Warfare: An advancing front - "The US is engaged in increasingly sophisticated warfare, fusing intelligence services and military specialists" [more inside]
Currently making the rounds. A qualitative study in Sociology of Religion looks at "spiritual atheists" in science. A call for Humanist Chaplains in the U.S. armed forces. And The Freedom From Religion Foundation becomes certified to perform weddings in Tulsa.
A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
NYC mayor: Military trial appropriate in 9/11 case. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried at a military tribunal in Guantanamo. US Lawmakers Say Politics Played Role in Military Trial Decision. Attorney General Eric Holder blames congress for forcing his hand on this. Slate blasts the Obama administration as "Cowardly, Stupid, and Tragically Wrong". Previously, the opposite.
When men in the military rape other men in the ranks, no one wants to talk about it. Why the sexual assault of males in the service is finally being confronted. [more inside]
After chalking up 14,316 military discharges to its credit (261 from the last year alone), the reign of Don't Ask Don't Tell crumbled when Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Morado's DADT-motivated hearing ended on Thursday with the three member panel voting unanimously to retain the openly gay soldier.
How two American kids became big-time weapons traders - "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via; previously on arms contractors)
USMC Warrant Officer (ret.) Michael D. Fay served as a combat artist from 2000 through January 2010 under the History Division of the Marine Corps University. He once described his orders from them as "Go to War. Do Art." Fay was deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been keeping a blog of his sketches since 2005. [more inside]
Government of Bahrain declares state of emergency. Mixture of Saudi, UAE, and other GCC troops enter Bahrain upon invitation. [more inside]
What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. -MLK (SLYT)
From the Pentagon to the private sector - In large numbers, and with few rules, retiring generals are taking lucrative defense-firm jobs [more inside]
With Air Force's Gorgon Drone 'we can see everything.' "In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military's most valuable new tools. This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town."
Everybody knows TVTropes is the best and most time-killing-est way to learn about the clichés and archetypes that permeate modern media. But dear reader, there is so much more. Enter Useful Notes. Originally created as a place for tropers to pool factual information as a writing aid, the subsite has quietly grown into a small wiki of its own -- a compendium of crowdsourced wisdom on a staggering array of topics, all written in the site's signature brand of lighthearted snark. Though it reads like an irreverent and informal Wikipedia, its articles act as genuinely useful primers to complex and obscure topics alike, all in service of the project's five goals: "To debunk common media stereotypes; to help you understand some media better; to educate, inform and sometimes entertain; to promote peace and understanding (maybe); and... to facilitate world domination." Sounds about right. Click inside for bountiful highlights... if you dare. [more inside]
It may take years, but some researcher will travel to Pakistan’s tribal areas and produce a definitive study on what it’s been like to live amidst an aerial bombardment from American pilotless aircraft. When that account inevitably comes out, it’s likely to find that 2010 — and especially the final quarter of 2010 — marked a turning point in how civilians coped with a drone war that turned relentless. (previously: 1,2)
The Harrier Jump Jet makes its final flight over England. The venerable Jump Jet, famous for its hovering capability, is to be decommissioned - along with the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal - as part of Britain's cost-cutting measures. It will be replaced by the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. Another story w/video. Is this "the beginning of the end of plane-making in Britain"? [more inside]
"Care packages" aren't JUST for troops in harm's way. Video transcript available here.
The X-37B OTV has landed. (previously) and (previously) Launched in late April the space plane was tracked by amateur astronomers and sky watchers during its 7-month stay in orbit. The X-37 has he capability to maneuver changing orbit, track, and altitude. This led to a cat and mouse game with the earthbound skygazers. The X-37B is one of the latest in a series of experimental aircraft known as the X-planes. [more inside]
American military planners are fascinated with German/Prussian military history. Busts of Von Clauswitz adorn American military academies where On War is taught, often with the misperception that Von Clauswitz viewed war as a controllable science. Shock & Awe is just the idea of Blitzkrieg with better weapons. Endless exhortations about unit cohesion (a complex, multi-layered idea with no military definition that is nonetheless used to keep gay soldiers from openly serving) comes from admiration for the Wehrmacht, their discipline and courage on the battlefield. So too the idea of a military culture separate and more honorable than the civilians they protect, advancing the professional warrior model at the expense of the citizen-soldier model. But to quote author military/adventure author Tom Clancy, “Why do people have a fixation with the German military when they haven’t won a war since 1871?” Previously
The Defense Department forced all "war on terror" detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison to take a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug, mefloquine, an act that an Army public health physician called "pharmacologic waterboarding". The US military administered the drug despite Pentagon knowledge that mefloquine caused severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. The drug was used on the prisoners whether they had malaria or not. [more inside]
Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Slightly ahead of schedule, the Pentagon has released its Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (PDF).
