coaches him during the final day of M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) qualifications at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Grezelka Range, July 10, 2013. The brigade’s soldiers are attending the U.S. Army Mobile Sniper School, a five-week course with graded marksmanship on the M24 Sniper System, M110 SASS, and the M107 .50-Caliber Long Range Sniper Rifle. Students are also trained and graded in range estimation, target detection, stalking techniques, and written exams. Upon successful completion, all students will receive a diploma and those soldiers holding an infantry and/or special forces military occupational specialty will receive a B4 additional skill identifier. (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)

Creed explained the new doctrine adjustments represent the natural evolution from the Army’s Unified Land Operations concept articulated in 2011-2012 as well as a Cold-War strategy known as “Air-Land” battle designed to defend Western Europe using initial air attacks in tandem with conventional ground force assault.

“Air Land Battle was devised to address a specific threat large-scale land combat on the European continent – large forces and it was a bipolar world. We live in a multi-polar world now. We may still be the lone superpower but there are other forces in the world that have improved significantly. We don’t have the luxury of focusing on one kind of threat or one kind of operation,” Creed said.

Air Land Battle, not surprisingly, envisioned massive US Army ground assaults accross the Fulda Gap in Europe heavily supported by large-scale coordinated air power.

One very senior US Army official told Scout Warrior that the new “operations” doctrine was quite necessary given the extent to which potential adversaries have studied US military techniques and technologies first used during Desert Storm in the early 1990s.

“Desert Storm showed the world Air-Land battle. We unleashed something they had envisioned or heard about. They have studied our military,” the senior official said.

Daniel Cisneros enjoys breakfast in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1990. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Cisneros via Flickr)

Creed added that the new doctrine is indeed cognizant of both future and current threats to US security, including North Korea, Iran, Russia and China.

While the emerging “operations” doctrine adaptation does recognize that insurgent and terrorist threats from groups of state and non-state actors will likely persist for decades into the future, the new manual focuses intently upon preparedness for a fast-developing high-tech combat environment against a major adversary.

Advanced adversaries with aircraft carriers, stealth aircraft, next-generation tanks, emerging hypersonic weapons, drones, long-range sensors and precision targeting technology present the US military with a need to adjust doctrine to properly respond to a fast-changing threat landscape.

For instance, Russia and China both claim to be developing stealth 5th generation fighters, electronic warfare and more evolved air defenses able to target aircraft on a wider range of frequencies at much farther distances. Long-range, precision-guided anti-ship missiles, such as the Chinese DF-21D, are able to target US carriers at ranges up to 900 miles, presenting threat scenarios making it much harder for US platforms to operate in certain areas and sufficiently project power.

When it comes to land combat, the renewed doctrine will accommodate the current recognition that the US Army is no longer the only force to possess land-based, long-range precision weaponry. While JDAMs and GPS-guided weapons fired from the air have existed since the Gulf War timeframe, land-based precision munitions such as the 155m GPS-guided Excalibur artillery round able to hit 30 kilometers emerged within the last 10 years. This weapon first entered service in 2007, however precision-guided land artillery is now something many potential adversaries now possess as well.

In addition, the Army’s Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) is a GPS-guided rocket able to destroy enemies at ranges up to 70 kilometers; the kind of long-range land-fired precision evidenced by GMLRS is yet another instance of US weapons technology emerging in recent years that is now rivaled by similar weapons made my large nation-state potential adversaries.

Drones, such as the Army’s Shadow or Gray Eagle aircraft are also the kind of ISR platforms many nations have tried to replicate, adding to a high-threat, high-tech global marketplace.

All of these advancing and increasingly accessible weapons, quite naturally, foster a need for the US to renew its doctrine such that it can effectively respond to a need for new tactics, concepts, strategies and combat approaches designed for a new operational environment.

This involves greater global proliferation of jamming tactics, advanced sensors, cyberattacks and long-range precision weaponry.

Given this global threat calculus, the Army is now vigorously looking to innovate and harness new technologies for future platforms — all while emphasizing upgrades to major Army land war platforms, such as the Abrams tank, Stryker, Paladin and Bradley; for instance, many Army weapons developers explain that a series of high-tech upgrades to the Abrams tank make the platform superior to emerging Russian T-14 Armata tanks and the newest Chinese Type 99 main battle tanks.

Wikimedia Commons photo by Vitaly Kuzmin.

 

Also, a recent report from The Diplomat, citing Chinese military officials, writes that the Chinese are now testing a new tank: “The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has tested a new tank on the Tibetan Plateau in western China, the Chinese Ministry of Defense announced on June 29,” the report states. The US Army is now conducting early conceptual work on a new, next-generation tank platform to emerge in the 2030s.

