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 | Warfare
I wonder, what other news is hidden from the public under an “informal arrangement”? The BBC reports:
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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.
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.
Via the Daily Mail, this likely will trigger conspiracy theories regarding natural disasters past and future:
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The U.S. and New Zealand collaborated on a top-secret plan to develop a ‘tsunami bomb’ capable of devastating coastal cities, it has emerged. The countries carried out covert tests of the potential weapon of mass destruction – designed to use underwater explosions to trigger huge tidal waves – in waters around Auckland and the Pacific island of New Caledonia during the Second World War.
Details of the secretive operation, code-named Project Seal, were discovered in military files buried in New Zealand’s national archives by author and film-maker Ray Waru. The files revealed how around 3,700 bombs were exploded during testing, which was launched in June 1944, and indicated that the weapon was feasible.
Mr Waru said: ‘It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami… and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked.’ While initial testing was positive, Project Seal was shelved in early 1945.
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.
Our vision of the future typically consists of a vast blighted landscape decimated by nuclear bombs or killer robot drones or battles to control the dwindling supply of water or oil, but a group of Norwegian researchers claim that warfare will become less and less common in coming decades. Could their simulations of a peaceful tomorrow be accurate, or is humanity doomed by aggressive urges? Via TIME:
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Global conflicts have in fact been on a downward trend for the last half-century. And a group of researchers in Norway says their data indicates that the future could be even more peaceful.
In a paper soon to be published in International Studies Quarterly, Håvard Hegre, a professor of political science at the University of Oslo, claims that the number of ongoing conflicts will be halved by 2050 — with the greatest decrease coming in the Middle East.
Hegre, along with his colleagues at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, put together a statistical model that took into account factors such as infant mortality, education, youth population, ethnic make-up and conflict history.
Via the The New Inquiry, Huw Lemmey on social media as tools of destruction:
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By nightfall tonight that explosion which just shook your neighborhood, in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, will have been liked over 8,000 times on Facebook. Welcome to Gaza City.
The transmutation of territorial control today enters a new topography, an extension of the historical “propaganda war”: control of the networked space online. The IDF have run a comprehensive social media campaign from the first stages of the new assault, announcing the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Twitter, followed up by YouTube footage of his targeted killing within minutes.
Far from embracing ideas of a futuristic, dehumanising warfare, the instagrams of IDF, processed through the various “retro” and “soft-focus” filters, serve a dual purpose. The first purpose is that of historicization. Much as the hipstamatic literally filters the contemporary condition through the lens of the ’60s and ’70s, the use of “retro” filters removes the images of today’s IDF from their context within the current campaign of blockade and air assault and reframes them as part of the Israeli foundation story.
A preview of the uprising of the machines, from the Washington Post‘s glimpse into a secretive U.S. military base in the Horn of Africa:
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Camp Lemonnier is the centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen U.S. drone and surveillance bases in Africa, created to combat a new generation of terrorist groups across the continent.
As the pace of drone operations has intensified in Djibouti, Air Force mechanics have reported mysterious incidents in which the airborne robots went haywire.
In March 2011, a Predator parked at the camp started its engine without any human direction, even though the ignition had been turned off and the fuel lines closed. Technicians concluded that a software bug had infected the “brains” of the drone, but never pinpointed the problem.
“After that whole starting-itself incident, we were fairly wary of the aircraft and watched it pretty closely,” an unnamed Air Force squadron commander testified to an investigative board, according to a transcript.