Tag Archives | Military

The “Rot” Rots On

Titan II MissileAt what point does an organization “rot?”

“Rot” seems to be a new phrase du jour being used by the military in the case of several offices charged with mishandling the highly sensitive and uber-responsible job of operating our top-secret nuclear weapons systems. They are the people who literally have their fingers on the big boom button.

According to a Guardian report, here’s how this rot came to public attention.

“The US Air Force has stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to oversee nuclear missiles, after a string of failings that the group’s deputy commander said stemmed from ‘rot’ within the ranks.”

“Rot within the ranks!”  That’s a neat way of putting it. Is that rot just confined to the underground silos on the lonely plains below their “amber waves of grain?”

Could there be mental “rot” in the intelligence world that we know is usually anything but intelligent?… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Gitmo Prisoners Stage Violent Rebellion

GuantanamoThe unrest at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (a/k/a Gitmo) that has seen brutal force feeding of hunger strikers exploded this weekend as detainees staged a rebellion armed with broomsticks and batons. From AP:

Months of increased tension at the Guantanamo Bay prison boiled over into a clash between guards and detainees Saturday as the military closed a communal section of the facility and moved its inmates into single cells.

The violence erupted during an early morning raid that military officials said was necessary because prisoners had covered up security cameras and windows as part of a weekslong protest and hunger strike over their indefinite confinement and conditions at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Prisoners fought guards with makeshift weapons that included broomsticks and mop handles when troops arrived to move them out of a communal wing of the section of the prison known as Camp 6, said Navy Capt.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

‘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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.”
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading