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.
Tag Archives | Pentagon
Uh oh. The New York Times reports:
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The U.S. military is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa so that it can increase surveillance missions on Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.
The move is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in the country of Djibouti. If the base is approved, the most likely location for it would be in Niger.
A handful of unarmed Predator drones would carry out surveillance missions in the region and fill a desperate need for more detailed information on a range of regional threats, including militants in Mali and the unabated flow of fighters and weapons from Libya. The plan could face resistance from some [officials] who are wary of committing any additional American forces to a fight against a poorly understood web of extremist groups in North Africa.
Via NBC News, the Navy is working on making the bottom of the sea less peaceful:
The U.S. Navy wants to pack aerial drones and other intelligence-gathering technology into special containers built to withstand deep ocean pressures and distribute them around the world’s seas. The containers will rise to the surface when called into service from a remote location.
These “upward falling payloads” are seen as readying the Navy to address conflicts in corners of the world where it is too expensive or complex to establish a forward operating area, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) explained in a call for proposals.
The containers would be stealthily deployed well ahead of time and designed to stay put on the seafloor for years.
The line between official reality, conspiracy theory, and hoax gets blurred. DVICE reports:
The Pentagon is looking to bring airships back from their spotty past and into the future. Developed by Aeroscraft, the 230-foot-long prototype airship called the Pelican, which, interestingly, looks a lot like a flying saucer, has been in the works for several years under the guidance of the Pentagon’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office. In addition to cargo missions, the Pentagon also envisions the airship as a potential tool for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The current prototype is much smaller than the final version of the airship the company plans to build which will be 450-feet long and have the ability to carry up to 66 tons of cargo.
A dose of strange history via BLDGBLOG:
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Project Sanguine was a U.S. Navy program from the 1980s that “would have involved 41 percent of Wisconsin,” turning that state into a giant “antenna farm” capable of communicating with what Wikipedia calls “deeply-submerged submarines.”
Each individual antenna would have been “buried five feet deep” in the fertile soil of the Cheese State, creating a networked system with nearly 6,000 miles’ worth of cables and receiving stations. The Navy was hoping, we read, for a system “that could transmit tactical orders one-way to U.S. nuclear submarines anywhere in the world, and survive a direct nuclear attack.” In other words, the bedrock of the Earth itself could be turned into a colossal radio station.
The project was controversial from the start and was attacked by politicians, antiwar and environmental groups concerned about the effects of high ground currents and electromagnetic fields on the environment.
Gary McKinnon can now be referred to as “the man who hacked NASA and the Pentagon and got away with it all.” Via the Daily Mail:
Gary McKinnon’s ten-year nightmare was finally over yesterday after police and prosecutors decided he will not stand trial in Britain. The computer hacker won his fight against extradition two months ago when Theresa May blocked US demands to send him there. Now Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer has announced that the 46-year-old Asperger’s sufferer will not face criminal charges in this country either.
His mother Janis Sharp said: ‘This will be the 11th Christmas since his arrest and it is the first time we can celebrate. If extradited, Mr McKinnon, from Wood Green, North London, faced up to 60 years behind bars for hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers looking for the existence of ‘little green men’.
The New Yorker unravels the military’s secret program to develop the ultimate “humane” weapon for the wars of the future — mass-delirium-inducing gas:
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Colonel James S. Ketchum dreamed of war without killing. He joined the Army in 1956 and left it in 1976, and in that time became the military’s leading expert in a secret Cold War experiment: to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals that temporarily incapacitate the mind-—causing, in the words of one ranking officer, a “selective malfunctioning of the human machine.”
Today, the facility, Edgewood Arsenal, is a crumbling assemblage of buildings on the Chesapeake Bay. But for some of the surviving test subjects, and for the doctors who tested them, what happened at Edgewood remains deeply unresolved.
I spoke to a former Edgewood test subject who was given the nerve agent VX. The effect was rapid. There was a radio on in the room, but the words made little sense.
With such an effort, surely this war on drugs will be won soon. Wired reports:
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Unsure how your private security firm makes money as the U.S. war in Afghanistan winds down? One option: Go into the drug trade — more specifically, the lucrative business of fighting narcotics. The State Department needs a business partner to keep its fleet of drug-hunting helicopters and planes flying worldwide. You could make up to $10 billion.
Starting next month, the State Department will solicit some defense-industry feedback on a contract to help operate its 412 aircraft, based in at least eight nations, before it reopens the contract for bidding. Among the missions: “Provide pilots and operational support for drug interdiction missions such as crop spraying.”
In Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, and Guatemala, State Department air operations mostly perform “counternarcotics and law enforcement activities,” explains State Department spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala, and in Afghanistan it does transportation support as well.
Wondering what exists at the center of the War on Drugs vs. War on Terror Venn diagram? Wired reports that well into the foreseeable future, our military will be pumping billions of dollars into the pockets of Blackwater-esque private contractors in a battle against Afghanistan’s drug economy:
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The U.S. war in Afghanistan is supposed to be winding down. Its contractor-led drug war? Not so much. Inside a compound in Kabul called Camp Integrity, the Pentagon stations a small group of officers to oversee the U.S. military’s various operations to curb the spread of Afghanistan’s cash crops of heroin and marijuana, which help line the Taliban’s pockets. Only Camp Integrity isn’t a U.S. military base at all. It’s the 10-acre Afghanistan headquarters of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.
Those officers work for an obscure Pentagon agency called the Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office, or CNTPO. Quietly, it’s grown into one of the biggest dispensers of cash for private security contractors in the entire U.S.