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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    c130

    The Air Force is progressing with a massive technological overhaul of its warzone-tested C-130 aircraft, giving the platform new radios, digital avionics, collision avoidance technology and reinforced "wing-boxes," service officials said. 

    The Air Force remains vigilant about its C-130 fleet to ensure the airframes, wingboxes, avionics and communication systems remain safe and operational well into the 2030s and beyond. This is particularly true of the older 1980s-era C-130Hs, Air Force developers explained. 

     “The thing that causes the greatest risk to the airplane is the life of the wing. We monitor the wing of the aircraft and as the wings get past their service, life we bring the airplanes back in and bring in new structures -- with the primary focus being the center wingbox which is the area where the wings mount to the fuselage,”Col. Robert Toth, Chief of Tactical Aircraft, Special Operations and Combat Search and Rescue Division, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

     As for when a C-130 is in need of a maintenance upgrade to preserve and maintain service life, the Air Force uses an assessment metric referred to as “equivalent baseline hours.” The wing-boxes are changed once the aircraft reaches a certain “severity factor” in its operational service time. This is necessary because the wear and tear or impact of missions upon and airplane can vary greatly depending upon a range of factors such as the altitude at which a plane is flying, Toth said.

    “Low-level flight may be three to four times the severity factor of flying at a higher level,” he said.

    Also, by January of 2020 the entire fleet of C-130s will need to comply with an FAA mandate and be equipped with systems that will relay aircraft position to a greater fidelity back and forth between the airplane and the air traffic management authorities, he added. This will allow them to sequence more aircraft closer together and enhance an ability to move commerce.  

    c130

     Avionics Modernization Program, Increment 1 involves adding new 8.33 radios to the aircraft to improve communication along with initiatives to upgrade cockpit voice recorders and digital data recorders. C-130s will also receive new collision-avoidance technology designed to prevent the planes from hitting terrain or colliding with one another mid-air.  Inc. 1 is currently ongoing and is slated to complete by 2019.

    AMP Inc. 2 involves a larger-scale effort to integrate digital avionics throughout the airplane. Inc. 2 will require nine-months to one year of work and be completed by 2028, Toth explained.

    “This will allow us to bring the airplane from analog to digital, integrate a glass cockpit and use touchscreen displays. We will get away from the old systems of avionics where we had dial-driven instrumentation to where it is all digital. This makes us able to process a lot more information,” Toth said.

    As part of the C-130 modernization calculus, the Air Force will consider retiring some C-130Hs and replace them with newly-built C-130Js; the service has authority to acquire an additional 20 C-130Js, Toth added.

    “We continue to evaluate where it makes sense to retire and older airplane and instead put that money into buying new airplanes,” he said.

    C-130

    C-130 Fleet

    AC-130 gunships make up a small portion of a fleet of roughly 500 C-130 planes throughout the Air Force and Special Operations Command, Toth explained.

    The cargo planes are used to airdrop supplies, equipment, weapons and troops in forward deployed locations.

    As a propeller-driven aircraft, the C-130s are able to fly and land in more rugged conditions and withstand harsh weather such as obscurants. The propellers make the aircraft’s engines less susceptible to debris flying in and causing operational problems for the engines.

    “It really allows you to do that tactical movement of equipment and personnel to take the airplane to the last tactical mile. A lot of our transport strategic airlifters are meant to go to a hard runway to a hard runway somewhere and then they turn over the cargo to be moved to the forward areas to a C-130 or a vehicle. The C-130 allows you to take that cargo and land on a smaller runway or an unimproved airfield,” Toth added.  

     C-130s are used for domestic, international and warzone transport including homeland security, disaster relief and supply deliveries, among other things.

    “There are probably missions that have yet to be dreamed up for the C-130,” Toth said.

    The fleet consists of 135 more modern C-130J aircraft and 165 older C-130Hs which have been around since the 80s, Toth explained.

     Also, MC-130Js are specially modified airlifters engineered to transport Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Army Rangers.

    “They are essentially a C-130J further modified with defensive systems with radar countermeasures and infrared radar and advanced sensors for specialized missions. They also can perform in-flight refueling,” Toth explained.

    SEE ALSO: This is who would win a dogfight between an F-15 and a Russian Su-27

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    f35a

    A group of 70 lawmakers is pressing appropriators to fund significantly more joint strike fighters than the Pentagon asked for in its fiscal year 2017 budget request. But a contract disagreement has raised concerns about the future of the program.

    The Defense Department requested about $8.3 billion to procure 63 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in 2017. The House defense appropriations bill added 11 joint strike fighters to the planned buy. The Senate version added just four aircraft.

    In an Oct. 4 letter to the leaders of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, representatives from both parties prodded them to stick with the House blueprint in upcoming budget negotiations.

    “As you head into conference [with Senate lawmakers], we write in strong support of the F-35 joint strike fighter and urge you to continue supporting increased production rates at this critical juncture for the program,” they said.

    The letter was signed by 41 Republicans and 29 Democrats.

    “Increasing the production rate is the single most important factor in reducing future aircraft unit costs,” they said. “Additionally, significantly increasing production is critical to fielding F-35s in numbers needed to meet the expected threats in the mid-2020s.”

    The lawmakers expressed concern about cuts to follow-on modernization that were included in the Senate bill.

    “These cuts would delay critical … capability upgrades needed to ensure the F-35 stays ahead of increasing future threats. We urge the conferees to restore as much of this funding as possible,” they said.

    F-35

    Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and the chief operating officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute, said increasing the production rates would help reverse a negative trend.

    “The Air Force has slipped off of its production ramp for F-35, and as a result each plane is going to cost more,” he said. “That is not the way the business plan was supposed to be implemented.”

    Thompson believes there is enough support in Congress to fund additional F-35 buys beyond the level requested by the Pentagon.

    “The most likely approach would be to take money out of other items” in the budget, he said. One option would be to scale back upgrades of legacy fighters, he noted.

    But a contract spat could potentially upend future production of the F-35.

    In November, the Defense Department announced a $6.1 billion low-rate initial production contract for 57 F-35s in lot 9. In a statement, Lockheed said it was “disappointed” by the Pentagon’s “unilateral” move, and noted that the contract was “not mutually agreed upon.”

    The company could potentially take legal action and appeal the decision. Lockheed executives “will evaluate our options and path forward,” the statement said.

    Roman Schweizer, an industry analyst at the Cowen Washington Research Group, said in a note to investors: “The government’s decision to use a bazooka on LRIP 9 could signal turbulence ahead as the program ramps into a potential block buy.”

    The spat could make it more difficult for the Pentagon and Lockheed to reach large production deals in the future, he said.

    The next “inflection point” in the program is a potential three-year block buy deal for 450 or more aircraft that would start with international customers in 2018, he noted.

    “We have been optimistic that deal would really kick the program to another level but are concerned now that … rolling up a deal three times the size [of LRIP 9 and the anticipated LRIP 10] may be extremely difficult,” Schweizer said.

    SEE ALSO: The US Air Force is pushing a massive technological upgrade of its war-tested C-130

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    navy knifefish

    After nearly five years of development, the Navy’s multi-million dollar unmanned undersea vehicle has not yet demonstrated its ability to find and identify mines, according to a partially-redacted report released by the Pentagon’s inspector general last week that sheds light on the problems with the high-tech mine-hunter.

    The 20-foot-long, 1,300-pound unmanned undersea vehicle will work to detect, avoid, and identify mines on the floor of the ocean. The Knifefish, currently under development by General Dynamics Mission Systems and Bluefin Robotics, is one of several unmanned systems that the Navy plans to deploy from its littoral combat ship, the service’s newest family of naval craft.

    The Navy will use the unmanned systems instead of dolphins and other marine mammals that the service currently uses to detect mines on the ocean floor.

    However, budget cuts and management problems have compromised development of the Knifefish, which is currently described as “high risk” by personnel and may not be ready for the planned initial production between July and September of next year.

    As a result, the Defense Department’s inspector general wants program officials to review whether the program should be continued or whether the more than $750 million the Pentagon plans to spend on it in the future should be allocated elsewhere. The Navy could waste millions of dollars developing the unmanned system without it demonstrating that it will be successful on the battlefield, the watchdog warned.

    The Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle sits in the water after being deployed from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the southern Indian Ocean during the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Australian Defence Force/Handout via Reuters

    “If the Knifefish cannot meet its primary requirement to detect, classify, and identify mines, the Navy could spend an additional $751.5 million in remaining funds for Knifefish research, development, test, and evaluation; procurement; and operations and management to procure and sustain a system that may not achieve the capability originally planned,” auditors concluded.

    Between April 2015 and August 2016, the inspector general reviewed the Navy’s Knifefish program, finding that developers failed to establish requirements for the unmanned system related to its communication with and launch and recovery from the littoral combat ship. This “lack of coordination,” the investigation found, resulted in development scheduling delays and more than $2 million in program cost increases.

    Auditors also faulted Navy managers for not effectively planning or testing the Knifefish amid shortfalls in funding. Specifically, program leaders and contractors shortened test schedules to alleviate delays, shrinking the development testing period from 21 months to nine months.

    “Because the program office condensed developmental testing schedules and combined test events, the program is at risk of not being able to correct design problems identified during testing,” the inspector general concluded.

    Congress cut funds to the Knifefish program by more than $10 million between fiscal years 2012 and 2016, forcing Navy officials to alter the contract for the system. As of February 2016, the program office had received roughly $91 million of the baseline funding for developing the Knifefish.

    The problems with the Knifefish are indicative of how budget constraints have affected the military’s attempts to obtain advanced technology as emerging adversaries make investments in their own forces.

    U.S. military leaders have repeatedly warned of the toll that sequestration and the 2011 Budget Control Act are having on readiness and modernization. the four service chiefs testified in September before the Senate Armed Services Committee that their forces will not be able to defend the homeland if sequestration persists.

    Bluefin 21 Launch Crane.JPG

    The Knifefish had not demonstrated its mine-hunting capabilities as of March 2016, leading personnel to express concerns about the system’s success in the future, according to the newly-released report.

    “Knifefish program office personnel reported the Knifefish mine-hunting capability as high risk, even after almost 5 years of development,” the inspector general wrote. “The Knifefish program office personnel further reported that if the Knifefish cannot meet its primary requirement to detect, classify, and identify mines, errors could result in an excessive number of mine danger areas, and will unnecessarily delay mine clearance operations.”

    Program leaders are conducting operational testing of the Knifefish—during which military users will test the unmanned system under “realistic conditions”—during the current quarter of this fiscal year. The system faces an initial production decision in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017 and a full-rate production decision one year after that.

    A Navy spokesman directed the Washington Free Beacon to the responses from the director of the Navy’s Expeditionary Warfare Division and the Commander of Naval Sea Systems Command included in the report.

    Both leaders disagreed with several conclusions of the investigation, including the inspector general’s finding that service managers failed to define requirements having to do with the interaction between the unmanned system and the littoral combat ship.

    The Navy is expected to spend $842.5 million on the Knifefish program when costs for research, development, testing, procurement, and operation are totaled.

    SEE ALSO: The US Air Force is pushing a massive technological upgrade of its war-tested C-130

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    U.S.  President Barack Obama arrives to address a news conference in the White House press briefing room in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    This week, President Barack Obama admitted that the US had essentially been muscled out of Syria by being relegated to a diplomatic role in the country.

    "With respect to Syria, in Benghazi we had an international mandate,"Obama said at a Monday news conference, comparing the situation in Syria to the 2011 intervention against Libyan Col. Muammar Gaddafi. "We had a UN Security resolution. We had a broad-based coalition, and we were able to carry out a support mission that achieved the initial goal of preventing Benghazi from being slaughtered fairly quickly."

    In March 2011, US Air Force B-1 bombers took off from South Dakota, flew halfway around the world, and slammed Libya's air defenses. US Navy ships in the Mediterranean pounded targets with cruise missiles. Seven months later, Gaddafi was killed by Libyan rebels, and the intervention was complete.

    The conflict exemplified the US's ability to crush foes militarily through coalition-building.

    But Obama acknowledged on Monday that the US military no longer had that capability in Syria. "Syria is a much more messy situation, with proxies coming from every direction," Obama said, referring to Iran and Russia, which have inserted themselves into the conflict on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    In some ways, politics prohibit Obama from striking Assad the way he struck Gaddafi. Obama, as one expert on Iran and Yemen put it, has proved "phobic" of confronting Iran, a key backer of the Assad regime, because of the US pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran.

    Another reason Obama can't strike Assad the way he did Gaddafi is strategic. Russia has installed advanced missile defense and antiaircraft batteries in Syria. These present significant threats to the US military and greatly complicate the US's options.

    libyan civil war tanks destroyed

    So with Russia's help, Assad's forces continue to pound rebel targets in Syria, even targeting civilian infrastructure like hospitals and schools. The international community has repeatedly accused Assad and Russia of war crimes at least on par with the abuses that spurred the US to strike Gaddafi.

    "I wish that I could bring this to a halt immediately," Obama said of the suffering in Syria.

    Lavrov Kerry"We have made every effort to try to bring about a political resolution to this challenge," he said. "John Kerry has spent an infinite amount of time trying to negotiate with Russians and Iranians and Gulf states and other parties to try to end the killing there."

    And here is Obama's acknowledgment that the US has run out of leverage in Syria: "But if what you're asking is do we have the capacity to carry out the same kinds of military actions in Syria that we did in Libya, the situation is obviously different.

    "We don't have that option easily available to us."

    But military solutions represent only a small portion of the US's options. The White House has attempted diplomatic solutions, lately between the US and Russia, time and time again.

    "I recognize that that has not worked," Obama said of the diplomatic efforts. "And it is something that I continue to think about every day, and we continue to try to find some formula that would allow us to see that suffering end."

