Over a thousand scientists and public intellectuals, including Stephen Hawking, Daniel Dennett, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, and Elon Musk, have signed an open letter calling for a ban on the development and deployment of "offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control”, i.e., the coupling of autonomous Artificial Intelligence to weapons systems.
The Pentagon took a significant step Monday toward lifting its ban on allowing transgender men and women to serve in the military, announcing a six-month study designed to clear the way. The study will "start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified," Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in a statement announcing the move.
A WWII Panzer tank and other military equipment has been found in the basement of a German pensioner.
Action Man: Battlefield Casualties is a disturbing spoof toy commercial in a campaign by Veterans for Peace UK to raise the military recruitment age from 16 to 18. Warning: autoplaying video with graphic violence.
New U.S. government research indicates that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women and at rates nearly equal to that of male veterans -- a finding that surprised researchers because women are generally are far less likely than men to commit suicide. The findings raise questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the United States' armed forces. [more inside]
The first federally approved monument honoring LGBT veterans in a national cemetery was unveiled and dedicated in a grove at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois on Memorial Day.
A Nice Afternoon With The Women Of New Orleans’ Trans Veterans Support Group (SL Buzzfeed longform)
"Moral injury is not unique to veterans. But as psychologists and advocates come to understand it better, they are discovering that the problem is widespread in that community, and can be deeply damaging to veterans who suffer from it." (SL Vox with YouTube)
Many American, Canadian, and British military veterans opposed to the actions of ISIS in Iraq have been, individually, going over to fight with the Kurdish Peshmerga for some time now, bringing thousands of dollars of military gear and irreplaceable training. There have been so many of them fighting that the Peshmerga are now actively recruiting military veterans online. Not to be internet-outdone, military veterans have begun investigating forming units of their own to fight ISIS -including notable and controversial science-fiction author John Ringo, who suggested trying to crowdfund for 'a brigade of soldiers'. [more inside]
Fucking Inappropriate. No matter what I do, it always ends this way. The money gets spent. The whiskey runs out. The hangover always comes, and the show is always over. TW for graphic discussion of combat, PTSD, pretty much everything war-related. [more inside]
Déjà Lu republishes locally-selected scholarly articles from journals connected to regional anthropological associations around the world. The result is a PDF-heavy but fascinating collection of long reads on obscure topics. Via. [more inside]
Army soldier Shane Ortega comes out as transgender as the military evaluates their policies on transgender service members. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US lags behind other countries in allowing people to serve openly. [more inside]
A war machine that costs about as much as the rest of the worlds' militaries combined just doesn't win wars anymore. Why is this, and how can such an expensive public program that obviously fails to achieve its stated goals carry on unscathed?
For a little perspective on the 50th anniversary, consider this: we’re now as distant from the 1960s as the young Bob Dylan was from Teddy Roosevelt. For today’s typical college students, the Age of Aquarius is ancient history. Most of their parents weren’t even alive in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched a massive escalation of the Vietnam War, initiating the daily bombing of the entire country, North and South, and an enormous buildup of more than half a million troops.
The day Chris Kyle died - an account of the fateful gun range encounter between the subject of the film "American Sniper" and fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh. Routh has received a life sentence for killing Kyle and freind Chad Littlefield, with a jury finding his claims of PTSD to be "an excuse".
The Marines Are Building Robotic War Balls
A research team from Stamford, Conn. has developed an amphibious drone that they are currently testing with the Marines. The GuardBot is a robot ball that swims over water at about 4 miles per hour and then rolls along the beach, at as much as a 30-degree incline and 20 miles per hour.
Snapshots of LGBT life in Midcentury America Coursey of the ONE national gay and lesbian archives at the University of southern California libraries.