 

Evolving Beyond “Full-Spectrum” Doctrine

The Army’s current doctrine, Field Manual 3.0, emphasizes what the service calls “full-spectrum” operations to include state and non-state threats. The manual addresses the importance of a “whole-of-government” approach aimed at counterinsurgency, combined-arms, stability operations as well as anticipated future developments.

The existing FM 3.0 doctrine is, among other things, substantially grounded upon the need for the Army to be prepared for non-linear, asymmetrical warfare fighting groups of insurgents often deliberately blended in with civilian populations.

Full-spectrum is meant to connote that Army operations will also include psychological operations, humanitarian missions, asymmetrical warfare, train-and-equip priorities as well as continued collaboration with allies and preparations for the full-range of combat possibilities.

With a decrease in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, the Army has been adapting its training focus to incorporate a broader spectrum of mechanized warfare, force-on-force threats following 15 years of counterinsurgency. This is something the new doctrine is expected to reinforce.

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — A Blackhorse Trooper, portraying an insurgent, takes cover during an engagement in an objective area, during NTC rotation 17-01 at the National Training Center, Oct. 7, 2016. The purpose of this phase of the rotation was to challenge the Greywolf Brigade’s ability to conduct a deliberate defense of an area, while being engaged by conventional and hybrid threats. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Edge, 11th ACR)

While the existing FM 3.0 Full Spectrum does incorporate a need to address modern threats such as “hybrid warfare,” much of the focus stops short of recognizing the full extent to which other rival militaries are developing platforms and technologies comparable or superior to some US weapons systems.

Enemies such as ISIS and state-sponsored terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah are equipped to fight with a blend of terrorist tactics and advanced weaponry such as sophisticated sensors, surveillance networks, and some precision munitions such as anti-tank guided missiles. This blended threat, requiring a mixture of both combined arms and counterinsurgency tactics, is the kind of scenario the Army has been preparing to confront.

The new manual also incorporates a fast-evolving Pentagon strategy referred to as “multi-domain” warfare; this is based upon the recognition that enemy tactics and emerging technologies increasingly engender a greater need for inter-service, multi-domain operations.

This focus includes accommodating the need to address fast-changing threats in the cyber, electronic warfare, precision weaponry, space, drones and C4ISR domains. Rapid developments in these areas underscores the importance of cross-domain connectivity and warfare, such as an ability of a sea-based F-18 to cue land-based artillery from tactically difficult distances.

“Space or cyber-enabled capabilities are not geographically bound but rather extend to an infinite amount of range. Commanders and staff need to be able to think about that when conducting operations,” Creed said.

US Air Force photo

Another example of multi-domain warfare includes the Army’s ongoing effort to test and prepare for maritime warfare scenarios such as the value of using land-based rockets to attack and destroy enemy ships. The Army is currently working with the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office on upgrades to ATACM missile sensors to enable the weapon to successfully attack moving ships at sea.

This concept is especially important given that potential adversaries are becoming more adept at being able to disrupt or de-synchronize US military joint operations.

This involves greater global proliferation of jamming tactics, advanced sensors, cyberattacks and long-range precision weaponry.

While naturally focused upon what would be needed in a massive, full-scale landwar scenario – the new doctrine also explores contingencies, scenarios and strategies needed to assess circumstances short of armed combat, Creed explained.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US considers a ‘limited strike’ to bloody Kim Jong Un’s nose

After months of resolutely declaring that it cannot and will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea, the US is reportedly planning a “bloody nose” attack to send Pyongyang a message.


The Daily Telegraph cited “well-placed” sources as saying the Trump administration had “dramatically” stepped up preparations for a military response to North Korea’s nuclear provocations.

Those possible responses include destroying a launch site before North Korea could test a missile and targeting a stockpile of weapons, according to The Telegraph.

“The Pentagon is trying to find options that would allow them to punch the North Koreans in the nose, get their attention and show that we’re serious,” a former US security official briefed on policy told The Telegraph.

The report said the Trump administration had the April 7 strike on a Syrian airfield in mind as a blueprint for the move against North Korea.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (April 7, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/Released)

Attacking North Korea would make the Syria strike look easy

When US Navy ships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield, President Donald Trump had the world’s support in attacking a nation accused of using chemical weapons on its own people.

Syria’s military was already stretched thin fighting a civil war and multiple Islamist terrorist groups. The strike went virtually unpunished.

But that most likely wouldn’t be the case with a US strike on North Korea, which has a massive standing army and a military posture geared toward offense.

And there are practical reasons the US can’t just blow up a North Korean missile launch site. As Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said on Twitter, “Mobile missiles don’t need launch sites, Donald.”

Also Read: Everyone is preparing for a devastating all-out war in Korea

Instead of using designated launch sites, North Korea puts its missiles on mobile launchers, some of which have treads to launch from off-road locations.

Lately, North Korea has varied its launch sites, most likely to make it harder for the US to track and possibly intercept missiles.