    Indeed, the US's lack of credible military leverage must complicate the "formula" to get Russia, Syria, and Iran to act against their interests.

    "You have a Syrian military that is committed to killing its people indiscriminately, as necessary, and it is supported by Russia that now have substantial military assets on the ground and are actively supporting that regime, and Iran actively supporting that regime," Obama said.

    syria aleppo

    But he made it clear that his priority wasn't with protecting the rebels or civilians under fire from a ruthless regime, as it was in Libya with Gaddafi, but rather it was with fighting ISIS, the international terrorist group also known as the Islamic State. "The situation is not the same as it was in Libya," Obama said, regarding the presence of ISIS in Syria.

    The Obama administration's policy toward Syria has been inconsistent with previous US interventions. The suffering of the Syrian people and the brutality of the Assad regime, with even Assad's crossing of Obama's "red line" by using chemical weapons, didn't spur the US into action.

    Earlier in the Syrian conflict, the US could have overthrown Assad much as it did Gaddafi, but that window has closed.

    And now Obama has admitted that.

    SEE ALSO: Syrian regime: 'We are happy that Clinton did not win'

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    f 22 air force maintence.JPG

    An F-22, the single most expensive fighter jet in the world, at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida suffered from an unusual and dangerous problem — compromised stealth.

    To enemy radars the F-22 doesn't look like it's 62 feet long and 44 feet across, it looks like a marble.

    The extreme stealth capabilities of the F-22 render it a "very low observable" aircraft, ideal for penetrating heavily defended enemy airspaces. Because of the technological breakthroughs in the F-22, the US Air Force can project power anywhere on earth.

    So when a mechanical issue compromised the stealth of one F-22, it was a big problem. Luckily, the airmen present fixed the problem quickly and cheaply. 

    “During roll call, our expediter (an experienced crew chief responsible for coordinating required maintenance taskings) gave out the tasks for the day. My task was to figure out why we were having this re-occurring problem with one of the jets,” said Senior Airman Samuel Privett, a 23 year-old  load crew member of the 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, according to a US Air Force release.

    Because the government closely protects the specifics of the F-22 program, the public can't know the exact issue with the F-22's stealth.

    "It took us about two days and several people overall to finally nail it down,” said Privett, who used the in-house fabrication machine to forge a $250 dollar solution that salvaged the $140 million plane, also saving 200 hours of maintenance and valuable flight time for the jet.

    Thanks to Privett and his team, who he says were instrumental in the task, the F-22 now joins only 186 others in service. 

    SEE ALSO: Obama admits his strategy in Syria 'has not worked'

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Russian frigate ‘Admiral Grigorovich’  cruise missile

    On Tuesday, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a handful of videos glorifying its Mediterranean naval campaign to support Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    Cruise missiles were seen launching vertically from destroyers, tipping sideways, and then rocketing toward the Syrian city of Aleppo. The videos also showed operations aboard Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov.

    But according to experts, as flashy as this naval show of force may be, it added nothing toward the completion of Russia's military objectives.

    "It’s mostly for show,"Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist at Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian studies, told Business Insider.

    According to Gorenburg, hauling an aircraft carrier, a nuclear-powered battle cruiser, two destroyers, a tanker, and the tug boat that accompanies the aircraft carrier in case of a breakdown "didn't add anything" to Russia's military capability in Syria but was instead meant to have "caught everyone's attention."

    "There's been an effort over the last few years to show that Russia has some of the same capabilities as the US," Gorenburg said. "One prominent example was those cruise-missile strikes from the Caspian Sea, to show that they have the standoff cruise-missile capability."

    And so the first combat deployment of the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier represents another attempt to mimic the US's military power. "They have one aircraft carrier — it's not the most reliable," Gorenburg said of the Kuznetsov, which had to be towed almost 3,000 miles back to Russia after breaking down near France and Spain in 2012.

    Gorenburg pointed out that the Kuznetsov approached Syria bearing new aircraft: MiG-29Ks. But these naval variants, suited for the type of strike missions necessary in Syria, haven't yet been put to combat use. Additionally, one of the MiG-29Ks crashed Monday when returning to the ship.

    mig 29k

    In part, Gorenburg said, the naval deployment to Syria could be seen as a sales pitch, as Russia hopes to export cruise missiles and aircraft: "They've used the Syria conflict for showing off their arms for customers, but that's more with regular [not naval] aircraft."

    The real purpose behind the deployment, however, he said, is "more to demonstrate to NATO and the US that they have this capability, and it's something else you have to keep in mind."

    kuznetsov su 33

    Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, echoed Gorenburg's statements to the Washington Examiner: "There's not a kinetic effect that they bring that can't already be brought with the forces that they have there."

    "From a pure military perspective, Russia already has significant capabilities inside Syria," Davis said. "They have nearly two dozen strike aircraft that are based there."

    SEE ALSO: Obama admits his strategy in Syria 'has not worked'

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    An Abrams battle tank during a tour of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, Lima Army Tank Plant, in Lima, Ohio, April 23, 2012.

    The Army is now engineering a far-superior M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams tank variant for the 2020s and beyond --designed to be more lethal, faster, lighter weight, better protected, equipped with new sensors and armed with upgraded, more effective weapons, service officials said.  

    Advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology -- are all key elements of an ongoing upgrade to position the platform to successfully engage in combat against rapidly emerging threats, such as the prospect of confronting a Russian T-14 Armata or Chinese 3rd generation Type 99 tank.

    The SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, will include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated on-board networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning receivers and a far more lethal, multi-purpose 120mm tank round, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

    While Army officials explain that many of the details of the next-gen systems for the future tanks are not available for security reasons, Basset did explain that the lethality upgrade, referred to as an Engineering Change Proposal, or ECP, is centered around the integration of a higher-tech 3rd generation FLIR – Forward Looking Infrared imaging sensor.

    The advanced FLIR uses higher resolution and digital imaging along with an increased ability to detect enemy signatures at farther ranges through various obscurants such as rain, dust or fog, Bassett said.

    “A combination of mid-wave and long-wave sensors allow for better target identification at long ranges and better resolution at shorter ranges,” Bassett explained.  Higher-definition sensors allow Army crews to, for instance, better distinguish an enemy fighter or militant carrying an AK 47.

    c-5 galaxy m1 abrams

    Improved FLIR technologies also help tank crews better recognize light and heat signatures emerging from targets such as enemy sensors, electronic signals or enemy vehicles. This enhancement provides an additional asset to a tank commander’s independent thermal viewer.  

    Rear view sensors and laser detection systems are part of these upgrades as well. Also, newly configured meteorological sensors will better enable Abrams tanks to anticipate and adapt to changing weather or combat conditions more quickly, Bassett explained.

    “You do not have to manually put meteorological variables into the fire control system. It will detect the density of the air, relative humidity and wind speed and integrate it directly into the platform,” Basset explained.

    The emerging M1A2 SEP v4 will also be configured with a new slip-ring leading to the turret and on-board ethernet switch to reduce the number of needed “boxes” by networking sensors to one another in a single vehicle. Also, some of the current electronics, called Line Replaceable Units, will be replaced with new Line Replaceable Modules including a commander’s display unit, driver’s control panel, gunner’s control panel, turret control unit and a common high-resolution display, information from General Dynamics Land Systems states.

    Advanced Multi-Purpose Round

    The M1A2 SEP v4 will carry Advanced Multi-Purpose 120mm ammunition round able to combine a variety of different rounds into a single tank round.

    m1 abrams tank desert storm gulf war iraq

    The AMP round will replace four tank rounds now in use. The first two are the M830, High Explosive Anti-Tank, or HEAT, round and the M830A1, Multi-Purpose Anti -Tank, or MPAT, round.

    The latter round was introduced in 1993 to engage and defeat enemy helicopters, specifically the Russian Hind helicopter, Army developers explained.  The MPAT round has a two-position fuse, ground and air, that must be manually set, an Army statement said. 

    The M1028 Canister round is the third tank round being replaced. The Canister round was first introduced in 2005 by the Army to engage and defeat dismounted Infantry, specifically to defeat close-in human-wave assaults. Canister rounds disperse a wide-range of scattering small projectiles to increase anti-personnel lethality and, for example, destroy groups of individual enemy fighters.

    The M908, Obstacle Reduction round, is the fourth that the AMP round will replace; it was designed to assist in destroying large obstacles positioned on roads by the enemy to block advancing mounted forces, Army statements report.  

    AMP also provides two additional capabilities: defeat of enemy dismounts, especially enemy anti-tank guided missile, or ATMG, teams at a distance, and breaching walls in support of dismounted Infantry operations.

    Bassett explained that a new ammunition data link will help tank crews determine which round is best suited for a particular given attack. 

    “Rather than having to carry different rounds, you can communicate with the round before firing it,” Bassett explained.

    Engineering Change Proposal 1

    Some of the upgrades woven into the lethality enhancement for the M1A2 SEP v4 have their origins in a prior upgrades now underway for the platform.

    m1a1 abrams tank

    Accordingly, the lethality upgrade is designed to follow on to a current mobility and power upgrade referred to as an earlier or initial ECP. Among other things, this upgrade adds a stronger auxiliary power unit for fuel efficiency and on-board electrical systems, improved armor materials, upgraded engines and transmission and a 28-volt upgraded drive system.  This first ECP, slated to begin production by 2017, is called the M1A2 SEP v3 variant.

    This ECP 1 effort also initiates the integration of upgraded ammunition data links and electronic warfare devices such as the Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device – Electronic Warfare – CREW. An increased AMPs alternator is also part of this upgrade, along with Ethernet cables designed to better network vehicle sensors together.

    The Abrams is also expected to get an advanced force-tracking system which uses GPS technology to rapidly update digital moving map displays with icons showing friendly and enemy force positions.

    The system, called Joint Battle Command Platform, uses an extremely fast Blue Force Tracker 2 Satcom network able to reduce latency and massively shorten refresh time. Having rapid force-position updates in a fast-moving combat circumstance, quite naturally, could bring decisive advantages in both mechanized and counterinsurgency warfare.

    Active Protection Systems

    The Army is fast-tracking an emerging technology for Abrams tanks designed to give combat vehicles an opportunity to identify, track and destroy approaching enemy rocket-propelled grenades in a matter of milliseconds, service officials said.

    m1 abrams desert storm tank gulf war

    Called Active Protection Systems, or APS, the technology uses sensors and radar, computer processing, fire control technology and interceptors to find, target and knock down or intercept incoming enemy fire such as RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, or ATGMs. Systems of this kind have been in development for many years, however the rapid technological progress of enemy tank rounds, missiles and RPGs is leading the Army to more rapidly test and develop APS for its fleet of Abrams tanks. 

    The Army is looking at a range of domestically produced and allied international solutions from companies participating in the Army's Modular Active Protection Systems (MAPS) program, an Army official told Scout Warrior.

    General Dynamics Land Systems, maker of Abrams tanks, is working with the Army to better integrate APS into the subsystems of the Abrams tank, as opposed to merely using an applique system, Mike Peck, Business Development Manager, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview. 

    Peck said General Dynamics plans to test an APS system called Trophy on the Abrams tank next year. 

    Using a 360-degree radar, processor and on-board computer, Trophy is designed to locate, track and destroy approaching fire coming from a range of weapons such as Anti-Tank-Guided-Missiles, or ATGMs, or Rocket Propelled Grenades, or RPGs.

    The interceptor consists of a series of small, shaped charges attached to a gimbal on top of the vehicle. The small explosives are sent to a precise point in space to intercept and destroy the approaching round, he added.

    Radar scans the entire perimeter of the platform out to a known range. When a threat penetrates that range, the system then detects and classifies that threat and tells the on-board computer which determines the optical kill point in space, a DRS official said.

    Along with Rafael's Trophy system, the Army is also looking at Artis Corporation's Iron Curtain, Israeli Military Industry's Iron Fist, and UBT/Rheinmetall's ADS system, among others.

    Overall, these lethality and mobility upgrades represent the best effort by the Army to maximize effectiveness and lethality of its current Abrams tank platform. The idea is to leverage the best possible modernization upgrades able to integrate into the existing vehicle. Early conceptual discussion and planning is already underway to build models for a new future tank platform to emerge by the 2030s – stay with Scout Warrior for an upcoming report on this effort.

    SEE ALSO: Why Russia sailed its navy thousands of miles to Syria when it brings 'nothing' to the battle

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    ash

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Monday pushed back against President-elect Donald Trump's repeated assertion that the offensive against Mosul is a "total disaster" because US and Iraqi forces didn't keep the operation a total secret beforehand.

    "It's actually important that the enemy know that and that ISIL [knows] that we intend and will destroy them," Carter said at a forum hosted by The Atlantic Magazine and the venture capital firm 1776, according to the Washington Examiner. "There are secret tactics involved there, but the fact that we're going to Mosul and Raqqa is clear because they're the two biggest cities."

    Throughout the campaign, Trump has cited Gens. Patton and MacArthur while calling for the "element of surprise" to be used in battlefield operations. "Why can't they win first and talk later?" he told ABC News. "Why do they have to say three months before the attack, we're going in?"

    But as Carter and many military strategists have pointed out, it's quite obvious to ISIS that their two biggest cities of Mosul and Raqqa will need to be defended against Iraqi, Syrian, or US forces at some point. The defense secretary's comments also bring to mind the importance of "information operations," where forces attempt to psychologically torment an enemy before an attack.

    The US military uses tactics like blasting Arabic messages over loudspeakers urging ISIS fighters to surrender, or drops leaflets saying much the same thing. This is the kind of thing every military does before large battles, since it often works pretty well to get at least some enemy fighters to surrender — and those fighters turn over intelligence.