Modern Farmer describes centuries of military love for the humble donkey. Though the U. S. Army officially ended its pack mule program in the 1950s, current soldiers and Marines-- along with the Afghan Army itself -- have trained again to use donkeys and mules in mountainous terrain. [more inside]
The Veteran Art Project is a visual experiment by 27-year-old photographer Devin Mitchell "who is exploring a part of the veteran’s experience that is sometimes difficult to articulate." [more inside]
How viral videos became the way veterans combat ‘stolen valor’. Stolen valor are military wannabes, dressing up in uniform and presenting in public as military veterans (and getting store discounts etc). The 1998 self-published book led to the 'Stolen Valor Act' of 2005 and 2013. The 'Guardian of Valor' website has a Hall of Shame for those caught faking. The latest viral video involves a man at the Mall claiming to be an Army Ranger who is confronted. Regarding this video, the Guardian of Valor site owner says civilians don't understand why faking military service is looked at so negatively by the troops and veterans. “They don’t understand the anger he felt because he had lost friends wearing that uniform, had friends wounded in combat,” Anderson said. “So they want to watch because they are trying to figure out why it makes Veterans so angry.” [more inside]
Nearly two years after the Numbered Air Force Commander overturned the court-martial conviction of a fighter pilot for sexual assault, the Chief Prosecutor for the Air Force has retired and joined the advocacy group devoted to changing the way the military prosecutes these crimes. His decision to retire was based, in part, on continuing clashes with senior Air Force judge advocates regarding his positions on how the military treats survivors of sexual assault and a downgraded performance review (denied by the Air Force) as a result of his conversations with members of Congress about how the military prosecutes these kinds of crimes. In the meantime, the Commander who overturned the court-martial conviction has retired (minus one of his stars) and the Inspector General who went on social media to express his "bitterness" with the situation and whose own handling of sexual assault cases has come under fire is still in his position overseeing military discipline.
You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy [more inside]
As armed UAVs (don't call them drones!) proliferate, the Pentagon is working on how to shoot down UAVs in an exercise called Black Dart (YouTube)
Jeff Quitney has curated hundreds and hundreds* of YouTube playlists with thousands and thousands of vintage educational, training and institutional films and documentaries. If you hate multi-link posts you can jump right in because the playlists aren't organized. In addition to including extensive background information and links to other resources in the video descriptions, he has restored or improved the video and audio in most of the films. Space, the military, and biology are well represented, but so are pets, food, and outdoor recreation and survival. Armchair travelers will be able to travel around the world, but you can also stay at home and watch cartoons. Travel back in time for the latest breaking newsreels, and add your own weather reports from vintage USAF meteorology films. And if you like women’s tennis, then you’ve just hit the motherlode.*I stopped counting at 480 [more inside]
ARES is a new tabletop wargame technology by the US Army. STTC briefing. Article. A modern take on one of the oldest forms of simulation: drawing stuff in the ground with a stick. Gary Gygax had a sandtable in his basement when creating D&D in the 70s, here's some recent pics of it.
"Barajas and the veterans staying with him are establishing a new life in Tijuana — a life after deportation. Their stories are similar: Each was honorably discharged from the military, but was later charged with a deportable offense — for example, drug possession, discharge of a firearm or perjury...Most have spent the vast majority of their lives in the United States and are now starting over in a country they barely know." (Aj Jazeera)
In 2008, Outside the Wire, a theater company, began productions of Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes to audiences of soldiers and marines returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
And whither must I go? What end, what purpose Could urge thee to it? I am nothing, lost And dead already. Wherefore- tell me, wherefore?- Am I not still the same detested burthen, Loathsome and lame? Again must Philoctetes Disturb your holy rites? If I am with you How can you make libations? That was once Your vile pretence for inhumanity. Oh! may you perish for the deed! The gods Will grant it sure, if justice be their care And that it is I know. You had not left Your native soil to seek a wretch like me Had not some impulse from the powers above, Spite of yourselves, ordained it. O my country! And you, O gods! who look upon this deed, Punish, in pity to me, punish all The guilty band! Could I behold them perish, My wounds were nothing; that would heal them all.[more inside]
"Sexual assault is alarmingly common in the U.S. military, and more than half of the victims are men. According to the Pentagon, thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day. These are the stories you never hear—because the culprits almost always go free, the survivors rarely speak, and no one in the military or Congress has done enough to stop it." A tough read from GQ. Could be triggering.
83 year old Chicano author John Rechy (City Of Night, The Sexual Outlaw, Rushes) talks to Lambda Literary about gay assimilation, being mistaken for white, melding truth and fiction, the post-Stonewall peroid, and hating the word 'queer.'
An airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada has allegedly been denied the ability to re-enlist after he refused to use the words "so help me God" in his oath. On September 2, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter (pdf) on his behalf. Up until last fall, Air Force Instruction 36-2606, which spells out the active duty oath, had a provision where an airman could omit the words, but that was dropped last October.
Are you trying to write a period-correct Captain America story or just have questions about NYC in the 1930s-40s in general? The tumblr Steve Rogers Is Historically Accurate is here to help.
How the US Stumbled into the Drone Era [WSJ] As ubiquitous as Predators, Reapers, Global Hawks and their ilk may now seem, the U.S. actually stumbled into the drone era. Washington got into the business of using drones for counterterrorism well before 9/11—not out of any steely strategic design or master plan but out of bureaucratic frustration, bickering and a series of only half-intentional decisions.
Diary of an atomic bomb technician. "I will not be responsible for my actions if you keep me here in this programme."
In the Indianapolis suburbs, officers said they needed a mine-resistant vehicle to protect against a possible attack by veterans returning from war. A look at the redistribution of surplus tools of combat to state and local law enforcement. (SL NYT)
You may have heard how sounds travel farther during a temperature inversion, when air near the ground is cooler than the air above. But do you know how this phenomenon is related to the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico? [more inside]
"We know it comes from the movie... If it is an obvious form of resistance, then we have to control it."
In a story first broken by the AP (heads up: link does not conform to guidelines about how to refer to trans people), Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has given approval for the Army to transfer Pvt. Chelsea Manning to a federal prison in order to allow her to access treatment for her gender dysphoria. [more inside]
Military infographics are completely insane -- An analysis of some of the baffling infographics that the US military have made public on the web for some reason.
Creating a portable survival kit is a popular project for which you can find many examples online. There have been a great many different items in military survival kits over the years. The Paratroopers on D-Day were apparently well equipped, and pilots in the Pacific Theater had their own special manual. Many soldiers in WWII famously received chocolate bars for their kits, though they were apparently not all that welcome. Finally, if you really want an authoritative source for what to pack, ask Major Kong.
As part of its effort to combat insurgent forces interspersed within an indigenous population, the use of biometrics has become a central component of the U.S. war effort. Having expanded heavily since its introduction during the war in Iraq, biometric identification and tracking of individuals has become a core mission in Afghanistan with initiatives sponsored by the U.S. and Afghan governments seeking to obtain the biometric identifiers of nearly everyone in the country. [more inside]
In a study and trial somewhat breathlessly reported as Norwegian troops get unisex dorms, the Norwegian Armed Forces has tried out unisex dorm rooms with two women and four men to a room, and consider the experiment a success, with better unit cohesion and lower rate of sexual harassment as results. [more inside]
Chief Scientist Demetrios Matsakis gives us a tour of the U.S. Naval Observatory's Time Services and explains where time comes from.
The Egyptian Military's War on Alcohol Just before the Ahmed Hamdy tunnel, which links Egypt's main bulk of land to the Sinai Peninsula, there are two consecutive checkpoints. One of them is run by the military, and the other by the Ministry of Interior. This weekend, on a trip to Sinai with a group of friends, we were stopped at the military checkpoint. The conscripts insisted on searching us, and a mere inquiry as to what the purpose of the search was made them adamant on going through every bag.
The Waboba ("WAter BOuncing BAll"), has attracted all sorts of fans since it went into production over five years ago. Now it can count one more: The U.S. Navy.
Dozens of armed men in Russian-marked military uniforms occupied an airport in the capital of Ukraine's strategic Crimea region early Friday, Obama warns Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine. But what is so dangerous about Crimea, and what is 'The Budapest Memorandum?'
The Royal Thai Navy demonstrates how waves propagate along a line of men.
24 million gallons of jet fuel have been leaking from Albuquerque’s Kirtland Air Force Base for 60 some years. And nobody seems very concerned about it.