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war... Although the officer acknowledged that the use of tanks this many years into the war could be seen as a sign of desperation by some Afghans and Americans, he said they will provide the Marines with an important new tool in missions to flush out pockets of insurgent fighters. [more inside]
Photos of US soldiers and vets engaged in non-violent protest against "DADT" in front of the White House.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an exhibit of photographs by Jeff Sheng that is currently on tour in the US. A sharp contrast to his previous work: Fearless, which highlighted young Canadian and US athletes who openly identify as gay, lesbian or transgendered, this new exhibition shows gay American servicemen who cannot, so they have been photographed in uniform with their faces hidden or outside the photo's frame to protect their anonymity. Flash Galleries: DADT 1, DADT 2. [more inside]
... it's terribly important for veterans to feel they are continuing a mission that held them together through the violence and stress of war. "PTSD carries a stigma, that you're broken and wounded," said Yount, "And many guys have guilt for not still being in the fight. The idea of Paws for Purple Hearts is you can be part of the war effort while you're getting treatment."
An Arlington Lady does not cry. An Arlington Lady is not a professional mourner. She is not a grief counselor, according to their strict Standard Operating Procedure. She is there simply so that somebody is. But before the Arlington Ladies, there was Gladys Rose Vandenberg, wife of Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg. Starting in 1948, she was a constant attendant, sometimes the only one to join the the chaplain and the honor guard. Her dedication spread to others and to other branches of the US armed forces, and continues to this day. [more inside]
In 2015, if all goes well, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the most powerful warship ever built, will begin service in the U.S. Navy - retiring the venerable Enterprise (CVN-65). Though displacing the same 100,000 tons as her Nimitz-class counterparts, increased automation will let her operate with hundreds fewer crewmembers. Capable of launching 90 planes, including the F-35C Lightning II, on 220 sorties a day, she will defend herself against anti-ship missiles with the Raytheon RIM-162 ESSM. [more inside]
In the scale of its intensity, its destructiveness and its horror, Stalingrad has no parallel. It engaged the full strength of the two biggest armies in Europe and could fit into no lesser framework than that of a life-and-death conflict which encompasses the earth. - The New York Times, February 4, 1943 [more inside]
Short Snorters: "A short snorter is a banknote inscribed by people traveling together on an aircraft. The tradition was started by Alaskan Bush flyers in the 1920s and spread through the military and commercial aviation...When the short snorter was signed, the collector would have to produce it upon request, if not, they are bounded to give the signer a drink." Some examples: Flickr, A Hawaiian one dollar bill, A bill with some real WWII history, Scrolling Multinational Short Snorters, and a British ten-shilling note.
A Year at War: One Battalion's Wrenching Deployment to Afghanistan: "Some 30,000 American soldiers are taking part in the Afghanistan surge. Here are the stories of the men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division" out of Fort Drum, NY., based in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. Over the next year, The New York Times will follow their journey, chronicling the battalion’s part in the surge in northern Afghanistan and the impact of war on individual soldiers and their families back home. (First link is an interactive feature containing images and autoplaying video, and requires flash. Second link is a standard-style article.) [more inside]
"It’s the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It’s ubiquitous to insurgent warfare. And actually, recently, also counterinsurgent warfare. It kicks the hell out of the Humvee." It may suck to drive, but the tough and agile Toyota Hilux is the insurgent's vehicle of choice in Afghanistan. U.S. Special Forces prefer the comparable American-built Toyota Tacoma.
A federal judge has issued a worldwide injunction on the enforcement of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, "ending the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops." [more inside]
A press conference was held this afternoon at the National Press Club in Washington, where at least a dozen former U.S. Air Force personnel, mostly officers who worked on secret projects connected to sensitive nuclear weapons sites, are admitting that they were privy to UFO and alien-related incidents that occurred during their time of service. In this clip, you will hear from: Retired Air Force Captain Robert Salas, Former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Dwayne Arneson and Former Air Force Official Bill Jameson. [via NECN]
Cloture to force a vote on the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill has not been achieved. DADT will stand. Chances are not better in a possibly more Republican Senate post-November, and the bill is unlikely to pass before then. Republican voters against cloture: Every single senator; Democratic voters against cloture: Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor.