    "The information campaign was very effective and as important to this operation as the actual combat offensive to liberate the city," retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Sattler and Col. Daniel H. Wilson wrote in a historical analysis of the campaign to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004. "We stole the strategic communications initiative from the enemy and never gave it back."

    Iraqi soldiers celebrate as they pose with the Islamic State flag along a street of the town of al-Shura, which was recaptured from Islamic State (IS) on Saturday, south of Mosul, Iraq October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

    It's even instructive to look back on how ISIS took Mosul in the first place. It wasn't a sneak attack at all. While logistical and political concerns contributed to the defeat of Iraqi security forces, the terrorist group was incredibly effective in using social media to "strike fear into the hearts of their enemies."

    President-elect Trump again refused to give any plan for defeating the terrorist group in an interview with "60 Minutes" on Sunday, insisting that he needed to keep the element of surprise. For months, he has repeatedly refused to provide even general themes on how he would defeat ISIS, using the need for surprise as cover to avoid the fact he doesn't really have a plan, according to numerous national security experts.

    "There’s a lot of policy yet to be written in the Trump administration," Dr. Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel who served as the right-hand-man to Gen. David Petraeus, told Business Insider. "I have no idea how the fight against ISIS is going to play out. He hasn’t indicated that he has a plan. I doubt that he does."

    SEE ALSO: 'Never Trump' national security experts react to his win: 'I'm totally f---ing horrified'

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe  in Tokyo, Japan, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek reassurances from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on U.S.-Japan ties on Thursday and a senior adviser to Abe said he had been told that campaign remarks calling the alliance into question should not be taken literally.

    Abe is due to meet Trump in New York on Thursday and is expected to be the first foreign leader to meet the president- elect since his election last week.

    Trump's transition team has not responded to requests for comment on the meeting, but an adviser to Trump, speaking anonymously, said this week that Trump would seek to reassure Abe and other Asian allies rattled by his campaign rhetoric.

    Trump had fanned worries in Tokyo and beyond with his comments on the possibility of Japan acquiring nuclear arms and demands that allies pay more for the upkeep of U.S. forces on their soil or face the possibility of their withdrawal.

    Katsuyuki Kawai, an adviser to Abe sent to set up the Trump meeting, said he had spoken to several Trump advisers since arriving in Washington on Monday.

    "I have been meeting with so many top aides to the president-elect and also I have been meeting with the very distinguished senators and congressmen and they unanimously told me that we don’t have to take each word that Mr. Trump said publicly literally," he told Reuters.

    trump

    Kawai said that among the Trump advisers he had met were Representative Devin Nunes, Senator Tom Cotton, and the presidents of the conservative Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute think tanks, Jim DeMint and Ken Weinstein.

    Kawai said the fact that Abe would be the first foreign leader Trump would meet since winning the presidency on Nov. 8 was "a meaningful signal" and Abe's aim was "to establish the highest level personal ties with the president-elect."

    "That meeting will be the first for building up the great personal relationship between two leaders," he said.

    "Prime Minister Abe will definitely talk about the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and that alliance is not only for Japan and the United States, but also for the entire Indo-Pacific region as well as world politics."

    Setting the tone

    Shinzo Abe

    A Trump adviser, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said he expected the meeting to "set the tone" for Trump's relations with Japan and the region.

    "I think the message ... is going to be extremely reassuring," the adviser said. "I expect he is going to reaffirm his commitments to the alliance and the American commitment to being in the Pacific long-term."

    The adviser said Japan's financial support for U.S. troops in Japan might come up but was unlikely to be a focus.

    Some diplomats say that until Trump makes key appointments, it will be hard to assess his policies on issues ranging from overseas deployments of U.S. troops, China's maritime aggressiveness in Asia and North Korea's nuclear threat.

    A day before the Trump-Abe meeting, Japanese officials said they had no idea exactly when the meeting would take place, where in New York it will happen, who will be invited or whom to call for answers.

    Japanese and U.S. officials said on Wednesday the State Department had not been involved in planning the meeting, which has left the logistical and protocol details that normally would be settled weeks in advance still to be determined.

    “There has been a lot of confusion,” said one Japanese official.

    Abe, a political blue blood and veteran lawmaker, and Trump, a brash outsider with no diplomatic or government experience, have sharp differences on policy issues such as free trade.

    But the two may find they have much in common, including pledges to restore their countries’ global stature and a desire to counter a rising China while improving relations with Russia.

    "Prime Minister Abe and Mr. Trump will have good chemistry," said Takashi Kawakami, a professor at Tokyo's Takushoku University. "Both tend to decide and act based on intuition. And both are pragmatists who put their countries' interests first."

    Kawai said Abe considered the U.S. relationship Japan's most important and that it was essential that it was built on trust.

    "That is why the prime minister wants to build the highest level personal ties with Mr. Trump," he said.

    Reince Priebus Donald Trump

    Some of Trump's rhetoric suggests an image of Japan forged in the 1980s, when Tokyo was seen by many in the United States as a threat to jobs and a free-rider on defense.

    His election also has dashed hopes for U.S. approval of a 12-nation trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a linchpin of Washington's "pivot" to Asia and a pillar of Abe's economic reforms.

    But Abe's personal attitude about defense appears to be viewed more positively in the Trump camp, even if it would like Japan to do more.

    Since taking office in 2012 Abe has boosted Japan's overall defense spending while stretching the limits of its pacifist post-war constitution to allow the military to take a bigger global role.

    "Frankly, the prime minister has been more assertive and forthright in trying to make those changes to Japan’s global posture," the Trump adviser said. "I think he’s going to get a very receptive audience there."

    Japan agreed last December to boost spending for U.S. forces in Japan by 1.4 percent for the next five years, at an average of 189.3 billion yen ($1.74 billion) per year. Defence Minister Tomomi Inada has said Tokyo was paying enough.

    However, defense spending still stands at just over 1 percent of GDP against over 3 percent in the United States.

    SEE ALSO: 'This really scares me': Prominent digital journalist explains in 13-minute video why he's 'terrified' for future of media

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    When armchair historians discuss naval aviation during the Vietnam War, the focus usually turns to the F-4 Phantom. That’s the multi-service plane flown by the Navy’s only aces of the war — Randall “Duke” Cunningham and Willie Driscoll.

    And of course there’s the A-6 Intruder, made famous in the novel and movie “Flight of the Intruder.”

    One plane, though, probably deserves more attention than it’s earned.

    A3 skywarrior whale

    That plane is the A-3 Skywarrior – often called the “Whale” due to its size. It certainly was big – more than 76 feet long, and with a 72-foot wingspan and a maximum takeoff weight of 82,000 pounds.

    The A-3 had a range of 2,100 miles and could carry 12,800 pounds of payload.

    While the Skywarrior did some bombing missions early on, it shined in the electronic warfare and tanker missions. The Navy turned 85 planes into KA-3B tankers, and 34 were also given jamming pods to become the EKA-3B.

    These planes not only could pass a lot of gas to the planes in a carrier’s air wing, they helped to jam enemy radars, blinding them to an incoming attack until it was too late.

    a3 skywarrior refueling

    Other Skywarrior variants included the RA-3B reconnaissance plane, the ERA-3B electronic aggressor platform, and the EA-3B electronic intelligence version.

    As a tanker, the KA-3B and EKA-3B didn’t just enable planes to strike deeper into North Vietnam. These tankers also gave planes gas to get back home – in some cases after suffering serious damage. Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that as many as 700 Navy and Marine Corps planes may have been saved by the Whale’s tanker capabilities.

    That statistic might be the most important. When an EB-66E bomber was shot down during the Easter Offensive of 1972, it resulted in a massive rescue effort to retrieve the lone survivor, Lieutenant Colonel Iceal “Gene” Hambleton, that resulted in the loss of five aircraft, with 11 Americans killed in action and two more captured.

    The last A-3 variants, EA-3Bs, managed to see action during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 with VQ-2 before they were retired. E-3 airframes, though, flew in private service as R&D for avionics until 2011.

    Not bad for a plane that first flew in 1952!

    SEE ALSO: The US Army is set to start testing a faster and more lethal variant of the Abrams tank

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    Liaoning china pla navy aircraft carrier

    Almost two decades after buying the hull from Ukraine in 1998, China has finally declared its sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, ready for combat.

    China's aircraft carrier, as well as the rest of its rapidly modernizing navy, puts Beijing in an elite club with the greatest naval powers in the world. The development has raised eyebrows in the Pacific and globally, as China ignores international law, builds and militarizes artificial islands in the South China Sea, and threatens and bullies its neighbors.

    In the slides below, see how China's Liaoning stacks up to other carriers worldwide:

    SEE ALSO: Every surface ship in the Chinese navy, in one chart

    This is China's only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Like much of China's military hardware, the Liaoning is a reworking of an older Russian-made model.

    The Soviet style of carrier, which Russia and China still use, has a different purpose than the US's flat top carriers. Instead of being a truly global strike carrier, these carriers make more sense for coastal defense.



    The Liaoning's particulars and capabilities sound impressive.

    Source: Jeff Head



    Over the last four years, China's People's Liberation Army Navy has had to build up carrier operations from nothing. It has never operated an aircraft carrier, so it faced a steep learning curve.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Shahab-3 missile Iran

    Under the landmark Iran nuclear deal, the international community "calls upon" Iran to halt work on missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

    But there's a glaring problem with this provision — Iran can simply say it's working on a conventional missile, not one intended to carry a nuclear payload.

    And that's exactly what Iran has done since the early days of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran has repeatedly tested ballistic missiles that it can easily convert to carry nuclear payloads. 

    While observers have argued that these tests go against the "spirit" of the agreement, the language of the agreement fails to explicitly prohibit these activities, and nothing indicates that Iran will stop testing missiles.

    “Iran’s defense capabilities cannot be compromised and are under no circumstance negotiable,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told Iranian TV, according to the AFP. “Missile tests are conducted within the framework of Iran’s defense policies.”

    But President-elect Donald Trump has vowed repeatedly to renegotiate the Iran deal, and according to Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East expert who is a vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, missile testing could be on the table.

    "Trump has repeatedly slammed the deal as being a bad deal — the assumption is that he’s going to do something," Schanzer told Business Insider, though he admits that given Trump's ambiguity on the subject it's "extremely difficult" to anticipate how negotiations would play out. 

    trump

    "We haven’t heard specifics," said Schanzer, but there are limits to what a President Trump could do. "We can’t rip it up on day one ... the idea that you can do a 180 is unrealistic."

    However, according to Schanzer, even before taking office, Trump's election has already shaken up the status quo between the US and Iran.

    "Without question, Trump's victory will spook a lot of financial institutions and companies that were considering investments in Iran," said Schanzer. Even companies that have already invested in Iran will "likely cool their heels, rethinking their investment strategies and wondering how investments are going to change because of the lack of continuity."

    Trump's election has caused a "new inflection point with regard to this deal," said Schanzer. And while most experts agree the deal can't be nullified on day one, it is "something that can be changed by degrees over time," and that a Trump administration could undertake a "carefully planned unwinding of the deal."

    However, Schanzer warns that should the US undo the Iran deal, Iran wouldn't be happy about it, and the US should then have a "carefully planned response to Iranian aggression."

    RTR2VQX9

    Ultimately, how a Trump administration will proceed with Iran is a mystery, but the prospects for negotiation have undoubtedly changed, and perhaps improved.

    Schanzer points out that Trump's pivots with governments around the world could turn the tables with Iran. For instance, Russia has influence over Iran, and Trump has repeatedly signaled that he could rework the US-Russia relationship.

    "If this incoming administration does reset ties with Russia, and Russia has understanding with Iran, how does that play out?" asked Schanzer.

    With a redefined standing in the world, "arms embargoes, ballistic missiles, these things could be renegotiated" between the US and Iran, said Schanzer. 

    SEE ALSO: The Iran deal has Obama 'held hostage' while the Middle East descends into chaos

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    Trump Hard Hat

    President-elect Trump makes no secret of wanting to undertake the biggest naval buildup since the Reagan era, but that would cost big money and it's not clear where the funds would come from.

    In his September 7 national security speech, Trump advocated for a 350 ship navy. Today, the US Navy stands 272 ships strong with plans to grow to 308.

    But the defense industry has had trouble meeting the goal of 308. Caps on spending and economic stagnation have repeatedly pumped the breaks on efforts to revitalize the US military.

    The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which Donald Trump has cited in the past, released a report on Wednesday stating that the US Navy has weak capabilities due to the older fleet, and only a marginal overall ability to carry out its duties (bolstered by strong readiness on the part of US sailors).

    Meanwhile, the same report ranks Russia as a formidable foe militarily, and the single greatest threat to the US. China, another emerging military power, was ranked as "aggressive" by the report.

    A Congressional Research Service report on the US Navy's fleet size states that advocates for a bigger navy cite China and Russia as major threats that need matching. Randy Forbes, a Virginia congressman and front-runner for Trump's secretary of the navy post, has frequently expressed interest in a bigger navy to confront China in the South China Sea

    So while Trump isn't alone in calling for a bigger navy, few have offered solutions as to how to pay for it. The Navy Times cites a memo from the Trump campaign that states a naval buildup could bring about jobs, and taxable income from the state, but the numbers still don't add up.

    Providing the additional ships requested by Trump could cost up to $4 billion a year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

    USS Gerald R. Ford

    “There are going to have to be lot of trade-offs,” said Dan Palazzolo, a professor of political science at University of Richmond told the Navy Times.

    “Donald Trump wants a lot of things: Big tax cuts, big infrastructure spending, doesn’t want to touch entitlements, defense spending. There are tensions here that are going to have to get unwound.