If the US wants to give you a bloody nose, nothing can stop it

The US does have tools to give North Korea a “bloody nose.”

Short of blowing up a launch site, which could kill launch officers — and possibly Kim Jong Un, as he usually watches launches from close by — the US could attempt to intercept North Korea’s next missile launch.

The US and allies have not only increased missile-defense deployments to the region — they’ve also deployed F-35 stealth fighters that have some capability to shoot down missile launches.

Submarines like the USS Michigan, which has frequently visited South Korea in recent months, could send a volley of cruise missiles at any military site in North Korea without ever surfacing.

Forward-deployed Aegis guided-missile destroyers in the US Navy could intercept the missiles as they launched, Sid Trevethan, a former US Navy specialist in ballistic missile defense and electronic countermeasures, told Business Insider.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently said that though North Korea’s last ballistic missile test demonstrated a very long range, he’s not convinced the entire missile system works. US policy on North Korea explicitly calls for denying it the means to perfect its missile program.

Destroying North Korean missiles during launch would rob Pyongyang of valuable testing and could ensure it never tests an ICBM at full range, meaning it could never be fully confident in its ability to hit the US.

SEALs and divers from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 swim back to the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) during an exercise for certification on SEAL delivery vehicle operations in the southern Pacific Ocean. The exercises educate operators and divers on the techniques and procedures related to the delivery vehicle and its operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Kirsop)

Calling Kim’s bluff risks nuclear war

The US knows what capabilities it has to counter North Korea, but not how North Korea would respond.

If the US were to send Tomahawk missiles toward a launch site, North Korea might interpret the incoming salvo as targeting its supreme leader and being an outright act of war.

Immediately, Kim could order North Korea’s massive artillery installations to open fire on Seoul, potentially killing tens of thousands within hours.

The bloody-nose scenario comes down to a gamble on whether North Korea is ready to enter all-out war over a limited strike.

North Korea has sunk US and South Korean ships without proportionate punishment in the past. It has shelled South Korean islands, captured Americans and South Koreans, and killed civilians without US retaliation.

North Korea, despite having the weaker hand militarily, has often gambled that the US and South Korea value prosperity and peace — albeit an uneasy peace — too much to respond tit-for-tat to its military provocations.

A US attack on North Korea might just call a long-standing bluff and show that Pyongyang’s bark is worse than its bite — or it might unleash nuclear war.

Intel

What it’s like to be an undercover female CIA agent in Iraq

The below is an excerpt from “Breaking Cover” by Michele Rigby Assad:

In the movies, secret agents face their adversaries with guns, weapons, and flashy cars. And they’re so proficient in hand-to-hand combat that they can bring enemies to their knees with the right choke hold or take them down with a well-placed aimed shot. As much as I’d like to think I was that cool, in reality, life in the CIA is much more pedantic.


What most people don’t know is that the CIA is really a massive sorting agency. Intelligence officers must sift through mountains of data in an effort to determine what is authentic and useful, versus what should be discarded. We must consider the subtleties of language and the nuance of the nonverbal. We must unwind a complicated stream of intelligence by questioning everything. In the counterterrorism realm, this process has to be quick; we have to weed out bad information with alacrity. We can’t afford to make mistakes when it comes to the collection, processing, dissemination, and evaluation of terrorism intelligence. As we say in the CIA, “The terrorists only have to get it right once, but we have to be right every time.”

Contained in that massive flow is an incredible amount of useless, inaccurate, misleading, or fabricated information. The amount of bad reporting that is peddled, not only to the CIA but to intelligence agencies all over the world, is mind-boggling.

That’s precisely why one of the greatest challenges we faced as counterterrorism experts was figuring out who was giving us solid intelligence and who wasn’t. And when we were dealing with terrorists, getting it wrong could mean someone’s death.

In early 2007 when Iraq was awash with violence, many Iraqis who had formerly counted the United States as the Great Satan for occupying their country switched sides and were willing to work with Coalition Forces against Iraqi terrorists. Brave locals were rebelling against al-Qa’ida’s brutal tactics and were doing whatever they could to take back the streets from these thugs. This was a turning point in the war. Our counterterrorism efforts became wildly successful, fueled by accurate and highly actionable intelligence.

In one such case, we were contacted by one of our established sources, who was extremely agitated. Mahmud had come from his village claiming that he had seen something that sent chills down his spine. As Mahmud was driving not far from his home, he saw an unknown person exit a building that one of his cousins owned. The building was supposed to be empty and unoccupied. For reasons Mahmud could not explain, he thought that something bad was going on and that maybe the man he saw was a member of Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI).