She read from notes, stumbling occasionally, and did not so much lean on her metaphors as wrestle them to the floor and grind them underfoot; but they loved it anyway - all 15 minutes of it. She attacked everyone from the president on down, demanded stricter standards for America's service personnel, espoused an aggressive red-meat constitutionalism, and proposed a new policy which she summed up as "if you don't like it - go home." The 2,000-strong crowd cheered wildly as she literally howled her frustration before leading them, fists pumping, in an anti-incumbent chant of "Go home!" A strange mix of patriotism and petulance, it was a rough kind of stump speech that hadn't been tested in a focus group or tried out on a campaign aide, and which was delivered with complete disregard for how it might play in the media. Witness the startling political debut of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, American citizen.
How to Train Your Robot (to Lie). "A military base has just fallen to enemy fighters. A robot containing top-secret information has to escape detection by the invading army. The robot is facing three corridors: right, center, and left. It could randomly pick a corridor and hope the enemy soldiers pick a different one. Or it could leave a false trail—assuming robots can be trained to lie. A new study using this scenario suggests that they can be. 'Those lying toasters.' click for picture (Georgia Tech's Decepticon) knows how to mislead pursuers to shake them off." Also, worth checking out is a video that can be viewed from the main link which demonstrates the robots in a game of hide-and-seek.
Canadian Jiffy Jeep Crews can completely disassemble and reassemble a Willys Jeep in less than four minutes.
Judge Rules "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Is Unconstitutional - Judge Virginia A. Phillips of Federal District Court struck down President Clinton's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy in an opinion (Scribd) issued late Thursday, ruling on the constitutionality of a complaint brought by the Log Cabin Republicans (PDF). President Obama's Justice Department has until a September 23 deadline to submit objections to the court regarding Judge Phillips's permanent injunction, which is uncertain given Obama's previous support of his Department of Justice defending the legality of DADT, despite his opposition to DADT in principle.
EA's new Medal of Honor video game allows players to take the role of Taliban insurgents killing American troops. In response, the US military has banned sales of the game on all military bases, including in privately run businesses (such as GameStop) present on bases. Military members (who game) don't seem too happy about the decision here. (More military member comments, some pro, some against, can be found here.) You can watch someone playing as a Taliban insurgent here. (Warning: MoH gameplay is rated 'M' for mature.)
Japanese navy recruitment vs. American navy recruitment. American military advert vs. a Swedish one. Just for fun, a Ukrainian military ad. All links from this Reddit thread.
Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story. [more inside]
From 1945 to 1946, Leonard Rudoff served as Apprentice Seaman, 3rd Class on the troop transport USS Gen. H.F Hodge as it made its way to India, Egypt, NYC, and San Francisco. And he took photos along the way..[via mefi projects] [more inside]
The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel have been given access to approximately 92,000 classified Afghanistan war documents provided to WikiLeaks.
The Pentagon is currently surveying the troops to gauge their opinion towards gays and the repeal of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell. It has recently come to light that previous surveys were done about the fighting man's opinion of 'blacks' and 'jews'. [more inside]
The Korean DMZ (pdf) / PLZ has been a hot tourist attraction for years, featuring must-see sites like the Third Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatory, the Dora Mountain Train Station, the Freedom Bridge and the Imjingak Tourist Site, complete with its statue of Harry Truman. And now, South Korea's border with North Korea -- the most heavily militarized border on Earth, -- will be patrolled by killer robots. [more inside]
As the internet works to decode the US Cyber Command logo, it is worth pondering the bizarre world of military patches and logos. The most awesomely bad has been selected by popular vote, but there is a serious reason behind that flippant patch. Then there are the strange and nerdy patches of classified projects [prev.] NASA has its own strange and awesome mission patches, but, as Space Review discovered, there are also secret patches for classified missions which give clues to their purpose. And then there was the military logo that was so outlandishly ominous it helped lead to the project's shutdown.
What warfighters eat. What's healthier. Video is from an all-day seminar at NIH. Start around minute 58 through 1:13 to hear the marine presenting in detail what warfighters currently get to eat -- first hand from the guy who handles supplying them, in detail. Start earlier around minute 12 for what would be better 'nutritional armor' for warfighters (Dr. Bill Land). Many more parts to the presentation. All worthwhile. [more inside]