Stars and Stripes shows the emotional return of one U.S. soldier: “Seven months after leaving his family for deployment to Afghanistan, Pfc. Jeremy Monteleone embraced them again, pulling his daughter into his arms and cradling, for the first time, his 7-month-old son.”
The Times of India reports that “world military expenditure fell in 2013 as the United States and other Western countries cut back, but spending in emerging economies grew, a Swedish think tank said on Monday.”
“The 1.9 per cent global decline followed a 0.4 per cent drop in 2012, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.”
“‘The increase in military spending in emerging and developing countries continues unabated,’ said Sam Perlo-Freeman, director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Programme.”
“‘While in some cases it is the natural result of economic growth or a response to genuine security needs, in other cases it represents a squandering of natural resource revenues, the dominance of autocratic regimes, or emerging regional arms races.’”
“The world spent $1.75 trillion (1.26 trillion euro) on the military in 2013, according to SIPRI’s data, which accounted for inflation.”
On a snowy National Medal of Honor Day at Arlington National Cemetery, three everyday American citizens received a prestigious civilian community service award from those who have received the nation’s top military honor, the recipients of the Medal of Honor. Recognized for their selfless service, Michael Landsberry, Connor Stotts and Troy Yocum were honored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation with the Citizen Honors Award.
Michael Landsberry, a mathematics teacher at a Nevada middle school, made the split-second decision to protect the lives of his students, sacrificing his life in the process. Connor Stotts, an Eagle Scout, rescued three friends who were in danger of drowning. In 2009, Troy Yocum walked 7,880 miles across America in a “Hike for Heroes,” raising $1.3 million to support over 1,800 military families. Two years later, he founded Active Heroes, a charity that supports military families and wounded veterans.
“That’s what heroes do,” said Roger Krone, president of Boeing Network and Space Systems and the Citizen Honors keynote speaker. “They inspire us to reach beyond what we thought we were capable of and provide an example to emulate.”
The Citizen Honors Award is presented to people who, when confronted with extraordinary circumstances, make a decision to act. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation performs a national search to identify 20 finalists for the award. From among those finalists, a panel of Medal of Honor recipients selects the three individuals to receive the award.
Boeing has been a supporter of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation since its inception in 1999. The company has made a $3 million dollar multi-year commitment to support the Foundation’s Citizen Honors program and education outreach, including expanding the reach of the Medal of Honor Character Development Program.
“They chose to put the interests of others before their own…that is why these awards are so important. They serve to inspire us to be better people,” Krone said.
The Washington Post provides a lengthy report on the “FBI’s secret relationship with the military’s special operations.” It reports that “the FBI’s transformation from a crime-fighting agency to a counterterrorism organization in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been well documented. Less widely known has been the bureau’s role in secret operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other locations around the world.”
“With the war in Afghanistan ending, FBI officials have become more willing to discuss a little-known alliance between the bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that allowed agents to participate in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“The relationship benefited both sides. JSOC used the FBI’s expertise in exploiting digital media and other materials to locate insurgents and detect plots, including any against the United States. The bureau’s agents, in turn, could preserve evidence and maintain a chain of custody should any suspect be transferred to the United States for trial.”
Two Fayetteville Observer reporters “take a tour of Afghanistan’s capital in a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter on Friday, April 11, 2014.”
The Associated Press reports that “some 450 U.S. and Romanian troops and technical staff kicked off joint military exercises in northwestern Romania on Thursday, flying U.S. F-16 fighter jets alongside Romanian ones.”
“Four F-16s and one Romanian MiG-21 LanceR took off from Romania’s Campia Tarzii military base as the Dacian Viper 2014 exercises began. The weeklong exercise at the base 300 kilometers (190 miles) northwest of Bucharest — the fourth of its kind between the two nations— was planned before Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month.”
“Wing Commander Marian Petrus, commander of 71 Air Base, said Romanian pilots will be trained to fly F-16s.”
When most people think of GPS, they think of the navigation systems in their car, or the map application on their cell phones. Many people don’t realize that GPS was originally designed to provide satellite communications capability for the military. Today, the Air Force continues to operate the constellation of 31 satellites for millions of civilian and military end-users around the globe.
As part of ongoing efforts to enhance this technology, a Boeing GPS IIF satellite was launched into space on Feb 20, 2014, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. This satellite joins four Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites already in service that are providing greater navigational accuracy, a more resilient signal, and a longer design life.
Boeing has played an integral role in the program since the first GPS satellite was launched in 1978. The sixth GPS IIF is already at its Florida launch site, undergoing preparations to enter service in the next few months. And with six more satellites ready to be deployed at the Air Force’s request, the Boeing GPS IIF will form the core of the system for many years to come.
For more information about the latest GPS IIF satellite launch, and about the program, click here.
NPR addresses the question of what size is right for the U.S. Army: “With the U.S. military out of Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan, the U.S. Army, which peaked with a force of around 570,000 a few years ago, was supposed to drop to around 490,000 troops.”