    “Really this is going to be the challenge of Trump’s presidency: How do you translate these broad policy proposals into policies, and defense in that mix. It’s going to be on Congress to help him figure that out.”

    SEE ALSO: Iran is exploiting a glaring problem with the Iran deal that Trump could possibly fix

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    concrete iraq

    Forget a Marine and his rifle, forget rockets, mortars, air support, tanks; forget everything — the most effective weapon on the modern battlefield is concrete, according to Major John Spencer of the Modern War Institute at West Point.

    Spencer details his time deployed in Iraq, and how more than anything else an assortment of concrete barriers turned the tide of battle.

    Named Jersey, Alaska, Texas, Colorado, or T-walls, Spencer detailed how the real decisive tool in the US's campaign to stem the tide of violence in urban areas was concrete.

    From Spencer:

    One of the primary tactics used to fight the IED threat was to line every major road with twelve-foot-tall concrete T-walls. Soldiers spent days, weeks, and months lining first every major highway and then other, smaller roads with concrete barriers. At over $600 a barrier, the cost of concrete during the eight years of the Iraq War was billions of dollars.

    Of course, concrete alone didn't win any battles, but it achieved hard tasks infantrymen would have died fighting to do. Concrete disrupted enemy supply lines, protected roadways, and cordoned off neighborhoods of cities into manageable blocks.

    Spencer argues that in the future, as the Pentagon prepares for urban warfare in megacities of over 10 million people, concrete is the tool planners should look for to impose order.

    "Concrete might not be sexy, but it is the most effective weapon on the modern battlefield."

    Read the full piece at the Modern Warfare Institute here»

    SEE ALSO: Trump wants to make the US Navy massive again — but no one knows how he'll pay for it

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    Michael Flynn

    On his way to the polls on election day, Michael Flynn pulled out his phone and took a video of himself saying his vote for Donald Trump was part of a larger fight against "the dishonesty and deceit of our government."

    For Flynn, a retired U.S. Army three-star general and one of Trump's closest advisers, it was another parting shot at an administration he thinks unfairly fired him from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2014 for telling hard truths about the war on Islamist extremism.

    Named on Thursday to become Trump's national security adviser, Flynn is now poised for a second act in public life – and he has promised nothing short of an upheaval.

    "We just went through a revolution," Flynn, 57, told a forum on Saturday. "This is probably the biggest election in our nation's history, since bringing on George Washington when he decided not to be a king. That's how important this is."

    Flynn's advocates say his experience battling radical Islamist militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with candor that has ruffled feathers in Washington more than once, makes him the kind of ally Trump needs on his national security team.

    David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who used to work with Flynn, praised his willingness to "speak truth to power and not politicize his answers."

    "Mike Flynn is a straight shooter and a no-bullshit kind of guy. And that’s exactly what we need in terms of senior leaders giving advice to the national leadership," Deptula said.

    James Clapper listens to Michael Flynn

    His critics voice concerns about a management style that alienated some of his subordinates at DIA, a lumbering bureaucracy that Flynn sought to shake up. That's an explanation some gave for why he was pushed into retirement.

    Flynn could not be reached for comment.

    Several former U.S. officials who worked closely with Flynn described him as extremely smart but a poor manager who advocated a precipitous overhaul of the DIA that ignited hostility and resistance from veteran intelligence officials.

    "Flynn understood that DIA was a mess," one said.

    "But he telegraphed his intent for radical change in a way that he immediately created resistance to his ideas, no matter their merits."

    Two other former officials also said they had concerns about Flynn's management style, a potential liability in a White House job that requires coordinating U.S. policy and resolving disagreements among senior officials at different agencies.

    One of the officials said senior career DIA officials and other agency employees held Flynn responsible for an offensive "Dress for Success" presentation that was distributed to the workforce in January 2013.

    It recommended gender-specific fashion guidelines, urged people to "consider your body type" and said makeup made women "more attractive."   

    Flynn apologized for the presentation in a subsequent memo that said neither he nor the agency "condone this briefing."

    Michael Flynn

    Policy concerns

    Flynn's policy views suggest he will take a more aggressive approach against Islamist militants.

    Former colleagues expect his effort to bolster America's battle against jihadists to be shaped by his belief that the United States is losing a global war against Islamist extremism that may last for generations.

    In a new book Flynn co-authored, he prescribes a harder political line on Iran, including information warfare to expose shortcomings in Iran's revolution.

    Like Trump, Flynn calls the 2003 invasion of Iraq a strategic blunder and says that energy should have been directed instead toward political support for opponents of Iran's theocratic rulers.

    He shares Trump's vision of warmer relations with Israel but also advocates stronger ties with Egypt, whose autocratic president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ousted the Muslim Brotherhood and was the first world leader to congratulate Trump on his victory.

    Flynn's appearances on Russia's government-run broadcaster RT, particularly at a gala last year attended by President Vladimir Putin, have also raised eyebrows in military circles.

    However, he has also expressed skepticism about Moscow's intentions - a view that does not seem to fit Trump's vision of a new era of detente with the Kremlin.

    Donald Trump and Michael Flynn

    Although he has more experience battling the Taliban, al Qaeda and other militant groups than anyone else in Trump's inner circle, Flynn's critics in the intelligence community and the military question whether his ouster from the DIA has changed him.

    "The whole experience seems to have made him bitter," said another former U.S. official who worked with Flynn and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Representative Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, questioned Flynn's temperament, saying Trump needs someone more steady and "thorough in their analysis" to temper him.

    "I'm not sure that's what you get with General Flynn. And I would be worried about an impulsive president with an impulsive security adviser," Schiff told CNN.

    Former colleagues are alarmed by his adoption of Trump's divisive campaign rhetoric - including leading chants of "Lock Her Up!" aimed at Hillary Clinton during the Republican National Convention and saying on Twitter "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL."

    "I think what you have is frustration that eventually turns to anger after he leaves," said this former U.S. official. "He was frustrated over DIA; he was frustrated over administration policy toward Syria; and he's frustrated and angry over his removal from the Department of Defense." 

    (Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by John Walcott, Paul Tait and James Dalgleish)

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    Most anything can be overcome with a good, well thought out, reasonable plan.

    But if you can’t think of anything good, just be like these guys and do something crazy. You’ll at least get a good story out of it.

    SEE ALSO: China says its aircraft carrier is combat-ready — here's how it stacks up to other world powers'

    The US Coast Guard’s predecessor saved hundreds of sailors by herding reindeer to them

    When eight whaling ships and 265 sailors were trapped by early Arctic ice in 1897, President William McKinley asked the Revenue Cutter Service if they had any way to get supplies to the ships.

    The RCS, a predecessor to the Coast Guard, responded by forming a unit of volunteers who traveled 1,600 miles from December 1897 to March 1898, buying reindeer along the way and herding them to Alaska where the sailors were trapped.

    They arrived with 382 reindeer just in time for most of the survivors. Three people died of starvation, but the rest were rescued during the spring thaw.