(Courtesy Tyndale House Publishers)

Up until this point, Coalition Forces had found Mahmud’s information extremely reliable. Of course, they did not know his name or personal details, but they made sure we knew that his information had checked out. They contacted us on numerous occasions to praise us for the source’s reporting, explaining that it had allowed them to disarm IEDs and detain insurgents who were causing problems in his village.

Mahmud had a solid track record. But the bits he provided this time were sketchy and lacked sufficient detail. You can’t just disseminate intelligence reports saying that a location “feels wrong,” “seems wrong,” or that some random dude you just saw “looked like a bad guy.” That kind of information does not meet the threshold for dissemination by the CIA. In this case, however, the handling case officer and I went against protocol and put the report out.

Within the hour, we were contacted by one of the MNF-I (Multi-National Force-Iraq) units with responsibility for that AOR. They regularly executed counterterrorism operations in that village and wanted to know more about the sourcing. They were interested in taking a look at the abandoned building because they had been trying to locate terrorist safe houses they believed were somewhere in the vicinity of the building mentioned in our report. They had a feeling that nearby safe houses were being used to store large amounts of weaponry and a few had been turned into VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) factories. But there was one big problem: Military units had acted on similar intelligence reports before, but the reports had been setups—the alleged safe houses were wired to explode when the soldiers entered.

A spate of these types of explosions had occurred east of Baghdad in Diyala Governorate, and while we had not yet seen this happen out west in al-Anbar Governorate, one could never be too careful. Basically, the military wanted to know: How good is your source? Do you trust him? Do you think he could have turned on you? Could this be a setup?

This was one of the hardest parts of my job. While I had to protect the identity of our sources when passing on intelligence, I had to balance this with the need to share pertinent details that would allow the military to do their job. It was critical to give them appropriate context on the sources, their access, and their reporting records, and to give them a sense of how good the report may or may not be. Given our positive track record with these military units, I knew that they would trust my judgment, and therefore, I needed to get it right. Lives were at stake.

My mind was spinning.

What do I think? Is this a setup? He’s usually such a good reporter, but what if someone discovered he was the mole?

Even if Mahmud was “on our side,” the insurgents could turn him against us by threatening the lives of his wife and kids. Similar things had happened before. I prayed, “Please, Lord, give me wisdom.”

The author, Michele Rigby Assad, was an undercover CIA agent for 10 years.
(Courtesy Tyndale House Publishers)

The bottom line was, I didn’t know anything for sure, and I told the military commander that. But I also remembered that just the week before, Mahmud had provided a report that MNF-I units said was amazingly accurate regarding the location of an IED in his village. They found the IED and dug it up before the Coalition Humvee rolled over it. So as of then, he was definitely good, and I told the commander that as well.

The next day, the case officer came to my desk and said, “Did you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“Mahmud’s information was spot on!”

“Really?” What a relief, I thought. “What happened?”

“When the soldiers entered the abandoned building, they found seven Iraqis tied up on the floor, barely clinging to life. It was more than a safe house. It was a torture house. There were piles of dead bodies in the next room.”

Mahmud’s intuition about the stranger he saw exiting that building had been correct. Something about the unidentified man’s behavior or appearance—the look on his face, the posture of his body, the way he walked or the way he dressed—had hit Mahmud as being “off” or “wrong.” It turned out that local AQI affiliates had commandeered the building and were using it as a base to terrorize the local population.

My colleague pulled out copies of the military’s photographs that captured the unbelievable scene. The first images showed the battered bodies of the young men who had just been saved from certain death. According to the soldiers, when they entered the building and found the prisoners on the floor, the young men were in shock. Emaciated and trembling, they kept saying, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” They could barely stand, so the soldiers steadied them as the young men lifted up their bloodstained shirts for the camera, revealing torsos covered in welts and bruises. If that unit hadn’t shown up when they did, those men would have been dead by the next day.

I swallowed hard as I flipped through the photographs of the horrors in the next room, and my eyes welled up with tears. The terrorists had discarded the mutilated bodies of other villagers in the adjacent room, leaving them to rot in a twisted mound. I could hardly accept what I was seeing. It reminded me of Holocaust photos that were so inhumane one could not process the depth of the depravity: men and women . . . battered and bruised . . . lives stolen . . . eyes frozen open in emptiness and horror.

My stomach began to churn, but I made myself look at the pictures. I had to understand what we were fighting for, what our soldiers faced every day. As much as I wanted to dig a hole and stick my head in the sand, I needed to see what was really happening outside our cozy encampment in the Green Zone.

They say war is hell; they don’t know the half of it.

Taken from “Breaking Cover” by Michele Rigby Assad. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

Michele Rigby Assad is a former undercover officer in the National Clandestine Service of the US Central Intelligence Agency. She served as a counterterrorism specialist for 10 years, working in Iraq and other secret Middle Eastern locations. Upon retirement from active service, Michele and her husband began leading teams to aid Christian refugees.

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