“But U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that’s still too big.”
“‘An Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy,’ Hagel told a news conference in February.”
“Translation? Hagel isn’t planning on occupying any countries. So he wants to cut the Army to about 450,000.”
“But that’s a number that some generals say places the country at greater risk.”
NBC News reports that “BATMAN is working for the U.S. Air Force and could make Google Glass a regular wartime accessory.”
“No, Bruce Wayne has not enlisted. BATMAN stands for Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided (K)nowledge, a research program based at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Its overarching goal is to make U.S. soldiers a little more like superheroes.”
“’It was commissioned to build advanced wearable technologies in a wearable ensemble, so in essence, we are building a Batman suit to improve effectiveness in the battlefield,’ Gregory Burnett, chief engineer for BATMAN, told NBC News.”
“His 13-man team is focusing on Google Glass. They purchased two pairs of the wearable computer through the Glass Explorer program, just like a civilian would, and have been researching the potential and pitfalls of the technology since last May.”
“Twelve consecutive years of war have turned soldiers into the subjects of an unintended experiment in the impact of prolonged conflict on the human psyche,” National Journal reports.
Said Army Surgeon General Patricia Horoho: “I worry about the long-term repercussions of these wars on our veterans,” Horoho told the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “We’re in an era where I don’t think we know what the impact of 12 years of war has on an individual.”
“One in five American soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq report symptoms of PTSD or major depression, according to a 2008 Rand Corporation study. Only half of those individuals seek treatment. But even those who do seek help don’t always find solutions—including the Fort Hood shooter, who was reportedly being treated for anxiety and depression… Nearly one in five soldiers had a mental disorder prior to enlistment, according to a recently published study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Approximately one-third of post-enlistment suicide attempts are associated with pre-enlistment disorders, another JAMA Psychiatry study found.”
Future threats are predicted to be even more evasive and lethal than they are today – stealthier, smarter and less predictable. In a battle environment where radar isn’t an option, Super Hornet operators soon will be able to rely on an upgraded infrared search and track (IRST) senor system to help find threats at great distances, and determine the best weapons to eliminate them.
This advanced IRST sensor had its first successful flight on a Super Hornet last week, demonstrating that the aircraft has the growth capacity needed to evolve and accommodate new capabilities required by the U.S. Navy. IRST is currently planned to deploy by 2017.
“Adding an advanced infrared sensor to the Super Hornet broadens the Navy’s warfighting ability,” Navy F/A-18 Program Manager Capt. Frank Morley said. “Combined with the Super Hornet’s advanced radar and the Growler’s electronic attack radar jamming ability, IRST will allow the fleet to dominate the skies in all threat environments.”
Lockheed Martin provides the sensor, and Boeing integrates it onto the Super Hornet.
You can read more about this important capability here.
Defense News notes a source of potential conflict arose during yesterday’s hearing with US Army leadership at the Senate Armed Services Airland subcommittee, when Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) “warned that supplemental wartime funding, which the Army has said it needs well after the war in Afghanistan ends, may not be forthcoming.”
“Given the pull of other national priorities, the Army’s request for three to four years worth of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding after the US pulls out of Afghanistan is in peril, the senator said, bluntly warning the generals that ‘the Army must face the reality that this may not be achievable.’”
“While the supplemental budget has decreased markedly over the past several years, the 2015 request remains in limbo, with US forces still unsure what mission — if any — will remain in 2015 and beyond. The White House has put a $79 billion “placeholder” line in the budget for 2015, less than 2014’s $85 billion request.”
The Week summarizes a few important points from Ambassador Nicholas Burns on the Political Wire podcast:
We’re not quite back into a Cold War, even if it seems as if we are. The media has continually suggested that America and Russia may have re-entered the Cold War in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. But the U.S. isn’t in a protracted state of nuclear tensions with a communist superpower anymore. So it’s a stretch to say that Cold War is back. But Burns said there are some echoes of it: “President Putin has used brute force to take over a piece of territory that wasn’t his. And he’s drawn new lines in Europe, so it feels a little bit like the Cold War that I remember back in the 1970s and 1980s,” even though we haven’t actually reached true Cold War status.
Trust is key in foreign relations. Putin’s actions have shattered that trust for a long time. Trust “doesn’t mean you agree one everything, but it means that when some leader tells you something that he or she is going to commit to do something for you that it’s going to happen,” Burns said. Even though there was a modicum of trust between the U.S. and Putin after 9/11, that trust was damaged when Russia didn’t follow up faithfully on its promise to work closely with the U.S., Burns lamented. Now, with the Ukraine crisis, that trust may never come back as long as Putin is in power. “How can you trust a leader now, like Vladimir Putin, who invades another country and then formally annexes it?” Burns said. “We haven’t seen this kind of blatant, brazen behavior since the 1930s in Europe.” The loss of trust between the two nations could imperil their ability to work together on other high-profile matters such the economy and nuclear security.
Listen to the whole thing: