Tag Archives | Military

The Nazi Plan To Build A Deadly Sun-Reflecting Space Mirror

On a more peaceful note, the device would also be used to turn the Arctic and Antarctic poles into verdant gardens. Via io9:

In 1945, Life magazine revealed how “U.S. Army technical experts came up with the astonishing fact that German scientists had seriously planned to build a ‘sun gun’…a gigantic orbital mirror that would “focus the sun’s rays to a scorching point on the earth’s surface.” The German army, readers were told, “hoped to use such a mirror to burn an enemy city or to boil part of an ocean.”

The idea had been originally proposed by the seminal rocket scientist Hermann Oberth in 1923. Oberth thought it might take ten to fifteen years to assemble a complete mirror at a cost of $3 billion. The pressure of sunlight on the vast surface would be used to maneuver it in orbit, with steering accomplished by adjusting the angles of the individual mirrors.

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Pentagon Working On Tattoos That Track Soldiers

What does your tattoo say about you? Wired writes:

In its ongoing quest to measure every aspect of U.S. troops’ physiology, the Pentagon’s esoteric research enclave DARPA wants to develop a durable, unobtrusive device that can track the body’s physical response to stress. Military scientists believe that using the device — preferably a tattoo — to track heart-rate, temperature or bio-electric response during various training situations will help them crack the code of combat fatigue.

Advanced materials make it possible to integrate everything from the sensors to the transmitter into thumb-sized membranes that can stick to skin — like temporary tattoos. These tiny arrays combine the necessary sensor — be it EKG, heart rate, or temperature — with a short-wave antenna and transmitting capability.

Isolating the factors that make these stress levels spike is part of a larger initiative to understand and control the different triggers of the body’s physiological responses.

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‘The Activity’ Comic Reveals Secrets of US Army’s Intelligence Support Activity Unit

Have you ever heard of the US Army’s Intelligence Support Activity unit? Not many people have, and there’s not much written about it. Surprisingly one of the best sources is in a comic, as reported by ABC News:

In a dark corner of American special operations there exists, alongside the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s Osama bin Laden-killing SEAL Team Six, a small unit of Army spies known as the Intelligence Support Activity.

Created more than 30 years ago, the ISA has had its hand in almost every high-profile American special operation around the world in recent history, and countless others, according to published reports and special operations veterans with firsthand knowledge of the group.

And though relatively little is known about the secret unit — the military still refuses to acknowledge its existence — a new, colorful picture of the group has emerged through, of all things, a comic book.

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Audio Recording Of Bradley Manning Speaking At Military Tribunal Leaked

Despite a strict ban on recordings and transcripts at the secretive proceedings, the Freedom of Press Foundation has gotten a hold of a covertly-made tape of Manning’s full speech to the court explaining his motivation for leaking classified government materials. He remarks:

“I am the type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst, this means I always want to figure out the truth. Unlike other analysts within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, I was not satisfied with just scratching the surface and producing canned or cookie cutter assessments. I wanted to know why something was the way it was, and what we could to correct or mitigate a situation.”

“I began to become depressed with the situation that we [the U.S. military] found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year…we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists…[I wanted] society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.”

“I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time – if ever.”

“I read more of the diplomatic cables published on the Department of State Net Centric Diplomacy.

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Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Says He Was Told ‘Not To Acknowledge Existence’ Of Drones Program

Appearing on MSNBC, Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama's press secretary for much of his first term, on the administration's concern with keeping drone killings out of public knowledge: “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”
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Will The United States Never Again Have A Peacetime President?

Have Bush and Obama ushered in the age of vague, unpublicized, poorly-defined war that never ends? Via Foreign Policy, Micah Zenko writes:

Since September 11, 2001, the president has been able to threaten or use military force to achieve a range of foreign policy objectives with few checks and balances or sustained media coverage — to an extent unprecedented in U.S. history. It is unlikely that the United States will ever have a peacetime president again.

The primary reason for this stems from how policymakers in Washington perceive the world — a perception that bridges partisan divisions. According to most officials, the international security environment is best characterized by limitless, complex, and imminent threats facing the United States. Those threats require the military to be perpetually on a wartime footing and the president to frequently authorize the use of lethal force. As a Pentagon strategy document first noted in 2010, the United States has entered “a period of persistent conflict.”

In response to this world of grave uncertainty and looming threats, the United States has invested heavily in offensive military capabilities [including drones, special operations forces, and cyberattacks] that the president leverages with speed, secrecy, and minimal oversight.

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The U.S. Military Is Developing Deadly Robotic Insect Drones

Want to know something horrifying? The Air Force has a "drone birdhouse" filled with tiny, lethal, buzzing robotic creatures. In a few years, the doors will open and the drone bugs will be released upon the world. Via National Geographic, John Horgan reveals:
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has challenged researchers to build drones that mimic the size and behavior of bugs and birds. Cobb’s answer is a robotic hawk moth, with wings made of carbon fiber and Mylar. Piezoelectric motors flap the wings 30 times a second, so rapidly they vanish in a blur. The Air Force has nonetheless already constructed a “micro-aviary” for flight-testing small drones. In an animated demonstration video, the drones swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines. One of them sneaks up on a scowling man holding a gun and shoots him in the head.
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Pentagon Unveils New Honorary Medal For Heroic Drone Operators

The previously discussed ‘Distinguished Warfare’ medal for the people pressing the kill button for unmanned drones is now a reality, CNET News reports:

This would be a first. The Distinguished Warfare Medal, a nearly two-inch-tall brass pendant below a ribbon with blue, red and white stripes, will be handed out to people judged to have racked up “extraordinary achievement” directly tied to a combat operation but at a far remove from the actual battlefield. This is said to be the first new combat-related award since the 1944 creation of the Bronze Star.

In taking this step, the Pentagon is explicitly recognizing the increasing importance of cyberwar and drone activities to the nation’s defense complex. Indeed, the U.S. Air Force is on record predicting that by 2023 one-third of its attack and fighter planes will be drones.

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The CIA Has A Secret Drone Base In Saudi Arabia

I wonder, what other news is hidden from the public under an “informal arrangement”? The BBC reports:

The CIA has been operating a secret airbase for unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia for the past two years. US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it. The New York Times published its report on Tuesday night, ending an “informal arrangement” among several news organizations not to disclose the location of the base.

The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen. A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was alleged to be AQAP’s external operations chief.

Construction was ordered after a December 2009 cruise missile strike in Yemen. It was the first strike ordered by the Obama administration, and ended in disaster, with dozens of civilians, including women and children, killed.

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