    Army PSYOPS troops pretended they were vampires

    American psychological operations soldiers were sent to the Philippines in 1950 to help destroy a Communist rebellion in the country.

    When the commander learned that the local fighters were superstitious and believed in a shape-shifting vampire known as the “asuang,” he came up with a Scooby Doo-esque plan.

    First, he had friendly locals spread a rumor that an asuang was living in the hills. Then, the Americans and their allies set up an ambush in the hills, waited for the last man in a patrol to pass them, and abducted him.

    They poked two holes in his neck, drained him of his blood, and put his body back on the trail. The rebels bought the ruse and fled the area, allowing government forces to reclaim it.



    Four Royal Marines rode Apaches into a Taliban fort

    Long story short, a British attack on the Taliban base of Jugroom Fort went bad quickly, and British forces quickly withdrew. But, they accidentally left wounded Royal Marine Lance Cpl. Mathew Ford behind. With the Taliban in the fort already on high alert, a daring plan was needed to recover him.

    So, some Royal Marines volunteered to strap themselves to the outside of two Apaches, ride into the fort, recover Ford, and ride back out. The daring plan worked, but Ford had unfortunately been rendered brain dead at the time of injury.



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    General Mattis

    Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is in the running to lead the Pentagon for President-elect Donald Trump, according to reports.

    Trump's transition team announced on Friday that Mattis would be meeting with the President-elect on Saturday. A person involved with the transition told Bloomberg that Mattis was being considered, along with retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, who met with Trump on Thursday.

    Mattis declined to comment when reached by Business Insider.

    The former four-star general retired in 2013 after leading Marines for 44 years. His last post was with US Central Command, the Tampa, Florida-based unified command tasked with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as more than two-dozen other countries.

    Mattis, 66, is something of a legendary figure in the US military. Looked at as a warrior among Marines and well-respected by members of other services, he's been at the forefront of a number of engagements. 

    He led his battalion of Marines in the assault during the first Gulf war in 1991 and commanded the task force charging into Afghanistan in 2001. In 2003, as a Major General, he once again took up the task of motivating his young Marines to go into battle, penning a must-read letter to his troops before they crossed the border into Iraq.

    Mattis

    Though he's beloved by troops for his straight talk and strategic genius, he's dealt with some controversy outside of the military for some of his more colorful quotes. He asserted in 2005, for example, that it was "fun to shoot some people"— though he was talking about fundamentalists who "slap women around" in Afghanistan for not wearing veils. Still, the Marine commandant at the time said he was counseled and told to "choose his words more carefully,"according to Fox News.

    If he were tapped to be defense secretary, Mattis would need a waiver from Congress to take the position, since it requires a military officer to have been off active duty for at least seven years. Mattis retired in 2013.

    Whoever is ultimately picked, the next head of the Pentagon will oversee roughly 3 million military and civilian personnel and face myriad challenges, from the ongoing fight against ISIS and China's moves in the South China Sea to the ongoing stress on the military imposed by sequestration.

    A number of defense secretaries who served under President Barack Obama have criticized him for his supposed "micromanagement." Even Mattis himself was reportedly forced into early retirement by the Obama administration due to his hawkish views on Iran, according to Tom Ricks at Foreign Policy.

    To some of his supporters, Trump appears to be more of a delegator who will let the Pentagon chief take the reins of the military.

    "He will empower his SecDef to lead the way," Joe Kasper, chief of staff for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), told Business Insider.

    The next defense secretary may also end up dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea, and Russia is very likely to test limits in eastern Europe. The secretary will also need to reinvigorate a military plagued by low morale.

    Mattis currently splits his time between Stanford and Dartmouth as a distinguished fellow, conducting research and giving lectures on leadership and strategy.

    Other names that have been floated for the position include former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri and Stephen Hadley, the former national security adviser to President George W. Bush.

    A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

    SEE ALSO: Peter Mansoor, right-hand man to Gen. Petraeus, says he would never serve a Trump administration

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    Sabha

    At least 16 people died and 50 were wounded in Libya in four days of clashes between rival factions in the southern city of Sabha, a health official said on Sunday.

    According to residents and local reports, the latest bout of violence erupted between two tribes after an incident in which a monkey that belonged to a shopkeeper from the Gaddadfa tribe attacked a group of schoolgirls who were passing by.

    The monkey pulled off one of the girls' head scarf, leading men from the Awlad Suleiman tribe to retaliate by killing three people from the Gaddadfa tribe as well as the monkey, according to a resident who spoke to Reuters.

    City officials could not be reached to confirm the accounts.

    "There was an escalation on the second and third days with the use of tanks, mortars and other heavy weapons," the resident told Reuters by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the denigrating security situation.

    "There are still sporadic clashes and life is completely shut down in the areas where there has been fighting."

    Like other parts of Libya, Sabha has been periodically plagued by conflict since the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi five years ago splintered the country into warring factions.

    In the Sabha region, a hub for migrant and arms smuggling in Libya's often neglected south, militia abuses and the deterioration of living conditions have been especially acute.

    The Gaddadfa and the Awlad Suleiman represent the most powerful armed factions in the region.

    During the latest clashes, which took place in the city center, initial attempts by tribal leaders to calm the fighting and arrange a ceasefire so that bodies could be recovered had failed, residents said.

    A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government aims his weapon as he takes up position inside a ruined house at the front line of fighting with Islamic State militants in Ghiza Bahriya district in Sirte, Libya November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

    By Sunday, Sabha Medical Centre had received the bodies of 16 people killed in the clashes and some 50 wounded, said a spokesman for the center.

    "There are women and children among the wounded and some foreigners from sub-Saharan African countries among those killed due to indiscriminate shelling," he said.

    The city lies about 660km (410 miles) south of Tripoli. 

    SEE ALSO: US condemns 'sickening' Syrian/Russian air campaign that has taken out every single hospital in eastern Aleppo

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    4 indian infantry gas masks ww1 colour

    One month after a Bosnian-Serb assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on a street corner in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, effectively beginning World War I.

    Ferdinand's murder sent the Great Powers into a war that would last five years and cost the lives of 10 million troops.

    Thought of as the "war to end all wars," World War I marked a number of firsts in military conflict, including the use of planes, tanks, and chemical weapons. 

    On June 28, 1919, the victorious Allied leaders signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending World War I and spurring German nationalism, which in turn gave Nazi leader Adolf Hitler a political platform.

    Here's a few colorized photographs published by The Open University showing life during World War I.

    SEE ALSO: Haunting visions of World War I live on in these overlay photos

    Trench warfare was one of the hallmarks of World War I.



    Soldiers could spend the majority of their deployments in the trenches. Here, a soldier receives a haircut from a barber on the Albanian front.



    Here, a German Field Artillery crew poses with its gun at the start of the war in 1914.



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    Former Navy SEAL sniper Brandon Webb completed one of the military's hardest training programs in order to become a SEAL. Many of us have heard of "Hell Week" and how brutal the experience can be, but Webb describes a different phase of his training that proved to be even more challenging. 

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